Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Oh No, Not the Pools!

Yesterday I took a drive through the old neighborhood. The one I grew up in, in Dearborn, Michigan. I don't go back there as much as I used to when my mom was still alive and living there. I still have a brother living in the city but I didn't stop to see him this time around. This was a trip for observation and reminiscing.

The economy is pretty tough for communities all throughout Michigan right now and Dearborn is no exception. Dearborn was a community that always offered a good number of amenities to its citizens such as numerous parks and swimming pools, Camp Dearborn, Dearborn Towers, an outstanding Parks and Rec Department, neighborhood libraries, neighborhood outdoor ice skating rinks, the Youth Center, and a terrific school system. Over time and for a number of reasons that I won't go into here, the city has been on the decline. Many schools have been closed, including the junior high school I attended. Camp Dearborn is a shadow if its former self. Dearborn Towers is up for sale. The Youth Center was replaced with a Community Rec Center (not at all the same!). The ice rinks... I think all the outdoor rinks have been removed in favor of one indoor rink. The schools, well, don't get me started on that subject. Let's just say they don't provide the quality education they used to.

As a kid growing up in Dearborn, I took my city amenities for granted. I made use of them and didn't think of them as anything special. It wasn't until I was in high school that I became aware of just how unique a community Dearborn was in that respect.

Recently, I became aware that the City of Dearborn's administration was mulling over budget cuts and was planning to close down the neighborhood swimming pools. Let me tell you, that got me worked up like you wouldn't believe! Those pools are sacred to every child who grew up in Dearborn. My childhood is tethered to those pools! More than schools closings, businesses going out of business, Camp Dearborn becoming a golf course, and the libraries losing staffing, I care about those pools. I hate the thought of them being closed permanently. Fortunately, a group of current Dearborn residents has organized (on FB of course) to protest the closing of those neighborhood pools. And they have been successful in keeping them open, at least for one more year. :-)

That got me thinking... about Dearborn and all the changes that have taken place there since I grew up and moved away, and summers spent at the neighborhood pool and the neighborhood park. The memories flooded me and they are almost all happy ones. I realized that while much of Dearborn has changed, much of it is still there for me to capture in photographs... a project I should undertake sooner rather than later. I've taken lots of pictures of Dearborn in recent years, but there are still many to be taken. And lots of memories to write up. So maybe that will be my mission for this summer, to go back and photograph the old neighborhood, and write up my memories. And maybe I'll share a few non-Dearborn memories too. Maybe I'll write up a whole month of summer memories like I did my Christmas memories with the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories...

Want to join me? Want to write up your own childhood memories of summer? I'd love to read about your memories too!

And maybe, just maybe, I'll go back for one more swim in my neighborhood pool.


  1. Intriguing project. Are you going to just free write? or with prompts? or chronologically, thru the summer?

    At the very least, I will be reading --- and hopefully blogging along with you. Although I have a heavy writing schedule for the summer, this sounds like a fun project.

  2. Good questions, Joan! I was thinking of just free writing. I figured I'd just write as the memories come to me. If others jump on the band wagon and write about their memories it may trigger even more of my memories. Since summer is, for me, a time of spontaneity and unstructured time I figured I try writing the same way... when and however often the spirit moves me, on topics that come to mind rather than are specifically prompted.

    To be honest, I'm feeling a little prompted and deadline committed out. And given the low number of submissions for the June edition of the COG I'm guessing others are too.

  3. Sounds like a fun project. I still live in the same city I grew up in but just on the other side of town. I don't go back to the old neighborhood too often but have written about some of my trips back. I like to go from time to time and tell my kids about where I grew up and what it was like back then. I'm looking forward to reading more of your memories and have thought of some stories of my own to write about.

  4. The Dearborn Theater is gone. Drove by yesterday and saw that it was being demolished. Aside from going to the pool, playing at the park, it was a special treat to go to the movies there.