Summer Swimming Tan
The municipal swimming pool was to Summer what the ice skating pond was to Winter only with less pain. It was located across town but that was no obstacle for a boy with a bike in a smallish town (yet the third largest in South Dakota). It was nearly a daily trip. The dressing room was dank and stinky. The lifeguards strutted through like the princes of the pool and I guess they were. Everywhere the strong smell of chlorine permeated air. After the spread of the polio virus in the 30’s and 40’s it had been made mandatory to chlorinate public swimming pools and they were lavish with it at ours.
I was a fair swimmer. A fact that never ceased to amaze my mother as she loved to tell the story of me taking swimming lessons at the YMCA as a young boy. She would often be in the balcony and the instructor would look up to her and disgustedly shake his head. But after a few years I swam well and did some simple diving. But this was nothing compared to one of my best friends at the time. He was a classically handsome young man with a physique augmented by regular weight lifting. He swam like an olympian and dove from the high board with flips and turns that had the cutest girls gasping. He lived near the pool and sometimes I would stay overnight at his house to have an early start to the pool. He had a beautiful young mother that made the stays even more enjoyable.
By the end of Summer I had a deep brown tan that would make today’s tanning salon addict envious and my my hair was bleached near Andy Warhol white by the chlorine.
Faded Pictures from a Life: Summer Swimming Tan, 12″ x 9″, acrylic on shuen paper, 2021, Mark W McGinnis