Being so bummed out by the tearing down of St. Stephen's Church, I thought I do a new post on something very positive and uplifting. The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is once again open to the public after a complete renovation that has left the site still looking like it did so many years before. Thank you Coral Gables, it is one of the few things left in Dade County that has been preserved and maintained in it's original beauty! The pool, so-named for its Venetian-style architecture, began as a rock pit for the stone quarried to build Coral Gables in the 1920s by city founder George Merrick. Today, its waterfalls, coral caves and grottos, architecture, loggias, porticos, sandy beach, cobblestone bridge and a palm-fringed ''island'' earned it a historic landmark designation in 1989.
Believe it or not, in the 1950s and 1960s pools in some one's back yard were a pretty rare sight. Only our neighbor Mr. Geigenshot, the president of Dade Federal Savings and Loan had the wealth and position to have one put in. Growing up in the Shenandoah part of Miami, we kids would jump on our bikes on hot summer days and head to the public pools in the area. Our hangout was the city pool next to the Boy's Club on SW 32nd Avenue. Painted a rather sickly shade of government green, it was a crowded venue with little aesthetics to redeem it. Of course, we loved spending the day there carousing with our friends and being warned for the umpteenth time by the lifeguard to cut out the horseplay! By days end, we headed home with a good sunburn and a strong smell of the over chlorinated water.
However, for a really special treat or some one's birthday or special occasion, we got taken to the Venetian Pool. It was like an island holiday at a ritzy hotel for us kids. Natural cold spring waters without a trace of chlorine and surrounded by what appeared like the backyard of a Venetian Palace. We could hide from the sun's rays in the beautiful grotto away from the prying eyes of the lifeguard and engage in all sorts of horseplay. Of course, this could lead to minor tragedies in our horseplay. My New York City cousin managed to crack his head open on the grotto's craggy roof as we fought a particularly vivid water battle. While much blood was spilled, it was just a minor scalp would that ended the day somewhat abruptly! We had a great time!