May weather in the Central Valley has come upon us in ebbs and flows; it hasn’t decided if it should be windy and overcast, or scorching hot and sunny.
Having lived in San Francisco for the past four years, I welcome the nights where the cool breeze comes through my window. They are a complete contradiction to the nights where the heat keeps me up every hour. But all summer nights come to an end. And they consist of dreams that have long days, cold drinks, and pruny skin in water as the main character. Those are the dreams and the reality we wake to of the 23rd Street Pool.
The 23rd Street Pool, much like the 28th Street Pool, is a calling to the past. It calls back to a “Sandlot” summer that kids of the 90’s reminisce about, or what adults of the 50’s and 60’s recall in their childhood memories.
Sadly, the 23rd Street Pool, a sanctuary of the summer, has been the victim of tagging attacks. No matter who tagged it or when, it was time for a change. My husband, Aaron, and I live near the pool, and we noticed the tagging on our daily walks and bike rides. For six months, it stared at us in the face and we wondered why no one had fixed it. Then we thought, “Why not fix it ourselves?”
My husband, who is a naturally-gifted artist, was up to the challenge one Monday night. So after work we headed to the the pool, chipped paint from the sign, and headed to Home Depot to get paint samples. In typical summer fashion, we grabbed cold drinks and headed back to the pool to repaint the sign.
It took us two hours to bring back the glory of the sign. That was it! We had a wonderful summer night painting at this Merced institution. Whomever painted it originally did a wonderful job. All we did was bring it back to life for the enjoyment of the Spaghetti Acres residents and all who are members of the pool. That was the goal: to add to and protect the pride of this neighborhood. The simple part of it was that it was not all that hard to do considering it was within the realm of our skillset.
Yet, this was just one act to beautify. Countless members keep up the property year after year to provide a safe and fun place for residents to beat the heat while spending quality time with friends and family. In a time where community living seems to be a thing of the past (outside of gym memberships), but a dream of current day (think: tiny house movement), preserving a community pool is a special act of preserving history. I think of a community pool enclosed in barbed-wire fence as a “Sandlot” pool, but for many Baby Boomers, that was a reality of their backyard and of their summers. That “carefree” life so often referred to as something of the past, started and lived in places like community pools. Merced, and many towns in the Central Valley, are fortunate to still have such pools and even lakes. A special thanks is deserved for those that maintain, beautify, and enjoy those community places who in turn, keep history “alive” in our current today reality.
While May was off and on with it’s weather, we can all count on June and the rest of summer being a scorching one. The best way to beat the heat? Swimming!
See you at the 23rd Street Pool!
*If you’re interested in becoming a member, please find out more information on the 23rd Street Pool page on Facebook.
Sara Cribari Hill