SAN DIEGO – In spite of again missing the Wilson County Fair and Del Mar horse racing out here, I finally achieved my summer feel good.
For a week, the Pacific’s marine layer left after an unusually long stay, only to march back in with a vengeance this past weekend. We actually had some highs in the mid-80s.
Perhaps it was the brief summer spurring my good mood and producing recollections of Hazelwood.
For those of you who don’t remember, the Hazelwood swimming pool was off of Rome Pike on a fork to the northeast of East High. My siblings and I spent many summer days at Hazelwood.
In my teens, I was more attracted to Horn Springs where more pretty girls were swimming and tanning. I went to one or two parties at the Lebanon Country Club, but membership was beyond our economic means.
Hazelwood & Suck Creek
Hazelwood was our “swimming hole,” just as Suck Creek behind the Lebanon Woolen Mills was my father’s (girls weren’t to be found at the Suck Creek for swim suits were not the fashionable wear for the boys who swam there).
My sister Martha and I took swimming lessons at Hazelwood. I learned poorly, but my merely adequate skills came from those lessons. Our mother also took our younger brother to lessons there. Joe refused, jumped into the pool and began to swim.
Hazelwood was owned by Dr. H.H. Fly and his wife, who managed the facility. It was named in honor of their handicapped daughter named Hazel. At one time, they also had a boarding house where, according to my father, James Cagney once stayed.
I remember summer days diving off the deep end boards acting…well, like a boy, rarely stopping long enough to lie to the side of the pool while wishing I could play ping pong in the screened-in structure beyond the shallow end.
I clearly recall one hot day when I returned to our gathering area and first heard Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk,” a song which mesmerizes me to this day. In my recollections, Horn Springs is aligned with Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” while Hazelwood and “Honky Tonk” are indelibly linked.
My summer mind wandering leads to more connections.
Sprinting with a Dog
The Fly’s moved up the hill across the street from our home on Castle Heights Avenue.
It was a different time and pet leash laws did not exist. One August day, I crossed the Fly’s yard on my way back home. The Fly’s big black dog took exception to my intrusion. He and I did a 30-yard dash worthy of world class sprinters. His final lunge and nip at this fleet-when-scared lad produced a slight contusion on the back of my left knee.
Oh yes, nobody sued; nobody called the police; and I learned to be careful around dogs.
As mentioned here before, pets were treated differently back in those summers. J. Bill and Bessie Lee Frame, immediately across the street from our house, had a dog named Tubby. Once, my mother pulled her car into the Frame’s driveway to deliver a package. Tubby considered this an affront and chased her back into her car.
Up at the top of the hill on Castle Heights, Ed Baird and his family had a boxer. I do not recall its name, but I had learned to keep my distance. The boxer became a neighborhood legend for its Easter antics.
My family attended the sunrise service sponsored by the Kiwanis Club (this credit to the Kiwanis is included to ensure George Harding does not reprimand me for omitting their contribution).
Ed Baird’s Boxer
While the service reverberated with singing and celebration, Ed Baird’s boxer wandered away from home. Ed found the sated dog as it finished off the Easter eggs. The boxer had dug up the eggs hidden in our yard for our egg hunt after the service.
I also remember Bill Simpson’s dog Daisy. Bill lived with his Grandparent’s, the Jacksons, and brought home the puppy in the basket of his bicycle. Daisy was as much a part of my summers as the other youngsters on Castle Heights Avenue.
The few days of real summer in the Southwest corner are gone. Soon our weather will be of the super dry autumn variety with threats of wildfires. But those precious few summer days engendered good thoughts of Hazelwood and summer in Lebanon when the dogs ran free.