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Gateway Swim And Skate Rink At 8510 South Main St.


jwphillips2

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^Yeah, Stadium Bowl was there, inset quite a bit.

btw that google map you posted has the South Main Drive-in in the wrong location. The drive-in was in the location where Trans World Services is now. The drive-in was boarded by Stella Link on one side and the railroad tracks on the other side. B)

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I was noticing that the shape of the Gateway pool (I call it harp-shaped) was similar in shape to the Shamrock pool. I was trying to visually decide which one was bigger, was just looking at theold aerials, but read that blue92 said Gateway was much bigger. Must have been gigantic, since I know Shamrock's had ski boats in it.

BTW, I did believe you, blue92, but measured to see difference, just how much bigger, roughly (from aerial map ruler) Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point), Shamrock pool 154' l by 94' w.

Unique shapes.

Has anyone mentioned how deep both pools were? Know that Shamrock's had to be pretty deep, it had those diving towers.

Edited by NenaE
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The Shamrock pool was definitely deeper. I even took SCUBA lessons there as a kid. And those diving towers were huge. At least they seemed that way.

Gateway was 15ft. deep don't know how deep Shamrock was. I went over the 1964 aerials Gateway was longer than Shamrock but Shamrock was wider in the shallow end.

Here's a pic I capped off the net that shows Gateway and the go-cart track that the owners of Gateway also owned. You can also see Stadium Bowl where the Target is now.

post-10253-0-36329100-1315455237_thumb.p

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Interesting, in an earlier post, the pool at Gateway is called the Crystal pool. Wait a minute, is that right? I just re-read the earlier posts, which one was the Crystal? I'm confused...:wacko:

Edited by NenaE
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I was noticing that the shape of the Gateway pool (I call it harp-shaped) was similar in shape to the Shamrock pool. I was trying to visually decide which one was bigger, was just looking at theold aerials, but read that blue92 said Gateway was much bigger. Must have been gigantic, since I know Shamrock's had ski boats in it.

BTW, I did believe you, blue92, but measured to see difference, just how much bigger, roughly (from aerial map ruler) Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point), Shamrock pool 154' l by 94' w.Unique shapes.

Has anyone mentioned how deep both pools were? Know that Shamrock's had to be pretty deep, it had those diving towers.

This description of the Shamrock pool from Wikipedia:

"To the south was the hotel's lavishly landscaped garden designed by Ralph Ellis Gunn, a terrace and an immense swimming pool measuring 165 by 142 feet (50 by 43 m) described as the world's biggest outdoor pool, which accommodated exhibition waterskiing and featured a 3 story-high diving platform with an open spiral staircase."

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This description of the Shamrock pool from Wikipedia:

"To the south was the hotel's lavishly landscaped garden designed by Ralph Ellis Gunn, a terrace and an immense swimming pool measuring 165 by 142 feet (50 by 43 m) described as the world's biggest outdoor pool, which accommodated exhibition waterskiing and featured a 3 story-high diving platform with an open spiral staircase."

The Shamrock opened in 1949 Gateway opened in 1958. There would have been no problem with putting a boat in Gateway and watersking in it. At some point they may have. B)

Edited by blue92
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They actually did that at the Shamrock.

link

I don't live in Houston anymore if I did I would go down to the Chronicle and try to find more on Gateway Swim. I would bet money they have articles on Gateway's grand opening that would give more details on the pool. The more I think about it I do seem to remember them water skying at Gateway.

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I just re-read post #1, it was the pool at the Gateway location, the person mentions the Crystal & a dome at the bottom.

I want to say the complex (including the pool, the skating rink, and the grounds) was called Gateway and they just called the pool itself the Crystal Pool.

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  • 1 month later...

The name was Gateway Crystal Pool. Most people just called it Gateway.

I'm absolutely certain it opened before 1958 or 1959. The pool and rink were both already open when my folks moved to the area in 1950. I took my first swimming lessons from Les Oldfield in the early 1950s. The slide and bubble canopy weren't added until about 1955.

I heard Les Oldfield tell my dad that he would shut the pool before he would ever integrate it. I remember him as a nice man, but he was a man of his time in what was a segregated city.

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The name was Gateway Crystal Pool. Most people just called it Gateway.

