Last night I dreamed about Oak Hills Swim and Racquet Club. If you aren’t from Mayfield, it’s a giant pool and tennis court frequented by the
rednecks locals. (When I say redneck is an affectionate term. Please don’t Paula Deen me.) We went every summer until my Dad decided to take up golf and moved his membership over to a country club. I think I was 15 at the time.
Sadly I don’t know if Oak Hills is even open anymore. I probably haven’t been there since I was 15. It remains one of my favorite memories from childhood. In spite of the fact that it seemed like it took FOREVER to get there, we went almost every day of the summer. It’s the only place we went that I don’t remember my grandmother being in tow. We arrived, showed our card and walked through a long hall. Tye was not a swimmer. I remember being aggravated that Mom wanted to set up at the baby pool. She didn’t want to walk over to the big pool because Tye would cry and she didn’t like to ask other people to watch either of us. How I understand that now with only three years between Tye and me and 7 between Jack and Arleigh. Sorry Mom. I loved swim lessons. Tye cried. I loved the high dive. Tye cried. Eventually he changed his tune when he was like
23 8 or 9 but it was rough going for a few years.
At Oak Hills music was always playing and it was never that Eddie Rabbit/Conway Twitty/Neil Diamond stuff Mom insisted on listening too. It’s where I found a love of Oreo ice cream sandwiches and hot fries with ketchup that had never been in a fridge. Seriously, ketchup tastes better heated by the sun. Again, I wonder now how many dollar bills I asked for over a summer. Sorry mom. I must have been an aggravating child. There was nothing better than pitching in for fries and eating them on our wet towels.
One summer I had the greatest bathing suit ever in a 8-year old mind. It was red, white and blue striped and the first time I wore it, I made an amazing discovery after I got home. I was tanning through the white stripe. I spent the summer looking incredibly weird if anyone had lifted up my shirt but I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I’m admitting to being a dork.
In my memories there were always hundreds of kids there. I really only remember playing with Nathan and Natalie Galloway and Michael Wade. Nathan and Natalie were cousins. He goes by Nate now and Michael goes by Mike. Having been friends since birth, I still have a hard time saying anything but Nathan and Michael. I can’t just switch things up because we moved to high school. I remember the summer that Natalie developed alopecia. We watched her hair slowly fall out and wondered if it was the chlorine. When Nathan and Natalie joined the swim team I remember trying to practice timed trials with them. I remember thinking that every boy my age would carry a crush for my cousin Penny, who was also almost always there. Again, my apologies Penn because we never stopped pestering her. I remember some song coming on and we all got the words completely wrong but it took us years to find out. I remember how hard it was to keep our eyes open on the way home. We would stretch our wet towels out in the floor to take a nap, never even bothering to take our suits off. We always slept better after a day at the pool. That is why my mother who swears she can’t swim took us to a pool every day every summer. She was smarter than I ever gave her credit for.
I wonder what my kids will look back and remember as they are about to turn 40. Sea turtles and man-of war; cardboard boxes and friends all over the world; or traveling back to Kentucky to swim in a giant pool. Hope I’m around to ask them.