When I was a kid, the town where I lived had the world’s best swimming pool. It was also the largest, an enormous 100 by 200 feet, and was designed by someone with an eye for fun.

There were no water parks then, so this pool was a wonder. For example, in its ample shallow end, there were swing sets. The swings were on chains and the u-shaped rubber seats came right down to water level. This meant that kids in the pool could get themselves swinging higher and higher, then bail out, sail through the air, and splash down. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Mounted on the sides of the swing sets were basketball hoops. Using rubber balls, games like horse could be played in the water.

The shallow end was great, but it was the deep end where things got interesting. There was a wooden bridge — not arched, but straight — that spanned the pool. Swimmers could walk from one side to the other. Or if in the water, could go under the bridge. Or they could climb up (it wasn’t very high) and sit there to catch some rays.

Further out in the deep end — and the deep end was deep — there was a concrete island with a round, flat-topped stone tower. People could hang on the side of the island to rest, climb up the tower and jump off, or sit up there to watch and be watched.

There were, of course, diving boards, but there was also a set of metal rings that hung from chains attached to a taut steel cable. They went from one side to the other. Athletic sorts could jump up and grab a ring, then swing hand over hand like Tarzan. It was a long way across and most people either slipped off part way or purposely let go, sometimes with a gymnastic-like move.

The pool was part of a huge establishment called Doe Doe Park, in Lawton, Oklahoma. There was an indoor skating rink, a zoo, a miniature train, restaurants, playgrounds, a picnic area, a moat, and I don’t know what all. But it was the pool I shelled out 25 cents to visit.

Though summers in Oklahoma were blazing hot, into the 90s and 100s, the water in Doe Doe Park was wonderfully cold. The pool was built on top of an aquifer that fed it with the clearest water you can imagine. Even in the deep end, you could see a dime on the bottom.

As a little boy not able to swim well enough to reach the island or bridge or to play on the rings, I did the next best thing: held onto the side of the pool and edged my way around. I was a solitary kid, content to make my slow trip, unnoticed by the teens in the deep end and unmissed by the kids in the shallow. An aquatic wallflower, I crept along, creating a cherished memory one hand span at a time.

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