During my youth (1953-1958), cooling off during the hot summer was a constant problem. Back then, the future swimming pool and City Park did not exist. I think the pool became a reality during summer of 1962, as I had just completed my freshman year at the University of Iowa.
Prior to the construction of the pool in 1962, the youth of Hermann had various ways of cooling off.
1. We could hook up a water hose to the outdoor faucet of the house and a sprinkler.We would wear Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt or no t-shirt for the boys. Girls would wear a variety of garments to include a swimming suit. Modesty was the norm then, compared to the bikini styles in my latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition of 2019.
2. We had our parents drive us to a small pond or lake, or even a river. When on a small river, you had to pay attention to the current. A lot of times, we had inner tubes to sit in and then splash the water to move or float down the river to another pickup location for parents or other older boys to help us stop and get out. A popular spot on the Gasconade River was around Hwy. 50. Another popular spot was Big Berger or Little Berger Creek. Sometimes we had the use of canoes or small John boats with a motor. The John boat had long ropes attached to another boat for towing from the Hwy. 100 bridge. This was a dangerous sport and we had to hold on tight to the rope.
3. We used a special swimming hole on Frene Creek. We got there on our bikes. This part of the creek was spring fed with cool, clean water. Past floods had dug out this huge hole under a big rock. Being so tall, I would try to stand up in the swimming hole, blow out air bubbles to sink and stretch my arm up to break the water surface. I estimated the hole to be 9.5 feet deep. Laying in Frene Creek water sure felt good to cool off and there was even a nice-sized sandy beach.
4. We would go into Berlin’s air-conditioned Drugstore and cool off, sitting at a barstool with an ice cream soda.
5. It helped to know the teenagers that had electric fans at their homes, where we would sit and let the cool air blow across our faces.
6. You were lucky to have a sunken basement as part of your house. That area was always cooler than the upstairs.
7. Getting desperate, we’d go to the local church and pray for an hour-long rainstorm to cool down the whole town of Hermann.
8. We learned which rock quarries had spring-fed ponds for our amusement. We’d jump off a cliff to splash into deep water.
Compared to 2019, the senior citizens of Hermann can talk about the good old days of our past lives and question how we could even survive without our air-conditioned cars and homes.