- Borts Pool on the west side (pictured above)
- North Side pool
- South Side pool
- Shady Run (Pemberton) also on the south side
- Lincoln Park on the east side
- John Chase, near the Westlake Terrace
- Bailey pool in the McGuffey Heights area
Trust me, I didn’t remember all these pools after all these years but found them on a Vindy.com forum.
When I was growing up, I would walk about a half mile to Borts Swimming Pool practically every summer afternoon and would swim from when they opened until it was time to deliver papers. You could get into Borts Pool back then for a dime! You paid your money and then got a basket and a tag you’d keep. There was a locker room to change in and shower and you turned in the basket with your clothes to the locker boy or girl in charge. Occasionally people had things stolen but I just brought clothes and never had a problem.
Writing from a boy’s perspective, there were three things we’d do at the pool: spend time in the water actually swimming, diving and playing games like water football; tanning (it’s a wonder all of us don’t have skin cancer!); and looking at, talking to (if we had the courage), or even flirting with the girls (something I wasn’t all that good at!). There were always the lifeguards who would blow their whistles or even make us sit out of the water if we got too rowdy in our horseplay. And every half hour or hour (I’m not sure which) a siren would blow and we all had to get out of the water so the lifeguards could make sure no one was in trouble. I can’t remember there being a problem during the years I was there.
These pools always had a lot of chlorine in them and you smelled of chlorine afterwards until you showered. I had brown hair as a kid but it was always blonde by the end of the summer because of the chorine and sun.
Occasionally we went to pools and local lakes outside of Youngstown. Some of the favorites were places like Farmer Jim’s, Firestone Park, Rose Lake and Smelko’s. Sometimes, our families went to lakes further away or places on Lake Erie like Geneva on the Lake, but during the hot summer weekdays, our local pools were the place to cool off.
If you read the list of the pools in Youngstown during the years I was growing up you realize that these reflected the racial segregation in our city at that time. Borts was a “white” pool, as were some of the others on the list, while others served racial minorities. At some level, I have to say I was aware of that and it is one of the darker sides of growing up in working class Youngstown, one I’m not proud of. We still struggle with these issues as a nation and I long for the day when “we shall overcome.”
Nevertheless, children in the various areas of our city had pools within a reasonable distance that they could swim in for a summer for less than $10. Most of these pools were associated with parks and recreation centers that offered all sorts of summer programs for children. While these facilities may not have been the “posh” facilities the well-heeled enjoyed, they made for a rich childhood of experiences for many of us growing up in Youngstown in the Forties, Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies.
One of sad things is that nearly all of these pools have closed. From what I can tell, only North Side Pool is still open. Borts Pool closed in 2010. It makes me curious about where kids go to swim these days, or whether they even have places that are easy and affordable to reach, as we did when we were growing up.
Did you go swimming at one of Youngstown’s pools growing up? Which one(s) and what are some of your memories?