Would someone please explain to me how a simple opening day at the Cleburne pool down at the city park could turn into such an absolute catastrophe?
My sweet sister Melba reminded me of this escapade of mine, which I had definitely repressed from my memory. I think she secretly enjoyed those moments in my younger days when I clearly demonstrated that I should have been in that movie “Dumb and Dumber.”
The day started off innocently enough. My older brother Eldon was 16 (this being 1955) and had his driver’s license, so we were in Dad’s car, driving down to the pool. I was still working down at the public skating rink buckling skates on Friday and Saturday nights, and a free pass to the pool all summer was one of the perks that came with the job.
Thus Eldon had to pay to get in (Ha! Ha!) while I just showed my VIP pass. When we passed through the gates, we split up, Eldon heading toward some friends of his while I did the same. Little did I know that this seemingly harmless and understandable decision to go our separate ways would end in calamity.
After diving, swimming and splashing around for a couple of hours, two of my friends, Linda and her brother, Jimmy, decided to leave and go home, and they invited me. Now I promise that I was going to notify my brother, and I looked his way, but he and some buddies were talking to some girls. I definitely knew he did not want little brother to come ambling over to bother and interrupt him, so I figured he could drive home later by himself when he was ready. Thus I left the pool with Linda and Jimmy and walked to their house a couple of blocks north of West Henderson Street.
I’m not really sure how long I stayed there because I did not have a watch and I was not keeping track of the time. Hey, when you’re 14 and sitting on a front porch trading Yankee dimes with a cute girl, time is not an important factor. Jimmy would come out on the porch every now and then and visit with us. Finally, probably after another two hours I decided to head home, walking, of course, and I bid Linda and Jimmy adieu. I crossed over to North Main Street, down to Boone Street, and then over the Santa Fe Street overpass to Sabine Street. As I poked along the two blocks to our house, I saw Daddy’s green ’50 Chevy in our driveway (gravel, not paved), so I knew Eldon was home from the pool. That did not seem all that important at the moment until I opened our front door and walked into Hades, literally.
Mom was on the phone, and Eldon was sitting on the couch. She hung up quickly and yelled at me, “Where have you been? We have the police looking for you or more likely your dead body!”
Holy mackerel! While I was whiling away the time over at Linda and Jimmy’s house, an entirely different scenario was taking place on Eldon’s end. About an hour after I left the pool, Eldon was ready to leave and began looking for me.
After several circuits of the pool and not spotting me, he notified the life guards, who promptly cleared the pool so they could check the bottom. No Weldon.
Eldon then went to a payphone and called Mom, who immediately went into panic mode (Hey — she was a redhead and easily went ballistic over incidents like this.) She called the police, who started a missing person’s search. (Brother! When I mess up, I mess up, don’t I?)
Mom repeated her original question, and I innocently (well, as innocent as I could make it, which probably wasn’t much), “I totally forgot about Eldon and went to the library.”
I know, I know! A lame response, and Mom thought so too, for she grounded me from the swimming pool for the rest of the summer.
Ouch! There went that free pass to the pool!
Weldon Reed is a Cleburne
resident who recently
returned to his hometown.
He can be reached at