learning to swim

I learned to swim at polly's puddle--a great big indoor pool balanced on the upper west side of santa cruz. I still remember the feel & smell of warm chlorinated steam, how I'd get to play with the miniature water wheel if I'd been brave and dove into the deep end. She wore a bathing cap (I may have had to too) which struck this little hippie child as very strange.

I must have been 3 or so, and she must have been at least 70 (strange how young that seems now that my own father is 65.) I believe she retired soon after. Those lessons were one of the best things my parents did for me. I still never feel as free or alive as when in the water.

Strange it's one of those pleasures I constantly deny myself.

Below is everything the internet divulges to let me know I am not yet completely insane:

Pauline McNeely

A celebration of life will be held Dec. 3 for Pauline "Polly" McNeely of Eugene, who died Nov. 12 of age-related causes. She was 86.

McNeely was born June 21, 1919, in Santa Cruz, Calif., to Don and Minnie Madden Sadler. She married Sam McNeely on June 24, 1945, in Santa Cruz. He died May 13, 1994.

She had lived in Santa Cruz all her life until she moved to Eugene 3 1/2 years ago. She graduated from the National Aquatic School in Prescott, Ariz., in 1954, and taught survival swimming for 52 years, including employment at the Santa Cruz Plunge, Shaffer's Tropical Gardens, Harvey West Park and Santa Cruz High School.

Starting in 1962, she taught swimming lessons for many years in the swimming pool in her backyard, Polly's Puddle, in Santa Cruz. She taught children and adults, including those with mental or physical disabilities.

McNeely was named Santa Cruz Woman of the Year in 1963. She enjoyed sewing and gardening.

Survivors include two daughters, Pamela Brodey of Crow and Donna Smartt of Wallace, Calif.; a son, Dennis of Santa Cruz; six grandchildren; and two great-grand- children.

The Dec. 3 celebration will be held at the Cocoanut Grove Banquet and Conference Center in Santa Cruz.

Musgrove Family Mortuary in Eugene is in charge of arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Stewart Aquatic Center.

News obituaries are printed free as space allows. The News Department will accept information on its standard obituary forms submitted through funeral homes or by the deceased's immediate family. Obituary information is available at (phone) 485-1234, Ext. 5534, or (fax) 683-7631. If you want to purchase advertising space for a more detailed obituary, call 338-2421. News obituaries published in the past 30 days are available at www.registerguard.com.

HeroesPolly's Puddle. Where I learned to swim and this women taught until the age of 87.

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