A Sunday Replay: Swim for Your Life, Float for Your Soul

August 23, 2009


Me, Phoebe Ann and Linda 001xx  With friends at the kiddie pool, before I felt I had outgrown it!

When I was five years old, one of my teenage sisters took me and a little friend to the big people’s swimming pool at the park for the first time, after much begging on my part.  I was tired of that “baby pool”, that by the way, was shallow all around the edge and only about 3 ft. deep at its deepest in the middle. 

Background:  This is how it worked when you went to a public pool in 1951.  You carried your bathing suit and bathing cap (required for girls, to keep hair out of the water and the filters) rolled up in a towel to the pool with you.  (You hardly ever saw anyone out in public in a bathing suit.)  When you got there, you went to a counter on the front of the bathhouse where you paid your money and they gave you a big, heavy wire basket with a big safety pin attached to it, that had matching numbers on them.  You then went into the girls side of the bathhouse where there were booths along the side for those who were modest and benches out in the middle for those who were not, and changed into your suit and attached the big safety pin to it, usually at the leg opening, and put your clothes in the basket and then turned it in at a window.  That way when you were done swimming, you could come back to that window, give them your safety pin and they would give you the basket with the matching number containing your clothes, which you would change into before you went home. 

So, the big day came and ML took my friend and me to the pool, and this is the way I picture it happening.  I could hardly stand still while ML paid for us and got a basket.  Finally, we got into the bathhouse.  I immediately ripped my clothes off, threw them in the basket and put on my bathing suit as quickly as I could — I was soooo excited!  Then I pestered ML, to hurry up and help me put on my tight yellow, rubber swim cap (that required adult-type strength to pull down over my Mama-induced home permed curls).  That done, she turned away to finish getting ready herself and to turn in the basket at the nearby window.  Thennnn, and only thennnnn, would we all together go out to the pool!   Now, while I don’t remember hearing those exact words, I’m sure that the ever-responsible ML said something like that, but I don’t think I heard her — or I just totally ignored her because I was soooo excited!  Because I didn’t wait for anything or anybody — I immediately walked out of the bathhouse and jumped into the edge of the big people’s pool! 

Now, several things were unfortunate at this point.

1.  I didn’t know that, unlike the kiddie pool, the big pool wasn’t shallow all around the edge — I had jumped into 5 ft. of water, and couldn’t swim.

2.  ML didn’t notice me leave the bathhouse because she was busy helping my friend get ready and turning in the basket, and there were lots of women and girls in the bathhouse, so it was very loud and chaotic.

3.  My friend was not the mouthy little kid I was (probably the reason we were friends), so she didn’t “tattle” to ML about me leaving without them.

But, by the grace of God, my friend did somewhat follow my lead.  While ML was turning in the basket, she walked out the door to the pool.  When ML turned around and saw the back of her going out the door, she assumed I was just a few steps ahead, so she wasn’t concerned, but she did quicken her step to catch up, before something could happen.

A few seconds later when ML walked out the door, she was surprised to see my friend standing on the side of the pool alone.  ML hurried over to her, and said, “Where’s Sandra?”  and my friend said, “Down there.”  and pointed at my yellow bathing cap bobbing up and down under the water.

The view from below:  As soon as I jumped in even my little five year old mind knew I was in trouble.  I went all the way down and touched the bottom and proceeded to bounce and try to get air when I was at the top of the bounce — that only worked about half the time, and I was only gulping in about half air — the other half was water.  I remember seeing the legs of a guy sitting on the side of the pool and thinking I wished I could bounce over close enough to him to grab his leg (which would probably have given him a heart attack!), but I just wasn’t coordinated enough to be able to do that.  So, I just continued to bounce, gulp, bounce, gulp …  not exactly a recipe for success!

I don’t remember the “rescue,” but this is what I’ve been told:  ML immediately jumped in and grabbed me and started to push me toward the side, at which time the lifeguard realized what was happening, and jumped in to help.  They put me on the deck and started pushing on my back and lots of water came gushing out.  Apparently, that was good enough! (Today, they would probably call EMS, and I would have been kept in the hospital overnight for observation!), because I do remember while walking home, ML specifically telling me that SHE would tell Mama what happened.  She probably figured (correctly) that this story blurted out in five-year old hysteria, would give Mama a heart attack!  I don’t remember ML or me getting in trouble, so I’m guessing Mama was just relieved that I was all right.  Its also my guess that ML and I were both soooo upset that Mama figured we didn’t need any further punishment!

