When our Nancy and Walt were preschoolers, I shopped for one of those popular plastic pools and discovered how tiny and flimsy it was. I thought of the wonderful space in our 160 acres and wished for a little wading pool in the ground with plumbing connections, a safety fence and a locked gate.
Our water was filtered and chlorinated. It could be a handy, small wading pool, and I thought I could do a lot of the work.
Chub said, "I’m planting corn and can’t consider another thing right now."
My dad was helping Chub with the crop. Previously, I had mixed mortar and set stone for two earlier projects, so I thought, "I could do most of the work - except to dig the big hole."
A neighbor heard of this and said, "I’d help you with a wading pool so our kids might share it."
Chub measured off a likely space for a 10-by-15-foot play pool plus space for a fence with gate.
When our tractor was idle at lunch one day, Dad attached the proper implement for removing sod, and I made one trip across the area, but he waved for me to stop.
"Hell, let me do that," he said. "You don’t know how."
He later dug the big hole with the scraper, and we women shaped it up with picks and sharp shooters.
Teaching swimming was a joy. I’d had years of experience at Christian College, at Columbia’s huge old municipal pool and as a Red Cross volunteer. However, it never occurred to me that anyone would spend half a day getting a child of any age ready, drive 12 miles out in the country and back and pay for a swimming lesson! I finally made a list of telephone numbers of a few callers whose children were the ages of Nancy and Walt.
My friends and I found lots of digging, painting and other smaller pool jobs we could do. I drove the truck to town to haul blocks, tools and supplies Chub had ordered by phone - including the concrete blocks and the dry mortar mix. After supper, Chub and I measured and stretched lines and drove stakes, and he carefully "trued" corners.
Really hot weather came rushing in when I had set blocks for only part of two side walls. Chub eyeballed my work and bragged on it. He then hired a mason who worked faster than I, but not any more accurately! We used Ready-Mix concrete over crushed rock for the pool’s floor and footings.
There was still a lot to do: painting, fencing and back fills. We put planks down to walk on and bought a wash tub for rinsing sand and clay off all feet.
When we were almost through, I called the mothers on the list of 4-year-olds, and four children enrolled for what we called a "swimming class."
I bought a little plastic pool for tiny siblings who played in the water with Nancy while I taught. Their mothers told me, "Nancy is actually teaching our little ones." She was flattered, and so was I.
When Chub saw a tall, thin neighbor and his three little children playing together in that wading pool, he blurted out what we all knew by then: We should have built it bigger!
I’ll tell more about the farm swimming program and the continuing need for more space on another Monday soon.