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‘˜Suicide’ was drink of choice at city pool

By Ken K. Green A couple of years ago, I was taking in a meal at a local eatery with my kids when my son returned from the soda fountain, handed his cup to me and said, ‘Taste this dad.’ I took a sip and about gagged on the nasty mixture in the cup. I asked him what it was to which he responded proudly, ‘It’s a ‘˜suicide.” A ‘suicide.’ I hadn’t heard or thought of that term since my childhood hanging out at the old city pool nearly every day of the summer. The ‘suicide’ was the drink of choice for most who spent their time at the city pool. It’s a mixture of every drink the soda fountain has to offer. Back in those days, all we had were Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta Orange and Fanta Grape. Nowadays, there are numerous other flavors you can add to your concoction. I was again reminded of these cool drinks from my boyhood days during a discussion about the old pool on Facebook’s Barnesvillle Memories page along with everyone’s favorite snack from the concession stand, the frozen Zero candy bar. The concession attendants would store the candy bars in the ice box to keep them from melting in the sweltering summer heat and they would freeze up and everyone loved them. Especially the Zero bars. It seems nearly everyone who grew up in Barnesville in the 1950s, ‘˜60s, ‘˜70s and early ‘˜80s spent many a summer day in the old pool which was located where the Gordon College Athletic Complex is now, The pool opened in August 1953 as part of the city’s recreation park that included a nine-hole golf course, Little League baseball field, playgrounds, picnic areas, the recreation director’s office and the American Legion building that included a recreation center. The Lamar Civic League added a bath house the next summer with male and female changing rooms and showers. The Olympic-size pool, complete with high dive and low dive, was the place to be each summer day. Kids of all ages frolicked and played in the cool waters. Others got their tan on around the perimeter. Many lined up to show off from the diving boards. Some just came to hang out with friends. There was even a foot deep kiddie pool for the younger kids to play in. Everyone enjoyed the tunes of the day blaring from the jukebox. The pool was open in the mornings for certified swim lessons but many have tales of learning to tread water in less conventional ways from being just tossed into the chlorinated water to being hauled up the high dive and being buddy-plunged to the bottom of the 10-foot deep pool. No one remembers anyone ever being seriously injured. After lunch and, of course, the mandatory half-hour wait to swim after you eat, the pool opened for everyone until 5 p.m. and then re-opened in the evenings at 6 p.m., usually starting with an adult-only hour of swimming before everyone else was allowed to enjoy the pool until 9 p.m. Many would sneak into the pool after hours for fun and duck under the water to hide from the police when headlights from cars approached the area. The old city pool closed for good in the mid ‘˜80s after 30-plus years of serving Barnesville’s summer recreational needs. Gordon College acquired the land in a swap with the city, razed the buildings and developed the area into its sports complex that now includes its baseball, softball and soccer fields, tennis and handball courts, a volleyball ‘beach,’ walking trail and parking. The old pool is gone but the memories live on. If you would like to get in on the fun of reading and sharing memories, get a Facebook account (they’re free) and request to be my friend, Ken K. Green. I’ll be glad to add you to the group that’s now over 1,200 members strong. To view photos of the old city pool, go to Ken K. Green is a sports writer for The Herald Gazette and administrator of the Barnesville Memories page on Facebook.

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