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Beachcomber - A Secret SwimmingPool

  • By David Barron
A few columns ago I wrote about how I walked a long distance to Evergreen Plunge in Boyle Heights for a once -a-summer visit.
Well, as a result of the infrequent visits, I never learned how to swim – until I became an adult.
Later on, when I was 14 years of age, we moved to a house on Edgley Street, right off of Garvey. Officially, it was in what was then called “South San Gabriel.” Of course, we told our friends that we lived in Monterey Park.  Rosemead was not in existence at that time.
Since I was a gangly teenager, there was no way I was going to take swim lessons with little kids at either Barnes Park pool or Garvey Park pool. No way.
Years later, when I turned 30, I decided that I had to learn how to swim. I checked the Monterey Park schedule and found exactly what I needed.
They were offering evening swimming lessons at a secluded public pool. The lessons were at Elder Park Pool. Even today, many people don’t know there is a public swimming pool there.
I wanted some privacy in my water splashing. Barnes Park would not do for me. The pool there is open to the public on three sides and always crowded. All around you there are joggers, walkers, tai chi people and maybe even someone who might recognize you.
So it was Elder Park pool for me. There were a couple of problems I was not prepared to handle. First of all there were only nine students – eight females of all sizes and shapes, and one male – me. The females were not all that bad; in fact there were a couple who wore what use to pass for a bikini in those days.
The second problem was that Elder pool was not heated. That normally wouldn’t be so bad, but that summer was the coldest in Southern California history. The evening outdoor temperature was in the low sixties. The pool water temperature was only one or two degrees warmer.
Despite the cold water, I got through the first two week session, but didn’t pass the swimming test. Since I wanted the Red Cross swimming card, I signed up again. – In fact most of the class signed up again.
Over a couple a beers I convinced my friend Roland to take the swim class with me. I distinctly remember mentioning the two females who wore bikini bathing suits. I don’t think our wives overheard, but somehow they also wound up taking the swimming classes, too.
But the Rec and Park folks tell me that Elder is still the best pool to take swim lessons, mostly because classes are very small. They hold all kinds of special events to entice regular pool use. They have such things such as picnics and “Dive-in Movies.”
The pool is now heated, there is still some relative privacy and the classes are small because everyone is at Barnes or Garvey Park pools. That was over 30 years ago and I may sign-up again. I am still not a very good swimmer. I wonder if those females in the bikinis will be there?

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