Ted Fenton

Ted Fenton

Edward (Ted) Fenton was born in Forest Gate on 7th November 1914. He played for England Schoolboys in 1929 as an inside-forward against Scotland. After leaving school he joined Colchester United. He was signed by Syd King, the manager of West Ham United, and he made his Football League debut against Bradford City on 7th September 1932.

Fenton was converted from inside-forward to wing-half but did not become a regular in the first-team until the 1935-36 season. Other players in the squad at the time included Jim Barrett, Charlie Bicknell, Alfred Chalkley, Jimmy Collins, John Morton, Len Goulden, Joe Cockroft, Stan Foxall, George Foreman, James Marshall, Jimmy Ruffell and Dick Walker.

After the outbreak of the Second World War the government imposed a fifty mile travelling limit and the Football League divided all the clubs into seven regional areas where games could take place. Fenton became a Physical Training instructors in the British Army and was able to play for West Ham during the war.

The Football League decided to start a new competition entitled the Football League War Cup. The entire competition of 137 games including replays was condensed into nine weeks. Fenton was a member of the West Ham United team that beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0 in the final played at Wembley on 8th June 1940.

Fenton was 31 years old when football began after the war. He played in 37 games in the 1945-46 First Division South competition. In 1946 he joined Colchester United in the Southern League as player manager. Fenton had scored 19 goals in 166 games for West Ham.

Fenton was fairly successful at his new club and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in the 1947-48 season. In August 1950 Fenton took over from Charlie Paynter as manager of West Ham United. His starting salary at the club was £15. This was less money than he had been receiving from Colchester United.

At the time West Ham was in the Second Division and in his first season at the club he finished in 13th place. He did however, make two very good buys in Frank O'Farrell from Cork United and Malcolm Allison from Charlton Athletic. They joined a team that included Dick Walker, Ken Tucker, Ernie Gregory, Derek Parker and Harry Hooper.

West Ham United continued to struggle in the Second Division and despite bringing in players like Jimmy Andrews and Dave Sexton the club finished 12th (1951-52), 14th (1952-53) and 13th (1953-54). It was the goalscoring of John Dick that helped West Ham finish in 8th place in the 1954-55 season. Dick scored 26 goals in 39 appearances that season. Other young players such as Malcolm Musgrove, John Bond, Ken Brown, Noel Cantwell and Andy Malcolm had also been promoted into the first-team.

In his autobiography, Home With the Hammers (1960) Fenton pointed out: "The only way to build the club was youth. There were lots of good players around, but I had no money to buy the key players we needed. There was always the problems of running a club on a shoe-string."

Ted Fenton developed a reputation for meanness. Derek Parker used to travel by train from Colchester with Fenton, who did not purchase a ticket: "Ted knew that the ticket collector would always start from the back. Halfway through the journey Ted would get out and go to the back."

Malcolm Allison, the West Ham United captain, claimed that: "Ted Fenton would cheat you out of anything. We played an England amateur side. There were 22,000 at the match. The FA always gave you £5 to play against an FA team. We used to get £2 as a bonus. When we went to get our money we only got the fiver. They said it was £3 for playing and £2 bonus - they tried to do us out of two quid." Just before the next game against Nottingham Forest, Allison organized a strike. He told Fenton that the team refused to play unless he gave them the £2 that he owed them. Allison added: "He went upstairs, came straight back down and gave us the money."

Ken Tucker also complained about Fenton: "The Arsenal players told me that they had got ten guineas for a game with England Amateurs, that was the FA's rate for such matches. When West Ham played against them Ted only gave us £5. Apparently the cheque had gone to Ted and he paid us in cash."

Dick Walker was another player who clashed with Ted Fenton. "I didn't like him and he didn't like me". Walker saw Fenton's actions as: "A matter of taking over from someone popular and wanting to show you're in charge."

These disputes clearly affected the attitudes of the players. In the 1955-56 season West Ham finished in 16th place. John Dick was in poor form that year and only scored 8 goals in 35 league appearances. Billy Dare was top scorer with 18 goals. To make matters worse, West Ham was knocked out of the FA Cup by Spurs.

