Dwight Eisenhower was president. Ward and June Cleaver dominated the air waves, along with Ozzie & Harriett. Even “I love Lucy” wasn’t re-runs just yet. Women in long house dresses dropped off kids carrying hula hoops at a new pool on Wilson Rd. It was Memorial Day 1957 and the Shellcrest Swim Club was opening for its very first summer…….It was the neighborhood of Lynnfield that planned the pool and collected the money to build it. There were no other neighborhoods at that time bordering the area where the pool was built. The neighborhood and the pool were connected at a bend in the Shellpot Creek called “Duck Place” because it’s where parents took kids to watch ducks play in the water. Eventually a footbridge allowed neighbors to walk to the pool.And the name “Shellcrest”? We’re not sure where it came from. No living person seems to know. The first syllable probably comes from “Shellpot Creek”. And “crest” was a very popular suffix for new place names in the 1950’s. However, note that two neighborhoods called “Shellbourne” and Graylyn Crest” were being planned at about that time. Perhaps it was a combination aimed at recruiting from neighborhoods still on the drawing board? Regardless, the pool water on opening day was immaculate, as it has remained for all of the Club’s 59 years.
Even though the kids who were dropped off that day in May of 1957 … or who spent the day at Shellcrest with their families .. are well into their 50’s and 60's now, the pool remains what it always has been -- a friendly, quiet place to swim, relax, think, and let summer soak in. Some things never change. The problems of the world, or even the family, have generally been left at the front gate. Inside is a world apart from school, homework, the office, or the front lawn that needs to be cut. Three generations of children have spent their summers here. The memories are amazingly similar across the years – of swim team, and sun, and ping-pong and water … of ice cream time and guest passes. Of group drops-offs and pick-ups by parents. Of Moms and Dads lying on the lounge chairs reading books while their kids swim and frolic in the water …. Of barbecues in the side yard … of pick-up volley ball games … of swim meets and undefeated seasons in the Middle Division – and winless ones in the Upper Division too! All a part of character building.
Friendships formed here in childhood have already, in some cases, lasted a lifetime. Many others will do so in the future. And there were the special occasions too…….. For instance, who could forget that day in July of 1969 when everyone gathered around an old, portable, black-and-white TV over by the baby pool to hear the immortal words spoken by Neil Armstrong: “The Eagle has landed”…. And then went back to swim a bit more before going home to watch the moon walk later that night. Several times the pool has closed on one world on Labor Day only to open to a greatly changed world the following Memorial Day. When we closed in 1963, John F. Kennedy was president and nobody had ever heard of the Beatles. More recently, in 2001 we closed out a “summer-that-was” – full of beautiful days and balmy weather, and an undefeated championship season in the Middle Division of the North Brandywine Swim League – only to have September 11 hit the nation a week later.
And although most members follow the usual Pool Life cycle – joining when their kids are toddlers; being most involved during swim team years, then bidding us fond farewells when the last child graduates High School – some remain with us well into the Golden Years. Some of this is to be near memories, but some is because the pool still does give what it always provided – peace, quiet, sun, water and friends. Not a bad deal at any age.Through it all, Shellcrest has remained much the same – a place to relax, get away from work and chores, to swim and read, and watch the kids play …. To soak up the warmth and the sun, and even the warm rain on occasion … and to enjoy each others’ company.