Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.
is for swimming.
Children dressed in only a swimsuit and flip-flops with a towel tucked under an arm passed by my house routinely throughout the summer when I was a kid. I would be filled with envy because I knew where they were going.
The Dinky Pool.
It was just a small community pool in a park on the corner of Bainbridge Avenue and George Washington Highway. There was no diving board because there was no deep end. It was basically a wading pool. But there was a lifeguard.
|image from Google Maps|
There is a skate park where the Dinky Pool used to be.
My mother never let me go to the Dinky Pool. Never. Why? She feared I would contract polio. Polio was the big scare of the day reaching its peak in the 1950s. My mother was not the only one who thought that polio could spread in a public pool; it was a common view. My friend Sharon’s sister had polio, so I knew it would not be an easy life in iron braces, unable to run, roller skate, and jump rope. I was obedient about staying away from the Dinky Pool even after the Salk and Sabin vaccines were introduced in the early 1960s. Vaccine via sugar cube – what could be better than that? I wish more medicine came on a sugar cube.
|Lake Ahoy in the 1960s|
photo courtesy Cradock Alumni & Friends Facebook Group
The Dinky Pool was not the only place deemed off-limits by my cautious mother. Lake Ahoy was likewise on Momma’s list of disgusting places. If it wasn’t the polio thing, then maybe it was the “pee and poop” thing. Everybody I knew LOVED Lake Ahoy. Nobody died from it despite rumors of “things” found floating in the lake. I was SOMEBODY’s guest ONE time. How I managed to snag permission that one time can only be chalked up to my mother possibly being too embarrassed to say “no” and having to justify her answer to somebody's parents. She must have crossed her fingers and said an extra prayer for my safety.
On most steamy hot days, a garden hose and lawn sprinkler were our only means of relief. But then came Tuesday. On Tuesdays, my dad’s day off from work at Sears & Roebuck, we all headed to Virginia Beach. Daddy always went in first to test the waves. We rented a raft from the lifeguard. It was a heavy-weight canvas, sturdy, better than what you could buy in the store. My sister and I would plop ourselves across the raft and hang onto the edges as Daddy dragged us out to sea. When a big wave came, he’d duck under it while hoisting us up just at the crest so we could ride the wave to shore. Sometimes we would be thrown off, tumbling and rolling in the sand. It was scary, but we always went back for more. “Do it again, Daddy. Do it again!”
The sagacious among you sedentary spectators should slip on over to the A to Z April Challenge to scrutinize some scintillating and sardonic selections that will surely leave you feeling satiated.