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Ford column: Prez has a poolful of memories

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
Tomorrow, as we close our neighborhood pool, I will have mixed emotions.
Sadness that summer has come to an end. Thankfulness that my kids have a safe, fun place to make memories. Shock that Henry made it through another season without getting kicked out. As far as I know, anyway.
But most of all, I’ll be ecstatically, stratospherically happy that my time as president of Eaman Park Pool has come to an end.
Growing up, I was a pool rat. My “tween” summers revolved around a pool in South Dakota where I spent hours each day alternately immersed in chlorine, lying in the sun and jumping off a diving board, a pattern broken only by snarfing down a Laffy Taffy or spying on a cute boy.
Helping provide a similar experience for my own kids and dozens of their friends at Eaman Park Pool has brought me great joy and satisfaction.
I absolutely love to watch children grow up at the pool. The little girl who wouldn’t put her face in the water on Memorial Day, now swimming like a fish.
The toddlers graduating from the wading pool to the big pool.
Nellie and her friends finding the courage to do their first flip off the board, parents cheering.
But after two years as president, I look forward to walking into the pool next year and not worrying about the alkalinity level in the water, the budget woes of a notorious money pit and whether we have toilet paper.
At least, not worrying as much.
I’ve had lots of help from people just as dedicated to EPP. We worked hard, and our pool has become so popular that we had to cap membership this year.
In many ways, a pool is only as good as its lifeguards. And ours were great.
How we got lucky enough to find a half-dozen teenagers who were responsible, reliable and refreshingly void of drama remains a mystery.
Plus, they really liked our kids.
The guards often stayed late to play sharks and minnows or ping pong with the pool rats, who followed them around like hungry puppies.
One guard came in early to give lessons to a teenager who had never learned to swim. He didn’t want the kid to be embarrassed.
Now there’s a 19-year-old with a tender heart.
Our lifeguards were incredibly brave during the dreaded Code Brown.
After discovering the offensive material and clearing the pool, they emerged from the guard shack fully prepared. One donned goggles and held a net, while the other wore plastic gloves and carried a garbage bag.
The goggled guard went under, only to come up and state, “I need paper towels.”
“Eww!” erupted the throng of moms and kids, watching the event unfold.
Cleaning up poo. Underwater. With an audience. Now that’s a tough job.
Because a potential successor might read this, I won’t say how tough my job was. The job description will read something like this:
“Wanted: pool president. Must be accessible 24 hours a day. Ability to hear complaints, clean guard shack and answer phone while scheduling pool parties is required. Chemistry degree and addiction to e-mail helpful. Sunscreen imperative. Benefits: being outdoors, laughing until you cry, helping parents maintain sanity, watching kids have a blast, memories to last a lifetime.”
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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