Malcolm Allison, the captain, took over more responsibility for tactics. Derek Parker argued: "We always thought Malcolm (Allison) influenced Ted (Fenton). He started changing styles... Malcolm was always one of the first in everything, in lots of respects. Ted was lucky to have people like that about."

As Ken Tucker, one of the senior players in the squad, pointed out: "Allison got the team organized. We used to stand over at Grange Farm and Fenton would ask Malcolm "What do we do now?" and Allison would step in and sort things out." Noel Cantwell added that "Malcolm (Allison) couldn't handle people. I was good with people. Malcolm got the other guys interested, pulled a group around him and he came back from Lilleshall with a lot of ideas."

The players were also very critical of club trainer, Billy Moore. The young John Bond was shocked by his approach to training: "There was only two or three footballs in the entire club. You got out for training about quarter past ten and ran round the pitch, ran a lap and walk a lap... You'd be doing this for about three-quarters-of-an-hour and then you's shout to Billy Moore to get the balls out. Billy would be standing at the entrance to the ground watching, with a fag in his mouth, that he never ever took out."

Before the beginning of the 1956-57 season Fenton sold Harry Hooper to Wolves for £25,000. Dave Sexton was transferred to Leyton Orient and soon after the season started Frank O'Farrell went to Preston North End. Fenton brought in Mike Grice and Eddie Lewis. Young players such as John Smith and Billy Landsdowne were also now regulars in the first team. West Ham United finished in 8th place that season.

Ted Fenton eventually agreed that Malcolm Allison should take over the training sessions. "I took charge of the the coaching at West Ham. I built the attitude. We used to get together and I used to make them come back for training in the afternoons." John Lyall, one of the youngest players at the club at the time, was impressed by Allison. "Malcolm Allison was a strong man... He battled for what he wanted... He had an open mindedness to try things. He had the same enthusiasm as Johnny Bond and Noel Cantwell, they were people who were progressive about their football."

Ted Fenton seemed to lose the respect of his players after the emergence of Allison. Ken Tucker argued that: "He (Fenton) was never straight-forward. He was against the players.... The players used to say he just pulled the names out of the hat." After one disagreement, Tucker threw his football boots at Fenton. One former player told Brian Belton that during one training session Fenton shouted instructions to John Bond. He walked over to Fenton and shouted: "If you could play at my level, you could tell me what to do."

The players were especially upset by the way that Ted Fenton treated Dick Walker. At the end of the 1956-1957 season Walker's playing contract was not renewed by Fenton. Instead he offered Walker a job "to attend to the players boots" at £4 a week. In other words, the former captain ended up doing the job he had done as a groundstaff boy 25 years previously. It is believed that Fenton treated Walker badly because he was so popular with the players and fans that he feared he would replace him as manager of West Ham United. After leaving the club Walker suffered from bad health and spent long spells in hospital. According to former team-mate, Tommy Dixon, Walker ended up as a tramp.

Malcolm Allison openly described Fenton as a "useless manager". Ernie Gregory disagreed claiming that he was responsible for several innovations: "We were the first team to eat steak before meals... We were told to put a ball between two players and you take two players out. John Bond and Noel Cantwell were the first of the overlapping full-backs... We used to train at Forest Gate skating rink - it was narrow, so you could practise working in tight situations." Jimmy Andrews argued that "Fenton was on to one-touch football, that was unusual at the time."

Most players seemed to agree with Allison. Mick Newman claimed that: "Fenton once told Billy Dare, when the player had asked him why he had been dropped, that he wasn't tall enough. Bill had been playing well for the club for years at that time and responded by asking Ted if it had taken him six years to work out that he was too small to play for the team."

Malcolm Musgrove later recalled: "Malcolm Allison was up-to-date with things that were going on in football, the technical side. I liked him because of his ability to get the best out of people, I didn't like him for what he could do to people he didn't like. Malcolm Allison was very helpful to me at West Ham.... Allison was a good skipper. He wanted to win, wanted to play football, and this was at the time when there weren't many passing sides about. Most teams used to get it, kick it to the other end and chase it, but we, through Malcolm's influence, always wanted to play from the back. We wanted to pass the ball around. He was a centre-half that didn't just belt it away, he got it down and passed it."

