The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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As a toddler, Steve went to a camp called Camp Silver Arrow, which he hated. However, he remembers enjoying two things-- his counselor Jackie and swimming in the deep end of the camp's pool. In this story, those two things interact in an interesting way. 
Photo of Steve as a toddler provided by Steve Epstein.

“Everybody out of the pool!”

Dozens of kids, clad in colorful swimsuits, emerged from water that had a little too much chlorine in it so that it stung your nose when you got close enough. The more responsible ones used ladders and steps and the troublemakers pushed themselves out using the raised sides of the pool, scraping their knees on the rough concrete. But three-and-half year old Steve, almost a Big Kid (that happens at age 5) and wearing his favorite red swim trunks, had only to step from the water to solid ground, for he was restricted--nay, prisoner to-- the baby pool. Well, Jackie, the beautiful sixteen year old counselor who made Steve’s cheeks flush, called it the small pool. But everyone knew who it was really for.

At three-and-a-half, Steve could swim. Not just stay afloat. He could swim. He certainly had a lot of time to practice because his mother made sure he was outside if it wasn’t a mealtime or dark. So this rule, that he couldn’t go in the big pool with the big kids (and most importantly Jackie) was total baloney. But now, as the mass of wet campers funneled to the small swinging door in the chain link fence that surrounded the concrete pool, Steve saw an opportunity.

Three-and-a-half-almost-four-year-olds aren’t known for their impulse control, judgement skills, or sense of coordination, which is why Steve started running as fast as he could and almost fell over. He wasn’t the fastest, and his baby fat and chubby thighs weighed him down, but soon he was at the deep end. The deep end. He recognized the number 10 painted in red on the concrete and was trying to sound out the word that came after when he heard an exasperated voice that he recognized in an instant.

“Stevey!”

Jackie.

He spun on the spot and saw her freckled face and bouncing auburn ponytail bounding toward him. His heart sank. He couldn’t disappoint Jackie. They’d never get married if he did. But… imagine how impressed she’d be if he swam in the deep end! He couldn’t count much past ten, but he knew it was a Big Number, sure to impress, so he jumped, and heard a whistle blow before the world was muffled by water.

Steve surfaced and saw that a crowd had gathered. Perfect.

He expertly kicked and paddled and soon he was swimming just like a Big Kid. He crossed the pool more times than he thought he could, and he felt like he was flying through the water. Whenever he turned his head to take a breath and got a flash of the world, he saw Jackie’s eyes on him and couldn’t hold back a smile, and then a giggle, and then he was clinging on the side of pool, laughing a deep belly laugh. Jackie came over to him and offered her hand.

“Pretty good, big guy. But it’s time for arts and crafts.”

They were definitely getting married.

Everybody Out

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Summer 1964
Camp Silver Arrow, Pennsylvania

As a toddler, Steve went to a camp called Camp Silver Arrow, which he hated. However, he remembers enjoying two things-- his counselor Jackie and swimming in the deep end of the camp's pool. In this story, those two things interact in an interesting way.
Photo of Steve as a toddler provided by Steve Epstein.

Decade: 1960s
Rating:
Recorded by Benjamin Harowitz on June 7, 2018
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