But, what this experience gave me (no surprise) was a huge fear of water.  Ironically, Mama had had a similar near-drowning experience when she was a teen-ager, so she herself had a fear of water too.  The result of this incident and Mama’s own fear was that she had a strong desire for me to learn to swim because she didn’t want me to have the same life-long fear of water she did.  So, over the years Mama took me to swim lessons multiple times, and I usualy didn’t even last one lesson.  They seemed to always start out just bouncing around in water that wasn’t over my head — that was fine.  But, then they would invariably say, “Now let’s play a game — Ring Around the Rosie!”  Hey, I may have been a little kid, but I wasn’t a dumb little kid.  I knew how that game ended, “We all fall down!”  Uh-Uh — not me.  That would mean getting my face wet.  When they started to play that game, I would say I had to go to the bathroom.  Then I would get out of the pool and Mama would take me to the bathroom, where I would tell her, I wasn’t going back. 

Eventually Mama took me enough times that I finally overcame my fear and I actually stayed long enough to learn to swim!  Buttttt, in order to pass, you had to be able to float on your back.  Swimming, even with my face in the water, had become okay, even fun.  But float on my back!!! Lean back in the water, and totally “trust” the water to hold me up!?!?!  THAT was something I really didn’t think I could do.  Well, finally, with the help of a very patient teacher, one who was able to gain my trust, I did learn to float on my back.  And, now, I call that my survival mode.  If I were ever in water and had to stay afloat for a long period of time, I am not a strong enough swimmer to be able to depend on just swimming and/or treading water, but I do know that when I didn’t have the strength to swim to save myself any more, I would be able to flip over on my back and float to rest.  I believe that that ability would be the single thing that would allow me to survive.

I tell you this story for two reasons.  First, because it was a traumatic experience in my life that had a long, lingering impact on me.  I am thankful that Mama perservered in taking me to swimming lessons, so that I’m not an adult who can’t swim.  And I am, because of my experience, a strong advocate for children learning to swim as early as possible, and being taught every rule of water and pool safety possible.  During the ten years that we rented a condo for a week on the ocean near Gunny and his family, all three of his children learned to swim in the pools at our condo complex.  And, all three of  DD’s girls know how to swim too.  That makes me very happy.

And the other reason I wanted to tell this story is that floating on my back has always reminded me of what faith is like.  I think in life itself “floating on your back” is trusting in God.  You can’t see God and His support — you just have to trust that He’s there and will hold you up when you can’t support yourself. 

Floating on your back and Trusting in God — both acts of faith that require trust in the unseen, but result in rest and comfort — one for your body, the other for your soul.

Am I the LAST one to know this?

August 22, 2009


Did everyone else in the world know this?  How did I miss it?

100_5066x    When did some clever packaging designer come up with this?  See the little tab you can press in on the ends of the aluminium foil package?  Apparently they are meant to hold the roll in the box.  I wouldn’t know because I’ve never used them.  I had no idea they were there!

At the after-reunion reunion committee meeting we had this week, somehow this came up in conversation.  I was shocked that I, the possesser of more rolls of wrap than I can probably use in a lifetime, had never heard of such a thing!  We were meeting here, so I immediately went to the pantry …

100_5050x   … where I have “a few” rolls of wraps, and grabbed the aluminum foil off the top of the stack to see if it had the tabs that had been mentioned.  Sure enough, it did!

Later, I took the time to look at the other boxes to see if they all have the tabs — they don’t.

100_5068x    I found it especially interesting that a 100 sq. ft. roll of Saran wrap had the tabs, but a 200 sq. ft. roll didn’t.  Maybe the larger roll is heavy enough that it doesn’t require the assistance of tabs?  Or is it that Cling Plus is easier to manage than Premium?  Questions I can ponder at my leisure, since I’m retired.

Well, now that I know they are there, I’m going to start “engaging” the tabs whenever they do appear on a box.  I’m all for any little convenience that makes life easier.

Be sure to tell me if you didn’t know this either.  I’d really like to think that there are at least two of us who didn’t know this!

May this be the hardest thing you have to think about today.  Happy Saturday!

A Warm, Sunny Day in August …

August 19, 2009


… with three little girls we adore. 

When DD’s three daughters spent the first week in August with us, we had a great time.  And the weather was perfect, which allowed us to spend alot of time outdoors.

It is especially fun to see the girls enjoy activities that have been around for generations …

P1030228(1) P1030308(1) 


… like running through the sprinkler (an activity I remember enjoying when I was a child!)