The fans enjoyed the style of football introduced by Malcolm Allison. The football journalist, Bernard Joy, remarked: "West Ham's tradition of playing colourful football as a way of getting away from the drabness of life in the East End."

According to Mike Grice, Allison also influenced team selection: "Three team sheets would go up for match days. Malcolm (Allison) would look at them all, take them down and go and see Ted (Fenton). When they went up again they had invariably changed." Billy Landsdowne remarked: "Fenton would give us a chat and on the way out of the dressing-room Malcolm would say what to do."

Mick Newman added: "Malcolm Allison was a great influence on the club. He introduced all-day training, doing weights in the afternoons. That wasn't very popular with most players, who were used to having their afternoons off. But Malcolm Allison more or less ran the playing side of things. He led by the force of personality really."

Brian Belton summed up the situation in his book Days of Iron: The Story of West Ham United in the Fifties (1999): "As such, what happened at the Boleyn Ground in the Fifties can be understood as a kind of revolution, a series of culture changing events, that included worker (player) control.... There was, as John Cartwright described it, a form of communism at the club. The players really ruled it. In short, the dictatorship of the football proletariat."

On 16th September, 1957, Malcolm Allison was taken ill after a game against Sheffield United. Doctors discovered he was suffering from tuberculosis and he had to have a lung removed. Noel Cantwell became the new captain.

West Ham United got off to poor start to the 1957-58 season. Fenton decided he needed a new centre-forward. Vic Keeble was playing in the reserves at Newcastle United. Fenton, who had managed him at Colchester United, telephoned Keeble and said: "I'm coming up Saturday, I fancy you Vic, I could well put in a bid for you. I'll take a look at you, see how you do." Keeble scored two goals in the first 45 minutes and at half-time Fenton knocked on the window of the dressing-room and said: "Vic, don't play too well in the second-half, they won't let you go." After the game Fenton bought Keeble for £10,000.

Vic Keeble formed a great partnership with inside-left, John Dick. West Ham's full-back, John Bond, later pointed out: "We got something like nine points in 11 games in 1957-58, and then Ted Fenton bought Vic Keeble from Newcastle because he thought he could be good in the air, which he was. But what he didn't recognise was what a good target man Vic was. We could play balls from defence into Vic Keeble and he would hold them in to himself or knock them off. He brought Jackie Dick into the play a lot more... and made more use of the wingers in terms of crosses. And from there we lost three of the next 31 games."

As Vic Keeble himself explained: "I partnered John Dick and we clicked instantly, scoring 40 goals between us. I was really enjoying my football and grabbed a hat-trick in a 5-0 win against West Ham, two in 6-1 wins over Lincoln and Bristol Rovers, and further braces in a 6-2 victory over Swansea and 8-0 thumping of Rotherham United." John Cartwright commented: "Keeble and Dick were telepathic."

By the end of the season Vic Keeble had scored 23 goals in 32 league and cup games. Keeble's brilliant play was one of the main factors in West Ham United winning the Second Division title that year. They had been promoted to the First Division after a period of 26 years in the second tier. Malcolm Pyke, a West Ham teammate, commented: "Jack Dick was a great goalscorer, but when Vic Keeble came he turned us around - it was his goals that got us up."

The authors of The Essential History of West Ham United point out that some journalists questioned whether Vic Keeble and John Dick would be able to score goals in the First Division: "It took the Hammers' marksman just 37 minutes of the opening game of the 1958-59 season to answer that question when he scored West Ham's first goal in the top flight for over a quarter of a century to put his side one up against Portsmouth and send the large contingent of East Londoners among the 40,470 crowd into raptures."

West Ham United finished in 6th place that season. John Dick was top scorer with 27 goals but Vic Keeble also did well with 20 in 32. Keeble injured his back in a game against Fulham on 31st October 1959. He only played one more game on 16th January 1960 before deciding that he would have to retire from professional football. He had the amazing record of scoring 49 goals in 80 games.

In 1960 Fenton published his autobiography, Home With the Hammers. In the book he praised former managers, Syd King and Charlie Paynter. He wrote of King: "Personality plus and adored by the players. He was the Herbert Chapman of his time."

