Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oy, I forgot to ask my late grandfathers this most important question!

Two weeks ago, Sunday the 13th December 2009, my kids and I went to do some toy shopping. We were close to the Ellis Park Stadium/Coca-Cola Park. While in the area, I tried to find an entrance to the rugby stadium grounds. I wanted to show my kids where I had watched two Confederation Cup soccer games, and where some World Cup soccer games would be played in 2010.

Our attempt to gain entry to the stadium grounds was unsuccessful. I could have easily scaled a fence, but trespassing is illegal. (And I did not want my kids to experience a bread and water dinner in the local police holding cells. After all, my daughter is five, and my son, four. A bit too young for that kind of adventure).

We passed the Ellis Park public swimming pool. We stopped at the entrance. I wanted to show the kids the large pool which I had not seen since my school days. The pool was open for business, but we had no plans to go swimming. We asked the cashier and guard at the front if we could see the pool. They said that we could, but only from the entrance.

I must say, it looked inviting. The crystal clear water of the olympic size pool (and the 2 smaller pools) would surely cool us off. It was 30 degrees celsius. But alas, we had not planned to go swimming, and we did not bring swimming clothes.

The kids started begging: "Please, can we stay and swim? Pleeeeaase. Can we stay?". Over and over. (Can any parent out there relate to that?)

And I kept telling them: "We did not bring costumes. We will come back other times"

And I kept telling myself: "Don't feel bad. You are not breaking them. 'No' is also an answer"

Then I recalled that we had our gym bag in the car. So, I said that we would check the gym bag ,and if there were swimming shorts for us all, we could stay a while.

And I started to regret the offer

We found 3 pairs of shorts, as well as towels. We parked the car in the parking lot and made our way back to the cashier. R8 for adults, R5 for children. The female cashier and the female guard were so friendly to the kids (and me). What a warm welcome to the facility!

The Ellis Park pool facility is pretty large. Spacious. Open. We walked to the change-rooms. They were old, but extremely clean. We then found a spot on the grandstands, left our bag, and made our way to the main pool.

The water was great.

There were approximately 30 people using the facility. There are three pools in use, and the grounds are spacious and open. If there had been 200 people, it still would have felt empty

The kids had a blast.....all three of us. It was wonderful. People were friendly, the staff was helpful, the facilities were clean and the lifeguards were on duty. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with so much fun and laughter. People were tanning, or swimming, or picnicking. We were fifteen minutes from home, and it felt like we had left town, enjoying our summer holidays somewhere 'else'.

As with most of my memorable experiences lately, I relate them to family, friends, readers of my blog.... and others.

I expected some questions. And I had the answers.

Surely people would ask:
  • Was it expensive?
  • Was the place clean?
  • Was the water warm?
  • Was the water clean?
  • Were there life-guards?
  • Was it full?
  • Are the bathrooms clean?
  • Can you bring in food?
  • Can you buy food?
  • Is there shade?
It turned out, that kind of information is not too important, or interesting....(apparently).

Most people asked exactly the same (apparently very important) question:
  • Was it very "black"?
It got me thinking.

My mother's father arrived in South African in the 1930's, after leaving Germany. He was lucky. Many of his family were deported to Poland, only later to be confined to the Krakow ghetto, only later to be gassed at Auschwitz.

My father's father was from Lithuania. He travelled, and arrived in South Africa, alone, at 14 years old. He had left a region of the world (and a life) that was regularly 'interrupted' by pogroms, murder, beatings and destruction.

Both of my grandfathers seldom discussed what they had experienced, the family and friends that were murdered and the lives they had to rebuild in South Africa.

They hardly ever discussed Germany, or Lithuania...'the home country'

And I asked few questions about 'the home country'

But I do know there is one question I did not need to ask:
  • Was it very "white"?

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