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Swimming pools: ‘Once, we were all just kids’

'I just have to shake my head about all the recent videos of White folk calling the police over the presence of Black people at public swimming pools and parks.'

Wikimedia/Renjishino

‘I remember the areas around swimming pools crowded with people when we arrived, and empty five minutes later of everyone except the Filer kids’

By DUANE L. FILER, Guest Commentary

I just have to shake my head about all the recent videos of White folk calling the police over the presence of Black people at public swimming pools and parks.

It takes me back to the early 1960s when my dad and mom — Maxcy and Blondell, would herd us into the old gold Rambler Station Wagon (with the seat in the back switched backward that allowed you to see all that was happening in the rear) and we’d take off from Compton for our summer vacation.

I recall road trips to Marianna, Ark., to Chicago, Ill., and Indiana. We couldn’t afford to fly, so dad drove. Maxcy was always political, so our car’s rear and front bumpers were pasted with stickers for various causes and for various Democratic political candidates like John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Tom Bradley, and Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown. We’d drive down south and have all these stares coming our way.

Their stares didn’t bother us. We’d have Motown sounds blaring on the radio and Maxcy would drive until he became tired and then looked to find a cheap motel someplace.

I distinctly remember that wherever we stayed, we loved to swim in the pool. We’d check in and couldn’t wait to change into our swimming trunks. Maxcy would throw that towel around his neck and Blondie would follow suit. We Filer kids would then race to the pool and jump in.

I remember the times when the pool area was crowded with people when we arrived, it was empty five minutes later of everyone except the Filer kids. You’re probably familiar with the saying — “When they go low, we go high! Well, when we jumped in, they jumped out!

I recall asking my mother — “Why did all the kids leave? We just came to have fun.”

Mom would say, “Don’t worry about it Duane L. — look on the bright side; you guys have the pool all to yourselves!”

I remember most of the time it wasn’t the White kids’ choice to vacate the swimming pools; they were ready to play. I remember the parents telling their kids to get out of the pool. The same occurred with the pool clubhouse. We’d run into a busy place hoping to meet new friends and play caroms or ping-pong or something and lickety-split we’d have the room all to ourselves.

Some White parents let their kids stay, play or swim and we had a ball getting to know one another.

We were all just kids?

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton and the Los Angeles metropolitan area of California, and the world.

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