Cooling off during the dog days of summer

The dog days of summer are only bearable in the South if you have a great way to cool off. These days that is a no-brainer: you just turn up the air conditioning.

By Rebecca Johnston

 

BuRebecca Johnston (web)t when I was growing up in Canton in the 1960s, almost no one had that luxury.

In church, we cooled off by fanning with our paper funeral home fans. At home, we sat on the porch and sipped sweet tea. If we were really lucky we got to go to our favorite swimming spot, but those were few and far between back then.

My favorite was the Canton pool at the Canton Golf Course. Back in those days anyone could buy a summer membership for about $35, so in addition to the children of members of the course, the swimming pool would fill to overflowing with every youngster in town.

That was our social life for the three long, sweet months of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day when school was out and living was easy.

Parents would drop off their offspring as soon as they got old enough to swim. The brave mothers who came to watch their children splash around would sit at the baby pool. But anyone older than about 7 wanted to be in the big pool.

That pool seemed immense back then, with the low dive and the high dive punctuating one end, and the concessions stand at the other. The Canton pool was a sort of no frills place in those days, but that only added to the fun.

We came up with all sorts of games, my favorite being Dibble Dabble, which if I remember correctly had to do with dropping Popsicle sticks into the water and diving down to find them.

But the king of games at the Canton pool was Alligator. I am not sure what the name meant, but the game was one of intense competition, with the strongest, fastest and most reckless guys pushing it to the limits. There was a no running rule at the pool, but the idea was to move as swiftly as possible without running and dip your foot into each corner.

The diving boards were a safe spot, but you had to dive off quickly and get back out. That led to at least one young man hitting his head on the side of the pool after diving 10 feet from the high board too close to the wall.

The pool was the center of our lives back then, and it was a place where young people ruled.

The two lifeguards, usually brothers David and Joe Cannon, would sit on their high perches with looks of boredom on their faces while the action took place all around them, intervening only when necessary. Get caught doing something wrong and you would sit out. No wonder David became an attorney and judge.

There were other places I would swim, or at least wade, including Field’s Landing on Lake Allatoona. There, many families had boat houses that floated over the water. Rustic structures designed to actually house motor boats, they would also serve as centers of activity for a day on the lake.

A few weeks ago I visited a farmhouse that sits close to Highway 20. While relaxing out on the back porch, I could look across the pasture filled with cows in the dusk and see a small private lake where I played as a child when my parents visited their friends who lived there.

We spent many Fourth of Julys with the Turners and their children at that lake, or at our house, picnicking, making ice cream, dressing up in patriotic hats and leading our own parade. Those are happy memories for me.

Soon that area is going to change forever, as Highway 20 is widened and development spreads across those idyllic landscapes.

But for now, that little slice of paradise is still visible like a mirage shimmering just beyond reach.

There are plenty of great swimming spots and recreational areas in Cherokee County these days to make great memories. I hope you and your families find ideas in this issue of Cherokee Life to fill the last dog days of summer. After all, it is summertime and the living is easy.

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