all over again
eschatology, the study of what different societies believe about
the last times
and the end of the world. It’s especially fascinating to look at
believe the end of the world is imminent–and even more
fascinating to look at
societies that believe that, in a certain sense at least, the
end of the world
has already come.
Now I think all
of us to a
certain extent can identify with that end-of-the-world feeling. “Why do the stars keep
on shining, why do the
birds still sing,” we ask ourselves. There’s Feb. 3, 1959–the
day the music
died–the day that left Don McClean feeling like the end had
day President Kennedy was assassinated, and a day lots of us
felt as if the
world was coming to an end.
there’s August 21, 2005–the day they closed Southside Pool for
the last time.
was one of my
favorite places on earth. Eight lanes, 50 meters, and FAST–the
pool anywhere. But what I loved most about Southside is hard to
was something special in that combination of trees and fencing,
sky and cement,
brick and water. A
spell of cool weather
and a bit of a breeze left the water cold, crystal clear, and
sprinkled with elm
And then there
memories. Memories of teaching my kids to swim and dive,
memories of talking to
friends as our kids played in the baby pool or splashed around
in the 3-foot
end, memories of lifeguards past, each with a brick to
commemorate their years
of service. Memories of Fun Day, of pool movies and of tube
memories of hot showers on cold days, memories of my dad doing a
gainer off the
board–at 65! And then there are all the associated memories,
memories of the similar
pools I used to swim in as a kid, the big municipal pools that
are almost all
gone now. They don’t make them like that anymore.
many of us left
when that long last whistle blew. Bernie Wells, Southside’s most
swimmer, was just finishing his 2000 meters–perfect timing. Two
dozen kids. Me.
We made waves and whirlpools and played a bit of Marco Polo. My
son Michael did
his underwater handstands.
I practiced a
few turns, did a couple of sprints across the deep end, and
bounced off the
bottom of the pool for a while, trying to make the most of every
one of those
last precious moments.
They say that
all good things
must end someday. Autumn leaves must fall. But it wasn’t even
close to autumn
yet–and certainly not the end of swimming weather. My kids and I
swimming in Lake Minne Eho more than a month later.
After the pool
drop by the pool from time to time, standing outside the fence
And I’d drive by Southside every once in a while. One more look.
chance to remember.
It’s all gone
a bit of cyclone fencing. My
wall, I guess.
Don’t it always
seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? They paved
paradise and put
up...well, maybe what they’re going to put up is a paved
eschatology is that what people call the end of the world is
seldom really the
end of the world: it’s more often the beginning of a glorious
new world. And,
although I’m really going to miss old Southside, it helps to
know that we’re
eventually going to get a glorious new Southside.
As the Roman
most certainly would not have said, vale atque ave.
Goodbye, Southside. And