P1030221(1) P1030222(1)



P1030207(1)   Mimi (5)

P1030295(1) P1030281(1)(1)   Coco (11)

P1030306(1)(1) P1030319(1)(1)   Lulu (9)





When they had had enough of running through the sprinkler, they spent some “recovery time” on the deck.



P1030371(1)   But, you know children, their recovery time was quick!   So, Lulu and Mimi decided to give their big sister, Coco, a massage.

P1030400(1)    I showed Mimi how to do the chopping thing on Coco’s back, and she liked that so she did it with alot of enthusiasm!

 P1030403(1)   When they were all finished giving each other massages, Coco and Lulu asked Papa to take them out to the middle of the lake to swim.

  P1030406    If they swim at the edge, their feet get “mucky” so he takes them out where they don’t have to worry about touching the bottom/muck.





P1030404(1)   Mimi understands that she’s too little to swim out in the really deep water, even with a life jacket, but I’m guessing here she’s imagining a day when she will be a a “big kid” and be able to swim out there.

P1030420(1)   After a while, she asked if we could go down and sit by the water.  So, we did and she made a game of sorting rocks. 

P1030452(1)  She put all the ones that had pink in them in one pile.

P1030444(1)    And I forget what her criteria were for the rocks that went into this pile.  But, she was very serious about examining each rock and deciding on where it went.

P1030447(1)   I told her I thought the black and white one in the middle of this group looked like an oreo cookie!

P1030453(1)   And we decided this one looked like a house slipper!

How long has it been since you have really looked at rocks?  It had been a while for me, and I really enjoyed seeing their beauty through her eyes.

When the rest came back from swimming we went in the house for a snack.

P1030458(1)   A fun August afternoon in the sun.

Mama Remembered: The Washing

August 17, 2009


Another excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember:

When I was 16 we lived on a farm north of Chadwick, Missouri. 

Dad came home from buying groceries one day and told me the grocer’s wife had asked if Mom or I would like to do some washing for her.  He told her Mom wasn’t well, but he would ask me.  I said I would, and showed up at her house at 8 o’clock the next morning.  She took me to an empty room that had piles of dirty clothes all over it.  I neer saw so many dirty clothes in my life.  On a bench in the middle of the room stood a wash tub and wash board.  I washed clothes for two days.  I don’t know when I have ever been more tired.  At the end of the two days when I finished, she asked me if I wanted to put my pay on our grocery bill or did I want it in cash.  I told her I wanted the cash and she gave me $3.00. 

I probably should have put it on the bill, but I was just a kid and I had done an awful lot of washing for that $3.00.

Several things strike me about this story from Mama’s book.  One is that the amount of laundry may have looked especially huge to Mama because her family was poor, so they probably had very few clothes. 

This story also reminds me that Mama was never afraid of hard work, and apparently she was that way all her life.  But then, when you were as poor as her family was, I don’t think anyone in the family probably had the opportunity to be lazy — they all had to work hard just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

And finally it strikes me that this kind of childhood was wonderful preparation for her adult life.  Nothing life threw at Mama as an adult really rocked her, because of her hard-scrabble childhood.

May your Sunday be blessed …

August 16, 2009



… and may you recognize opportunities to bless the lives of others.

Babs and Bons: The Cheerleading Challenge

August 15, 2009


talk smack (v) To talk trash … casting doubt on a person’s ability.  Ex: Before the fight, the boxers were talking smack to each other.

   100_4953xx    This is Babs.  Doesn’t she look dignified?  Of course, she can be very dignified, but she also has a hilarious wit.  She is married to a doctor and is herself a dialysis nurse, so obviously there are many times in her life when she has to be dignified and serious — but, when she is with friends, her wit is what you see.  And sometimes, she can even talk a little smack (all in fun, of course)! 

100_4973xs   This is Karen, the most popular girl in our class.   She was and is fun and witty, was a cheerleader and was elected prom queen (the epitomy of popular when we were in high school).  One of her “claims to fame” was her cheerleading ability … and specifically her jump.  She was one of those especially agile cheerleaders who could jump high in the air and extend her legs straight out to both sides.  But, Karen could and would take that one step further.  She would jump high in the air, do a perfect splits in the air and then maintain that pose all the way to the floor, landing in perfect splits.  When I would see that jump coming during a game, I would watch the fans on the other side of the gymnasium, because it was fun to hear them gasp and see them obviously talking about it after she had done that spectacular jump.  

