Growing Up Rec, Remembering the Neighborhood Pool

Blog Image 621877 - Gregory
MLK Rec Center Pool, 1972, Department of Recreation

After reading yesterday’s story about Brewerytown couple Kenny and Rebecca Jackson’s effort to help keep their neighborhood pool at Athletic Recreation Center open this summer, reader (and former Miss Athletic), Gwen Morris, 59, who grew up "within walking distance" from the pool shared some of her fond memories.

"In the summer, I swam every day in that same pool," says Morris, a retired educator. "I also remember the wonderful recreation leaders who not only made sure that we have fun, but also served as mentors to the young ladies who frequented the center in both the summer and the winter.

"I remember when they turned the girls’ gym into a roller skating rink in the winter time. I remember winning Miss Athletic one year due to the wonderful, skilled guidance of my drama teacher Mrs. Othello Vaughn. She remained my mentor throughout my junior and senior high school year. To this day, I keep up with her."

Morris occasionally works at nearby Boone School, and says "when I look out of the school window, I still get a warm feeling about the rec."

Hearing Morris’ tales made me nostalgic for my old rec - Martin Luther King, Jr. at 22nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where I learned to swim as a kid (with a bathing cap of plastic flowers atop my head), and watched those brave enough, like my two older brothers, fly from the diving board like Olympic swimmers. Since then, the neighborhood has gone through its challenges, but the rec remains, as strong as ever.