When we were little, the pool was THE place to be everyday during summer vacation. When we were old enough to go by ourselves - no grown-ups! - it was even better. (Granted, there were dozens of other parents there, who knew our parents and were probably secret spies to make sure we were behaving/not drowning. But that was beside the point.) We would throw our towels over the handle bars of our Huffy bikes and pedal our hearts out until we reached the bike rack outside the fence that surrounded the pool. Then we would proudly show our season passes, that were really just laminated pieces of paper that said "Worthington Pool" with a big '90 or '91. (Man, that seems like yesterday.) Once you were in, you made your way to "the hill" - that's where all the cool kids laid out on the grass. It was over by the high dive. NBD. The concrete was HOT, so you were always dashing from grass to pool to grass to pool to concession stand to pool to grass.
Lunch was pizza, and Airheads that only cost 10 cents. The concession stand was like an endless supply of all the candy you could ever want - all for a dime, a quarter, or the really good stuff, which was 50 cents. I think pizza was a dollar fifty. They had Flav-o-Ice, which we would let melt half way and then suck the syrup-water out of the tube. Sometimes you couldn't tell if a kid's lips were blue from the popsicle or because they had been in the pool all day.
The life guards were pretty much the coolest kids you could imagine. They were always so tan and wore awesome sunglasses. (The black plastic wayfarers with the neon sides, FYI. And yes, those are cool again.) They were nice to us kids, even though it must have been an annoying job. But they would play nice. Every hour, on the hour, one of the guards in the office would make the announcement "It is now time for the X-o'clock rest period. Would all boys and girls please clear the pool for a ten minute break." We would all groan and sit anxiously on the edge of the pool, watching the adults breathe a sigh of relief and manage to swim a few uninterrupted laps before ten thousand children cannon-balled back into the pool. And sometimes - if you were REALLY lucky - after rest period was ending, the lifeguards would let you and your friends scream "SWIIIIIIMMMMMMTTTTIIIIIIIIMMMMMME!" into the loudspeaker to signal that it was time to get back in the pool.
If it rained, everyone crowded into the concession area until it stopped. If it stormed, we called home - on a payphone, for a quarter - and one of the moms came to pick us up. (The bikes would be there waiting for us when we came back to swim the next day.) If it was a perfect day, after they called for the whatever-predetermined-o'clock rest period, we would reluctantly exit through the huge turnstile and pedal our way home for dinner. The absolute worst was as you were riding away, you could hear them call "SWIMTIME!" and all the inevitable splashes that followed.
Whenever I go through a huge turnstile like that in a subway station (...or eat Flav-o-Ice or Airheads or those weird two-toned chalky suckers, or see a high-dive or someone in a red swimsuit with a killer tan...) I instantly flash back to summers at The Pool.