Nostalgia, pure and simple. Like a salmon swimming back upstream.

Today was my mother's birthday and what kind of son would I be if I didn't head down to San Antonio to visit? While my parents are ancient by any standard they are still fully independent and wanted to meet me, my brother and sister-in-law, at their favorite restaurant in the Alamo Heights neighborhood; Cappy's. It's a very nice restaurant and we've been going there for decades. The owners know my parents and always greet them warmly and see to their every need. 

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my parents are almost pathologically obsessed with the punctuality of their children. It's something I've inherited, to my chagrin. Which ever group is late to lunch, a dinner or a family event becomes the target of anger and scorn. For this reason I am always early for any engagement with them. Always. This means that I leave my home in Austin with a wide safety margin of time built into the trip. I want a buffer in case someone has flipped a truck on the highway or if Martians have attacked and caused the major exits on the highway to be closed. 

The trip, when nothing interferes (Austin rush hour(s), stalled cars, police radar traps, general populace stupidity, etc.), from my front door to the front door of the restaurant, on Broadway, can be handled in about and hour and fifteen minutes. So, of course I left two Austin two hours before our allotted meeting time. Today the traffic gods were benevolent. The line of cars in the left hand lane cruised along most of the time at 85 mph. I got into the neighborhood a little more than 45 minutes before our reservation.

Usually this constitutes wasted time. A toll for familial harmony. On different occasions I might drop into a Starbucks for an unneeded but reflexive coffee. An event closer to dinner might send me to the bar across the street for a fortifying glass of red wine or a (James Bond induced) Vodka martini --- shaken, not stirred. Today my trajectory was different. We were meeting for brunch and I wanted to have my first cup of coffee in the restaurant. As my thoughts were drifting through the perils of time (mis)management I came up to the traffic light at my old high school. Alamo Heights High School. Home of the Mules! (Yes, that is really the mascot). 

All of a sudden I remembered the one thing at school that I always looked forward to. The recurring event that I indulged in for hours nearly everyday. Swimming. I swam for the mighty Mules all through high school. And it dawned on me that I hadn't really been back to the indoor pool in nearly forty one years. Funny, since I visit the city so often... I decided to drop in and see if it was as I remembered it. 

I took my Panasonic fz 1000 in with me. 

playing around with the automatic straightening control in Lightroom.

The pool seemed so much smaller than I remembered. But it has been maintained beautifully; almost as if preserved as a museum piece. The water was crystal clear and the smell of airborne chlorine was intoxicating. Six lanes across and 25 yards long. A lifeguard greeted me and I remembered that one of my first jobs was as a weekend lifeguard at this pool, a long time ago. I remembered the swim meets and the 5:30 am practices. I remember the old way of training we did back then: Long, long yardage (up to 12,000 yards in a day) and then a week of tapering before the big meets. I remember the beautiful girls on the team in their skin-tight speedos, hair under tight latex caps; and the guys with early 1970's hair and skinny, chiseled bodies. But mostly I remember how right it felt to flow through the water and how elegant the feeling of pushing off the wall was --- the closest thing humans experience to flying without falling. 

I'm glad I brought a camera with me. I wanted to bring the photos home to explore them. I did ask about lap swimming on weekends. 20 swims for $60 on a punch card. You can get the punch cards on weekdays at the athletic office. The perfect thing for those family weekends when one REALLY NEEDS to get away and knock out a mile or two. 

Oh, yeah. The camera worked fine. 

Our table was ready right on time.
The Eggs Benedict were nicely prepared and tasty. 
The brunch conversation was my family's usual combination 
of catching up, trying to one up each other in the contest 
of adult success, and, failing that, shameless bragging about our kids. 
My parents were happy. My mom had a nice birthday. 

I also got to catch up with an old friend. The pool I remember so fondly.


JerseyT said...

Nice nostalgia Kirk. I swam in high school also, and though I was more like a sea anchor than a racer it was a great experience. Our team was undefeated for several years with multiple state championships so it was a big deal to be associated.
Our pool was nothing like yours. Built around 1910 it was barely serviceable but
we didn't care.

Aubrey Silvertooth said...

Happy birthday to your mother--we share a birthday! I was able to celebrate mine with family and friends today as well. Please, continue to write your wonderful blog on any topic you wish. It is always a pleasure to visit for the craftsmanship of words and images.

Dave Jenkins said...

Swim more than two miles a day? Better you than me! I have lots of stamina for many things, but even on my best day, swimming a hundred yards would have put me in a state of terminal exhaustion.

Kirk Tuck said...

HI JerseyT, I loved being on swim teams in high school and college. What a sense of discipline and camaraderie. Our pool was built in 1970 and totally financed by the father of one of the kids who was coming into school as a freshman. We started swimming in the finished pool that year and it's still in pristine shape. It was one of the most advanced and competitive pools at the time and every other high school loved coming to meets there. I was so happy to see it had weathered the ages so well.

Dave, on Saturday we went 4350 yards with a good portion of it being strokes other than freestyle, including a 400 yard individual medley which incorporates 100 yards of butterfly at the beginning. Quite an heart pounding experience for someone about to crest 60....

Dana Ryherd said...

Thanks for sharing your memories and beautiful photographs. My son swims for Alamo Heights and I hope he will remember these years as fondly as you do. The early practices can be difficult for a teenager. I hope he will make it a lifetime sport, as you have.

Don Walker said...


Thanks for your blog on the AHHS Pool. What great pics and great memories! We are still pressing on after the Worrel (3), Williams (7), Henrich (3) (dec.),
Yates (3), Collins (10) and Allick (13) years. These guys set the tone for our program today. Our girls were fortunate to win the UIL state in 2014 and boys are still a strong top ten team. Please stop by to visit our team or jump in with us any morning (6:30-8:30).
Go Mules!!
Don Walker- Head Coach