The question I’m answering most often these days is,
"What ever happened to that huge swimming pool that was in
Proctorville out on Old 40?" Proctorville refers to a large
white house which the Proctor brothers converted into All States
Hotel with adjacent tourist cottages named for various states.
Old 40 is now called Business Loop70 but was then Highway 40,
also called "The Slab" when it was north of town.
The pool? It was a huge, rectangular concrete tank 125 feet
long, 86 feet wide up to 9 feet deep, near a small fishing lake.
I don’t know why that big concrete tank was there, but it
had some relation to Columbia’s power plant. When it was no
longer needed for its original purpose, the city converted it
into a swimming pool. They filled in the west half, making a
gradual slope so there would be shallow water for classes, for
just playing in the water and even space for little tots. In the
late ’30s I taught free swimming and lifesaving classes
there as an American Red Cross volunteer.
Then mayor Bruce Carl said, "I’ve found enough money
in the budget to pay you." That was when W.C. Harris was
pool manager and I was his assistant. Lots of people came and sat
in their cars to watch the swimmers in evenings as there was
neither television nor air conditioning for the average home.
When we put on water-safety demonstrations and water shows,
hundreds of people brought lawn chairs or stood outside the pool
fence to watch and listen as children and adults entertained with
"water ballet, clowning, diving and safety skills. The old
concrete tank was serving the public well at a very low cost per
There was a problem however: The level of the water in the
lake nearby was higher than the pool bottom at its 9-foot depth!
Water weeds, fishing worms and an occasional tiny minnow appeared
in the pool! Of course the water that brought them through the
cracks was impure lake water but it came in only in the very
The pool was drained for repairs. All of the crew
lifeguards, basket-room attendants, teachers and even manager
Harris helped scrub the bottom and construction men came
to seal up the cracks in the deep end. Their repairs were
unsuccessful and couldn’t hold back the force of water which
was "seeking a level!" Even then it was far ahead of
Our swimming program continued for several summers in the
’30s and early ’40s. Of course the water was
chlorinated, the worms mostly stayed out of sight and water weeds
were of no particular harm. My suggestion was: "Fill in the
9-foot area to only 6 or 7 feet above the level of the
nearby lake and get rid of the diving boards. Then
we’d swim in pure, chlorinated water in a wonderful big
swimming pool." Alas, what would a woman know about things
like that? Each spring, something new was tried to keep the pond
water from coming in.
On March 22, 1946, 1 finally wrote my suggestion to mayor
Bruce Carl, who passed the letter to the recreation committee.
Carl’s reply, dated March 26, 1946, is in my
scrapbook: "I would not criticize your solution to the
swimming pool problem." However, "The Recreation
Commission" felt unanimously "that any amount of money
spent on the old pool would hardly be justified."
Many families drove to Fayette, Fulton or Jefferson City for
Red Cross lessons or recreational swimming. Mayor Carl said that
the 125-by-86 pool was to be used for a base for a tower which
cooled water for the condensers at the light plant. Columbia was
without a pool for many years, and I still contend that the huge
old pool was better than no pool at all.
A picture of this big pool is on Page 122 of "My First 84