There comes a time in a young man’s life when he must shed the wool from his eyes and realize the world isn’t the fantasy land that he believed it to be when we he was young…
As a child I spent most of my summers enjoying the pools and grounds at Ponterril on East Acres road in Pittsfield, MA. It was a bastion of summer fun. It had multiple large pools, a spring board, high dive, pavillion, conncession stand, pristine clay tennis courts and some of the most legendary wiffle ball games that these Berkshire hills have ever witnessed only to mention of a few of its attributes. It quite simply was a perfect little summer slice of Americana.
When I was young my family would hop into our station wagon around 10:00am on most warm summer days and make the journey from our home in southeast Pittsfield to our little summer paradise. We would usually drive down First Street. There was a home for mentally handicapped adults where First Street merges into North Street and there was an older woman who would stand outside and crazily wave at oncoming cars. Her name was Crazy Annie. My father would always joke and say, “Hey, buddy, there’s your girlfriend Crazy Annie.” I would get embarrassed, but we all loved it. It was our ritual and to me it meant that we were very close to our little oasis on the hill. A couple miles down the road from my girlfriend Crazy Annie was East Acres Road. Once I saw the sign for East Acres I knew my day was going to be perfect.
When we made that turn onto East Acres Road I knew that the only thing to worry about was how long it would take to get into the next four square game in the pavillion. Ponterril was operated by the YMCA of Pittsfield and it was a glorious destination. I am sure that many people reading this blog learned how to swim in the pools of Ponterril. Many of my favorite childhood memories involve spending time there on hot summer days.
I recently took a trip up to what was once a vital and integral part of my life, and boy has it changed. Like most of my childhood dreams it is destroyed. Today, in 2015, Ponterril looks more like the movie set of a post apocalyptic action movie than a family summertime retreat. This post is not meant to disparage anyone or any group for the current state of Ponterril I just felt the need to chronicle its current state as it was astonishing to me as someone who spent multiple summers enjoying it.
As I drove up one of the first things I saw was the former entrance to the main check in area:
It was strange to see the front steps with overgrown bushes and grasses surrounding it. In the past it was always manicured, but more than that it had always been alive. Usually, at this point you could hear children yelling with excitement and life guards whistles and the hustle and bustle of a day at Ponterril, but this day it was dead silent. This silence created a surreal atmosphere.
We parked the car and walked to the main pool. I had never seen it without water in it…
Oh, and who didn’t love a hamburger from the concession stand??? Whenever I bite into a premade frozen patty on a supermarket brand white roll I get transported right back to Ponterril. This is what was left of the concession stand.
After eating some concessions maybe we could play a little tennis…. Or not.
Most of the structures in pictures you just saw are now completely gone. It was fortuitous that we made the trek to the former Ponterril when we did. I recently found out that demolition of those structures began on September 1st. Now they only live in peoples memories. Coincidentally, that was the thought in my head while I was there. At first I was sad to see the decrepit facade of a place once teeming with energy and life, but then I thought about it and realized that the structures didn’t matter. It was the people and the experiences that made it such a special place. Those cherished memories are still alive in the minds and hearts of many people.
And don’t forget, b*tches love Justin!
Leave your favorite Ponterril memory in the comment section below.