Wednesday, July 11, 2007


FRANCIS McELROY: It’s great to be a swimmer, and not to overdo on it. And it’s the greatest exercise a person can get, at any time. And it’s very refreshing. and it’s also wonderful for your health. I would say that would complete it all.

JOHN LOWTHERS: All I can say is there’s a couple of different kinds of strokes you can use: overarm, breaststroke – if I said Australian crawl that’d be a little heavy.

WILLIAM “FERGIE” FERGUSON: It’s an art that everyone should learn. A-r-t. L-e-a-r-n. Naturally you’ve got to have water, that’s the main subject, w-a-t-e-r. H2O, that is water, those are the symbols for water. It’s good to drink, it’s what we all drink. That’s what we’re all made of, that is the original source of our anatomy. Who was the first one that picked it up, I don’t know. And I don’t know anyone that does know.

BILL SEARS: You go to the beach. Breaststroke, you learn the breaststroke. Overhand stroke. Australian stroke. Float, you float. that’s about all. (thinking) Oh yeah, underwater swimmin.’ That’s all.

ABE SURGECOFF: Swimming is a physical handicap. And, ah, it’s good exercise. and, ah, it makes a movement of the heart. When you sit you’re absent minded and you recuperate. the body is worked up to a heart condition. Another thing is this here: some people get heart conditions by the sun ray, it strikes them if they be down at the beach. It causes the heartburn and the heart attack. Another person works too hard and he can’t save his life on account of his heart condition. And, ah, they eat less food to cover heartache patients. One thing is this: people that are being worked on for a heart condition are single, single people. Married people, too. Oh, and the people that come to the beaches see if they can get relieved of the heart condition.
Let’s see now, ah, swimming is good exercise for the hands, legs, and body, moving at all times when swimming.

WALTER KIERAN: I was never a swimmer because I couldn’t do it. All I can tell you about is the Salem Fire of June 25, 1914. It burned up the whole city, a week – seven days. I wrote a book on it.

FRANK KANSLASKY: Don’t drown, that’s it. You swim or you drown. I don’t know any more about swimming.

GENE EDWARDS: Oh, I can’t swim. I don’t know how to swim, but I can splash in the water. And I don’t like water if it’s too deep. that’s all I can think of right now.

BILL NIEMI: Most people, you have to be in the proper mind to go swimmin,’ don’t you? And, ah, it doesn’t pay to go too far out in the water, like in a lake, ’cause it stands to reason that it gets deeper and the water gets higher as you go out further into a lake. And you’re liable to tire yourself out, and then you won’t be able to breathe and something’ll happen that you won’t be able to use your legs or your arms, so you’re liable to start probably, to drown.
And, ah, after you eat your meals you should wait at least an hour before you go in swimmin’, because if you go in right away – a lot of people eat heavy meals – if you jump in the water you’re liable to sink to the bottom and drown.
And in a way it’s bad to go swimming by yourself, because you never know what will happen. And if you do decide to go swimmin’ with someone, make sure it’s someone you like and that likes you, because if you get swimming with someone you don’t exactly like or you had a fight with, or you don’t agree with on certain principles, then you’re liable to get into some kind of an argument or a fight, and one of you is liable to drown if you start fighting in the water, or around the water and you get pushed in, or you happen to fall in or something like that, because accidents do happen.
It’s kind of hard to teach another person how to swim, because you have to know how to swim yourself and you also have to know the other person pretty well, and what their mental and physical conditions are. And you have to know the other person pretty well because there’s a lot of people that hate the water – they don’t like to go swimming. And in a way it’s kind of foolish to try and persuade another person to go in swimming if they don’t want to. That has to do with if you ask someone so go swimming and they say no, and then you persuade them to change their mind and they go swimming, and then if something should happen to them it would be your fault, because you persuaded them.

FRANK WISNEWSKI: If you don’t know how to swim, you drown. If you don’t go in the water, you won’t drown. The water’s cold. Down at Revere Beach the water’s very cold. Lot of waves down there too. Lot of clams. Lot of girls, in bathing suits. I love girls. I love girls down at Revere Beach in black bathing suits.

(from David Greenberger's conversations with residents of the Duplex Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain, MA, and publihsed in The Duplex Planet #48, May 1983)