The News, Talk, Sights and Sounds of the Warfleigh Neighborhood
I don't often visit Warfleigh.net, so I hope this is an appropriate place to put this information.
I was poking around at the Indiana State Library recently, and stumbled across a self-published book by Norman L. Kautsky, titled "Wharfleigh, And Other Haunts Along White River: Recollections of Indianapolis and Indiana in the '20s and '30s."
Here's the part that's pertinent to our neighborhood:
THE SWIMMING HOLE
A search of the Indianapolis Star or Indianapolis News in the 1920s and early '30s will probably uncover references to Wharfleigh. It was the public bathing beach known and used by those residing on the North Side of Indianapolis. It lay just downstream of the College Avenue bridge over the White River. The city hauled in truckloads of grey-brown sand to cover the muddy bank on the south shore. Floats were anchored in the water to define the swimming area and a high dive platform was erected opposite on the north shore. A lifeguard took his station on a raised platform and there was a soda pop stand in the rear of the beach.
Looking today at the silted stream slowly moving under the College Ave. bridge makes one wonder how anyone would ever have immersed himself in the brown opaque goo. I suspect it was cleaner then, but not a whole lot. I recall the odor, akin to rotting vegetation, and that the word was passed that the City Health Dept. regularly added chemicals upstream, ostensibly to kill the bacteria.
But in the '20s it was a place to get relief from the hot humid Indiana summers. Because midwest summer nights can be as stifling as the days, floodlights were provided for night bathing. We usually went right after supper when my Dad could take us. Some parents were as enthusiastic as their children. I would pull on a scratchy wool swim suit and while waiting for the elders to get ready I danced across the neighbor's lawn daring him to sprinkle me with his lawn hose. Mr. Bain always obliged.
The part of the whole experience I enjoyed the most was after returning home from Wharfleigh I would remove the smelly, wet scratchy swimsuit and take a bath.