The Art of Pool Hopping - Midwest Style
Ahhh...summertime in the Midwest! A unpredictable visitor to say the least. In the good ole' state of Missouri, temperatures can really fluctuate. Summer officially begins at the end of June and lasts until the end of September. Summer, a 3 month visitor in these parts, can be brutally hot. May is when we start getting the hotter weather, where temps start getting into the 80's and gradually climb in June. When July 4th hits, nature turns up the heat and starts cooking lessons in our area. July and August are the two hottest months of the year. The average temperature is about 90 for highs, but nature's calculator gets fried a lot, and temperatures can reach into the low 100's. Now that is just plain hot, but combine the high humidity and 'WHAM', it feels like you are a lobster being steamed for someone's dinner table!
Heat and Humidity, the double whammy, in the St. Louis area is just miserable. There is no breeze most of the time and when you step out the door, you feel wet and sticky...yuck! I really feel the heat, so when summer comes, I just hate it. I can step out the door, and a few minutes later I will be soaked to the skin by sweat. I look like I just took a shower and the sweat literally drips off me. I can't stand that! Breathing is another problem. I don't have any allergies, thank God, but know those that do. The mold count really skyrockets from the dampness and if you are allergic to mold spores, you will be in misery for the whole summer.
Unless you stay indoors where it is air conditioned or in your car, staying cool is difficult. We had many public swimming pools around, a few water parks, and the best are the multiple rivers in our state. There is nothing like taking a float trip or going swimming in a spring fed river. Ahhhhh....relief!
When a kid, we spent the entire summer outside and couldn't really go anyplace since my dad worked and we only had one car. There were no water parks then, only public swimming pools and those that people had build in their yards, or most commonly, a stainless steel round pool you could drag home and use. The public pool was too far away, so we couldn't walk or ride our bikes...so all that was left was the lawn sprinkler, hose, of our favorite choice...a neighbor's pool.
We weren't picky. A wading pull would do in a pinch, but my best friend Dave, here we go again, found the best solution of all....Pool Hopping.
I never heard of it until Dave told me about it...where he got this stuff is beyond my understanding. I have to admit though, that this one was a true gem during the summer. My first experience happened when Dave invited me to 'camp out' in the backyard in a tent. We did this during the summer months and it was great fun. We used to stay up all night and when it got really late, like 2 AM, we would get dressed and roam the neighborhood. If any car came, we would dive into a bush or something to hide in or behind. It was a lot of fun dodging the cars and sneaking around the deserted streets. This was a regular routine with us, but this time, Dave had a small circular pool in his yard, so we got to swim in that. It wasn't the best, but it was good enough for me. It was cool and that was all that mattered. The best part was David's sister, the one I simply worshiped was there and sometimes came in the pool with us. Talk about being in Heaven! Cool water and a hot babe...WOW! Freeze those clocks!
When she went in, David and I were left outside to see what trouble we could get in. And we usually found it! We messed around in the yard, playing basketball and stealing cherries from the neighbor's tree, played cards in the tent and had fun with our flashlights. Time went by fast and the hour was near for us to go exploring. We were still in our swimming trunks since it was still hot, so all we did was put on our tennis shoes and took off with our flashlights.
We took a short walk that just happened to go right by the only person in the entire neighborhood that had an in ground pool. We knew it was there, but never got to use it, in fact, we never saw anybody use it. Dave stopped and asked if I wanted to go in that pool. I definitely wanted to, but didn't want to get caught and have the cops wake up my parents in the middle of the night...so I hedged. But the more Dave talked about it and when I kept looking at that nice, big pool full of cool water and nobody around, I caved. We tried to go through the gate, but it was locked...drat! Since we had shoes on, we just climbed over the fence and snuck around the garage and scoped the place. No sound, no dogs, no lights, and hopefully no people. We took off our shoes and quietly got in the pool, not making a sound. It was so nice! Cool water flowed over us and we were just so content. A few pool toys were out, so we made use of the air rafts and just floated around.
