The Pool Story

My sister Nicole plays with a garden hose as our new backyard pool begins to fill with water, July 1978.
My sister Nicole plays with a garden hose as our new backyard pool begins to fill with water, July 1978.

In the summer of 1978, our parents decided to get an above-ground pool for our back yard.

Our mom brings drinks to thirsty pool-assemblers.
Our mom brings drinks to thirsty pool-assemblers.

The first step in the installation process was to dig a 12-inch deep hole in the yard the size and shape of the pool. Dad hired Michael and me to dig it. It was June, which in Oklahoma meant 95-degree days. Since Michael and I were both nurds (this was just weeks before I was elected president of the Chess Club at my high school), we had no idea how to dress for summer. So Michael and I dug this hole in the blazing heat in our plaid polyester slacks and big-lapeled shirts, and it took two weeks.

Gene McGee and Wayne Littlefield both had pool-assembly experience, so they did most of the engineering.
Gene McGee and Wayne Littlefield both had pool-assembly experience, so they did most of the engineering.

The next step was to assemble the thing, which I recall was a 20-foot by 4-foot affair. My parents invited several of their friends to help, and as the assembly progressed, I made some pictures with my then-new Fujica ST-605 SLR camera. The images ended up constituting my very first photo essay.

This is how I appeared in the fall of 1978, holding the Fujica SLR I used to photograph our pool being installed.
This is how I appeared in the fall of 1978, holding the Fujica SLR I used to photograph our pool being installed.

By the end of summer 1978, Nicole and I both had swimmer’s ear because Dad was uncomfortable spending money on chlorine. On my first day of high school, I was essentially deaf, since I had only been diagnosed the day before.

Dad and Nicole bob gracefully in the newly-installed pool in our back yard. It should be noted that neither my father nor I ever learned to swim.
Dad and Nicole bob gracefully in the newly-installed pool in our back yard. It should be noted that neither my father nor I ever learned to swim.

The pool lasted just two years. It took up too much space in the back yard, and we didn’t use it as much as my parents had imagined. Mom and Dad didn’t use it at all, except to try it out the first day.

Nicole splashes up out of the water in our new swimming pool. This was one of my very first attempts to use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion in a subject.
Nicole splashes up out of the water in our new swimming pool. This was one of my very first attempts to use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion in a subject.
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