I'm absolutely certain it opened before 1958 or 1959. The pool and rink were both already open when my folks moved to the area in 1950. I took my first swimming lessons from Les Oldfield in the early 1950s. The slide and bubble canopy weren't added until about 1955.

Yea my dad confirmed that to me the other day. I was 10 years old in 1959 so my memories might have be flawed.

I heard Les Oldfield tell my dad that he would shut the pool before he would ever integrate it. I remember him as a nice man, but he was a man of his time in what was a segregated city.

That may be true, but I heard that one of the reasons it closed was the pool had a huge crack threw the deep end of the pool and to repair it would have cost too much money that the owner didn't have.

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  • 8 years later...

A March 20, 1952 "Southwestern Times" newspaper article reports Ham(ilton) and Margaret Anderson and Les(ter H.) Oldfield building a pool at 8510 S Main in 1952 "behind ... Gateway Skating Rink."  (You can see the pool & skating rink in the 1953 aerial photos to 1995. I am not sure if the concrete is still there.)  All were former AAU swimmers.  I know Les was a national-level backstroker.  Apparently Les was a subject of KPRC's "Eyes of Texas" Oct. 8, 1983.   The Andersons built swim pools and used  the name of "Crystal Pools".  Les used the name "Gateway".   I believe that sometime around the mid 1950s, the Andersons & Les split.  Crystal Club of Houston was an AAU swim team that worked out in the backyard pool (with an underwater window) at the Andersons' house (Bellaire?) after that.  I learned to swim at Gateway 1954-1956. Around 1957, the team used another facility under coach Milton Davis (swimming, diving, trampoline).  Around 1958, Milton left for Nashville(IIRC), being replaced by Don Buell. Somewhere around 1959, the team parted from the Andersons, becoming the Houston Dolphins.  The Dolphins practiced at a number of facilities (Gateway outdoor & indoor pools, Meyerland Pool, Johnston Jr. High).  The Gateway skating rink (a separate building, closer to Main St, but adjacent to the same (HOT tar!) parking lot as Gateway pool) was converted to an indoor pool circa 1963.

 

The pool was 15' deep in the deep end, with two 1 meter and one 3 meter diving boards.  The shallow end was 2.5 feet deep.  Great for teaching kids to swim but really tough to learn to do flip turns in. (Before flip turns, there were spin turns which it was ok for.  But backstroke flips were dangerous.)

 

Besides the "bubble" (a dome from a plane) in the deep end, the pool sported a very tall (20' ?) straight slide on the northeast side, approximately in the middle of the pool (I'd guess it was about 4' deep there.)  The end of the slide can be seen protruding into the pool in the aerial views.  There were two(?) trampolines in the east corner of the pool grounds.  Tether ball was also a favorite.   The AquaBobber (visible opposite the slide in 1964 but not 1962) was a approximately 7' spherical metal float with a approximately 10' crows nest above it. (Sizes from my guessing based on a 50-year old memory.) The float was anchored by chains to the bottom of the pool.  The idea was that it was an upside-down swing.  You used your body weight to swing the bobber back and forth.  As I understood it, originally there was too little (concrete) ballast in the float resulting in very dramatic swings of 180 degrees (water to water) or more.  Extra concrete was added, giving it more momentum, and making it more difficult to achieve as large a range of motion.  One could still get your hand into the water, but getting your body in was very difficult, and would probably get you kicked out.  Jumping or falling out of the crow's nest would definitely result in an ejection.

 

The pool usually opened for the season just before Memorial Day and closed after Labor Day (school ended just after Memorial Day and started around Labor Day).  July 4th was a big day at the pool with kids diving for coins thrown into the shallow end, and watermelon scrambles in the deep end.  I remember a Mother-Son race that my mother & I participated in. (The bulkhead was in, resulting in a 20 or 25yd course for that event.)  I recall the 3 major holidays often sported clown diving, with Les as one of the clown divers.

