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opening, a residents’ association had raised safety questions in connection with the pool’s chain link fences, which some parents worried could be hopped by children. Te association was also irked over a “complete lack of communication between the city and the tenants,” according to its president, Helen Moore. Finally, the city assuaged Moore by promising to post a night watchman at the pool and by inviting association leaders to sit with other city officials on opening day. According to a report the next day in the Patriot, Straub led a 20-minute


ceremony under a “hot noonday sun.” Perhaps in apology for construction delays, he announced that the public could use the pool free of charge for the remainder of the season. (Full admission prices would take effect the following summer—25 cents per visitor, or $8 for a family season pass.) While the mayor spoke, “kids and some parents stood impatiently by in swimming togs waiting for the program to end.” When it did, the report adds, “approximately 300 children entered the pool in 10 minutes.” Moore, of the residents’ association, remarked that she’d “never seen a happier bunch of children.”


On a recent weekday, during a few days’ break from summer temperatures, the men’s


locker room at the Jackson Lick pool was empty. An inch-deep pool of standing water sat at the feet of a row of stalls. Outside, on the walk to the pool, a man named Andre sold sno-cones and candy out of a small garage. Andre owns a furniture store on S. Cameron Street, one of several businesses displaced by the massive fire at a nearby vehicle salvage business in May. At the snack stand, he said, he was merely standing in for the head of the operation—his 10-year-old daughter. Te Jackson Lick pool sits on a sloping rectangle of scrabbly grass in the shadow of the tinted-glass PHEEA building. On the other side is the Ben Franklin School, whose windows face directly onto the pool. In May, you would think this would prove a form of torture for the middle-school students, except that the pool isn’t filled until the school year ends. (Maybe it’s a form of torture anyway.) A pair of managers watched from under a sun umbrella, while perhaps 20 or 30 children, many from a nearby daycare, splashed around, tossed Nerf footballs, or dove from the boards. Behind them, a smaller, circular wading pool, filled, but with a broken pump, sat unused, its floor growing a brown-green fuzz. It was a peaceful day, with lifeguards lazing at their posts and objects on the


periphery—a crumpled stretch of fence, a dusty picnic table—looking quaintly timeworn. Nonetheless, the pool has seen its share of excitement over the years. Across the street, Keith Myers, a maintenance supervisor for the Harrisburg Housing Authority, reminisced about some of the wilder times. “Kids would sneak in at midnight, throw their towels over the fence,” he said. He recalled the discovery, several years back, of large bags of marijuana in the attic of the bathhouse, a gun battle that left bullets in the side of one of the apartment towers, and, most peculiarly, a deer bolting out from what used to be a woodsy patch adjacent to the parking lot. Myers started with the housing authority in 1982. A year or two before, the organization had removed families from the southern tower, named for Alton W. Lick, and converted the building into apartments for people over 55. Before then, the tower had attracted gang activity. “Mayor Reed was calling us ‘Hall Manor in the sky,’” Myers said. Te northern tower, named for C. Sylvester Jackson, was vacated in 2004 and is currently under renovation. Both of the buildings have 13 floors, which, in defiance of the superstition, are labeled 1 through 13 in the elevators. For the convenience of residents, many of whom are disabled, a wheelchair ramp was added to the Jackson Lick pool during a renovation in the 1990s. In 1998, the city introduced a pool program that had nothing to do with swimming.


Called the “Get Hooked on Fishing Derby,” it involved filling the pool with striped bass after it had closed for the season in September. In 2006, according to a press release from the office of former Mayor Stephen Reed, the city dumped in 1,100 12- inch stripers, 30 of which had been tagged with the names of various city celebrities. Anglers who hooked them would receive a special prize. Bob Herman, the president of Capital City Bassmasters, the local BassPro Shop’s house fishing club, recalled that his members would team up with the city to help young fishermen manage their rods. “It was a mess,” he said. “You can imagine, kids around a swimming pool…we’d have, like, 20 kids at a time all tangled up.” Te event was abandoned in later years, as the city’s deepening fiscal crisis led to a budgetary clampdown. Te present-day pool prices—$5 per visitor, $150 for a family of six—can make the


city pools’ early years seem like ancient history. And, as far as I know, Harrisburg has no imminent plans to fill the Jackson Lick pool with stripers. But, for the first summer in a while, if only for a few weeks, it should once again have a second pool.


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