Thursday, August 5, 2010

Waxing Nostalgic: Lake Maurer

Without contest, my happiest childhood memories are of time spent at Lake Maurer (←see an ancient newspaper ad), a sprawling park nestled in the countryside of my hometown.  Mother taught me to swim when I was 3 years old, and she and my older sister and I would go to the pool at Lake Maurer nearly every weekday in the summer, when I was very young.  After my brothers were born, we didn't go very often, until my sister and I were old enough to walk or ride our bicycles to the lake.

Occasionally, we'd get to ride the train.  Sometimes we would stand on the bridge over the lake and toss popcorn to the fish, eager diners.  My sister and I skated on hot summer nights at the roller rink.

But my favorite part of this park in the country was the giant mineral salt pool.  While the park served the community, others also came from long distances and stayed in the cabins.  Mike and Jeannie, with their mother, summered one year in a cabin at Lake Maurer; Mike was my sister's age and Jeannie mine.  Jeannie was my first friend, although I couldn't have defined friend at the time.  I was three or four years old and spent a precious few weeks with her at the pool, yet I remember her name.

Jeannie (R) and I (L)

The kiddie pool contained a fountain with a tunnel beneath.
My sister and I spent a lot of time under the fountain.

Old inner tubes were the coveted pool toy of the era.
Here we are at the fountain with my friend, Martha.

I wish I had a hundred photos of fun at Lake Maurer.
This is the final in my stash:

When I was 13 or 14 years old, the whole of Lake Maurer was sold to a church and closed to the public.

With these precious memories solidly secured within my being, a pool represents good times.  Even a pool that came out of a box brings joyful memories and a pleasant respite from the summer heat.  This year we switched to a salt chlorinator, and the soft water is lovely.  Upon the occasion of my first dip this year, I planted myself on a floaty and lay down to bask in the sun.  Suddenly a scent wafted to my face, and I exclaimed, "I smell Lake Maurer!"  Forty-four years since I'd encountered that scent, yet it was unexpectedly and undeniably enveloping me.  It was good.  It was really good. 

One more thing I really liked about the pool at Lake Maurer:  Sometimes we would take a picnic lunch with us and sit to eat, dripping, on the benches under the pagoda.  Potato chips had, and still have, a flavor twisted and tweaked by baking in the sun.  So my backyard, out-of-a-box, Lake Maurer experience is complete, with a sandwich and chips at the pool:

Sometimes the little things are so big.

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.  Proverbs 27:9


Loo said...

It would be fun if you could find Jeannie. :)

Kathy said...

Love the pictures and the memories for you! You write so well... Ask Kev about Fairyland Park's swimming pool. Riding the city bus and wishing I had more money to buy Fritos are my memories of that place. Tom Trapp always had lots of Fritos and we were starved! Good times...and my, how they've changed!

CarolineNot said...

I'm pretty sure I've never met Tommy Trap, but I've heard his name many times. I forgot to ask about the FP swimming pool, but I will. I feel for you over the Fritos. They were my favorite as a child, a rare treat at our house, and knock-offs were NOT the same...or even close. I think I ate Fritos (+ bologna & cheese sandwich + Suzie-Q) for lunch nearly every day in high school. My eating habits mystify your brother: if it's tasty, stick with it, because something else may pale in comparison. He's a culinary explorer extraordinaire.

Annie T. said...

Those memories are wonderful, Cousin CarolineNot! Isn't it amazing how a familiar scent can stir up something vivid from so long ago?! AMAZING! I'm tearing..... :)