March 24, 2014
With the signature of an elected official or maybe a voice vote of a group of officials, two more historic landmarks in LaGrange have been destroyed in the last couple of weeks.
I am referring to City Pool and City Park ballfield. I understand and appreciate that “progress” must occur, but I disagree it has to be at the expense of our heritage.
Both City Pool and City Park have been a significant part of the lives of generations of youth in LaGrange and Troup County.
Personally, I played there as a child, worked there as a teenager, and coached there as an adult. City Park ballfield has been used by thousands of children over the years. It was a “real ball park” with concrete bleachers and “real dugouts” which were actually dug out in the ground. Standing in the old outfield today, I could imagine a young Dernell Stenson or Michael Cameron developing skills that would lead to major league careers. City Pool was a “real pool” with a “real deep end”, a “real baby pool” and a “real high dive.”
I believe it was the first local pool integrated decades ago. During my visit today, I ran into several middle aged residents of the Thomastown Community who recalled how excited they were when they were allowed to swim there for the first time. One man remembered the lifeguards getting to know the neighborhood children and circling through Thomastown and over-packing their cars to give the kids a ride instead of them having to walk (this was before seat belts and road blocks).
A woman recalled how a friendly policeman would on occasions give them a ride in the police car. It is only speculation, but I believe that if some of the money and man hours that the City wasted on failed projects by out of town developers had been used to maintain these landmarks, they could have been saved. I do know this for a fact: the new facility being constructed will never, ever serve the tens of thousands of children who benefited from old City Pool and old City Park ballfield. Does anybody remember “Red the Town Dog?”
Ellis C. Smith