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Monday, June 03, 2013

55 Years of Swimming at The Bungalow in Tamaqua PA

The Bungalow Bridge - where spring water ran into the pool. This must have been 1944 - because sister Gail is sitting on the left - my Mom holding onto her. The two ladies on the right are Kathryn "Everhart" Pisanick and Grace "Everhart" Schleicher - Dad's sisters. I am guessing Dad took this picture. This was 2 years after Grandfather Roy Everhart died - and no one knew anything about it. The other kids in the pictures are - cousins Bob Schleicher - Ruth Pisanick - and Kathleen Pisanick.

When I was a kid - a summer in Tamaqua PA was mainly spent at the Bungalow. That was the unofficial name of the community swimming pool. Folk lore had it that one time there was a real bungalow built there - but it was long gone before my first visit in 1948.

We were members of the Bethany Church and summer picnics were a way of life - this was before the Phillies were on television. One of my favorites was the penny hunt. They would dump a big pile of sawdust on the ground and mix in jars of pennies. We would dig for "hours" looking for the loot.

Originally the swimming pool was fed by a very cold spring from the mountain. It ran down a small aqueduct - under a small stone bridge build by the WPA government work force. Water temperature ranged from the low 60s to the low 70s. Just when it was getting warm on Sunday evening - they would drain the pool! They did not have a filter then - and on Monday morning they started filling it up again with frigid water.

Later during my college days - I had one of the best summer jobs in town. For 30 hours a week - I was a life guard - and enjoying the sights and sounds of the 60s. On one of the best days of my life - I met Lulu and her bikini. In the summer of 69 - I invited her to go to a rock festival being held in Bethel NY - something called Woodstock. Her Mom did not agree that it was the thing to do. So off I went in my new VW with two friends Bob from town - Bob Roland and Bob LeMasters.

Two years later - Lulu and I were married. The local bank had faith in us - and gave us the money to build a house on a hill across the street from the place we met. For 30 years - we walked hand in hand to the old swimming hole together. Lulu and our sons Drew and Keith all served as life guards at The Bungalow.

The pool is officially run by the town - but when we were kids - it was customary to "sleep out" in the park at night. As long as we stayed in the park - the police pretty well let us alone. And then there was Bungalow Bill - before the Beatles made the song. Billy Brooks slept almost the entire summer in the park in protest to his Dad having him work on the ice cream truck. Everybody spent a night or two with Bill. Bill went on to raise a family of 5 daughters - 5 of the nicest kids I taught at Panther Valley.

When John Morgan died - the inventor of thermal underwear - he left an endowment to care for the park. That money also built the beautiful concession stand by the pool and provided free admission to the residents for a few years.

Leo Schilling - our best neighbor - build a brick house in 1948 on our hill. From 1973 to 2003 - we could not have had a better neighbor. Son Lee still lives in that brick house.

Many of these pictures are from opening day this year - June 5th 2010. A few old pictures I found in my archives.

I wonder if the water is over 70 yet this year.

The most popular dive was the cannon ball.

CLick this picture to enlarge and see our brown house next to the Leo's green awning.

Next to the diving boards was the life guard chair where Lulu drew my attention.

In the 1950s - they drained the pool every Sunday night. We swam while it filled on Monday.

This must have been 1948 - because they are building Leo Schilling's house.

Note the Bungalow Bridge on the right. It is the same bridge that was in the first picture above. Click picture to enlarge to see our house in the hill next to the green awning.

In the 60s - there was no diving well - we would dive into 8 feet of water!

The John Morgan Foundation built the new concession stand. Note the Bungalow Bridge in front of the stand.
This is my Dad holding me at one of the Bethany Church picnics. It must have been 1950 - because I look about 2 years old. That would have made Dad 34 years old. He had already served 16 years in the Coaldale Number 8 Mine. 9 years later - the mine closed. Dad had 25 years in - he was out on the street - jobless - with lungs full of anthracite.