It’s Not Your Granddaddy’s YMCA

Oh what a difference between the YMCA of today and the one of my youth.  At about age 10,  on doctor’s orders, my mother signed me up  at the 11th St. Y in Columbus.  I didn’t know at the time that it had been built in 1903 with money donated by philanthropist George Foster Peabody and was the only marble YMCA in the United States.   I just remember that it was the dark building that smelled of disinfectant, where I played pool, exercised in my underwear, and swam nude in a small, indoor, white tile swimming pool.

Historic 1903 Central YMCA, 11th St., Columbus, GA

  That building had rooms for rent for young men upstairs.  When I was about 12, I delivered copies of the Columbus Ledger to a few of those rooms.  The Y was on my 2nd Avenue paper route.  The new building that opened this month on Broadway has no rooms for rent.  That practice stopped many years ago. 

YMCA, Broadway, Columbus, GA

  Swimming in the nude stopped years ago when girls were allowed to use the pool.  When I was a member, the Y only served guys.  Now it’s for everyone. The 1953 building on 11th featured a much larger and nicer pool, and over the years added things like treadmills and other sophisticated exercising machines.  But, just look at the new facility.  It has a lot of everything, and the place is open and full of light, and I didn’t smell any disinfectant while I was there. 





Construction is continuing on the outside of the new YMCA. When I asked why it opened before it was finished, I was told that the inside of the new building is finished and the old buildings were so dark and in need of repair that they got out as soon as possible. 

The First Presbyterian Church owns the old buildings, and, according to the church’s pastor Dr. Charles Hasty,  while the church will keep the historic 1903 building, it plans to eventually demolish the 1953 addition.  The 1903 building is still structurally sound, and there are plans to renonvate and use it in some way, but he says it would not be cost effective to try to use the 1953 addition.

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4 Responses to “It’s Not Your Granddaddy’s YMCA”

  1. dicksworld Says:

    (This is a comment that my old friend John Cornett, who now lives with his wife, Dianne, who is also an old friend, and incidentially, a former Miss Columbus, in Columbia, SC., posted on Facebook and I added here.)

    Great memories Richard!

    Since we both lived within a few blocks, “The Y” was practically a second home.

    I remember:… See More

    ..Bob Eubanks, a no nonsense tender of the facilities
    who always rendered a brisk, but pleasant, greeting before he stacked your towel on the counter and reminded you to shower before you hit the pool.

    ..The pool tables in the lobby which are likely as responsible for my wasted youth as anything other
    than Chad’s Rose Room in Phenix City.

    ..Bank walking; where the kids who were less “endowed” would squat down in the pool while those more fortunate would stroll back and forth as a visual reminder of their short comings.

    ..Trying to equal Conrad Thompson’s underwater record of 5 pool lengths before coming up for air.
    I managed just 3 before collapsing at the drain pipe.

    ..One kid, after gurrls were allowed to use the pool,
    running toward the locker room yelling ” Guess what I just saw!!!” before running into a female counselor who asked him”so just what, exactly, DID you see?!!”

    …Practicing my patented “over the head and through the rafters”(not that easy since the ceilings were low and the rafters pretty tight) shot on the basketball court.

    ..And, yes, I distinctly remember the pungent odor of disinfectant hitting you at the door and the overwhelming smell of chloride in the pool area.

    I guess today’s liberals would be all right with it if the “C” was dropped and “& W” was added, to change the name to the “YM&WA”,but somehow it just isn’t the same.

    Nothing new there however…

  2. Rich Cardillo Says:

    I remember Chad’s ose Room in Phenix City. As a young 2LT from New Jersey stationed at Benning, some of us wandered over to Chad’s on a Saurday night. We were told it was the last of the red hot Phenix City spots. We sat in a front table when the waitress told us she would give us a round of drinks if we pulled the stage out for the stripper 3 times that night. My dear mother would have died if she saw me that night. This was in 1967. Is it still there or what is there now?
    Thanks, Rich Cardillo

  3. Robbye P. Floyd Says:

    To dicksworld, regarding your friend John Cornett’s 2010 post above, I am the oldest grandchild of “…Bob Eubanks, a no nonsense tender of the facilities who always rendered a brisk, but pleasant, greeting before he stacked your towel on the counter and reminded you to shower before you hit the pool” and the daughter of Pat Eubanks, who you may have known back in those days. DaddyBob (as we always called him because, as told to us by our mother, that’s what all the “Y” kids called him) always very proudly introduced me as “this is my namesake” (I am Roberta aka Robbye).

    I serve on the board of the YWCA (note the “W”) in San Antonio, TX, and just happened to be doing some online research today on the differences between the YM and the YW and I decided to google “Bob Eubanks YMCA Columbus, Georgia” and have found several items, which is very gratifying because I’ve always been very proud of my DaddyBob.

    BTW, for those who didn’t already know, he passed away in August 1999 at age 97, with my mother – his beloved daughter Pat – by his side. Bob Eubanks lived a long life and he lived it well.

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