When we were told that the entire park was going to the local City Pool for a Fun in the Sun, we could not wait to get home and beg our momma for the .50 entrance. Asking your momma for such a short amount of cash like that was like asking for Black Unity, that shyt never happens… Have you ever been cussed out by your momma after she worked 12 hours and had to walk home from work? “Why is this TV so dayum hot; get yawl black azz outside.” Now the question you really wanted to ask her has to wait until she calmed down because if we ask at that moment, somebody gone get Serena Williamed (i.e. backhanded). While backing up just a lil bit, “Aye momma, caaan we have $20 so we all go to the pool with the park tomorrow?” Before a glass of Ripple, “Hell naw, yawl black asses can’t even swim. What yawl think money grows on trees up in this bytch?” After a glass of Ripple and one dem giggle sticks? “Here boy’s, come and get this money and I’m sorry, I had a bad day at work babies.” You see, she would say those things to keep us in line but at the end of the day, she would always give in.
There were no vans nor buses to transport us from the park to the pool so kids from Fisk Heights, Cove Gardens, Bazeltown, Emory Gap, South Harriman and the projects over by Springtime’nem house would all either gather at the park or just meet at the pool for our once a year trip in the summer. Once we turned the corner tweenst Tennessee Ave and Cumberland St and smelt the chlorine in the air, errbody took off (running that is) straight down that hill to the entrance. Screaming and yelling, oh I’m first to jump off the high dive, to another one slick talking to someone, “Hey you got .50 so I can get in…” And trust me, some did not make it in, they just sitting outside the gate watching everybody. “Myra, fill up that cup of pool water and splash it on my face, it’s hot as hell out here and break me half of dat chico stick cuuh.” If you didn’t have any money and no one would be willing to come off .50 for you, you had to sneak in, that’s just the way it was. We had kids who thought they could swim but were walking under water while swaying their arms/hands as if they were swimming, teeth chattering because that water was cold as whale nutz – Pause. “Hey yawl look, I’m swimming.” “Yo azz ain’t swimming, we can see your legs walking dummy.”
I’m not gonna lie, I was that kid that ran around the pool all day long but did not put a toe in the water because I couldn’t swim as a youngster. Well Ron had warned me that if he sees me running around the pool, wasting momma’s money, he was gonna throw me in wherever he caught me but that was the risk I was willing to take because the High Dive was the place to be. You had to be up close and personal to witness the highflying acts of Solomon… I’m not sure who Bill Mitchell is/was but there was a dive/move that was dedicated to this guy and Solomon did it with grace. It was a mixture of a two bounce, walking in the air while twisting your frame left or right, into a gainer while ending it with a can opener. Here I am standing there waiting to witness Sol do his patent Bill Mitchell move and I feel a power thrust gainst my back and swoosh, str8 in 10 foot, can’t swim a lick. You know the moment when you know you really done messed up, like getting all F’s on a report card in 7th grade. Maybe that was just me, anyway, when he pushed me, my neck flung back, chest went forward and all you heard was toosh. When I came up from the water, I was smack dead in the middle of 12 foot, half distance to the wall we non-swimmers hug the entire time at the pool. What do I do? I tell you what I did; I cried my azz off! Maybe the Lifeguard couldn’t swim, as I was thinking to myself because she was on that dayum high chair twirling that dayum whistle like she didn’t see my black azz flapping in the water like a catfish. I gathered myself and started kicking and moving my arms and the next thing you know, I am getting close to the wall and actually learning how to swim. Now it wasn’t a perfect stride but after dranking 2 gallons of chlorine and possibly pissy azz water, I made safe to the ladder. Once I got out that water, I wanted to beat his azz but I couldn’t. Ron had a way of pushing me to do things I was always capable of doing and for that, I am forever grateful.
Rest in Peace Solomon Kenya Taylor…