#10 Come on in! The water is fine (Part 2)

Last week I wrote about the swimming pool behind the Christian Church.  It was built in 1914 and operated at least thru 1923.  Unfortunately, this remote librarian is no longer remote.  The library not only opened to our teen and adult patrons on June 1, but also began our summer reading program, and we had the library computers completely rewired the past two weekends.  I could not find the time to search the microfilmed newspapers from 1923 to 1928 to discover exactly when that church pool closed.  The Kinsley Graphic in March, 1928 reported that “There has been an insistent demand for a pool in this city for several years…” which may imply just the need for a bigger public pool or the fact the church pool had closed.

On February 2, 1928 the Kinsley Graphic reported that “a meeting of business men was held in the Taylor real estate offices Thursday night of last week to canvass the situation (of building a swimming pool).  The Gilbert M. Lewis post, American Legion had offered to get behind this proposition provided they had assurance that the business men of the city would lend cordial cooperation.”

“Mr. Fred Brodbeck was present and outlined the plans he had in mind.  He would like to build a pond about 75 by 125 feet with a protected corner for small children with water very shallow, another section fenced off for women and a main pool with depth of about 4 ½ feet and with a deep part running to about 8 feet, with all the accessories, diving platform, slides, dressing rooms, etc.”

The diving pool will have “wading water around the edge so that anyone in the hole can easily be reached from the side.  Mr. Brodbeck has visited may pools the past year and has selected a plan combining the best features of all.”

The location chosen for the pool was by the present day E-Z Stop (Hwy 56 and 10th St.). This was across the highway from the United Power and Light plant which would supply heated, fresh water.

This pool was a project taken on personally by Mr. Brodbeck who said that he did not particularly need money to build it, but he did want to know that the community was really behind having a swimming pool.  The business men agreed to sell 400 tickets at $5 each to show that the community wanted a swimming pool. The tickets were quickly sold.

Plans progressed rapidly as the March 29 Graphic reported that Brodbeck had the levels made, and by the April 12 issue,  Roy Hatfield was to begin construction on April 16.

Two months later, the Kinsley Graphic reported that “The swimming pool opened Saturday afternoon (June 9) and soon a jolly crowd of bathers was enjoying the advantages of a swim.  There was still considerable work to do and carpenters were busy, but their work did not interfere with the bathers even though there was still construction. The pavilion is nicely arranged with two doors for entrance with towel and suit stand between and on either side are the dressing rooms, one side for men and the other for women with two showers in each.”

The entire pool was fenced and people entered through the office which was located between the dressing rooms.  One attractive feature of the pool was a veranda in front of the bath house where seats were provided for those who wished to be out of the water for a while.  There was both a high and low diving board, water slide and water wheel. 

The pool was painted white and had a constant change of heated water.  One day a week it was drained and the bottom cleaned. Another day was set aside for ladies only swimming.

On June 29th a water festival was held.  The Hutchinson Y.M.C.A. Junior Swimming team came and gave swimming demonstrations and examinations for “life savers”.  Several water games were played including “water wrestling”, water races and relays.  (July 5, 1928 Kinsley Graphic)

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Richard Basgall, Dorothy Moore Basgall and Beatrice Basgall (Coats) in the pool about 1934. Water slide and railroad elevated coal chute in the backtround.

Last winter, Eric Taylor, Ted Taylor’s nephew, gave the library a video of his father Jim and other people swimming in this pool in about 1936. 

Later this pool would come to get its water from a well on the site.  Ted Taylor remembers how cold it was when it was first filled.  He also said it was never filtered water, and he would help drain and clean the bottom with high-powered hoses and brushes to “get the scum off.” 

Taylor also remembers a tragic day when eleven-year-old Bobby Malone, son of Mrs. Dave Kuhn, drowned.   The incident was reported in the July 13, 1939 Graphic which stated it was only the second time Bobbie had been in the pool, and he did not know how to swim.  When he went off the diving board, he apparently hit his head on the pool bottom. 

When the highway came through, the pool had to be made smaller, but it would serve the people of Kinsley until 1959 when the current pool was constructed.