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Street Level

Pool of Love As another swim season ends, the Frogs of Friendly Park Pool — a trailblazer among the state’s community pools — write another page of history

Friendly Park Pool synchronized swimming lessons

By Jim Schlosser

Photographs By Cassie Butler

A

s Labor Day draws the 2012 outdoor swim season to an end, the Frogs proved fantastic stroking toward the finish. The Friendly Park Pool Swim and Tennis Club’s swim team, nicknamed the Frogs, won this summer’s Greensboro Community Swim Association’s annual city meet — just as it did the first year the event was held in 1959. The team has won it six times since 2003. This story, though, isn’t about winning, but about longevity. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Greensboro began a tradition of neighborhood, or community, swimming pools. The first, Guilford Hills, opened in early June, 1958, followed by the O.Henry Oaks neighborhood pool later that month; Lawndale Homes pool that July; and Friendly Park in August. Others emerged a few years later, including Hamilton Lakes, Hillsdale Park, Sherwood, Green Valley, Pinetop, and of more recent vintage, Adams Farms and Lake Jeannette. Before 1958, unless a family belonged to a country club, outdoor swimming options were limited pretty much to city-owned Lindley Park pool for white people, and Nocho Park pool for black people. Segregation was the rule. Not long before 1958, several black parents announced intentions to The Art & Soul of Greensboro

swim at Lindley Park. The city responded by closing the pool and selling it to a private organization formed quickly to buy and keep it segregated. Lawsuits resulted. The pool remained in private hands until 1967, when the city repurchased it and opened it as an integrated pool. People are still splashing at Lindley. Was it a coincidence that four neighborhood pools arose at the same time the newspaper headlined attempts to integrate Lindley’s? Club rules at the time limited membership to people living in the neighborhoods, which were all white, and guests were limited to out-of-town visitors. People associated with the neighborhood pools back then would have answered in the negative. They would have said community pools were a trend that flowed South from Northern cities. Real estate operators would have argued the pools were built as a neighborhood amenity and to encourage people to purchase homes near the swim and tennis club. But the Greensboro Daily News, in an otherwise flattering feature in 1962 about neighborhood pools, bluntly disagreed: “...The attempt by Negroes to integrate municipality operated pools was what really caused the trend toward community pools in Greensboro and other North Carolina cities.” When segregation ended, neighborhood pools gradually integrated as blacks began moving into the neighborhoods. Later, the pools dropped requirements that members live in the neighborhood. People could join September 2012

O.Henry 35

September 2012 O.Henry  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

September 2012 O.Henry  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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