Clicking through old emails, I enjoyed revisiting Mary Jo Brawn Moore’s Roseland Park memories that she shared 15 years ago. With July the Fourth close at hand, I was in the mood for Roseland recollections. 

Two parks — Roseland and Bicentennial — stir wonderful memories of July 4 and summer months in general.

Mary Jo’s father Walter W. Brawn, who taught American history at Robert E. Lee High School before helming the audio-visual department for Goose Creek schools, spent his summer vacations managing the Roseland Park swimming pool complex.

His daughter wrote: “I was about 10 years old when the pool opened and a fourth-grader at Ashbel Smith Elementary where my Mom (Mildred Brawn) taught. I suppose I was probably the first ‘legal’  swimmer at Roseland. After Dad became manager, I went with him whenever I could convince Mom to let me go. Mom’s class at Ashbel Smith had one of the first school parties at Roseland, and, of course, I went along.

“The summer I was 15, Elizabeth Hill quit working at the pool to get married. Daddy need a replacement quickly. I was that replacement and worked until after my sophomore year in college. Like Jane Bonds, I saved half of everything I made for Baylor.

“Some of the people who worked with me at the pool were Joe Atkinson,  Darlene Capps, Judy Bull, Donnie Elms, George Armstrong and Roland Kudla. Both George and Roland were coaches at REL. They taught Red Cross swimming lessons and were lifeguards.

“The concession stand was a great favorite of all of us. There were other favorites from the juke box by that time.  Jake Mills worked most of the time in the concession stand. Jake, Donnie Elms and George ‘Gus-Gus’ Lea always had something going. Usually the girls who worked inside the basket room were the targets of these pranks.

“Something else that became a part of the park was the locomotive. There was a great big ceremony the day it was dedicated. All of the town ‘big wigs’ were in attendance.”

Mary Jo also mentioned the miniature golf course located across the road from Roseland Park. “It was the only thing you could do on a date after 9 o’clock -- unless you raced to the Brunson Theater for the late show.”

Concluding her email, Mary Jo commented:

“Life is not as simple now as it was in the 1950s, but it sure is great to look back on those times.”

Nearly 15 when Roseland Park opened, I will never forget the excitement generated by the swimming pool. Wow. Baytown never had a city swimming pool before! It surely beat battling the oil tankers plying the Houston Ship Channel at Hog Island.

The largest event held at Roseland, in the early years, was the July 4 beauty pageant. Spectators, if lucky, could find seats in the bleachers on the south side of the pool, but for the most part, on-lookers had to stand outside the surrounding fence. The pageant attracted hundreds of people.

Wanda Orton is a retired managing editor of The Sun. She can be reached at viewpoints@baytownsun.com, Attention: Wanda Orton.


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