Then-13-year-old JoAnn Curley christened the $120,000 Fairfield Plunge swimming pool at its dedication May 30, 1958, by being the first to dive in. Curley earned that honor by winning a naming contest run by the city. She was also awarded free admission for one year.
The germ of the idea for a swimming pool built by the city could be traced back to 1949. Actually, the pool was supposed to have opened in 1957 and consequently the Fairfield City Council, including Councilman Allan Witt – later the namesake for the park the Plunge was in, voted to fine the builders $25 per day (total: $7,175) for every day the project was tardy, as per the contract.
Actually, while Curley officially christened the pool, a few weeks earlier, five Fairfield youths were busted swimming there before the grand opening.
Residents have tried to beat the heat in pools, at the lake and anywhere else they could find cool water. Some shared:
Dale Poncy: We used to sneak into the Armijo pool at night. We got away with it until we decided to start jumping off of the high dive – it was easy to see us while driving down Texas Street.
Daniel Forbes: In the summer of ‘64, I was at Crystal perfecting my back flip from the edge of the deep end. I jumped backward and everything went black. My feet had slipped out from under me as I jumped and my head smashed into the edge of the pool. I was sinking when someone jerked me to the surface. It wasn’t the lifeguard or my parents or even my friend, it was the brother of the redheads, Sherman Arnold. He saw me hit and went after me before any other responder could. They put 12 stitches in the top of my head. Fifty years have passed since that hot summer day, and I just wanted to say, “Sherman, wherever you are, thank you,” one more time.
Thomas Balmer: The Crystal Plunge, then the Fairfield Plunge, then hanging out at Paul’s Boat Harbor in Suisun and water skiing in the slough and at Berryessa. And then occasional trips to the beach in Marin or Sonoma County. Kids used to say Fairfield was nowhere, but I always knew it was smack in the middle of everything cool.
Jeanine Del Ponte: The Plunge was so fun. I learned how to swim there just by watching others swim. We would stay till we were prune-like and fried like a chicken. Sometimes we’d get Dairy Queen ice cream on the way home.
Donna Ingram: In the summer of 1966, I had a huge crush on Richie Meints – a bronzed, golden blond god. Every day I would walk to the Fairfield Plunge, spot Richie, and casually lay my towel near his while he was diving. I don’t think I ever went in the water, but I would tan (and roast in the heat), watching him dive until it was time to go home. Ah, sweet puppy love!
Dennis Smith: The Armijo pool was built when I was there, but I don’t think the heater was built until after I graduated.
Gary Falati: The old Fairfield Plunge was the cheapest baby-sitting service at the time in the city. For a child to be able to stay alone at the Plunge, they had to demonstrate they could swim across the pool without any assistance. Parents quickly figured out that by enrolling their child in a two-week swim class, the child could learn how to swim across the pool. We changed the policy to reflect a minimum age for admittance without an adult.
Keith Hayes: Around 1950-51, the nearest public swimming pool was in Vacaville and had just a thin wall separating the boys’ and girls’ dressing areas. Over the years, boys had tried to carve peepholes through the wall. One day one of the boys found a peephole and decided to look through it. When he started to peek, one of the girls blew face powder into the hole. It took about 20 minutes before he could see out of that eye. One Peeping Tom cured.