Daniel Asselta, 90, passed away yesterday. His obituary mentioned he was one of the Founding Fathers. That's a title bestowed on the men who established the Newfield Swim Club in 1959. Polio was still a very real threat, often closing the many small recreational swimming areas on the lakes around Newfield, and with the shore about 50 minutes away by car, this meant hordes of the baby boomers roamed the town with nothing to do.
Not really hordes but certainly a boom of children had been born in Newfield starting in 1946 and since there were no dedicated summer sports facilities then and none nearby, we (I was one) roamed around on bicycles and foot. The town library opened once a week on Tuesday evening in a one room building for two hours. Various churches held summer Bible school, but that only kept some of us occupied for a week at most. There were boy and girl scout camps and some families could afford to rent a house at the shore for a week, or may be a whole season but that was rare.
So, with a very real threat to our well being and the possible problems we could cause as we approached puberty (in those days, there was one cop and he walked the town as his beat), a group of fathers had a brilliant idea -- buy land, build an olympic size pool (for that time), and establish a members only swim club association. It was brilliant in concept and from ground breaking in 1959 to opening in the beginning of summer 1960, took dedication and and lots and lots of hard work apart from their regular bread winning jobs.
They chose to make it private so it would not get bogged down in any town, county, or state politics and/or funding. They had a business plan that forecast they would need about 100 families to sustain it through the years and while there have been lean years, it still exists 56 years later with about the same goal. Oh, there have been many changes in that time and lots of hard work by many fathers and mothers alike to keep it vibrant but the original vision and hard work has paid off for three, possibly four generations of Newfield and surrounding areas residents.
So, thank you, Mr Asselta, as I would have called you. I will also miss your bright and wide smile.