West Ham United struggled for the next couple of seasons and on 16th March 1961 the chairman of the club stated: "For some time, Mr Fenton had been working under quite a strain and it was agreed that he should go on sick leave. For the time being, we shall carry on by making certain adjustments in our internal administration." The Ilford Recorder added that: "The Upton Park club are proud of their tradition of never having sacked a manager." This was untrue as Syd King had been sacked in 1933. Fenton had also been sacked and was replaced by Ron Greenwood.

Malcolm Allison later claimed that "Ted Fenton got the sack. They were rebuilding the stand and he was pinching some bricks and paint. Putting it in the back of the car. One of the directors caught him." Ken Tucker thought he had been dismissed because he had negotiated a reduction in the price of equipment, but was only passing on a percentage of the savings to the club. However, Andy Smillie believes that Fenton was a victim of "player power".

Fenton also managed Southend United before opening a sports shop in Brentwood.

Ted Fenton died in July 1992 following a car crash near Peterborough.

Playing career [ edit | edit source ]

West Ham United [ edit | edit source ]

A prolific goal scorer as a schoolboy Fenton joined West Ham schoolboys eleven and won an England schoolboys eleven cap against Scotland, at Ibrox Park, in 1929. He made his West Ham debut in 1932 and played regularly until the outbreak of World War II. He joined the Army and served as a PT instructor in North Africa and Burma. Ώ] Mainly as a wing half, but also as a utility player, Fenton made 179 appearances and scored 19 goals in first class games for the Hammers. He also made 204 appearances and scored 44 goals during World War II fixtures. ΐ]

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Managerial career

Colchester United

At the end of the war Fenton went on to become player-manager at Southern League team Colchester United. [3]

West Ham United

He returned to Upton Park in 1948 to become assistant manager to Charlie Paynter before becoming manager of West Ham in 1950. [1] Fenton's greatest achievement was in winning The Hammers the Division Two championship in the 1957–58 season and thereby securing the club top flight fotball for the first time since 1932. [4] The 1957–58 and 1958–59 seasons saw The Hammers achieve two goalscoring records 1957–58 101 league goals [4] in a season and 1958–59, 59 home league goals in a season which was even more remarkable being the season following promotion to Division One.

During his time Fenton was responsible for establishing "The Academy" and the development of youth teams [1] that reached the F.A. Youth Cup Final twice in three Years over the period 1956–59. With the help of chairman Reg Pratt he was also responsible for encouraging as many players as possible in taking their FA Coaching Badges to ensure the players had something to fall back on when their playing days were over. Fenton's departure from West Ham in March 1961 has never been fully explained by the club. Under strain and on sick-leave and with West Ham's league position suffering he left the club under circumstances which both he and the club decided would remain confidential. [5] He was succeeded as manager in 1961 by Ron Greenwood.

Seven of the West Ham 1964 FA Cup winning team had either been signed by Ted Fenton from other clubs, or had worked their way up from the Academy during his time as manager.

Southend United

Following his exit from West Ham, Fenton had four undistinguished years as manager of Southend United before his dismissal in May 1965. He never returned to football following his sacking by Southend. [6] His brother Benny Fenton was also a West Ham United player and later managed Millwall.

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Update (09/29/14): Another person recently had sex with his pit bull, this time in his bedroom. Click here to read the full story.

Ted Fenton - History

General History

The history of Hope Township started with the Chippewa Indians, who were in the area when Midland County was being formed. Originally, there may have been as many as 2,000 to 2,500, but by 1865 there were only about 200 living in the area. Ora Howsner is thought to have been Hope’s first settler. His son, Clyde, who was born in 1861 is said to be the first white male born in the area. Two other settlers who came in 1856 were Orrin Maltby and Joseph Rooker. William and Agnes McCrary came soon afterwards. The first marriage was performed in 1856 between Silas Wright and Louisia Erway. Other early family names were Braley, Card, Dunning, Fillmore, Frazier, Gleckler, Goff, Havens, Henry, Hosner, Inman, Kelly, Keys, Marsh, Maxwell, McWilliams, Mills, Raymond, Schearer, Shepherd, Trowbridge, Weaver, Wendt, Wilcox, Weaver, and Wisner. By the 1880 census, there were 89 different families residing in Hope Township, and by the 1894 census that number had grown to 167 families. Many of these early settlers are listed in the “Portrait and Biographical Album of Midland Co” published in 1884 and many of their decedents are still living in the township. We also have several centennial farms in the area.

