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March 23, 2005

Do you remember Supervised Play?

A frequent reader of this column, one who has a long memory, was moved recently to recollect some of the old swimming holes that those of us who grew up in Perry remember so well. Think back to the 1930s, when Supervised Play was fairly new. A lot of us learned to swim in that program, and we did it by splashing around in some pretty questionable locales. Harold (Hump) Daniels, the fabled PHS football-basketball-baseball coach, was in charge of Supervised Play instruction, so we can correctly say that he taught us how to swim. Thinking back on it now, I believe we mostly wanted to escape from those muddy farm ponds where we were taught the rudiments of swimming.

My first memory of Supervised Play goes back to the early 1930 era. A truck with an open bed in the rear, usually used to haul candy bars and other products from Mr. Jack Snyder's warehouse to drug stores, grocery stores and gas stations in the area, also carried us from the high school playground to the Country Club lake, which at that time was about the only place in Perry where boys and girls could try out their swimming techniques. We swam for an hour or so two or three mornings a week. There were no school buses for transportation. Yes, the lake was quite often pretty muddy, despite the best efforts of some dedicated sportsmen (including Ralph W. Treeman) to clear it up, but we didn't know any better. So we climbed up on the diving board, jumped in and sank or swam. There must have been certified lifeguards on hand, just in case someone got into trouble, but in no way was it like our safe, clear YMCA pool of today. There was a raft in the children's beach area, but that was about the only safety device in sight.

As the program grew older, it was moved to the Perry Lake Park (now the CCC Park) for swimming instruction and fun. That's the pool our contributor remembers, and we'll have more about that in another column in a day or so. Meanwhile, think how long a program like that would continue today. Despite its name, it was mostly un-supervised. But, it served a real purpose some seven decades ago. We enjoyed that experience greatly.