Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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November 16, 2012

Mark Maynard: Making another splash at pool: 11/16/12

ASHLAND — Ready to take a dip in Southside Pool again? The second annual Southside Pool Reunion is scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Elks Lodge.

Last year’s event drew about 150 Southside Pool “alumni” together again for good music, food and fellowship.

That’s the theme again, says Jill Stevens Hicks, one of the organizers.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Southside,” said Hicks, a 1979 graduate of Paul G. Blazer High School. “It’s where we did everything.”

The inaugural Southside Pool Reunion made a big splash, pardon the pun, with several generations of Southside alumni gathering at the Elks Lodge. Some of them brought photographs from long ago and others just brought their memories.

Either is fine, Hicks said.

The reunion will be from 7 p.m to midnight and a DJ will be provided. Cramer Ditty will be spinning hits from the ’50s to the ’80s.

Last year, the Elks Lodge was decorated for the occasion and Southside food was served. The setup will be similar, Hicks said.

Growing up in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and maybe even into the ’80s was when it was cool to be at this iconic pool, now home to softball fields in South Ashland.

A lot of us spent our summer days hanging out at Southside.

Like many other families during that time, mine was fortunate enough to join Breezeland Swim Club, too. I did a lot of swimming there as well.

But, really, Southside was where everybody gathered. It’s also where I learned to swim (something, in my opinion, everyone should learn how to do). I would never have been good enough to swim competitively. But I certainly learned how to dog paddle and how to handle a few of the basic swimming strokes. In other words, I didn’t sink like a rock once I

jumped into the water.

I’m sure I could have learned the same things at Breezeland, too, but it worked out for me better at Southside.

When you went to Southside, you went not only to swim but to be seen. It was a status thing to be at Southside. The girls would be sunbathing and the guys would be playing basketball — or eating some of those great corn dogs. It may not have been the best corn dog in the area — Camden Park’s fresh-dipped corndogs still had them beat — but it was a close second.

The pool food, as we called it, was always good at Southside. The french fries and corn dogs, though, were the specialties.

It was good fun and good times. Southside was a baby sitter much like Central Park was during the ’50-’70s decades.

We still have Dawson Pool today but so many families have their own pools the days of the public pools being the place to be seen are long gone. But the memories of Southside are still strong for anybody who made a splash there.

Cannonball!!!

Who doesn’t remember putting your belongings in those baskets? And how about those pool safety checks every hour when the lifeguards made you clear the pool? Those were never fun. And did you ever get called down for rough-housing in the pool? I’m pretty sure I did.

Did you remember to turn so you wouldn’t burn? I’m pretty sure I didn’t.

So many memories.

Come on out a week from tomorrow and share some of your own. It’ll be the place to be — just like Southside was in the “old days.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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