Sunday, May 27, 2012

Take The Plunge

Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.

Christopher Reeves
Hello Jon
1945, summer camp, Saugatuck, Connecticut. There was a medium sized lake and a swimming area marked off. There were raw boats and canoes. There was a diving board just off the surface of the lake. It was parents visiting day and a series of events were planned to entertain them.

When we got to the lake there were swimming races, kids in the canoes and row boats and others making fancy dives off the diving board. But for those events the councilors had ignored and overlooked me (the story of my life) so I had nothing to do. I sat next to my mother and explained that I wasn't given any part in those events.

But soon one of the councilors came up and balled me out for sitting there and told me to get up and do my part. I tried to tell him I was assigned nothing but he walked away. So I got up, stood around and watched.

Next to the diving board there was a tall wooden structure that was intended to have a diving board also. But the camp decided it was too dangerous, being so high. I climbed up the structure. There was noting at the top but a small platform.. From there I jumped feet first into the lake. I think I did it just to show that I had been left out. No one would have been assigned to do that .

But when I cam up out of the water people were applauding. Someone said that it took a lot of courage to jump in like that and not to dive. That made no sense to me. If I go into the deep, without knowing what's there, I want to go feet first and not discover it with my face. Nevertheless, everyone was so impressed that I did it a few more times and ended up the star of the day.

At another time I had won swimming medals (as Brian did), two bronze and one silver for speed, distance and distance underwater. Later, as a young teen I could swim in a club off Long Island Sound. There was a float a good distance from the shore which almost no one swam to. I would swim out to it and far enough away from the sun worshippers on the beach, solatics I called them, I would take off my bathing suit and fling it out into the water, watch it sink and jump in after it, groping around on the bottom until I found it and not coming to the surface until I did. Some times it was so difficult that I was gasping for breath when I finally surfaced. Once I surfaced under the float, which was a shock. This was a major challenge. I had to find that bathing suit. This was before the days of nude beaches and appearing out of the water among the solatics with nothing on would not please the owners.

I didn't realize it at the time but that staying underwater until my lungs were about to burst was actually strengthening them so that years later I could fill a large theatre with my voice and do six lines of Shakespeare in one breath.

I would still like to jump into the ocean. But unfortunately I'm not near the water these days. All I have is a bath tub, the shallow end of the pool.

DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.


Geo. said...

What a wonderful vignette! There is an energy in it that transcends time.

Jon said...

Fascinating stories, and I especially like the term "solatics". Whatever you do, don't jump into the bath tub feet first!

Ken Riches said...

You were fortunate to have the chance to go to a summer camp.