Larry Bell Park Swimming Pool & the Bully
This is the public pool at Larry Bell Park in Marietta, which has long been bulldozed away for progress long ago.
See the trees following a bended row? They are on the edge of a creek I used to play in as a kid. Up the hill from that there are several white things. The most prominent is the Baxter home. The weaker dot is our home. That is where we lived on Manget Street.
I don’t know if it was because Daddy was a policeman or because we lived so close or that we were good friends with the Sullivan family who ran the concessions at Larry Bell Park but we always got season passes. Another thought was the manager of the whole park was Al Bishop and Daddy and his brothers were friends with him – that may have helped.
We went to the pool daily. My sister and I got to be very good swimmers. And going to the pool everyday you are surely to start seeing the same people and recognize them. I remember the main lifeguard was Charles Dawson, I think his name was. There was one young man who dived a lot. He was a very good diver. His name was Jack Rakestraw. Later he lived and his family lived across the street from us. I think he got his eye put out in an accident at General Motors where he worked, so he was on disability.
Some people you like and make friends with and some you don’t get to know and you keep your distance.
One such person I avoided because he seemed always to have something smart to say to me. He was a bully. He always picked on me. He seemed aggressive and fierce. If I walked by him he would push me. One time he was in my face challenging me and his friend got on all fours behind me and the guy pushed me, which I toppled over the stooped over boy, banging my head on the cement.
I had a friend named Frankie Hunter (no relation). Frankie and I ran around a lot together and several time got into fights and scuffles. Every time I whipped him. Every time.
Then one day the bully that always picked on me picked on Frankie. Oh, did I say Frankie had a hot temper. I wish I did. Frankie hit back. They took their argument outside the pool’s fence, behind a cement bench just on the south side of the pool.
Frankie whipped the bully’s ass.
Then that got my thinking. If I can whip Frankie, and Frankie can whip the bully why am I allowing the bully to bully me. Then I wanted revenge. I wanted to whip him… to mop the pavement with him. I was ready.
The next time I saw the bully I walked real slowly by him with my fists balled up. He didn’t say a word. The next time I saw him he was sitting on a handrail not from the pool’s concession stand. I decided I was going to walk by and when said something smart I was going to push him hard, so he will fall over, hopefully hitting his head on the pavement. I walked by slowly with my arms straight and rigid. He didn’t seem to see me. I turned around and started walking slowly back towards him. This time he got off his perching position on the metal bar and leaned against it.
It seemed after that he avoided Frankie Hunter and me.
Over 50 years later I ran into the bully at the Bell Boys Reunion and talked to him. He was very polite and humble. I told him I used to be afraid of him because he was a bully. I don’t think he is a bully any longer. They say your complete body replaces itself every seven years, and I think that also goes for the mind-set too. So, maybe he has mellowed, or got de-bullied.