Tony D., Williamsburg Native
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 05, 2016 | 4945 views | 0 0 comments | 222 222 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the opening day of the McCarren Park Pool, Tony D. was lining up among the swarming teenagers who were ready to take a break from the heat.

But unlike the rest of the hundreds of locals on line, Tony wasn’t waiting to swim in the pool. He was selling heavy duty locks.

Tony, who is 64 years old, grew up in northern Brooklyn. It was at McCarren Park Pool where he learned how to swim on the weekends.

“When we were kids, we used to come here on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. “They charged us 10 cents to get in. Now it’s free and it’s wonderful.”

He retired and moved to Pennsylvania, but still visits Brooklyn often because he has a lot of family here.

“I’m not crazy about P.A., it’s quiet,” he said. “Out here, I know everybody. I love the excitement here.

“Plus in the summertime, we have free concerts all over the city,” he added. “They have free tournaments and basketball games all over.”

He recalled when the pool was closed over the course of nearly three decades. He described the pool then as a “toxic waste area,” and noted that weeds were always growing along the fences. Now that the pool is open, he’s said the entire neighborhood has changed for the better.

“I see a lot of improvements. I see high rises, buildings coming up all over the place,” Tony said. “I see parks being renovated and new parks coming up. I see a lot of diversity.”

When he visits over the summer, Tony gets a chance to hang out with his grandkids. Although he taught them how to swim in his own swimming pool in Pennsylvania, the new and improved McCarren Pool is a good place for them to practice and have fun, he said.

“They made the pool much wider and safer,” he said. “They got lanes down for races and other activities. They got volleyball. They’re stepping up.”
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