08/03/12 - posted by candis smyk hurlbut
Hi, JoAnne Q.!

You are right, there was a "Womens' City Club" and it was on Post Street, right next to the St. Francis Hotel. I took my swimming lessons there in the 1950s. Sponsored by the Red Cross, the program awarded a "Beginner Certificate" after all of the "stations" were completed. I kept going back each year, determined to learn to swim. It was a stupid program for those afraid of water. At the beginning of EVERY class, EVERYONE had to put her head (it was sex segregated back then) in the water and "bob", which meant take a breath and blow bubbles into the water. Because of that beginning, some girls never made it past just entering into the pool.

Anyway, after three, or perhaps four years, I could actually swim. [A year or two later, The lifeguard at Rossi Pool made me swim across the deep end, and then told me to stay in the shallow end anyway, because I made him nervous. (My hand/eye coordination, as I previously mentioned, was absent.)] I never was granted my certificate because I never could properly dive, I bellyflopped. Oh, well, I could cannonball into a pool, or step down if steps were into a pool. At least, I can swim, however gracelessly.

It is true that--like once you learn to ride a bicycle--you never forget how to swim. Back in 1998, I entered a hotel pool and started swimming--for the first time since 1977, or perhaps 1976! If I fall off a boat, I won't drown immediately, but the sharks may nibble.

There WAS a graduation requirement that students graduating from high school had to know how to swim. The teacher conducting the test grudgingly passed me the afternoon I showed up to "prove" I could swim. There were free swimming lessions back then, but I believe the SF City pools charged admission to the students. I think the classes were once a week, during the last PE class of the day. Some never had the opportunity before. (Locally, I actually know people in their 80s who are taking lessons!) It was a good idea, but the one size fits all was a horrible approach for those terrifeid of water. There was a waiver granted if a student had attempted to learn, but could not.

I am curious: How many of those constructed in the 50s SF city pools are still around? I am under the impression, from reading here, Larson is still around after a renovation. What about Rossi? I recall one pool in or close to Chinatown, and Army based Letterman also.

The Fairmont pool, of course, was turned into Tonga Room. They could make $$$$$, as opposed to including it for $0 as part of the room fee. When I was at Lowell, no one ever took me to Tonga. (Under 21 could be let in, especially on a slow nite back then). When I was in college, no one ever took me to Tonga. After I was married to Roy for a while, we and another couple went to Tonga...and was I disappointed! It was so "corny" and tourist trappy! By then I was too old, and the long awaited, long dated, glamour was missing.

I need to pick up my towel now, and shower. Thanks for reviving still more memories. (Splash!)
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