Reminiscing has a way of putting things into perspective, especially during a pandemic.
With the pool closed and Labor Day in the rearview mirror, it’s time for readers’ perspective of their times at Watoga State Park.
Where do I start? Watoga was my adolescence. It’s the place a significant number of my memories begin and where I grew up.
The pool was my place of refuge where I went to get away. We would either walk ourselves or bum a ride to make it there, but we made sure to get there every day before it opened and stayed until closing. We would gather together to round up our money to make sure we had enough to get in and some extra money for the vending machines.
As kids we always found ways to make the day even more exciting than the day before. Back then, the pool didn’t have the solar panels to warm it, so the water was always freezing. But that didn’t matter to us. We made a game of who would jump in first and who would be the first to chicken out.
Spending Everyday There
We spent every day of our childhood there. Even when it was raining and storming we still went; it didn’t matter to us if we weren’t allowed to swim. It gave us an excuse to hang out in the Rec Room and play numerous games of life and listen to the “Funky Cold Medina” or “Wild Thing” over and over on the old jukebox.
Every day brought a new adventure and every day we became avid swimmers. We learned to hold our breath longer and swim a little harder which was a great accomplishment as a child. Even when my best friend passed away during my 8th grade year of middle school, and we all grew up and went our own ways, the memories we made at Watoga will always hold a special place in my heart. And the stories I can tell will always keep those memories alive. So, it’s the place we created relationships of best friends and grew as children.
Alyssa Hall, 1997-2003
Reminiscing as a Former Employee
If you look at the window on the second story of the building [at the swimming pool], you’ll notice it has a curtain in it. That section of the building was actually a dormitory for the male summer workers at Watoga. The lifeguards and utility workers were housed there.
Moreover, I spent two wonderful summers there in the early 60s. What fun we had. The female workers were quartered over the dining room in the Administration Building. They were waitresses in the dining room. About 10 total summer employees. Great group. Fun times.
Gary Mitchell Hershman
Reminiscing About What Watoga Offers
Love, love Watoga! Beautiful place to spend time. So peaceful and lots of wildlife.
Recalling the Cold
When mom asked if we were cold [after swimming], we always said, “No,” through chattering teeth!
Mary Beth Norman
Every 4th of July swimming in that cold, cold swimming pool and the best ever picnic with juicy watermelon as desert! Fond memories.
Judy Brown Cooksey
Refreshing! Not Cold!
I worked there in 1957 through the early 60s. I don’t remember the water being that cold. We were there most days between serving lunch and dinner. I know we sunbathed, but I just don’t remember the issue being that the water was too cold. Those were wonderful times. I lived at home and went to college so Watoga was my coming of age time.
I worked at Watoga 1956 thru 1959 and also lived at Watoga as a child while my father was superintendent so I am very familiar with the Watoga pool. I called it refreshing.
Charlotte McKeever Emswiler
Cabin 20 Reminiscing
My family rented the cabin next door years ago. Great vacation. We went several times.
Talk About Something “Near and Dear to my Heart”
I lived there for one summer, either 1984 or 1985. Two college students lived over the pool building, and every Wednesday night was poker night. Me and two other girls lived over top of the restaurant, and worked there during the day. So Watoga was ours for one summer. Best summer ever! Lots of great memories.
That summer was the year of my first job, my first apartment on my own. . . . I was so young, 19, with all my life ahead of me. I explored every inch of that park and hiked every trail that summer, but you could usually find me floating in the lake on a paddle boat, reading a book.
Later, I would bring all my children back to that park, and all of them learned to swim in that pool.
So Watoga State Park, has always been near and dear to my heart. My children grew up visiting this beautiful place. Listening to me tell them all about nature, the trails, the CCC camp builders. We all love this park!
Cherie Williams Hall
Hark Back to the Future?
Like going back in time.
About the Author
John C. Dean is a former journalist who grew up at Watoga State Park. His father, Vernon, worked at Watoga for 43 years. John is a freelance editor and can be reached at email@example.com.