Everything would have been fine if we had stuck to the rafts, but we were wide awake, kids, and were itching for action. On one side of the pool was this trampoline like thing. It was made so you could run on the pool deck, jump, hit the trampoline and get catapulted into the pool! Now that looked like fun. Dave went first while I watched the house. Dave landed on the trampoline and shot into the deep end making a loud splash. I froze waiting for the lights to come on, but nothing happened. My turn! I did the same thing, trying to jump higher than Dave did, and I too, landed with a huge splash in the deep end...still no signs of life in the house. This was great!! Maybe they weren't home. After a couple more trial runs and no lights or people showed up, we got bolder, but not much louder. It turned into a free-for-all. Both of us jumping into the pool using the trampoline, getting out, running back and repeating. We were having so much fun and were cool besides. Then I noticed the diving board and had to check that out. Well, that was going to end this party fast!
I ran to the diving board, ran to the end, took a big jump, landed back on the board and shot into the water. It worked perfectly and went almost to the bottom of the pool. When I came to the surface David looked like he had swallowed a frog. What was wrong? I looked around and didn't see anything. David was about to explain when the lights went on in the house. Shoot..the jig was up!
We were both in the deep end, so getting out was going to take some time, plus we had no shoes on. I was really scared and so was Dave. We managed to get out of the water, but the flood lights came on and we heard the back door open. Now I know what an escaping prisoner feels like. Both of us were likely to become prisoners this time since we were trespassing! What the heck woke these people up? I didn't know these people and Dave didn't either, which made it scarier! We tried to get our shoes on, but I just left mine and made for the fence. I usually could jump one pretty easily by placing one hand on the top part and swinging the rest of my body over. I did this all the time when making other escapes. Well, something went right, because I sailed over that fence, landed on my feet and I took off like a bullet. I heard a big thud behind me and Dave had made it over the fence too! So far, so good. We were free but shoeless. We ran through a couple of yards, jumping fences like acrobats, putting a good amount of distance between us and any possible pursuer.
I made a dash for the street to make better time, with Dave right on my heels. By this time we were laughing so hard we could hardly run. It is strange how you can laugh and be scared out of your wits at the same time! I saw the street from the backyard we were in and made a mad dash out there. I looked around and saw nothing, So I really poured on the speed. Dave was right on my heels as we raced, hobbled up the street. My feet were killing me since I wasn't used to running barefoot at full speed on rough concrete. My poor feet were taking a beating! A car came out down the street behind us and we dove into the nearest hiding spot we could...a big, fat, evergreen bush. At least I could give my poor feet a rest...they really hurt from all the fence jumping and running. We were almost home or to Dave's home, so we began to calm down. But the car stopped, engine running and lights still on. It stopped at the house down a bit from where we were hiding. We held our breath and just stared. It wasn't a police car, so that was good. The unmarked police car was a white Catalina, and this wasn't. Who was it? Someone got out, looked around and headed right for us. He was walking weirdly, so we scrunched down low. Dang, we were had! But then this person stopped and just stood there on the other side of our bush. I didn't know whether to make a run for it or not. I had no clue what I should do. My feet hurt so bad and my shoes were several houses down the street. Staying put was my only choice. We froze, not making a sound as this man casually strolled around the area. The bush we were in was pretty huge. As the man moved around it, we did the same, keeping the same distance between us. I have no clue how we avoided detection, but the man had no idea we were there. Suddenly we heard a zipper and Dave and I just looked at each other, trying to hold in a bellow of laughter. The man had opened his fly and was began to relieve himself right in OUR bush! The sound of flowing water filled the air and luckily Dave and I were far enough away as not to get watered. We were about to bust out laughing, but somehow kept from doing so. I thought this guy would never get done...I didn't think a bladder could hold that much. He had been drinking, most likely.
When he finished, he zipped up and went back to his car and left. Dave and I just burst out laughing. If that man had only known two kids were hiding in that bush while he was taking a leak...well, I am sure utter surprise would have been an understatement. Dave and I then got up and hobbled home to nurse our poor, banged up feet. We never got caught...that time at least.
What caused the people with the pool to wake up? Dave told me later that when I jumped on the diving board it wasn't bolted down well. So when I used it for a launching pad, part of it moved and came crashing down on the concrete deck. The noise sounded like a bomb had gone off and Dave said it actually echoed when it happened. I was underwater, so didn't hear a thing, but the bedrooms of those people were near the pool area and when the diving board slapped the ground, they would have had to be deaf not to hear it.
We never did recover our shoes. They were sacrificed for the greater good...letting Dave and I keep our hides for another day.