By Rick Hinton
Ghosts don’t always mean spooky, supernatural occurrences. Sometimes “ghosts” are our memories.
Back in the late 1960s, my mom and Aunt Janice would load the car with five kids, on a Saturday afternoon, for a journey to the then Far Southside, to Longacre Swimming Pool. It became a pilgrimage! They would plant themselves on a blanket on the grassy, shaded hillside, trying their best to keep track of us bouncing about in the chaotic water. There was not a lot happening for an Eastside kid back in those days; Longacre became the exception. It was the place to be, and with quite the history. …
Attorney, Edwin Thompson, created the park in 1927. It was a parcel of undeveloped rolling ground with trees, green space and endless possibilities. His initial vision soon transformed into a park-like setting encompassing baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, croquet, picnic area and pony rides. And the diamond jewel of it all – a literal acre-sized, kidney shaped, pool fed naturally by the waters of nearby Lick Creek. In the 1950s it was fully concreted. Passage of time in the park witnessed a sand beach, paddle boats, canoes, bathhouse with a dance hall and a modern playground. The Urban Stop Trolley, #6, became the destination on a hot Indianapolis weekend!
In 1946 the property was sold to Rufus Dodrill Jr. and was family operated until 1972. In the 1960s Dodrill had his own vision – developing the ground around the pool into a mobile home community. And so it began. Regardless, the pool continued to remain a draw.
Turning 16 years of age brought about my driver’s license, and a car; no more mom or Aunt Janice. I, along with a group of teenage friends would travel from the Far Eastside to Longacre for a day in the sun. We also conspired to pick up girls. That’s what young noodle-heads from Warren Central High School did! On one visit, we surveyed the scene, locking in on two obviously older girls sitting on a blanket on the hillside. I (the elected one) approached to impress them with my conversational skills. “Want to swim with me and my friends?” They looked us over before holding up their hands with wedding rings glistening in the sunlight. I walked back to my friends with their laughter ringing in my ears. Scary ghosts of the past!
Today, as I pull into the Longacre Mobile Park off of Madison Avenue, I follow the Lick Creek Parkway through the double railroad bridge archways and navigate a circular drive to the right to arrive at the clubhouse. The route is the same from the 1970s, only the pool is gone. I believe the original entrance to the pool was at this clubhouse, or close by. Time and different ownership most often brings changes.
By the early 1970s the crowds began to drop off. Dodrill sold the complex in 1972 and the pool became open only to park residents. However, it wasn’t hard to get around that. Finally, the pool was plowed under in the late 70s or early 80s, becoming prime real estate for more mobile homes.
My mom and Aunt Janice have passed on. Time marches forward as it always does. I got a few phone numbers from girls at Longacre, but ultimately nothing ever panned out. The pool was a respite and sanctuary of sorts, for not only my brief exposure, but also for countless many others throughout the years. It now lies under the asphalt of Charing Cross Drive.
It doesn’t seem right!