Category Archives: Family

Swimming Lessons, Then and Now

Swim Lessons Then!

Sometime around 1958, I was introduced to swimming lessons. I’m sure some kids complained about it. I wasn’t one of them! That’s a good thing, because swimming lessons were not optional.  In Raymond Washington, the Dr. O.R. Nevitt Memorial Pool was built as a huge volunteer effort between 1952 and 1955. I don’t know what role my parents may have had in its construction. But I know about their enthusiasm for the pool. It was great that the town had a pool, and their kids were going to learn to swim!

I am grateful for the enthusiasm of my parents and the program the small city of Raymond offered during my youth. Every June I was enrolled in the first (chilly) session of swim lessons. I loved the water, and learned more than anything that I was made to be pretty much drown-proof. I know that was the objective of Mom and Dad. Mission accomplished. I progressed through all the levels until the Junior Life Saving class. That was my first failure and my last class. It was a failure in that I didn’t pass the class; I just didn’t have the athletic strength to save Chris Halpin and get him to the other end of the pool, unless he kicked too! It was a success in that I still know   I have all the skills to save a drowning swimmer in calm waters.

Nevitt Memorial Pool, Raymond Washington 1962

Click on the photo for a high-res version

The picture above is Mom’s photo from 1962 at the Nevitt Pool in Raymond.   The action shot shows my sister Nadine jumping into the deep end for the first time.  It was a momentous occasion for her.  Standing in the background, in the red trunks is the 10 year old me!  As the big brother, I really should have appeared to be more supportive.  Also in the background in the blue trunks is my friend Randy Briggs, striking the Atlas pose.  Caught in the foreground would have to be his mom,  Marie Briggs.

So that’s where it  all started.   The place was vital, kid centered, and committed to making the youth of Raymond drown-proof.  But reflecting on my early training,  I never developed a classic, refined free-style crawl.  I preferred backstroke, sidestroke, and breaststroke for getting around the pool and lakes.

Fifty-six years later, I’m swimming again, and I’m grateful for all those lessons which which gave me confidence in the water.   But today, swimming is for well-rounded exercise, and I want to develop that classic, refined free-style crawl.

I’m making progress in the lanes at VASA fitness.  I was excited when they opened nearby,  and even more enthused today,  as my swimming improves each day.

Swim Lessons Now!

On my own, despite watching hours of Youtube videos, I have not developed that classic, refined freestyle crawl. Fancy that! A couple weeks ago I called The Swim Academy asking about swim lessons.  I asked my instructor, Keith Hubbard,  for help in developing a more relaxed freestyle stroke, and in week one he coached some better form out of me!   Before meeting with Keith, I’d been working up to a half mile swim in the mornings.   After my first session, that half mile became easier, and I’m happy that I’m  reporting 3.5 miles in 7 days!  I can feel the results in the upper body, and I’m just about addicted to it (hopefully).  In this case a habit forming addiction would be a good thing.

Keith has been the best for me.   Of course, he was easy for me to listen to because he complimented me after the first lap, telling me I already had good form!  Kudos to those guys and gals at the Nevitt Pool in the 50s and 60s.    But after the fine compliments, we got to work on the refinements, and they are a blessing.

Today was the second lesson, and another leap forward.   I’m thrilled to have good instruction and also to see that my 66 year old body will adapt to that good instruction.   I can’t wait to get in the pool tomorrow morning where I can get to work on it.   In the pool I’ll  be thanking a few people:  Mom, Dad, the people of Raymond who built the pool in 1955, and my new instructor, who fearlessly took on a 66-year old student.

 

 

Solace

Yesterday morning I got up too early. To get some more rest, I went out and spent a half hour in the hot tub. In that short time, I saw two bright, shooting stars. I marveled at their beauty, and went on about my normal day.

As I moved into my day, I knew that it was going to be exceptional. It was my day to tune the Schimmel, a piano I’ve been tuning each fall for years. Made in Germany about 15 years ago, it’s the very best upright piano among my clients. The string scaling of the piano delivers a wonderful rich bass, and the transition from bass to tenor is smooth as silk. I’ve been caring for that piano each fall for the past five years, and I love it!

