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Lets play pool
Do you ever go into Google Earth and look up your address or some address you used to have? It can be kind of fun.
This is the street on which we live. The area outlined in red was one property that has been developed in the last eight years. All the homes except one have been built in that time frame. One thing that struck me as I viewed this image was the number of swimming pools. In the new area only one home, the second from the bottom on the left border, has no pool. The home under construction on the lower right has a pool. It was not there when this photo was taken. Furthermore, most of the homes in the older surrounding area also have pools.
This got me thinking about my childhood and the importance of a pool.
When I was five we moved to Kingman, Arizona on Route 66. The land was high desert and accented by mesas and cliffs. Dad worked for the Highway Department. The first year we lived in a small rental house and in his spare time Dad built our home. This is a picture of it taken 35 years later.
When it was new there was no fence or tree, nothing as upscale as this.
Years after we had moved away the neighborhood looked like this. It was a little more primitive when we lived there.
This is how it looks now. The following photo was taken by Google Earth in 2011.
Obviously much has changed over the 60 plus years but the essential neighborhood remains. Kingman was actually a great place for a kid. As you see on the left, the streets ended at a wash. What you can’t see is that the land slopes downward to the wash. I would get my brother’s bike, on which I could not reach the peddles, and take it to the crest of the slope, climb on a bucket in order to get on the bike and coast down the hill and down the long road on the left. Of course I had to walk the bike back. I did this for hours.
Down by the wash our neighbor had a mule which he would occasionally let us ride. There were some abandoned chicken coops in which we could play. And lots of open space to run around in.
And, as you can see in the lower right, there was a municipal swimming pool. In the summer I spent everyday there. My mother bought me a pass good for the entire summer and I would walk the three blocks down to the pool by myself and spend the day. Kids had more freedom. It was a different time.
I remember taking swimming lessons. There were six or seven of us little kids and two or three instructors. Our first task was to learn to float. They instructed us to “take a big breath” and roll up like a ball. The others did fine; I sank every time. Finally they figured out my problem after which they instructed me to “take a big breath and hold it”. That worked better.
The pool was a wonderland. It had a high board and a low board, a kiddie pool, lockers, all sorts of great stuff. This was before air-conditioning was widespread so it was quite a popular place. I loved the municipal pool.
But life moved on and we left Kingman for Carmel, California. No pool there, but a wonderful ocean.
The first two houses I built later in Phoenix, Arizona had pools and when they were young my boys used them a lot. But, when they became teenagers they didn’t want to be home. That wasn’t cool. The pool stopped having much use and it became a maintenance issue.
Years later I bought a house on Summa Street here in West Palm Beach. It had a pool. I did not want a pool and almost didn’t buy the house because of it. Here is a Google Earth shot of the house taken last year.
It is the one in the bottom middle. You can clearly see the pool. The white area around the pool is a shed roof covering the pool decking. It was the cause of a wonderful discovery.
I had lived in the house a year and had never tested the pool. I wanted nothing to do with the pool. One day I decided to clean the gutter that ran around the edge of the shed roof. It was full of leaves. Now you can see that the roof goes right to the edge of the pool. In order to clean the gutter it was necessary to place a ladder on the edge of the decking. The ladder was nearly perfectly vertical. And, of course you know it. When I was up there the ladder slipped backward and dumped me in the pool. And you know what? The pool was warm. It felt wonderful.
That was a surprise to me. In Phoenix, where the temperature goes over 110°F every day in August, the water is not as warm as it is in West Palm Beach, where the temperature seldom gets to 95°F. The difference must be the fact that we have so much more humidity here in Florida. The rate of evaporation in Arizona is much greater than in Florida because of the low humidity. Evaporation cools the water.
Anyway, once I experienced the warmth of the pool, my appreciation rekindled. We have a great pool now, one with a heater. I crank it up to the 90°s and go in at night.
More to come
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