March 12, 2011

More memories of the treasured Levittown swimming pools and pool tags

click on image to enlarge

Our March 10 blog post ran under the headline "The symbol of Levittown should be the humble pool tag; it is an icon that sticks in the memory of all who treasured one." A few more old Levittowners have chipped in with their recollections:

Brenda Baldassare 1960
Oh my gosh, it's Memorial Day weekend, we must get pool tags. I remember it always hung on the kitchen doorknob even after the kitchen was extended, the pool tag moved with it. Whenever I visited my Father, even at 84 years old, that year's pool tag was still on the doorknob.

Swimming and diving lessons were free at the pool. I did a lot of belly flops. We girls would perform water ballet stunts. The guys would do cannonballs off the high board. We would lay on our towels on the cement floor, I now prefer my comfy lounge chair, soak up the sun and read books. Joan Lucas, my forever friend, and I would go to the Bookmobile up by JC Penny regularly. Joanie, even then, was a speed reader, I could not keep up.

I'll never forget we girls, including Barbara Wittenberg, Midge Bollinger, Linda Kenley, had to wear those fancy swim caps. It was a law, if you didn't, you had to sit out for one-half hour. Those wannabe lifeguards were relentless on discipline.

And one more memory. Occasionally my Mom would take us girls to Jones Beach. However, on arriving home, we always went right back to the pool for a refreshing dip and to make sure we didn't miss anything exciting.

Frank Barning, 1960
In the summer I invariably had a pool tag tan line on my left wrist. The Azalea Road pool was the center of my universe each summer and the pool tag was the key to the kingdom. And I as recall, no one ever peed in the pool.

Marti Traystman Welch, 1960
Oh my, the pool tag. I seem to remember wearing it on my ankle or maybe the strap on my bathing suit. Having our own pool was wonderful, and so many choices of pools. The tag certainly did mean the beginning of summer. Ours hung on one of the hooks on the fireplace. I usually went to Azalea, or the East Village Green. I remember walking to the pool (of course this was when we were older) otherwise we hooked a ride with a neighbor or were dropped off.

Joan Bartels Signorelli, 1962
The most wonderful part of growing up in Levittown were the pools. I see those pools as a privilege of living in Levittown. The pool tag was very important to my family. My brother and I enjoyed the pool daily from 9 am until 5 pm. We were very careful with the tag.

I seem to remember both of us going into the Azalea Road pool with our one tag. Our Mom and Dad went with us, sometimes our cousins, aunts and uncles. Wonderful memories of the pools and pool tags.

Charles DiGiovanni, 1967
I absolutely loved the article about the pool tag. But the thing I loved best was taking the bus, for a whopping $.90 round trip, to Jones Beach. There was nothing better than a summer day at field 4. Pick the bus up right on Hempstead Turnpike and Division Avenue and in 20 minutes or so we were at the beach. Wonderful!

Marilyn Monsrud Frese, 1963 (who still lives in Levittown)
Alas...there are no more high boards at the Levittown pools. They now have about half of the deep end filled with swimming lanes. But the low board is still there. Swimming lessons are still given for free.

And we have LAC Swimming Teams (Levittown Athletic Club) with a huge competition at the East Village Green Jerusalem Avenue pool near the end of the season. Another change is that they now allow you to bring in a chair or lounge, probably due to the fact that there are less kids here now than in our day. Some of the pools have a shelter area, benches under a strong roof-type structure to shade you from the sun. Great if you have babies or very small kids. Even strollers are allowed in now and you can wear your flip flops/sneakers in. But there is still "no running." The lifeguards are constantly yelling that to the kids.

I believe there are actually 13 Levittown pools- some not inside the Levittown zip code, just as some of the Levitt homes are not all in Levittown. They are also found in East Meadow, Wantagh and Hicksville where these towns border Levittown.

All you need is a utility bill which you take to Levittown Hall. There is a small form to fill out with name(s) of all family members, kids ages and your address. Then your tag is handed to you. If you lose it, there is a $1 replacement fee. You can bring in as many guests as you like.

Ours hang all summer on the original hooks, the black iron ones that are in the brick fireplace wall in the kitchen in the ranch homes, originally built in there to hold pots. My kids, who all live close by with the six grandkids, just stop to pick it up when they want to take the kids to the pool. The Jerusalem Avenue pool at the East Village Green is open until 10 PM. The kids love to go swimming at night. The pool is lit from tall pole lights and underwater lights. Pretty cool!


Anonymous said...

Ah, the mightly pool tag. In Levittown, it was a symbol of maturity and independence! I couldn't wait till I was 10 years old and be able to go to all of our wonderful pools, Azalea Lane especially, by myself!

Jerry Reichert, class of '61.

June Johnson said...

My family moved to Levittown in Oct. '55. The following summer, we got our family pool tag and I was so excited!My sisters and I learned how to swim at the West Green pool.Years later, I became a lifeguard and I still swim weekly at the local Y. My sister,Barbara, became a diving champ first with the LSA and then the Jr. AAU. She worked as an ocean guard and taught swimming at Tulane and in Hawaii.