Gerry Pearce loved the water. He told stories of swim meets at Baghdad College in the mid-1940’s, and although he never tried to teach me to speak Arabic he did teach me to swim. Those early lessons were during the summer of 1962.
My dad and I spent untold hours together in various pools over the years, though he never had a pool at home. We went to West Hollywood Park, Hollywood High, Jen Loven’s pool, and whatever hotel pool was available during various Westercon or other science fiction conventions. During the 40 years we swam together, not once did he join me in the ocean – the Pacific was just too cold. Even during the many years I lived footsteps from Venice Beach, I couldn’t entice him to so much as get his feet wet.
This photo of my dad is from July 1963, taken by my mom at West Hollywood Park. He died the morning of April 27, 2003. I am lucky enough to have constant access to a swimming pool that he likely would have found warm enough. The flash of sunlight off moving water in an outdoor swimming pool reliably brings him to mind. At this point in my life, every time I go back and forth across the surface of the water it feels like a victory lap. See you in the pool!