Gus' neighborhood pool

By Jelean Reynolds

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, June 15 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The old cement swimming pool will soon be demolished. I cried when I heard the news. It will be gone, but the memories of 63 years will remain. Four generations have swum in Grandpa Gus' pool.

My father, Gus, was an avid swimmer. As a boy, he swam in the Weber River below the Ogden viaduct near his home. He had saved his little brother from drowning in the river. As youngsters, my parents swam in ditches and canals.

As a father, Dad was adamant that his children learn to swim. There were no swimming pools in our hometown of Hooper, Weber County. Dad dreamt of owning his own pool.

When my grandpa died in 1950, my dad inherited $400. He used the money to fulfill his dream. I remember well the day Dad went into the backyard. He thrust his shovel sharply into the parched ground and announced, “Here’s where I will build our swimming pool.”

His determination and excitement were contagious. We could hardly wait.

The next day, Dad began digging the hole with Uncle Howard’s tractor. In wonderment, we watched an oversized cement truck pour concrete between the wooden forms constructed by my father. He engineered the project, built the outdoor shower, installed the fence and created the landscaping.

Dad was innovative in using solar heat by storing water in the pipes around the top of the chain-linked fence. As the sun beat down on the pipeline, it heated the water supplying the shower. The ice-cold pool water was refreshing on a hot summer day.

My dad couldn’t afford a filter system. Therefore, the pool was drained every two weeks. The water was used to irrigate our large vegetable garden. After the pool was empty we scrubbed the inside of the cement walls with steel brushes to remove the algae. My father taught us that rewards come from hard work. Each time — after the tedious cleaning — we anticipated the fun that would follow when it was filled with crystal clean water.

Summers were spent with our friends and family: racing, bobbing, diving in the popular pool. Church groups of children, youths and adults had their parties in Gus Vaughn’s family pool. Dad allowed the neighborhood to swim at no cost. His willingness to share the pool will long be remembered by those who admired his generosity. Everyone loved Gus.

As teenagers, we taught most of the children in the community to swim. We charged 50 cents a lesson. Dad gave instructions for free to those who needed extra help. His example and teachings of unselfishness, inventiveness and hard work are engrained within each of his 10 children. Setting goals and then working toward reaching them was a valuable lesson taught to me by my dad.

To my father, the pool was a fulfillment of a long-ago aspiration. To me it was selfless love of a father who brought summers full of fun and excitement to a neighborhood of frolicking kids and relief from the hot sun to appreciative adults.

Jelean Reynolds is an accomplished author. She is a mother to five children and a grandmother to 18 beautiful grandchildren.

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