By Doc Dimento | Local Happenings
The year was around 1951. It must have been around 11.00AM. There was a hushed scurry around the Delaney household on this abnormally hot June day. Mother was busy stuffing articles into a large bag and Gram (short name for Grandma Delaney) was scurrying in the kitchen preparing sandwiches and packing them carefully into a brown paper bag. As a four year old, the situation made me anxious.
On an adverse side, ‘Were we moving?’ I thought. Or, on a favorable side, ‘Were we again taking a care package to someone in need?’ When I’d asked what was going on, mother had simply looked at me with a scorn and held her finger to her mouth to ‘BE QUIET!’ in a sneaky quiet sort of way. I remember being anxious. I didn’t like surprises, for they often meant pain and sorrow. In fact, this was the most mysterious thing I’d seen happen in our household yet.
Little did I know that the surprise would soon be over as mother grabbed my small pint sized hand of four as we slipped out the door in a scurry. As we stepped off the porch to the sidewalk to Eleventh Street, Mother yelled back at Grampy (great-grandpa Ulysses Grant Wheeler; yes of the Wheelers’ that founded Wheelers Mills, or more commonly today Wheelersburg), “See you in a little bit grandpa,” to which he responded, “Whaaaa?” Like me the poor ole feller just couldn’t hear well, a common side effect of working at a steel mill, him the coke ovens of Detroit Steel Corporation in New Boston.
The walk that hot morning seemed like an eternity to my short little legs, although it really wasn’t that far from our house on Eleventh Street, in the Williams Shoe factory area where mom worked. Cars passed by in both directions as we scurried quickly down eleventh in the direction of New Boston. My little heart raced as Gram and Mom exchanged words of how they had saved the money for this day. So, whatever it was that we were going to do cost money, something that our house struggled to find those years that followed the Great War, World War II.
Grampy was born during the Civil War, his Dad serving as an Ensign, and my Grandpa Harry H. Delaney serving in infantry during World War I. My father in World War II, and me; well would it be World War III or like my Uncle Donald (mom’s brother) some place like Korea at Pork Chop Hill where he served as a Second Lieutenant. Yes, a family of serving patriots from Scioto County. Well, I digress, back to the anxious moments.
As Gram and Mom pointed and rushed their conversation, in the distance I saw it. On the left side of 11th were these tall light towers sticking up in the sky from a fenced area. ‘Wow!’ I remember thinking. ‘What was this place?’ As we approached the complex my heart began to rush with excitement, even though I still had no clue where we were going; plus, sweat began to run down my face as we seemed to be picking up the pace in a rush to go to this somewhere.
Then all at once, I saw it! Two large light poles stood erect high into the sky. I could hardly believe that we were going to get to go to this place that my grandpa used to point at it, as we passed by touting, ‘Don’t fret Violet, one day we’ll get to go there.’ Grandma thought that every child should get to experience going to that place at least once in their lifetime. And guess what, today it appeared we were going too. My heart raced, no longer from the rush of this hurried walk, but from the excitement.
As we passed in front of the place heading to the side entrance, the smell of chlorine was strong. Even from Eleventh, I could see that the two shinny metal light poles jetted up from two concrete islands inside this gigantic pool of water. Wow! The water looked so sky blue and inviting that I wanted to strip down and dive in, if I could even dive.
At the front of the large Pavilion, Mom and Gram had to show membership cards, since this was a private club. After having done so, we rushed into change rooms where we all changed into bathing clothes. Scurrying out the side door, in front of us was a large pool of water that, to my small eyes, looked like an ocean or lake. People were everywhere. There were screams of excitement, the sounds of water splashing as people dove in from the sidewalk or high diving boards, and from people in the fields that surrounded the place yelling as they engaged in various outdoor activities. If I’d had time, I would have cried, but I couldn’t wait get in that water!
The large pond of water was definitely the size of a football field. In fact, today — over half a century later — I’ve never seen a pool that big. The water was clean, more than clean, it was immaculate.
The grounds that surrounded the pool made for a large park with picnic tables, lots of room to sun, play softball, punch beach balls into the air, play badminton, volleyball, run, play tag, and well anything one could imagine in their heads to be an outdoor fun, it was all there.
The Pavilion had food, a restaurant, other forms of entertainment and if I squint my eyes, I swear I can even remember a shuffle board. Really? I do believe so. There was one thing missing though, sadness and anxiety. I mean, I think there was some kind of rule against it. Really; I mean it. There was this large white painted board with a lot of black print on it and there had to be a rule on it that said, ‘NO ANXIETY OR SADNESS PERMITTED’ because that whole summer running to Dreamland Pool and Park, is perhaps one of the sweetest memory of my early childhood. There wasn’t even a moment of sadness, depression, or anxiety.
Folks, I am here to tell you that Dreamland Pool and Park was named appropriately, for it was truly a Dreamland . . and . . to get to experience it, was a Dream Come True! Wished you too could have experienced it. By the way, in my next installment of ‘Reminisce,’ I promise not to be so windy. Da Doc :-)
Doc Dimento grew up in a small town in southern Ohio. He moved to Pittsburg, PA to help build one of the fastest growing corporations in the United States . He later moved back home with his wife, and is now producing videos, writes screenplays, writing blogs, short stories, and books. Find out more about him on Facebook.