 

Personally, I think wide spread adoption of air conditioning contributed to the declining patronage of the pool.  Before A/C, going to the pool was a respite from the sweltering heat of Houston in the summer.  I know Les was losing money everyday for the last several years.  Just imagine the water loss due to evaporation, and the amount of chemicals required to keep the pool clean & safe, plus the electricity to circulate the water and pump it through the filters.  Overnight, water hoses snaked out in the pool to help stir up any dirt on the bottom.  Although I must have swum there 2000 days, I rarely remember the pool as being closed or ever being too chlorinated or otherwise dirty.  (I had an early summer birthday & had several adolescent birthday parties there.)

 

Gateway Pool was a grand place for its time.  It was sad to see it go the way of the Hula Hoop.

 

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  • 3 months later...

I remember swimming here. Mostly I remember the bobber, but I was too small to climb on the thing and make it swing back and forth. I was too young to understand the bubble - it was always explained as a place in the pool where you could breathe underwater( which I knew was crazy). I never tried to investigate, I wasn't a deep water swimmer yet. I never recall seeing the thing either, but I do recall the bobber, and the huge slide. The pool was truly huge, as you can see from the photos. I always wondered what happened to the place.

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  • 1 month later...

Can anyone tell me the width, length, and depth of the the Gateway Swimming Pool? I'm writing a short story about my experience with Gateway and would like to know. Also, can anyone cite their source?

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16 hours ago, Les said:

Can anyone tell me the width, length, and depth of the the Gateway Swimming Pool? I'm writing a short story about my experience with Gateway and would like to know. Also, can anyone cite their source?

From my who knows how accurate measurements on Google Earth, it looks like it was 150 feet long, 40 feet wide at the deep end, and 110 feet wide at the shallow end.

 

There's actually a Facebook page for the pool https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Gateway-Swim-Skate-137489473122934/

 

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In an earlier post 57Tbird said, "Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point)." On the Gateway Swim Facebook page the page said it was 100 yds long by 50 yds wide at shallow end. I wish there was a record somewhere that could verify the actual size. Maybe i should go by what the Gateway Swim FB page said. I think the page was run by Les's daughter Margery and she would know.

Edited by Les
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 10 months later...

I went to Crystal Pool as a teen. I remember the bubble. Crystal Pool was definitely on South Main. I didn’t know that it had another name (Gateway?). There was an amusement park somewhere nearby (at which I got motion sick once) and a small pony ride place also.

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  • The title was changed to Gateway Swim And Skate Rink At 8510 South Main St.

wow! There is some very cool history and pictures in the Gateway Swim & Skate Facebook Group.  There's too many pictures to post. I'll post a small batch.

There were really hills near here? I thought the hills in the postcard was just artwork. What were the hills from? The BFI Holmes Road Dump?

https://www.facebook.com/Gateway-Swim-Skate-137489473122934/

Illuminated street signage. I heard the South Main Strip used to be all illuminated, like you were driving in Las Vegas.

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The pool really was named Crystal Pool. I thought it was just a customer nickname.  Gateway Crystal Swimming Pool - 8510 South Main - MO 7  83914

L.H. Oldfield, Mgr.

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Postcard:

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Construction pictures! Incredible that there is construction pictures from so long ago.  I like to think of HAIF creating picture memories for the future generations in 50+ years from now.

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Ariel view.  As always, it's just amazing how much of the South Main area was just empty fields/grassland back in the day. wow!

In this picture there is a long building near the Crystal Pool. I assume that's the Gateway Roller Rink?  I also see a row of homes on the bottom left. Most of the structures look to be residential rather than commercial.  Where's all the restaurants and activity? Guess we are looking towards modern-day 610, what was called "End of Main" back then?

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Hills in the background:

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Swimming lanes:

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The crystal bubbler. This is the focus behind the naming of Gateway Crystal Swimming Pool.

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Lastly, where did the skating rink come in? All we ever hear about is the swimming pool.  All the postcards, and historical pictures were of the Crystal Pool.  This week, I discovered the skating section was housed in another building on the property. Gateway Roller Rink was located at 8370 South Main St. I believe it would be the long building near the Crystal Pool.

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  • 4 months later...

Looks like there was a lot more activities than just swimming.  Found this in the publication Pershing Chatter Vol. 22, No. 6 dated May 9, 1956. 

Basket Ball, Picnic, Season Passes, Weight Lifting, Punch Bags, Ping Pong, Volley Ball, Swim & Dive, Partys, Outdoor Gym, Fun, Trampoline. 

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