|“Splish-Splash, Brrr ... Ahhh!"
Remembering the “NAT”
by Paul Pintarich
Even today I can remember plunging carelessly into the deep end of
As they rose past me, all those silver bubbles in the bright green water
But no problem. Though I was a chubby little kid, a hand reached down and plucked me to safety, its owner suggesting forcefully that I “. .Was a dumb little. . !”
You can imagine the rest, though since that day, and all the days of my increasingly long life, I have never had a fear of water, deep or shallow. In fact, several summers later I taught myself to swim in the Nat. I would paddle about tentatively, farther each day, until eventually I flailed and gasped my way to the pool’s central fountain, pulling myself aboard like an exhausted sea lion.
Buoyed by my achievement, and the Nat’s warm saltwater, I eventually
(ED: With an interesting side jaunt to Australia, where in an isolated, deserted cove, he splish-splashed around for a half hour -- subsequently coming out to see a Mick Dundee type sitting on a nearby rock, watching. "Why aren't people enjoying this great little bay?" Paul asked the old Aussie. "Well," came the reply, "it might be the poisonous sea snakes, Moray eels or the lion fish that live there.")
In those days the Nat was an imposing two-story landmark whose heated,
Construction began in 1924, and when it was completed in 1926 the Nat
In later years upstairs living quarters were converted into a popular
night club, “The Panorama Room” (It’s unofficial sobriquet was “The
On the eve of my 21st birthday I happened to be drinking in the
When one considers the Nat, you must remember that in my youth, a hardier, more careless time, we just ran down and jumped into the ocean, usually after one or more beers. This was literally a breath-taking practice not recommended for brass monkeys or those visiting from Florida or Hawaii. There were riptides too, of course (no one thought about sharks, or rolling logs), but most of the time we made sure the tide was incoming before hitting the waves.
Afterwards, if not having a driftwood fire on the beach, we might sprint
In its last years the Nat became home to a recreation center for teenagers,
featuring billiard tables, snack bar and music for dancing. In 1967,
however, it met its demise after the Oregon State Parks Division replaced
it with the present Rockaway State Parking Wayside. Yet even today,
as I drive into Rockaway after many years, I miss the old place and its
capacious, other-century grandeur. It should still be there, I think, echoing
with memories and little-kid laughter; a wonderful anachronism of the kind
disappearing all too quickly these days.
Original text © 2008 Paul Pintarich