Map of Mornings: The Road to Hampton Pool


These are roads I know like the back of my hand. They are the routes we traveled to swim practice and gymnastics and piano lessons and school. Yesterday morning in North Baltimore, I instinctively took shortcuts down side streets and noticed changes in traffic patterns, piecing together a map of so many mornings from my youth. We spent a lot of time in the car growing up in North Baltimore. Given that it's summertime, I retrace the best morning drive of all: the one that led straight to Hampton Pool.

I start from our old home and drive down Falls Road, coasting down the hill where we used to go sledding. Along Seminary Ave., subdivisions have sprouted up on once empty land. The tree-lined lane that used to lead to the big stone house overlooking the property is now an extension of the large road across the street. That lane was once the subject of my mother's photography; she returned each season to document the trees.

The new street now connects directly to another of our former homes in an adjacent subdivision. The cul de sac of town homes and parking spaces looks exactly like it did when we left.

In front of the old house, 1984

Looking down the old street, 2012

I get excited now as I always did as the car begins to roll down Hampton Lane. I remember singing American Pie driving down that road on summer mornings approaching the swimming pool. I remember my sister and I arriving early in the morning for swim practice and begging to stay late at night when the lights came on underwater. I remember ghosts stories of the nearby Hampton National Historic Site keeping me awake during swim team sleepovers.

From approximately 1984 through 1991, Hampton Pool was our summertime home. It was the place where we choreographed dances and sold string bracelets and sprinted down the walkway so wouldn't miss the first events of Saturday Morning Races.

The lifeguards are busy cleaning the pool and preparing to open when I arrive there early Saturday morning. They welcome me in. Hampton Pool looks better than ever. Our pictures are still on the wall.

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