Detailed records kept by the head life guard included weather and water conditions and shifts the guards were working. On July 17th the weather was noted as “Beeyootifull” and a crowd of 6500 to 7000 was recorded on the beach. On the following Sunday, July 25, notes contain the story of a rescue one of the life guards made with a happy ending, “Victim O.K.”
Former life guard Barry Chapman tell what summers were like as a life guard at Waskesiu in volume two of Waskesiu Memories. Included in the article are stories of the practical jokes the life guards used to played on each other too. This book is available to read in the Museum.
“We were employed for 5 ½ days per week for $1.75 per hour . . . an amount kids wouldn’t babysit for today, but back then university tuition was $250/year, beer $3/dozen, cigs 35 cents/pack, and gas 30 cents/gallon. Saving money was the last of our worries. The government gave us free uniforms (which we disliked intensely), free accommodations . . . use of two cabins in what we called “Little Chicago” and all-you-could-eat meals for 65 cents.
If on Sundays one had an appetite, one could devour several steaks and a whole pie all for this low rate. We ate in the government mess hall, dining under the glare of a “NO TALKING” sign. Occasionally to break the silence someone would ask another to “pass the dog food,” causing a few guffaws. . . .
Most of the lifeguards in my time were university students who had taken Royal Lifesaving and Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certification. All were strong swimmers, capable of water rescue and effectively teaching kids at various levels in the Red Cross program. We taught lessons twice per day, both at the breakwater and main beach. Most summers we enrolled 800 kids and put them through thermal torture causing goose bumps and chattering teeth. In those days before the advent of winter programs in larger indoor pools, parents depended on these lessons to teach the skills. . . .
In terms of using one’s skills and “saving” lives, I was never close to the action except on one occasion when a group of us tried unsuccessfully in late spring to bring back to life a small boy who had been in the water for some time. With today’s techniques and knowledge, we may have saved him, but, frankly, our efforts were disappointing. On two occasions, however, one of our guards, Joe Sparks brought two men “back from the dead” using the then popular Holger-Neilson A. R. method, surprisingly after two doctors had pronounced both of them hopelessly gone. One man had fallen off the diving platform and had to be pulled from weeds on the bottom and the other had fallen down a manhole and was overcome by noxious gas.”
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