Saga of Swimming Holes


 Saga of Swimming Holes 

It was easy to learn to swim

         in my hometown.

The Purgatory River was a tiny, cold stream

         running through town.

Just west of the Animas Street Bridge,

         a large concrete slab had been placed

         to keep the river in its bed.

The shallow stream hit this barrier

          and a hole was formed.

It was not a deep hole;

         even 10-year-old boys could stand

         on the bottom.

To learn to swim, one entered

         the water above the hole

         and let the swift current

         carry you to the hole where

          you paddled like mad

         to the shallow outlet where

         the current picked you up again.

Swimming in the old Purgatory

         had a major drawback.

Numerous communities up-stream

         used the river for sewage disposal.

This being the case

         we all learned a breaststroke

         and kept our heads

         out of the water.

There was a heated indoor swimming pool

         in the old Grand Hotel.

The hotel had been a brothel

         before the military moved to town

         during WWII.

To my mother what it had been was as

         permanent a damning

          as that delivered to the scarlet women

         who used to work there.

There are some things for which

         there was no redemption.

Better that we swam in

         cold, contaminated

         water than be warm

         in the place of sin.

So we swam in cold, dirty water,

        went to the West Theater

         and watched the Hollywood stars

         swim in their beautiful heated pools.

Success in life became a

         lapel pin of a swimming pool.

Now in my old age

         when I have a pool

          I have to clean it.

I wish it were a small

         lapel pin again.

Doug Minnis

May 6, 2010 - revised June 19,2010






A long time memory. Swimming and the water in which to swim have been a major factor in my life. And yet I was never a good swimmwer. My children are great swimmers and so the progress of generations goes