I don't know why this popped in my head, but the other day I was at the hotel that my father and my step-mother were staying at for their visit to Santa Barbara. Amy and I were lounging around the hotel pool relaxing when I remembered the pool in Akron, Ohio. It was called the Montrose Country Club and was located a quick five or ten minute drive from our home, which eventually became the home of--believe it or not--Lebron James up until recently when he decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Montrose pool was where my brother and I spent four of our summers before moving out to Santa Barbara in 1980. To say that the pool was my life would be an understatement as it had everything that I could ever want, short of a roller skating rink, which was located just a bit further away. The pools consisted of three olympic-size swimming pools that were connected to form a U-shape with a slide, a high dive and two low diving boards at the bottom of the U. The left side was for open swim and the right side was for adult lap swimming, but just between you and me, I was probably a better swimmer than half of the fogies bobbing their asses slowly down the lanes with their spongy kick boards. For two of the years, I was on the swim team and consistently placed first in most all backstroke races and alternated between first and second place for the front crawl, depending on whether I was racing George or not; George always placed first for front crawl. Butterfly stroke is something best left unmentioned and not something I enjoy talking about.
During the Akron summers, my mom would drop me off at the pool for swim class and training, which included life saving, and she would then pick me up. My brother and I would quickly eat lunch, and then the three of us would head back out to Montrose for the next three or four hours. Montrose was not limited to swimming only, which is why one of my most favorite places on the planet. Out front there were two miniature golf courses, inside there were many tennis courts for my parents, four or five actual wood hot tubs, a snack shack, and a large field behind the pools that lead to a playground with a huge slide that would become hotter than hell under the hot summer sun. I could have very well lived there, oftentimes fantasizing that I actually did.
When I was not doing dives off of the high dive, I was swimming in the open swim area with my Mego Human Torch, Iron Man, or Lizard action figures, sans clothing, and dreading the inevitable "out of the pool" lifeguard whistle, signaling the 15 minute break that meant any of the the following: it was time to rest on the red wooden lounge chairs and listen to Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" playing over the speakers, play some miniature golf, get a snack--which meant an even longer wait before going back in the pool, or we would go burn the shit out of ourselves on the giant slide.
I never wanted the day to end, even when I was sunburnt to a crisp and my eyes were completely reddened from the chlorine, I could have stayed for hours more. When we got home, I would always drop my waterlogged ears with Swim-Ear for fear of the debilitating ear infection I once acquired and had to suffer a week without going in the water before I was better. Now that I think of it, there was also the time that I split my chin open on the side of the pool and had to receive stitches--a horrifying experience in and of itself--and then had to stay out of the pool for two weeks then as well. The time away nearly drove me insane.
Then we moved to Santa Barbara. I missed Montrose terribly.
A decade and a half later, Amy and I went to Ohio to visit my father and step-mother and since they are currently living in the same area that I grew up, I asked if they could swing by the Montrose Country Club so that I could show Amy, but it was gone. Where once stood one of my most cherished of childhood memories, were now the following: Applebee's, Chi-Chi's, Verizon Store, AT&T store, Best Buy, Costco and some other drivel that can be found anywhere if you get in your car and drive an hour in any direction. No more Montrose. Wow. From a relaxed enjoyable place that many families enjoyed, to row upon row of parking lots and people angrily shouting at one another. Gotta love progress.
I just had to let you know that I missed you Montrose. You were so good to me back then.
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