Gilland: Some things change, some don’t

Children smiling while swimming

My sister in Indiana sent me a text recently, one that contained some rather sad news. 

Now, at my age, texts like that often contain updates on a friend’s health, or worse. And, in one sense, that is what happened with this text, although it wasn’t referencing a person. 

Instead, it brought news surrounding a treasured establishment from our childhood years. Our favorite summer spot might be facing a permanent closure.

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For anyone who lived in the 1960s and ’70s in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana, Hartke Pool was THE place to be in order to beat the summertime heat and humidity that marks the Ohio Valley. 

In the absence of the kind of beaches that we enjoy in Florida, Hartke Pool was a pretty good summertime alternative. It was what felt to my young mind to be a massive complex, one of the biggest pools I had ever experienced. It even had a second, much smaller pool for young moms with toddlers to enjoy.

The Olympic-sized pool was completely legit, with lane markers for those times when it was a site for competitive swimming. My favorite spot was the far end, where it opened up to a separate large section containing numerous diving boards, the highest being about 16 feet off the water. 

My young eyes were full of wonder and dare, leading up to the point of courage to actually dive head-first off that high dive into the 16 feet of gloriously blue water.

Surrounding this massive pool complex were what seemed to be hundreds of chaise lounges, and the air was filled with the great music of the day. 

Summers are different in Indiana – with a distinct start date of Memorial Day, and end date being Labor Day. This incredible pool was open only during those months, so we had to make the most of our summers, which is exactly what we did.

But as we all know, times change. And so do such facilities as Hartke. That pool is now decades old, and the cost of repairs might well have hit the tipping point, causing the city managers to shutter its doors permanently. 

Even though I moved away to Florida in 1985, this news brought a profound sense of loss to my mind. I am not sure why it is this way, but I find that most of us want our favorite places to never change, to never close. Life just doesn’t work like that, at least with all things human or made by human hands.

That is what I love about God and His Word. It never changes. We are never going to be notified that God changed His mind about salvation. The writer to the Hebrews said this: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8 ESV).

I may well have never visited that pool again, even if it could remain open. But I will always have a fond recollection of times spent there with family and friends, and be grateful for the rich memories of my youth.

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