My Mom swam with Tarzan

The year was 1936 and my mom was 10 years old. They lived in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb where my grandfather (her father) was a typesetter. My mom had two older brothers that let her follow them and their friends around while they played baseball, football, tennis, rode bikes, roller skated and swam in the summer months. During winter they played ice hockey and my mom kept up with the guys in whatever their sport of the day/week was.  She was accepted. They called her by her last name. During the summer months all the kids attended recreational programs and the boy’s activities were very different from the girl’s at that time.  My mom actually got permission to join the boy’s activities as she was more interested in sports in which they were participating.

This same summer (1936) there was a swimming show put on at Lake Erie called “The Great Lakes Exposition”, where swimmers performed synchronized acts and divers would tumble off of high platforms into the lake. This was held at night, with bright lights flooding a floating stage, complete with musical score. The stars of the show were Johnny Weismuller, who played the first Tarzan in the movies of that era, and a swimmer named Eleanor Holm Jarret Rose, who swam and dove in the Olympics.  Being ten and watching something like this was probably one of the highlights of my mom’s youth, as her parents didn’t have much money to take the kids places or buy them fancy toys.

A few days later my mom was invited to a party at one of her friend’s houses. It was in a more elite part of town and the house had a pool, so of course my mom and her “guy” friends were swimming when who should walk up and start giving them swimming pointers, but Johnny Weismuller and Eleanor Rose!  They all knew him as Tarzan. Imagine being ten years old and meeting Tarzan and having him give you suggestions on how to better your stroke! She still has the autograph of both swimmers I hear.

Thanks mom for being such a wonderful role model as you were doing things athletically many girls and women still don’t try as they are fearful of failing or that someone might not agree with or try to squelch their interests. You pursued yours and didn’t care what others thought of you. You did what you loved (and still do!) and I am glad to say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as I have always tried to be true to my heart also, and follow my own (and your) path.  Happy Mother’s Day!  I am sure glad you are mine! xoxox Love, Cheryl


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