Letter to the editor: Segregated recreation
To the editor:
In regard to a letter lauding the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department during the l960′ and l970s and being able to go to a public pool, I have a different viewpoint. In the summer of 1960, I was a KU student and the only place to swim or cool off was in the Kaw River or at the Jayhawk Plunge at Sixth and Florida streets. I could buy a daily pass there if it was a hot day at that private club. I was surprised when there were July 4, 1960, protests against the club. I naively had not realized it was segregated.
Later that summer, four of us KU students swam in the Kaw just below the Bowersock dam. From the north bank of the river, we had swum out to a small sandy island. From the west end of that island, another boy and I swam upriver to the dam. When we got there and turned around, we were shocked that the other two boys, who were not good swimmers, had tried to follow us and were being rescued by a fisherman in a boat! Without his efforts, I am afraid that they would have drowned. I have read about a drowning death of an African American youth in the Kansas River in June 1955. I graduated from KU in 1968 and missed the June 2, 1969, opening of Lawrence’s first municipal pool that would be available to everyone.