#11 Come on in! The water is fine (Part 3)

The need for a new swimming pool in Kinsley became evident in 1958.  The citizens of Kinsley were utilizing the Brodbeck pool discussed in last week’s article.  That summer there had been an average attendance of 155 people per day and in one five-day period the attendance averaged 279 persons per day.

Also a letter had come from the Kansas State Board of Health declaring Kinsley’s poolone of forty-five pools in the state which they have determined to be obsolete and need replacing.  The board considers the fill and draw type of pool to be unsatisfactory and potentially hazardous to the health of swimmers and furthermore, that the turbidity of the water in fill and draw pools is frequently excessive, rendering the bottom of the pool invisible and thereby greatly increasing the hazards of drowning’” (Kinsley Mercury, Sept. 4, 1958)

A citizens’ committee was formed and upon their recommendation, a bond issue of $85,000 was issued to construct a city pool in South Park for the next season.  The issue passed.

The average home owner would be assessed $3.29 per year for twenty years to retire the bond.

The city engaged Paddock Construction Co. of Oklahoma City.  The committee met with an engineer who determined that the preferred site in South Park would be feasible with mitigation for flood water issues.  The land could be raised 3’ and underflow pressure could be controlled with two automatic safety valves. 

The site was excavated and forms were placed in January, 1959 for a mushroom-shaped pool.  It would have a modern filtering system, a modern bathhouse, and an underwater lighting system that would make the pool safe and enjoyable for evening swimming.

Concrete was poured for the walls and floor on February 16.  This needed to be a “continuous pour” as once the pour started, it could not stop until it was completed.  Because there was not enough labor available to accomplish this, “the vocational ag class of the high school was hired to help with the work.”   All day the cement mixers were fed and loads of concrete wheeled (Mercury, Fe. 19, 1959).

A month later the Kinsley Mercury reported, “The pool is rapidly taking shape and is becoming a matter of pride with citizens of the city.”  The paper showed a picture of the bathhouse as being constructed by this time.

On Saturday, May 30 the pool officially opened to the public at 2 p.m. The hours that summer were from 2-9 p.m., and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.

Single admission prices for swimming were 15₵ for children, 25₵ for high school age and 35₵ for adults.  Ten swim passes were available at a 5₵ per swim discount.  Free swimming lessons were held in the mornings.

The Mercury editor noted that “…the swimming lanes painted on the bottom are clearly visible…”  This comment reflects the Kansas Board of Health’s concern over the turbidity of the water in the old pool which was not filtered and had to be drained and cleaned once a week. 

Eric Taylor, who provided the library with the film I made accessible, emailed me last week to say that a few seconds of footage existed in the home movies of the pool bottom being power washed.  I remembered seeing a man with a hose when I was editing the movies, but at the time I didn’t know where or what the footage was.  Now I know and maybe when I get some time, I’ll add those frames to the movie.

 The Mercury reported that “Alois Bieber was the pool manager that first year, assisted by Leland Brodbeck.  Lou Jean Brown checked in the swimmers.  The concession stand was leased to the Carlson-Vomberg rides now located in the South Park and will be operated by them.”

That last sentence intrigued me.  Was there a summer amusement park?  The library files revealed the answer that in 1959 there was.  It was located south of the pool.  It included a ferris wheel, a kiddie car ride, a kiddie train ride, a popcorn and candy stand and a photo booth.

The new pool’s diving area had three diving boards: one high board in the middle and two low board at either side.

I was a little alarmed when I read that the children’s wading pool would “enable mothers to swim and also check on their youngsters from time to time.”  Thank goodness that was clarified in the June 18th issue.  “Parents wishing to take the small fry there for a dip may do so at no charge.  This pool, however, is not attended by lifeguards and parents should watch their own children.”

The pool recorded 3,573 paid admissions during the first 17 days of operation.  180 children took advantage of the first round of free swimming lessons.

Like with the opening of the Brodbeck pool, special swim races were planned for Saturday afternoons.  Swim passes were awarded as prizes to those who won their division’s races.  Challenge races with the lifeguards were also held.  Anyone beating a lifeguard received a week’ swimming free.

There have been few changes to the pool over the years.  Until recent years, the pool included daily evening hours.  The high diving board was eliminated in 1991 because of insurance coverage and inadequate water depth at the diving end. The lift was put in when the ADA mandated it in 2012.  The water slide was added in 2014

If anyone has information or pictures of the construction or features of the early days of the city pool, the library would like to add them to the archive.  Meantime, we can be thankful for the sixty-one years this pool has provided enjoyment to the citizens.