I haven’t written much about growing up recently, so I felt like today would be a great time to do some more of that. Back when we lived in our house in Millington, during the summer when it got hot we used to go to the pool sometimes. Most people around us went to the lake in town, but my mom thought the lake was really gross. The pool we went to wasn’t very far away in Berkley Heights. It was a short car ride down Valley Road. On the way there, we would always pass the Pizza Hut we used to go to for the reading thing that we got free personal pizzas for and the Boston Market that I was upset at for years for changing it’s name (it should still be Boston Chicken, not Boston Market, come on!)
For years, my parents called this pool the “Rule Pool”, because anything you can imagine there was a rule for. The Berkley Heights Community Pool the way I remember it was very large. It had two diving boards, the “high dive” and “low dive” (there was very little height difference to be honest”. To get into the pool and stay in it, you always had to be wearing your badge which had your name and the color badge you were. The lifeguards were very strict about all the rules (I mean it was the rule pool). If you weren’t a purple badge or above, you couldn’t go past the lap lane without a parent, which for years I needed a parent to go with me to jump into the pool (you couldn’t jump in to the pool from the shallow end) or go off the diving boards.To get a purple badge, you had to take the swim test. For a couple years I was told how difficult the swim test was, but it proved to be pretty simple. It was basically just swimming from one part of the pool to another safely and being able to tread water for 5 minutes and I was good. I took swim lessons to make sure my swimming was good enough to pass the test (more actually because my mom thought it was important I learn how to swim, but that is another story.
Adult swim at the rule pool was always terrible. It seemed to last forever, but during the breaks we would play shuffle board and knock hockey. The only problem with playing those is to get the shuffle board sticks and discs or to get the knock hockey board, puck, and sticks you had to leave your badge. My parents always used to wine about me wanting to play something while I waited. My sister was usually very patient and didn’t do much. I would hang out with one of my pool friends, one of which was a school friend of mine, James Ricci.
For years, I was able to remember the announcement word for word for which badge colors could enter the pool after adult swim. I do remember that typically the woman would say,”Red badges, please walk.”
Most of the time when I wanted to eat at the pool, I would have to hide behind the seats we brought with us. Food wasn’t allowed other than by the Food Stand, so me and my sister would hide behind the chairs and eat pretzels while my parents did crossword puzzles or read.
One summer, I remember they redid one of the slides and my dad was one of the first people to try it out. It was the big slide and I really wanted to use it, which was a big part of why I wanted to pass the swim test. Thinking back, I remember walking through the locker room with my dad and riding home in the car with the towels streched across the car seats to make sure we didn’t burn ourselves in the hot car ride home.