It was a beautiful day in early September when somehow I, Cricky Leavitt, found myself standing on the float tied to the west end of the Bayley Beach waterfront with a gaggle of other kids my age – about 5 to 6 years old. I had never been in this situation before so I sort of stood at the outside of the float being the anti-social kid I was. Little was I aware that this character flaw would pave the way for one of the greatest accomplishments of my long life. Clearly I was the underdog and you could cut the tension with a knife so to speak.
I was going to swim in the annual Art Ladrigan swim race for five and six year olds although the race was not called that at the time … and why would you name a race after a curmudgeon anyway. My fifteen or so competitors and I were told to calm down and form a line at the edge of the float to get ready because the race was about to start. I moved up into position and found myself on the outside in the deepest water. There was a bang and all of us instinctively dove or jumped into the water to head toward the finish line that seemed in retrospect to be about 25 feet away. It was like being in a running dishwasher with water splashing everywhere. Being on the outside I managed to swim forward without being drowned by flailing arms. I thought at least these noisy kids had stopped shouting to avoid swallowing water. After what seemed like an eternity I made it to the finish line and found that I was first … numero uno.
I had won the only swim race I would ever enter and I retired undefeated to the cheers of Rowayton mothers. I remember having a medal that I kept in a box with all of my other things that glittered but I have not seen that medal in decades. I did have one more moment of swimming glory though. In the summer of 1952, I was banished to Camp Mohawk for two terrifying weeks where I rose to the rank of Flying Fish because I was able to swim to the center of a small lake and back. I’m pretty sure I got a medal for that too but haven’t seen it in decades either. Woe is me.
Thanks to the Rowayton mothers who cheered me on. And a special thanks to Rolly Maury who taught me how to swim a few years earlier.
Left to Right: Jane Buffum; Sis Jenkins, Randy’s mom; Rolly Maury, Johnny and Dickie’s mom; Hatsie McKissock, Holly’s mom; Hester Maury, Brooke’s mom; Pat Gage, Jeff’s mom; June Leavitt, Crick’s mom; Ann Henry (behind June playfully placing a ‘witch’s’ broom in front of June), Connie’s mom; Jane Dwiggins, Ranny Grinnell’s mom; and unknown.