"ALL OUT WHEN BELL RINGS" — Fairgrounds Pool

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The Fairgrounds Pool
  • The Fairgrounds Pool
With all this talk about what to do with the site of the Mid-South Fairgrounds, we tend to forget that it was, at one time, THE place in Memphis to go swimming.

Sometime in the 1930s — I could look up the exact date, but I'm pretty comfy in my chair here, and the book is all the way across the room — city leaders built Memphis' largest swimming pool. It was a huge, oval thing, surrounded by sand beaches. Maywood and Clearpool did the same thing. With sand, I mean.

On the west side was a low building (shown here) that housed showers, changing rooms, and showers. And across the front was a big sign, as you can plainly see, warning all swimmers "ALL OUT WHEN BELL RINGS." In other words, get out of the pool when the lifeguard rings a bell — either to signify that somebody might be drowning, or your swimming day was coming to a close. I don't recall what those tile-roofed buildings in the background were used for. I can only do so much, you know, and these days that's really not much at all.

Notice the old-fashioned lightpoles around the pool. I wonder: was this place open at night?

And yes, as I sit here shivering in the drafty Lauderdale Mansion, I realize it's not exactly the season for outdoor swimming, but I thought I'd share the old photo with you anyway. This place was known as the civic pool, and just like Rainbow Lake, Clearpool, and Maywood (and in more recent years, Adventure River), there's not a trace of it. Despite our unbearable summers, Memphis, it seems, just can't support a big outdoor swimming complex. It doesn't make sense, does it?

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