Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 19, 2012

Southside Pool Reunion scheduled for this weekend

Locals reminisce about old hangout

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — It’s time to dip your toe in the pool again.

The second annual Southside Pool Reunion will be from 7 to midnight at the Elks Lodge on Saturday.

The idea is to throw yourself back into the 1950s to 1980s, when Southside Pool was the place to be on a hot summer day. Last year’s inaugural reunion had around 200 visitors.

“Everybody had such a good time,” said Jill Stevens Hicks, one of the organizers of the reunion. “It seemed like there were chunks of periods of time missing though. We want all generations represented.”

For years, Southside Pool was where kids wasted away their summer days. it was the social place to be, along with the place many first learned to swim. The strong vibes from Southside resonate today with those who were part of that generation.

“I lived on Jackson Avenue and as soon as I was able to get on a bicycle I went to Southside,” Hicks said. “Me and Melanie (Gillum) Osborne, my best friend through junior high and high school, would ride our bikes over. The only rule was we had to walk our bikes across Blackburn Avenue.”

Southside was located off Blackburn Avenue in South Ashland.

Many enjoyed their first kiss, first concert or learned to swim at the iconic pool where the lifeguards were typically good-looking athletes from Ashland. The concession stand food is another strong memory for many who chowed down on corn dogs and French fries.

“It was so much more than swimming,” Hicks said. “Kids today don’t have that and it’s a shame. They don’t have what we had. I can’t imagine how we could have filled our summers. It’s a very special place.”

Midge Eades Sexton, 74, has memories of Southside from when her father, Hugh Eades, helped run the pool in the 1940s and 1950s.

Hugh Eades, who worked at the power company, would come by each evening and collect the money, she said. He was also instrumental in getting the city-owned pool some additional space besides the actual pool area.

“I have a lot of fond memories there,” she said. “The city owned it but he ran it. I’m not sure they even paid him anything for what he did. I’m proud of my dad.”

Hugh Eades was also a Scout leader at First Christian and a member of the Elks.

Midge remembered teaching swimming lessons to adults and children and working as a lifeguard at Southside.

Last year’s reunion came together in a short span and it’s been the same this year, she said. Hicks, David Payne, Donna Suttle and Mark Ison are the four main organizers of the event. The room has been rented through a donation from the group. There is no cost for attending but donations are welcome, Hicks said.

“One-hundred percent goes to paying toward the party,” Hicks said. “Whatever money is left rolls over to the next year. This pays for the food.”

A decorating committee will have some of the Southside memorabila available and visitors are asked to bring photos. Photographs that can be copied in advance will be on display that night. Anyone with photos can stop by South Ashland Greenhouse and ask for Donna.

The committee has hired DJ Kramer Ditty to spin tunes from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Hicks said. Several contests with prizes will also be offered throughout the night.

It’s a Southside Pool party atmosphere.

“We think it will be a long of fun,” Hicks said. “The more the merrier.”

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