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COLUMNS

Whole lot of shaking going on

Kesley Colbert Contributing Writer

I mostly went to the swimming pool in the early days to see Carol Jean Ellis. I’m telling you with all my heart, she was the prettiest girl God ever made! And don’t give me that Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor talk….. They couldn’t hold a candle to her!

She just looked good all over. Her hair was amazing. Her eyes actually glowed. She kinda floated by, more than walked. She had the best laugh I’ve ever seen….or heard! And she wore that dark red bathing suit like she was born to it.

One smile from Carol Jean would melt a Baby Ruth candy bar.

I never spoke to her. EVER! Sometimes being eight years old was a handicap. She was four years my senior. And, believe me that was like light years back in 1955!

She never knew of course. And my abject timidity sealed both our fates forever. But I could watch her from near and far at the ole swimming hole.

Twin Pools was an icon in our little town. Like Pat Houston’s Grocery. The Park Theatre. J. A. Abernathy’s Hardware. And the World War I cannon up on the square.

You could hear the music blasting out of speakers located under the high diving boards before the big wooden building fronting the two large pools came into view. The whole thing sat back off the road. Leaving ample room for parking…..and sunbathing….

Oh, and Carol Jean Ellis could sunbathe like nobody you’ve ever seen!

I hung around the pool so much Mr. Roe Alexander gave me a job.

Talk about a happening place! Folks came from town and farm to leap into the refreshing waters; the good times rolling in their heads even before they could get the necessary 50 cent fee into Mr. Roe’s outstretched hand.

Roe met one and all with a smile and a friendly word. He also prayed for a sunshiny day like a repentant sinner sought a light from above.

The first eight and a half customers paid my whole day’s salary. I was going to check baskets, keep the 45 RPM records “stacked and dropping” and watch people swim for the next nine hours.

It was a way of life in the summers of my youth.

And you’ll never hear me complain. Carol Jean wasn’t the only attraction. The solid gold background music never stopped. The Coasters “Charlie Brown” rings in my head to this day.

Elvis sang everything from “Heartbreak Hotel” to “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” Roe was big on Clarence “Frogman” Henry and Clyde McPhatter. All the young swimmers clamored for The Kingston Trio’s “Reverend Mr. Black.” And nobody could sit still when Chuck Berry cut down on “Maybellene”, “Sweet Little Sixteen” or “Johnny B. Goode.”

I remember the summer Roy Orbison stopped by, took one look at Carol Jean Ellis and wrote “Pretty Woman” on the spot!

It wasn’t all about music and girls. I had a front row seat to see Jimmy Joe Fitzgerald swim. Talk about amazing! I could do a back flip off that high diving board, and a half gainer from a pike position. I could do a front layout. And sometimes I’d add a twist—Jimmy Joe could do them ALL IN ONE DIVE!

He had no fear! And he was always laughing. It was fun personified the moment he walked in. He could light that pool up!

You can’t imagine the number of faces I can still see leaping out of the water.

We had swimming classes. I loved it when one of the little people realized they could put their head completely under. Or float ON TOP OF THE WATER. It wouldn’t take them long after that….they’d take off like Johnny Weissmuller in a Tarzan movie.

We held diving contests. We would race from one end of the pool to the other. We’d crawl up on each other’s shoulders and go to war. We’d play chase and tag…..and lay in the sun and exchange dreams.

Maybe pretty tame stuff by today’s standards. But believe me, we didn’t think so back then. What a gathering place! Friendships were born there. And more than one or two love affairs….

They still make movies about such times.

It shaped my life in so many ways. And the good friends and daily adventures are forever forged in my memory bank.

I am so much the richer for it.

And Roe always declared I was the best lifeguard he ever had……if someone was drowning within a two foot radius of Carol Jean Ellis!

Respectfully,

Kes