Those Lazy, Hazy Days

Karen Hirst

A trip back in time — a time when moms and tots, teens, and lovelorn pursuers of teens would spend all day basking or at times baking in the sunshine at the Almonte Public Beach.

I remember well the baby oil of the daytime to be followed in the evening with Noxema Cream to sooth the blistering skin — pay me now or pay me later, but you will pay seemed to hold true!

Morning classes at the beach

Those of us fortunate enough to be employed for the summer as Swimming Instructors and Lifeguards worked for the Almonte Recreation Association. I spent every summer during high school and into the summer of my second year of Nurses training at the Almonte Public Beach … best summertime job anywhere!

We spent the latter part of June painting docks and rafts bright orange and getting them placed in the water, sprucing up the change houses and office, painting the buoys and stringing them in the water to separate the shallow from the deeper areas.

Two slides were secured in the water, one large and one smaller one and the row boat was launched and deemed river worthy for rescue operations. Weeds were raked back from the designated swim areas on both sides, heavy plastic was laid down over top of the weedy sites and secured with loads of dirt and sand to prevent the weeds from closing back in over the warm summer months … this was our weed control program of the day. Garbage barrels were strategically located, the beach front was raked clear of any winter debris and as a finishing touch with a good base of dirt, fresh white sand was spread across the beach.

Personnel of the time: Karen Kerry, Lyn McGill, of Almonte, Mary Joy Denike and John Deering, of Ottawa

With the beach and equipment in pristine order we were ready to accept our students in July for four levels of Red Cross swim classes—Beginners, Juniors, Intermediates and Seniors. Classes were held each morning Monday to Friday with Lifeguards available seven days a week. With busy hot weather in July, additional lifeguarding might be provided in the evening and decreased in the latter part of summer when weather was cooling.

The Almonte Public Beach was a great place for kids of all ages to meet and greet at one time or another over its many years of operation. Mothers particularly enjoyed having a supervised activity for their out of school broods to attend.

In 1968, 175 Beginners, 70 Juniors, 35 Intermediates and 12 Seniors were registered for swim classes. Pre-testing was held late July with Red Cross testing taking place in August … the beach was the place to be and many Almonte and area youths learned to swim through this annual recreation program.

Like fish out of water when not at the beach, many would often return in the evening for personal swim time. With a canteen on site, we were kept hydrated with a cool soda pop or an ice cream bar to finish off the lazy, hazy days of summer that we were so privileged to enjoy.