That particular piano, gained poignant significance to me three years ago. On that day as I got to about C5 in the tuning I got the phone call where I learned of the tragic death of my grand-daughter, Jenna. A few moments later, among my tears, I explained to my very kind, warm client that I couldn’t finish the tuning, but that I would return in a week or so.

Each fall, as I return to that lovely piano, I relive the emotions. When I get to C5, the tears start to flow. I catch the tears, so they won’t land on the key bushings to create havoc, but otherwise I let them do their work. I didn’t know yesterday that it would be the same, but it was. It was, and it was fitting, and it was good.

As I wrote the invoice for yesterday’s tuning, I penned “10/26/2017”. I looked at that and marveled, because I realized it was the 101st birthday of my mother who passed away at 97 just a few weeks before Jenna joined her at 14.

My two, bright, shining stars. And what is it about that piano?

Willapa Hills Trail

Willapa Hills Trail is the former Northern Pacific spur line from Chehalis Washington to South Bend Washington.   The right-of-way has been acquired by Washington State Parks, and now serves as a biking and hiking trail.

Chehalis River along the Willapa Hills Trail east of Pe Ell

I’m happy to say that the photo above is not a stock photo, but my picture of yesterday morning!  We are enjoying a Washington trip to see friends, family, and to enjoy the Willapa Hills Trail for the first time.  It was my intent to ride the trail from Chehalis to Raymond (my hometown).  A bit of 65-year-old realism caught up with me.  That realism has been expressed in “pre-arthritic” knees!    So it has become a ride from Chehalis to Pe Ell along the trail.

My daughter Erin came up from Portland to join me on the first leg of the ride.   We rode from Logan Street in Centralia to Rainbow Falls State Park.   I chose to ride from Centralia rather than starting in Chehalis at the trailhead, because Logan Street was the home place of my Grandpa and Grandma Henkel.   Erin and I rode the paved streets of Centralia and Chehalis about 6 miles to the trailhead.  Then we rode the trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls.  The trail was a joy.   To see this area, away from the traffic (modest though it may be on highway 6), and at a slow pace, is an experience I’ll always remember, and I’m so grateful that Erin chose to accompany me!

The required selfie as we started out on the trail

The trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls is about 15 miles, a distance I often cover at home on morning rides.  But those rides are on paved trails and start at mile zero, not at mile six.   The first five miles of the trail are paved, and the rest of the trail to Rainbow Falls is gravel.   My sixty-five year old knees learned that its not the miles but the total pedal rotations that count to determine endurance.   But we had a marvelous time!

Erin kickin’ it up on a railroad bridge east of Adna

After Erin returned to Portland, the next day I returned to the trail and rode to Pe Ell, where my wife, Terri, met me.  The knees told me I’d rode enough.  My mind tells me I had a wonderful time, despite riding half as far as I had intended.   Perhaps next spring there will be another adventure.

Artic, Washington

While visiting family in Grays Harbor, we stayed at Artic RV Park. It turned out to be a beautiful place. I suppose that Good Sam Club would give it less than 5 stars, but I’d give it 6. Nestled in the trees, along Highway 101 about 18 miles north of Raymond, Washington, it was a surprising delight. We were greeted warmly by the owners and offered veggies from their garden! Certainly having grown up in Raymond, I never thought that I’d ever spend a night in Artic, but there we were.

This scene makes me think of my Mom, who often told the story of her “dream cabin” just a few miles down the road at Elk Horn.   As she would tell it, she was on a road trip with her parents and her boyfriend (also known as my Dad!).  When stopped at the Elk Horn, she snuggled up to her boyfriend, and said, “Oh wouldn’t that little cabin be a wonderful place to live?”  Not long after, she was living in that cabin, and making a lifelong friend with the owner, Maggie Thornton.   Of course she also said she was very happy to move out, because when the wind blew, the thought of trees crashing into that little cabin scared her to death!   And as the telling goes, a few years later a giant fir destroyed that little cabin.

Some tree hugging with a centuries old spruce tree, and a photo of my intrepid explorer, Terri!