by James Penha
Billy Rose’s Aquacade where Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, and Esther Williams dove into the ’39 New York World’s Fair gone now but not before my parents took a twelve-year-old me to Olsen & Johnson’s show Hellz-a-Splashin’ twenty years later after it was said Salk made public pools safe again from iron lungs though my mother had her doubts when my pal Eric invited me to Capri Beach Club in Atlantic Beach where his parents leased a cabana amidst the sounds of mah jong and “Gin!” by the pool I didn’t understand since the ocean was a walk away but no one from the Club ever set an umbrella in the sand Eric said since they were Jewish and I wondered if salt water was like pork and figured Capri was a Yiddish word and although the pool at Villa Roma where my Catholic family vacationed on the other side of the Catskill Mountains from the Borscht Belt made some sense since the sea was far away I could not fathom why it was shaped like a kidney and came to fear even more than polio or drowning that the owner-chef loved organs enough to fashion even the Bolognese from offal so I rarely swam or ate the pasta excusing myself to read in a chaise longue under a tree my summer book of Jane, Mr. Rochester, and Mrs. Grace Poole.
PHOTO: Atlantic Beach Club, 1950s (Atlantic Beach, New York).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes, the memory pool overflows with a stream of consciousness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker,James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. His essay “It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured in The New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.
AUTHOR PHOTO: The author, lately in Phuket, Thailand, still not swimming in a pool.