Memory Lane

Swimming 2017-10-29T17:46:48-05:00


Growing Up In Bixby

By Don House

I don’t remember learning to swim. My first recollection of swimming is about age four with my older brothers, Gene and Sherman, in our farm pond. Although we never discussed it, I assume they taught me how to swim at an earlier age. Our old farm wagon was often parked in the pond to replenish moisture in the wood during long summer dry spells. The wagon provided a dandy platform in a pond with a muddy bottom. Swimming wasn’t just water recreation; it also provided a chance to “freshen up” between those traditional Saturday baths!

A few years later, after Gene and Sherman were married and no longer at home, I started swimming at a place we called “the deep hole” on Posey Creek. It wasn’t really deep, (perhaps six or eight feet in the deepest spot) but it was the best place along that section of Posey, roughly half a mile north of 151st Street and half a mile east of Harvard. The kids at the Pioneer Plant had established it as “their” swimming hole before I aged into the group.

On a typical swimming venture, I rode my bike to Jack Bolton’s house where he joined me for the trip to the plant. At the plant, we rounded up anyone who was interested. That might include Clayton, Don and Betty Guinn, Richard and Barbara Dill, and Bill and Paralee Rosamond. Jerry and Wiley Washington lived a half mile further north, and they might join us if they got the word. We hiked from the plant through the field and woods, and as we approached our destination, we would race the last hundred yards or so to try to be first to canon-ball from the north bank into the water. We donned our swim trunks at home, but they were off before we hit the water if no girls had joined us. Polio was a dreaded disease in those days, and although there was no evidence to support the notion it was spread in public swimming places, a lot of parents did not let their children participate.

A couple of summers, perhaps 1948 and 1949, I joined Pat Daily several times as his guest at the YMCA in Tulsa. The first summer, his mother drove us there. The second summer, Pat caught the Trailways Bus at Devine’s Drug and rode it out west by my house where I flagged it down and joined him. The bus continued west and north to Hilltop, and then north on a route through Jenks and on to the terminal at Fourth and Cincinnati in Tulsa. We walked to the YMCA over on Boston for our swim.

After our swim we followed a routine which included a stop at the Coney Island for a fill-up of those delicacies before hiking to Radio Inc. at Tenth and Main. We were near heaven at Radio Inc. We seldom had intentions of buying anything, but we loved to rub elbows with their real customers. They had a treasure trove of ham radio equipment, and we longed for the day when we would get our ham licenses and be able to use some .1of it. We departed from Radio Inc. with barely enough time to catch the return bus to Bixby!

Bixby had no swimming pool, and a lot of Bixby teenagers could be found at Sapulpa’s Public Swimming Pool in the early 1950s. My Dad allowed me almost unlimited use of his maroon, 1949, special deluxe Plymouth four-door sedan. It wasn’t what you would call a “babe magnet”, but I often hauled a carload of friends to swim at Sapulpa on Sunday afternoons. My job at Doc’s interfered with my ability to go at other times.

After Pat Daily got his driver’s license, we were riding in his mother’s 1950 Chrysler one day when we decided to go for a swim at Sapulpa. I thought he’d stop at my house for my swim trunks, but he said he had an extra pair in the car. I was a trim 140 pounds (Those were the days!) and had no doubt they’d fit, so we continued to Sapulpa. The trunks provided by Pat were new, and appeared to be made of tan nylon . The fit was great. But when I got out of the pool after my first dive, I experienced an event that ranked pretty high on my list of “most embarrassing moments.” The only thing protecting my “dignity” was the sewn-in knit supporter in the front of the trunks. Everything else was completely transparent! Pat swore his innocence! The trunks were new and he tried unsuccessfully to convince me he had no idea they would be transparent after they were wet. I still owe Pat for that one!

The Sapulpa folks were very hospitable to the Bixby crowd. One of my class of ’52 classmates, James Daniels, met a girl named Suzanne at the Sapulpa pool, and they were married in 1954.

Dr. Murdock’s country retreat in the woods off the southeast corner of 111th and Sheridan probably had the only real swimming pool in (or near) Bixby. Few people in Bixby knew about the pool, and Pat Daily was one of the few people who had actually been there. I think his Dad had interned under Dr. Murdock and this had resulted in the Daily family being guests of the Murdocks. Pat “invited” a gang of his friends (they were all guys) to swim with him there one night. Instead of entering through the gate at 111th, we parked a good distance south on the side of Sheridan. As we climbed the fence to the property, it became clear that “invited” was a stretch of the imagination! But we all (My memory of “all” includes John Farrar, Eddie Sager, Pat, and myself, but to avoid the possibility of slighting someone, I’ll venture to say it might have also included Jerry Greene, Tom Easton and Wayne Walker). walked through the woods to the retreat. We were having a great time in the moonlit, private pool; I think we were all in our birthday suits and a bell which sounded like a locomotive bell started to peal! We were all just a bit nervous under the circumstances of our “invitation” and we made a desperate rush to get into our clothes. Foremost in my mind was being rounded up in the nude by a deputy and getting paraded to jail! Then we discovered Pat was ringing the bell! The thrill of swimming in a private pool subsided, and we headed back to the cars. I didn’t hear the experience mentioned again for over 50 years. Then someone told me John blabbed about it at the 50th reunion of the class of ’54. Seems like no one can keep a secret anymore!

© 2006-2008 · Don House · Bixby OK · All Rights Reserved. Published at Bixby Historical Society Online with permission.