Seashore Pools and Frozen Custard
There was a house at 911 Mayburn in Dearborn that was just a few houses off my beaten path to a huge gigantic public swimming pool that many kids ventured to from our neighborhood in the Township. We didn’t live within Dearborn City limits so we had to pay for the privilege to swim there, which we were happy to do. On the living room wall of the house on Mayburn, just above the fireplace, sitting on a pedestal were a pair of bronzed baby shoes.
The “how and why” of the shoes on the wall is the heart of the story. But first, Bobby Molson, a neighborhood friend, knew how to swim and I didn’t. The swimming pool at Levagood Park at the time, in the early 1950’s, was called Seashore Pools. Bobby and I would ride our bikes from our neighborhood, which was on Stanford and Banner(Bobby lived on the corner), all the way up Telegraph, crossing Michigan Ave under the overpass and passing over the lower Rouge River and the Dearborn Hills golf course. We took a left on Claremont and made our way to Denwood Street which would take us up to the entrance of the swimming pool. It was a long trek for kids at our young age to travel when you compare it to today’s standards. This wasn’t yet the age of soccer Mom’s being available to deliver us via cute little mini vans. A mother today wouldn’t let her son, who couldn’t yet swim, travel miles away from home to jump in a swimming pool. Fortunately, I survived, because Bobby helped me learn to swim.
The pool itself was in the form of a huge round circle with an island in the middle that accommodated both diving boards and Life Guards. There was a fence that separated the shallow water from the deeper. There were gates that allowed the transition to the deep water which the life guards watched very carefully, but at times not carefully enough. Bobby could swim and was a year older and a little larger physically, so when the guards were distracted I would hook my arms around his neck and ride on his back while he dog paddled all the way out to the island. We would climb aboard and there I could pretend that I was a big kid too. Bobby would do a few dives and then come back to retrieve me and we would paddle back. After a few weeks of doing that, with a little help from Bobby, I finally branched out on my own and learned to dog paddle out to the island myself.
Once finished with our day of swimming we always made our way to a frozen custard stand on the corner of Sheridan and Telegraph Road. The route to the custard stand took us past Mayburn Street which was the first street off of Telegraph and just a few houses down was the house at 911. It was there the Bronzed Baby Shoes were displayed, on a pedestal, on the living room wall above the fireplace. Unknown to anyone in the family, except for the mother Bette, the shoes once belonged to me. It would take another thirty-five years for me to reclaim what was once mine when the Bronzed Baby Shoes in question were presented to me by my birth mother Bette. This occurred when I was forty-five years old, only a short while after learning I had been an adopted child.
I have no idea how many times I may have crossed paths with my birth mother and siblings, either at the custard stand or the swimming pool, but it had to have been many. We, my neighborhood friends and I, lived at Seashore pools during the summers of the early 1950’s and seemingly always made it to the custard stand on the corner of Telegraph, where, just a few houses away, my former baby shoes lived on a wall.
The discovery of my being an adopted child and my finding my birth parents, along with two separate families of siblings, will take much longer to tell and will be a follow on story. I even have great pictures so stay tuned.