The Hope Township Hall which was built in 1881 is still used today.

Hope Township was officially organized in 1871 with Ethelbert J. Brewster serving as it’s first Supervisor. Other supervisors were A. J. Raymond, Simon Gleckler, Timothy Fillmore, William Mills, William Schearer, Erwin H. Inman, Andrew J. Rogers, Warren Rogers, Wallace Hull, Herman Wint, Clair Schearer, Gene Smith, Ted Wendt, Mike Kressler and the current Supervisor, Andy Kobisa.When you consider the early years of the township, one consideration is that on March 11, 1876 the area that is now Mills Township was attached to Hope from Midland Township. It was later detached on October 15, 1894. The same is true of Lincoln Township. It was added in 1877 and detached in 1878.

Postal Services opened in Hope on January 11, 1871 with Marshall Carr as the first Postmaster. Other names who served as postmaster include David Wilcox, Mrs. Chambers, Charles Harper, Billy Williams, Nellie Wilson, Frederick Benedict, Boyd Havens, Darlene Edmonds, John Elmore, Joann Wirth, Ernie LaFave, Cathy Koehn, and the current postmaster Paul Stephenson. During Boyd Havens’ tenure, his building burned down so he purchased the old Macabee building. That building later became John Elmore’s home and the present post office was built in 1982 just down the street from the old building.

In the late 1880’s there were two general stores, a shingle mill, a blacksmith shop, a cheese factory, schools, churches, a Town Hall and a Knights of the Macabees Hall. Timothy Fillmore built the first store and Billy Harris was the first blacksmith.

Hope Township’s first cemetery was created on land purchased from Aaron Havens. Burials started at New Hope Cemetery about 1911. Burials can still be in either cemetery.

The Old Hope Cemetery is located on East Baker Road with the first burial date of 1862.

The New Hope Cemetery is located on Schearer Road and was purchased from the Harris family.

Hope Township is the site of one of Midland County’s Ghost Town known as Pansy. Pansy was located at the corner of Middle and Curtis Roads. John W. Crawford became their first Postmaster in 1887 but the Post Office closed in 1906. Pansy also had two general stores operating out of the Angles and Dundas homes.

Another Ghost Town known as Joliet was located on Bombay Road in the area that became part of Mills Township. The postmaster there was Mary Healy Keely, but the mail reverted back to the Hope Post Office around 1896.

Hope Township has a long history for the love of sports. Pictured here is the 1910 Hope Baseball Team. Our Woodside Park has been a recent addition to the township being created in the mid 1980‘s.

Pictured here from left to right are the following: (front row) Bob Joynt, Charley Mallory, Johnie Carey, Will Henry, Fred Swartz, Archie Henry, and bat boy Dennie LaRue (back row) Marvin Earley, Charley Warner, Leon LaRue, and George Gregway.

1971 brought the construction of our Fire Station which is manned entirely by volunteers.

Ted Fenton Manager Statistics

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About Manager Stats

Put together because of an unhealthy obsession with English football managerial statistics.

Manager Tracking

Managerial statistics for 6273169 games played by all current and previous managers for every club in the top 4 divisions of English football and more.

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How I Fail at Being Disabled [TED: Susan Robinson] Duration: 7:40

How Twitter Helped Change The Mind Of A Westboro Baptist Church Member [Megan Phelps-Roper on NPR&rsquos Fresh Air with Terry Gross, October 10, 2019]

I &rsquom Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much (TED: Stella Young) Duration: 9:05

Indigenous In Plain Sight [TED: Gregg Deal] Duration: 13:21

Instagram accounts of Native/Indigenous peoples

@stevenpauljudd / @firstnationphotographer / @thundervoice_eagle / @reclaimyourpower

An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter [TEDWomen 2016: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi] Duration: 15:56

It's Not a Race . Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio National ("Race, racism, identity, culture, difference &mdash let&rsquos talk it out").

