March 10, 2011

The symbol of Levittown should be the humble pool tag; it is an icon that sticks in the memory of all who treasured one

What are your thoughts on what your pool tag meant to you and what memories or emotions are evoked by seeing a photo of a pool tag some 50 years later?

Wally Linder, 1961
My memory is not really good. You had to get one (two)? every year. I think you had to have an electric bill to prove residence. You had to get one of your parents to do it in person, at the pool gate, right around Memorial Day.

Pool tags were always there. Ours hung in the kitchen. If you had lots of kids in the family, and they wanted to go to different pools, you had to sneak in, or have someone throw their pool tag over the fence so you could use it.

When I look back at my subsequent residences, I realize how privileged we were in Levittown to have the pools to go to in the summer. I've lived in many good neighborhoods, and none had a pool system like Levittown.

Michelle Fromm-Lewis, 1963
The Levittown pool tag is an icon for the lazy, hazy, crazy days summer. We pressured our parents to rush right down to get our family tag as soon as they became available each year, usually around Memorial Day. It meant we would have a central place to meet friends, flirt with the opposite sex and have a really good time. It was a place to cool off on a hot day, especially because the pools were not heated, but once we hit teen years cooling off wasn't our main goal.

Looking at the pool tag also reminds me of my father. He was an excellent swimmer who made sure we learned to float and to swim a proper forward and backward crawl so we would always feel safe in the water. He also did fabulously graceful swan dives and jackknives off the high board. After one horribly painful belly-flop trying to dive from the high board, I kept my diving to the lower one. I can still manage a basic dive, but I never attained fancier skills.

Jon Buller, 1961
No specific memories, except that they changed from year to year, in material and color. The Levittown Museum in Abbey Lane School had a collection, although I’m not sure if it was complete. I think it would be interesting to have photos of these.

Sandy Adams, 1960
Wow- forgot all about that momentous item! The trick was not losing it while swimming. The memory of what was done with the pool tag surfaced immediately while looking at your photo - the ‘strap’ unchanged after all these years. A loop was made, similar to securing a luggage tag and voila, the pool tag was attached to my bathing suit strap!

Pat Stanley Share, 1962
The pool tag, meant SUMMER, school vacation. I spent a lot of time at the Bluegrass Lane pool, we lived on Bluegrass Lane and I was a member of the LSA, Levittown Swim Team, I love to dive and swim in competition. We were so fortunate to have had so many places to hang out and stay out of trouble. Each section of Levittown had its own pool, shops and assorted other things so you were close enough to walk.

Arnie Galeota, 1961
That pool tag was my ticket to being an accepted member of the group I hung with. It also was the tool so I could learn how to swim in the Azalea pool. I can't even imagine those hot summer days with my friends all hanging by the pool and me looking in from the outside through the chain link fence because I didn't have that tag. Better I should lose my Rolex rather than that tag! It was also a tool for me to entertain my out of town family and friends which I brought in as guests. Some of them were kind of envious of the facilities that were open to us as residents and all we needed was this tag that you wore on your wrist or ankle.

Many of those same friends had to go to a municipal pool in their city neighborhoods where you paid and it was so crowded, or the beach which was an ordeal as well. And that tag gave us access to nine such pools. That tag was kept under surveillance at home by our family members so we wouldn't lose it. I believe that tag was an instrument that kept many from getting into trouble by hanging on the streets. With boredom comes doing things you wouldn't ordinarily do to entertain yourself and your buddies. That pool tag probably kept you out of jail. LOL.

Marilyn Monsrud Frese, 1963
Tough to feel anything except "yeah...summer's here, the pool tags are ready" since I still get one every summer!

Kathy Stahlman Zinn, 1963
Ah, the pool tag. That precious admittance to the glories and summer relief of the pool. I remember the anxiety if we couldn't find the tag. In our large household, even though we had a tag for everyone, you had to find them on the appointed day. But once you had that little bracelet around your wrist, you knew you were in. I think I saw one at the Levittown Historical Society Museum, and felt a surprising affection for it. How many places today have a membership in a community pool free with ownership? There is always an extra fee. We were so fortunate.

Susan Weldon, 1960
the photo of the pool tag brings back wonderful memories of my friend pat moore who moved to connecticut in 10th grade. we went to azalea pretty much every day we could. my strongest and funniest memory is of the day we decided we were too exhausted from staying up all night at her house and couldn't face the walk to the pool. we hired a neighborhood kid (can't remember who) for a quarter to pull us there in his red wagon. of course we got out a block from the pool so as not to be seen in such uncool circumstances.

pat and i remained friends til her death some years ago. i was with her constantly for her last few days. i was her maid of honor for her first marriage and her first child's godmother. she was my 'date' for the dahs 25th reunion. we babysat for each others children and were honored guests at their weddings. i'm still connected to her son and daughter and their kids. i miss her humor, lack of pretension, filthy mouth and intelligence every day.

you noted that i was the only one who listed the library as one of my favorite levittown places. pat and i went to the library once a week and each took out the maximum amount of books that were allowed. one summer we decided to read every book in the library and started with the As (i don't know how far we got). if a book looked good, we'd fight over who got to read it first and occasionally it was settled by leg wrestling which i always won as my legs were much longer than hers. she never gave up though - stubborn, feisty irish/jewish girl.


Brenda Palmeri said...

Brenda Baldassare 1960

Oh my gosh, it's Memorial Day weekend, we MUST get pool tag.
I remember it always hung on the kitchen doorknob even after the kichen was extended, the pool tag moved with it. Whenever I visited my Father, even at 84 yr's. old, that year's pool tag was still on the doorknob.
Swiming and diving lessons were free at the pool. I did a lot of belly flops. Us 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 comfie 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 us girls, including Barbara W, Midge B.,Linda K., 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 wanna be 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.

marilyn Monsrud Frese said...

Alas...there are no more High Boards at the Levittown Pools. They now have about 1/2 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 (Lev. Athletic Club) with a huge competition at the East Village Green Jerusalem Ave. pool near the end of the season. Another change is that they now allow you to bring in a chair or lounge...probable 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 stollers are allowed in now and you can wear you 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, Hicksville where these towns border Levittown.

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

Ours hangs 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 6 grandkids, just stop to pick it up when they want to take the kids to the pool. The Jerusalem Ave. Pool at the East village Green is open till 10 PM. The kids just LOVE to go swimming at night! The pool is lite from tall pole lights and underwater lights. Pretty cool!

Wendy Max Dunford '68 said...

I grew up on Schoolhouse Road, so our pool was the one at the North Village Green. The pool tag used to hang on the knob of the fuse box in the kitchen of our Cape Cod. I remember that when we turned 10 we could go to the pool without our parents. What a proud, exciting day that was. Carol Forseth and I would go up when the pool opened at 10:00 am, spread out a blanket or old bedspread and set out a stack of Archie comic books! We'd swim and sun ourselves until noon, then leave our things and run over to the drugstore soda fountain for a snack, then back to the pool until they kicked the kids out at 5:00. They were so strict back then -- shoes off before you enter, no food inside the gate (not even chewing gum), no running, no diving off the side, no rough play in the water, and God forbid a girl's cap came off in the water!! I remember a lot of *really* mean lifeguards. I also remember a family of kids named Craven -- really good swimmers and divers. I loved watching them.

Anonymous said...

These were a right of passage. Different color anodized ones with elastic ankle strap -and snapping them against people! Godly item!