Endless summers at Beaver Brook

Beth KinnaneHalls, Our Town Stories

In just a few more weeks, the Knox County school year will come to a close. When I was a young student of the Knoxville City School System, summer vacation began a little bit later, around the second week of June.

Back in the ’70s, the anticipation of summer break meant getting ready to spend most of my daytime waking hours at Beaver Brook Country Club. It’s not that we were fancy or anything like that. But for my parents, both working, the social membership level that provided unlimited access to the pool was all around more affordable than paying an entry fee to the old Lions Club Pool in Fountain City every day for four kids. An added benefit was the pool was less crowded.

I have no idea what it costs to join Beaver Brook these days, but 50 years ago the membership we had was something like $100 down, $28 a month. While we went with regularity that first summer, once my older brother and I joined the swim team, we practically lived there. It was the perfect place for us Kinnane kids, somewhat feral and all half water-dog.

For five straight years, my naturally reddish hair looked like burnt blonde Saran wrap by the time I was taking new school pictures in the fall. We thrived in chlorine and sunshine, even if my pale skin absorbed more than its fair share of zinc oxide. By mid-summer, I had something that resembled a tan.

The swimming pool at Beaver Brook Country Club (photo courtesy of Beaver Brook).

Central High School legend David Emory was the pool manager back then, and his lovely wife, Evelyn, was there at the bottom of the steps checking in visitors practically every day. I don’t think any kids were more raised by a swimming pool than their children, Dave Jr. and Cindi.

Not long after we joined, the two-story pool house had a spectacular exterior makeover. Re-painted a vivid, ultramarine blue, Carol Shackleford (everyone called her Shack) decorated it with renderings of tropical fish, seashells and corals. It looked like a giant aquarium.

The second floor of the pool house had a snack bar. We rarely had much money with us on those days we were left to our own devices (more often than not, plenty of other kids were as well). My brother and I discovered the magic of putting some goodies “on a tab.” Until the bill came at the end of the month, and we had a little come to Jesus meeting with Mom and Dad. Oops.

The juke-box in the snack bar seemed to go non-stop. The soundtrack of summer was filled with Seals and Crofts, Peter Frampton, KC and the Sunshine Band, the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, to name a few. Strangely, the one song that always takes me back to that pool is Ricky Don’t Lose That Number.

She’s a few years older than I am, but back then I knew Tina McClain. Many years later the world came to know her as Tina Wesson, winner of the second season of Survivor: The Australian Outback. I firmly believe her survival skills began by playing “shark” in the deep end of Beaver Brook’s pool.

That deep end no longer has the diving boards we used to show off (or fall off) decades ago. I was not a skilled swimmer in my early days, and Coach Emory was determined to catch me up quick. He showed me the basics of freestyle after I tried to drown on his watch. He cleared the deep end and unceremoniously heaved me into the middle of it. As I came up gasping and splashing, he bellowed “Mary Beth Kinnane, SWIM!!!” And I, by God, swam.

Beaver Brook was still young when we first started going there back in 1973. It was pulled together, originally as Beaver Ridge Country Club, back in 1956 with the purchase of 135 acres of farmland from M. L. Brickey on Cunningham Road. Its construction started in bits, beginning with the front nine holes of the golf course, then the clubhouse, followed by the back nine and swimming pool and eventually the tennis courts. It was pretty much open for business by 1959-60. It is the second youngest country club in Knox County and still the only one on the north side.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *