photo of pool construction in 1963A little more than a half-century ago — this was 1963, when America still looked and felt young — 13-year-old Dave Beattie was working on his dad’s pool construction crew in Saginaw, Mich. They were doing an ordinary concrete backyard pool, a small rectangular oval with a deep end and a diving board, with wide swaths of plain concrete decking so popular in those days.

They dug it out with an old-time cable-and-pulley excavator. No hydraulics, just a diesel cranking steel cord in and out, and a tin shack cab with long levers you had to work with skill and haul on pretty hard to get them to move.

The crew wore white T-shirts in the summer sun, or no shirt at all. Some of them pulled on cigarettes dangling from their mouths, even as they shoveled dirt or manhandled wet concrete into place.

It was big news, this pool; it was the neighborhood spectacle. Adults gathered and clamored and demonstrated their knowledge and kids were on their best behavior. They knew something good was coming. With a swimming pool just 30 feet from their back door, or 80 feet, or just down the street, everything would be different. Day after day, they solemnly watched the ground transform, and tried to be patient.

This was the early days of Beattie Pools in Saginaw, and Dave Beattie, the young boy in these construction pictures, now runs the company. He remembers that time for us in this month’s AQUA, but words can only convey so much; they are cumbersome tools of expression when compared to a great photo. We have a set of these to show you in part 2 of this enews. Or you can view it online at aquamagazine.com/dave_0314.

Take a moment to read the story in these pictures. Listen to what the construction crew and the kids and neighbors are saying with their gestures and dress and movements and the way they’re standing. We run a lot of images through AQUA, but these really talk, very eloquently, about the birth of the pool industry in America and a time so different from our own.

And yet, in the sweat dripping on freshly poured concrete in the hot summer sun, and in the longing and wonder on the faces of those kids waiting for joy, it is exactly the same.

Scott Webb

Scott Webb is Executive Editor of AQUA Magazine.