As early as 1913, Kinsley kids have looked for a place to swim. Joe Parker, who had a house on Elizabeth St. in Kinsley, agreed that they could drain and clean his pond. (The pond is still there behind 301 Elizabeth St.) Some public minded citizens and boys fixed it up for about $100 for that season.
But the first real swimming pool would come the next year. The Christian Church on Niles Avenue decided to build an above ground pool behind their church. It was free to members of the Christian Bible School, and all the citizens of Kinsley and neighboring communities were cordially invited to patronize it for a small fee and under “very stringent rules which will be strictly adhered to.”
By all account it was a very popular place. It was open from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. and was “full most of the time occasionally running over.”
This pool may have raised membership in the church because that winter the Lewis Christian Church proposed building one. That was immediately followed by a like proposal by the Lewis Methodist Church. My research did not show that either church carried through. If anyone knows differently, we will add the information to the files.
During an interview in 1916, Reverend Dan E. Smith of the Kinsley Christian Church stated: “The aim of the Christian church is to make the swimming pool a place where the environment is the very best . . .. We do not expect to make a great deal of money after paying all costs. We do expect, however to help you keep your boy and girl off the street and put them where there is no profanity, vulgarity or evil associates.”
In 1919 the church asked for community support in purchasing season tickets for $5 each to raise $1000 to pay for laying 1435’ of pipe. It would conduct the warm water from the ice plant (corner of Fourth St. and Niles Ave.). This was done in June before the highway was paved.
The swimming pool made use of 30,000 gallons every 24 hours. The pool would “empty and fill automatically leaving the water fresh and pure all the time and the nicest soft water imaginable.” No filtering system was needed.
For eight years, the church building was used for dressing rooms. This was not very satisfactory, so in 1922 a building was moved in equipped with showers, toilets, lockers for both the ladies and gentlemen’s dressing rooms and a pool manager’s office.
The Kinsley Graphic editorialized in the May 11, 1922 issue. “Everyone should learn to swim. Every mother should feel free in a proper bathing suit. It will help keep our mothers young to be girls with their daughters. We are hoping that the management will announce a “Woman’s Day” for those who might feel timid at going in when all the family and the neighbors are present. Every dad should show his boy that he has not forgotten how to be a boy.”
In 1923 the stringent rules were circumvented once when a group of highly exuberant boys decided to have a very late-night swim without paying their 25¢ fee and without wearing “regulation swimming suits.” I wonder what that means?
The editor of the Kinsley Mercury, July 19, 1923, commented on the episode. “We are informed that some of the boys who were never known to go out for track, made time going down the alley that would make Charley turn green with envy. We will be interested to learn if any of these boys make such a record of speed on a regular track.”
The boys must have been caught or at least identified because they did appear before the judge and plead guilty to disturbing the peace. They were fined the minimum fine of $3.00 plus court costs, making a total of $6.50.
In 1928 this pool would be replaced by a public pool which you’ll be able to read about next week.