NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 11, 2013

Summer fun: Going 'out back' to swim

When we were kids, summers were the best. No school, no obligations. We were just free as birds. The parents in those days must have enjoyed it as well. The kids would be out of the house all day long. Some kids would head right to the barbershop and get a baldy haircut. Lots of kids back then had bald heads in the summer.

Along with playing sandlot baseball, we would look for places to swim. The wharf at the Merrimack River was close by. Many boys preferred that. I found that for a novice the current was a bit risky. Also there was a lot of pollution in the water.

My friends and I preferred to walk “out back” to swim. That was where there was a swim hole many of us South Enders of Newburyport liked to go to. It was located on Boston Road in Newbury. It was a dirt road full of gullies and ruts. To make it smoother, clam diggers would dump loads of clamshells there. They would level them and vehicles that passed by would crush them down. The shells attracted flocks of seagulls. Unfortunately, it resulted in quite an awful smell.

I only went that way occasionally when a friend who had a bicycle would give me a ride. In those days only a few boys had bicycles. It was very common then to see two boys on one bike. Mostly we walked to the swim hole. A creek ran along the side of the Boston and Maine railroad tracks. Boston Road crossed the tracks where a bridge spanned the creek. Along the bank near the bridge next to the creek were four large boulders. It became know as “four rocks.” At the bridge the creek widened out to form a nice small pond.

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