Now, let me just say there is much of being a freshman in high school that I have forgotten.  But, I do remember that many of us (including Babs, Bons and me) had hopes in the back of our minds that we could be cheerleaders.  Never mind how realistic our hopes were (or how little our talent) there were many of us who tried out for cheerleading.

And then there was a reality check for most of us.  Even though many tried out, few were chosen.  With Karen, I’m sure, at the top of that list.  And no one could have denied that Karen was a natural at it, so we were all still friends.

Well, at the reunion Saturday night, Babs told me that it was time for a “wrong to be righted” — she was the one who should have been a cheerleader instead of Karen.  So, she and Bons were going to challenge Karen to a face-off.  It took me a while to figure out why Babs needed Bons to do it with her.

  100_5006x   I caught a picture of Babs talking to Kathy, Keith’s wife, who was a cheerleader a couple years younger than us.  Maybe Babs is asking Kathy for some “insider” cheerleading tips!?

 100_5005x    It looks like our friend Sue may be reminding Babs of the words to an old favorite cheer, “Go, Fight, WIN!”

 100_5013s    Babs told me that when the time came for the challenge, I should make everyone stand waayyyy back because she would need as much room as possible to do her cheer.  And then I asked her how Bons figured into the challenge and Babs replied that she was going to do the actual cheer, but she had appointed Bons as her designated “jumper”.  See Babs pointing at Bons?  And I think it’s pretty obvious from the look in Bons’ eyes that she’s thinking, “Like that’s going to happen!”

100_5028xz    While all of this was going on, if Karen was nervous that she was being challenged, she hid it well.  She did a good job of acting like she was having a great time, and wasn’t nervous at all.

100_5004xx   And then, just like when we were in school, there was a reality check.  I don’t know if it was something that Karen told her (maybe that she could still do her signature jump?) that made her drop the challenge, or if it was Bons’ laughing refusal to be the designated jumper, but Babs dropped it. (I suspect that was always the plan.)

This whole little Babs-created drama was a great sub-text to the reunion Saturday night.  I don’t think she ever really planned to do the challenge, but all of the conversation, speculation and laughs it generated were really fun.

Babs is a nurse at a location where kidney patients receive dialysis.  I’ve heard that people who have to do that regularly, not surprisingly, come to dread those visits.  But, if you had to have dialysis, wouldn’t it make it a little easier if you had a nurse like Babs?  Someone who always has a smile, a caring word and even a funny comment once in a while?

I’m sorry you didn’t get to do your cheerleading challenge, Babs, because I know it would have been memorable.  But, when you think about it, with your personality, I’m guessing you have been a wonderful cheerleader to all the patients you have taken care of over the years!  And, I’m also guessing, while some lifting and pushing might have been required, you probably weren’t ever required to do a jump!

The Reunion: Who invited all these “old people”?

August 14, 2009


… a memorable question from our classmate and reunion committee member, Jerry, when he walked into the last reunion!

Well, there’s just no getting around it, we do classify as “old people”.  But, that’s one of the nice things about a class reunion … when I look at these classmates (and sometimes their spouses!) I see the people they were when they were teenagers!

The two couples at our table:

100_4938    Lynn and his wife Barbara.  I didn’t know Lynn very well in high school and hadn’t talked to him since we were paired to process together at graduation.  He had been at some other reunions, but we just didn’t come face to face.  So, I was delighted we got to talk to him and Barb this time.

100_4940x    Ed and his wife Janelle.  I’ve seen Ed regularly over the years because we worked at the same company and also go to the same church.  But he and Janelle just married a couple years ago, so it was great to get to know her a little better. 

So, it was the six of us at a table, and the guys almost immediately found our that they share a love of history and that they had all read Steven Ambrose’ Lewis and Clark, so immediately they had a common interest to talk about, and it was interesting for Janelle, Barb and me too!

During the cocktail hour, I went around the room and took pictures.

100_4939x    I’ve known Terry since grade school.  Still a great guy,  who has lived for many years in Arizona.

100_4942   Barb, a committee member, and her husband Tom who still live here.  When Hubby was retiring as Sheriff, they thought he should run for mayor.  He wasn’t interested, but he appreciated that they were “fans”.

100_4943xx    This is Karen.  Her husband didn’t make it this time, but they have been faithful attendees at every reunion.  They now live in Vermont.  Karen was the “it” girl in our class … cheerleader, prom queen and all-around friend to everyone.  She was also funny as all get out.  And, as you can see, she’s still beautiful.

