Fair Lawn Remembered: GPS Of Memory Points Homeward

Dear Michael and Caroline,

Back again to Fair Lawn, my hometown, we now go. We’re at Memorial Pool, where we spent our early summers, kids on a makeshift municipal beach. You could smell the yeast wafting over the Passaic River from the brewery in Paterson, and from the concession stand came the appetizing fragrance of greasy French Fries.

In the summer of 1967, everyone listened to the Doors doing “Light My Fire,” and it played loud over the radio during a basketball game there one day. You played hoops one afternoon for three hours even though it had to be 90 degrees out and wound up puking your guts out.

All your friends and classmates went to Memorial Pool. You would lay around watching the girls, seeing, too, which guy now had hair on his chest. On July 4th, you went there at night for the fireworks, the whole town flocking there with blankets and beach chairs and coolers to watch the sky explode with brilliant color.

You would go, early on, with your parents, and as the fireworks boomed across the pool, thundering through the air, you would pretend to be a soldier during a bombing, each blast dropping you suddenly to the sand, hand clutched to your heart.

Ah, those warm, wet, languid days without end, no real care except maybe whether you would be brave enough to go off the high dive or some girl you liked would catch your eye.

If you live in your hometown long enough, you get to know just about every square inch of it, and so it went in Fair Lawn.

P.S. – See part 2 tomorrow.

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