I noted in the newspaper last weekend that the owners of Covedale's legendary Philipps Pool are preparing to pull the plug on the facility for this year and, possibly, forever. Philipps has long been an important part of my life--although I can't remember ever dipping my toe in its water.
Back in 1950, when my mom was a little girl, the pool was a summertime respite for Westside kids like my mom. It was there, in fact, one late summer day when she heard her name called over the public address system. She dried off and reported to the main desk where she was told to go home immediately. Upon arriving home, she received the news: her father (my grandfather) went down in the fog in a small airplane near Detroit, Michigan. There were no survivors.
Mom recounted that terrible day in her life many times over the years whenever we drove down Glenway, past Philipps. So often, in fact, that I still cannot drive past it without thinking of mom and how she must have felt that sunny summer day when her life changed forever. The pool occupied a reverent and respectful place in my life...like a living tombstone. When mom told the story there was nothing for me to say. What could be said, really? I'd just silently look out the window of the car at the art-deco port-hole motif and blue-trimmed paint as we passed and noted the kids splashing, totally unaware of the important place it held for my mom...and, I suppose, me, since I never got to meet grandpa Harry.
Just a few years ago, my wife's grade school classmates held their reunion at Philipp's and I tagged along. It was the first and only time I remember ever entering its gates. Late August, it was uncharacteristically cold and gloomy that day and there was no swimmers brave enough to be found. While Sue reminisced with her friends, I snuck away and investigated the place up close. Practically empty, I was able to explore it thoroughly and unimpeded. There was a ghostly air about the mysterious place for me, probably because of the gazillion times I passed by in the car and wondered.
Oddly enough, just last December, mom and I happened to be in the car on Glenway when we passed Philipps. "Did I ever tell you...", she started. I didn't interrupt. A little therapy would be good for both of us.
So Philipps may be closing for good. Another Western HIlls' landmark may disappear. "Panta Rei," the Greek's say. Like favorite restaurants, TV shows and, alas, public radio stations, there is yet to be made something that lasts forever except, maybe, memories.