100_4951x    Barb, Me, Dixie, Cheryl, Kay.  We were all on the committee, except for Dixie who lives in Texas.

100_4953x    Babs, Jerry and Robyn.  Three truly funny friends yucking it up.  Jerry is the only man on the reunion committee — and the voice of reason.  When the talk gets sidetracked, he’s the one who smiles and says, let’s move on.  Bless him.  It’s not a job just any man could do, and still come out alive!  He’s also the one who made the “old people” comment.  A fun guy.

100_4954x   Sue and her husband Steve are regular attendees.  They live in Arizona.

100_4966x   Patty, Adele and Bob.  Patty was in our class only as a freshman, then moved to another school, but she and Adele (who lives in Oregon) have always stayed friends, so Patty came as Adele’s “date” since Adele’s  husband couldn’t make it this time.  And,Bob, who sat at their table, told us later how much fun he had, and I think you can see that on his face.

100_4955x    Candy and her husband John.  We don’t have a “chairman” of the reunion committee per se, but I guess Candy would be the one if we did.  We meet at her house and she always serves us wonderful appetizers.  She may be the single reason we continue to have reunions — her and her appetizers are the “glue” that hold the committee together!

100_4956x    Bons and her husband John.  They are realtors in Florida.  She is another classmate who adds alot of fun to any get-together!

100_4961x   Walt and his wife Sharon still live near-by.  He was one of the quiet guys in our class.  But, he did something at one of our reunions that I thought was so very thoughtful.  He brought a 1964 (the year we graduated) Kennedy coin in one of those little collector holders for each classmate who was there that year.  A really thoughtful gift to his classmates.

100_4985x    Chuck is a professor in Alabama.  He was in drama and speech with me in high school, and that is his field as an adult.  His dad, right up until he died a few years ago, ran a record store here that had every record you could think of — or, if they didn’t have it, they would find it for you!

100_4964x    The three amigos — Denny from North Carolina, Terry from Arizona and Paul from Florida.  Paul is another classmate who didn’t actually graduate with us because he moved to another school district, but these three have remained friends and used the reunion as a little mini-reunion of their own!

 100_4960x   Becky and Barb who are committee members.  Becky took over doing the little reunion yearbook last reunion.  A project that I had done for many years, along with Shirley who was also on the committee until she died.  And Becky does in two days what Shirley and I did over months — and cheaper.  This is one of those times I really miss Shirley because we would have such a good laugh over how much work we put into those little booklets — and then Becky comes on the committee and practically does it on her lunch hour!  I wish I could believe that’s just because technology has improved, but I’m afraid it’s that Becky is much more computer saavy than we were.  Humbling.  But, good for you, Becky!

100_4973xx   Jennifer (yes, that Jennifer), Cheryl and Karen

100_4968x    I had to put up this other photo of Jennifer, because I can just see the little girl giggle in this picture.  Still such a nice person and she has had such an interesting life.  I didn’t get to talk to her too much, but I do know that she  now co-owns an eco-friendly cemetary in upstate New York, and that there was one period in her life when she lived (I’ve been told for six years) in a teepee!

100_4970x    Kathy and her husband Gary.  She is a retired school teacher and an artist.  They live in Ohio.

100_4987x   Denny and his wife Suzan are still local.  He was one of the “cool” guys in our class, and a great fast dancer.  So, you can imagine how popular he was, but he was never stuck on himself.  Just a great guy. 

100_4988x   Keith and his wife Kathy.  They go to our church so we see them.  Kathy was a cheerleader, but she was a couple years behind us, just a “kid”.  BTW, this is the only picture I took that has Hubby in it, although inadvertent.  See him in the background on the right?  Just wanted you to know he was there too, even if his wife didn’t think to take a picture of him!

100_4995x    Kay and Jerry were both in the class, and many of us were surprised, to say the least, in high school when quiet Kay started dating “bad boy” Jerry. 

100_4996    But, they have had a wonderful marriage … and we’ve found out over the years that Kay can be a  “steel magnolia” when she needs to be and Jerry is really just a lovable teddy bear.

To my regular readers, thank you for putting up with a few posts that may not be of great interest to you.  But, the reason I did this is that, frankly, even with a couple of knowledgeable “helpers”, I haven’t been able to figure out how to put these pictures on my Facebook page.  So, I had to put them here so that my classmates could see them!

One last Reunion post tomorrow:  Babs and Bons:  The Cheerleading Challenge