Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wenonah in the Summer

We'd leave the shore at the end of June, beginning of July, and return to Wenonah. Two weeks in the relatively balmy climate of a shore town. We'd pull into a near tropical climate 45 minutes later. South Jersey in the summer is hot and humid. Very hot and very humid. The trees by now were a deep, deep green. The garden we'd begun in May was filled with weeds and vegetables bursting out all over. The grass was high and thick. The house close and hot.

There was no air conditioning in the Wiler house until a few years later. We cooled off with a big ass attic fan that sucked air from below and blew it out a window, essentially creating some sort of breeze. We lay in bed in our sweat and listened to the crickets.

We'd wake up early and run to our bikes and head right to the pool. We spent the day swimming and getting a great tan and working up the nerve to flirt with girls.  Of course we never did. Some of our friends were on the swim team. The Wenonah Swim Club had a great swim team for a little podunk town in South Jersey. I hated swimming on a team. Way too much work. In fact, although I liked swimming in general, the swim club itself could be a trial. I wasn't a particularly fast freestyle swimmer so in our games of tag I was always it.

But then, you've probably heard that before.

We'd end up back at the house for dinner. Then we'd head out to play the Gun Game or Kick the Can or just sit on the porch and watch the world walk by. It was as if we were in heaven. The night was filled with the sounds of cans rattling down the sidewalk, lightning bugs, the chirp of crickets and the sound of sneakers slapping cement.  No, it wasn't as if we were in heaven.  We were in heaven.


Bob Thomas said...

Don't forget the buzz of the locusts in the trees. Other noises were the train whistles and the 8 o'clock whistle.

The swim team kids were tough to beat because they had two practices a day - one in the morning when it was relatively cold and "freezing" when you got out of the water and also just so darned early. I'm glad that I didn't have to do it. Then they had an evening practice. Wasn't their coach Mr. Clark, from Woodbury, cute Jackie Clark's father?

Music or muzak at the pool - trying to balance kids choices with adult's "relaxation" music was tough. Best bets were rainy or at least cloudy days when most of the adults were gone and the lifeguards got to pick the station.

Paul said...

I was a legacy on the Wenonah Swim Club swim team. My older brother Bruce had been this great swimmer and diver and so, of course, all I heard was, why couldn't I swim like Bruce. Well, because I was a fat, scared little boy who was deathly ashamed of his body. My biggest photographic demon is the 1965 team picture. Too painful to share here. I remember having my legs tied together so they wouldn't separate when doing the butterfly kick. I did once get a 3rd place ribbon doing the back stroke. I think I remember that one of the coaches was Mr. Black. I've emailed my brother. I'm sure he'll remember their names.

My parents were charter members of the pool. Tony Sacco got them to join and I'm pretty sure it was so the black developer that wanted to build a tract on the same property couldn't.

My favorite memories were of the snack bar (of course) and hanging out with all the older, fast girls. (Who knew - my first fag hags!)

Cherie Ehlers said...

I swam on the swim team for most of my childhood. I also swam for Sea Jays in the winter. My family was a charter member as well. I think I was 1 or 2 years old when the club opened. The swim team was hard work and I hated the early morning swim practices. But the hot choco afterwards made it much better. My favorite memories of the swim club were the splash parties and the end of the season party. I also remember the thunderstorms coming and us running for shelter to wait out the storm.

Jim Maddox said...

Cherie, remember the swim you and I took to bring a dead body to shore in the summer of 1971?

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

I lived a couple houses up from the pool on North Stockton. I learned to drive in that parking lot.
I need to know about the dead body asap! Do tell...

Bob Thomas said...

Claudia and others - Jim Maddox has put the whole story including the body on the WWW - it starts here


the truth is stranger than fiction

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

Bob, thanks for the link. I will read it tonight.
Glad to see you are writing. What happened with your job search? Hope you are well.

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

Bob, Jim an Cherie, I just read the dead body story. Yikes! Not sure I should have done that right before bedtime, but that is an amazing story.

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