It’s funny how some images and stories stick in your mind forever. That is what this post is all about.
I remember where we lived but not particularly how old I was then this story happened. I think it happened when I was almost ten years old. Mom had just abandoned us so that left dad as a single parent. He was in his mid-thirties and didn’t really have any idea how to go about raising a six and a nine-year-old. But one of the things he did regularly that first summer was to take us to the Broad Ripple public swimming pool on Saturdays.
I remember dad trying to teach me the card game of canasta during one of these ventures. That was about the only card game he enjoyed. I tried my best to understand it but most of it just flew over my head. To this day I am still not good at games. 🥴 On this particular trip he had some chores to do, so he gave us our usual 35 cent allowance and told us he would pick us up sometime after lunch. I know leaving your children unattended would probably get you arrested today, but it was really not that unusual in the 1950s. After all, there was always a lifeguard there to keep and eye on us and a hundred or so other kids at the pool.
Like most sporting type activities I was just never into swimming, but it was a neat way to cool off during the heat of summer. It would be years before I lived in a house with air conditioning. I paddled around on the shallow end of the pool and dreamed of going off the high-dive, but I never got the guts to climb those stairs.
As the morning drew into the afternoon I was getting hungry. It cost 20¢ to get into the pool, so that left 15¢ for lunch. When I went to the concession stand the only thing on the menu at that price was a cheese sandwich so that is what I ordered. It consisted of two pieces of white bread and a thin slice of processed cheese and four dill pickle slices. I couldn’t believe how good that tasted. For an extra nickle I could have had a slice of bologna, but that didn’t matter much to me. To this day I still have that same sandwich on a regular basis, and every time I do I think of my Dad taking us to the Broad Ripple Park swimming pool.
Dad never thought he was doing a good job of raising us. I really don’t know if his self-esteem was low before Mom left us or whether that event caused it? But, looking back I can’t imagine doing a better job than he did when I was his age. Dad never showed much love, that was just something his generation was taught to give out in small doses.