Joe Rogan Experience #1419 - Daryl Davis (January 30, 2020) Duration: 2:39:39

Excerpt: Contested Waters


"Just Don't Touch the Water"

In 1898 Boston's mayor Josiah Quincy sent Daniel Kearns, secretary of the city's bath commission, to study Philadelphia's bathing pools. Philadelphia was the most prolific early builder of municipal pools, operating nine at the time. All but three were located in residential slums and, according to Kearns, attracted only "the lower classes or street gamins." City officials had built the austere pools during the 1880s and early 1890s—before the germ theory of disease transmission was popularly accepted—and intended them to provide baths for working-class men and women, who used them on alternating days. The facilities lacked showers, because the pools themselves were the instruments of cleaning. Armed with the relatively new knowledge of the microbe, Kearns was disturbed to see unclean boys plunging into the water: "I must say that some of the street gamins, both white and colored, that I saw, were quite as dirty as it is possible for one to conceive." While the unclean boys shocked Kearns, blacks and whites swimming together elicited no surprise. He commented extensively on the shared class status of the "street gamins" and their dirtiness but mentioned their racial diversity only in passing. Nor did racial difference seem to matter much to the swimmers, at least not in this social context. The pools were wildly popular. Each one recorded an average of 144,000 swims per summer, or about 1,500 swimmers per day.

Fifty-three years later, the scene at a municipal pool in Youngstown, Ohio, was quite different. A Little League baseball team had won the 1951 city championship and decided to celebrate at the local pool. The large facility was situated within the sylvan beauty of the city's Southside Park, not in a residential slum. The pool itself was surrounded by a broad deck and grassy lawn, both of which provided swimmers ample space to play games or lie in the sun. The pool was clearly intended to promote leisure, not cleanliness. To celebrate their baseball victory, coaches, players, parents, and siblings showed up at the pool, but not all were admitted. One player, Al Bright, was denied entrance because he was black. The lifeguards forced him to sit on the lawn outside the fence as everyone else played in the pool. The unwritten rule was clear, one guard told the coach, "Negroes are not permitted in the pool area." After an hour had passed, several parents pleaded with the guards to let Al into the pool for at least a couple of minutes. Finally, the supervisor relented Al could "enter" the pool as long as everyone else got out and he sat inside a rubber raft. As his teammates and other bystanders looked on, a lifeguard pushed him once around the pool. "Just don't touch the water," the guard constantly reminded him, "whatever you do, don't touch the water."

How is it that so much had changed in those fifty years? At its heart, this book answers that question. It explains how and why municipal swimming pools in the northern United States were transformed from austere public baths—where blacks, immigrants, and native-born white laborers swam together, but men and women, rich and poor, and young and old did not—to leisure resorts, where practically everyone in the community except black Americans swam together. As the opening vignettes suggest, this social, cultural, and institutional transformation occurred during the first half of the twentieth century and involved the central developments of the period: urbanization, the erosion of Victorian culture, Progressive reform, the emergence of popular recreation, the gender integration and racial segregation of public space, and the sexualization of public culture. In short, the history of swimming pools dramatizes America's contested transition from an industrial to a modern society.

But the story does not end there. A second social transformation occurred at municipal swimming pools after midcentury. Black Americans challenged segregation by repeatedly seeking admission to whites-only pools and by filing lawsuits against their cities. Eventually, these social and legal protests desegregated municipal pools throughout the North, but desegregation rarely led to meaningful interracial swimming. When black Americans gained equal access to municipal pools, white swimmers generally abandoned them for private pools. Desegregation was a primary cause of the proliferation of private swimming pools that occurred after the mid-1950s. By the 1970s and 1980s, tens of millions of mostly white middle-class Americans swam in their backyards or at suburban club pools, while mostly African and Latino Americans swam at inner-city municipal pools. America's history of socially segregated swimming pools thus became its legacy.

Throughout their history, municipal pools served as stages for social conflict. Latent social tensions often erupted into violence at swimming pools because they were community meeting places, where Americans came into intimate and prolonged contact with one another. People who might otherwise come in no closer contact than passing on the street, now waited in line together, undressed next to one another, and shared the same water. The visual and physical intimacy that accompanied swimming made municipal pools intensely contested civic spaces. Americans fought over where pools should be built, who should be allowed to use them, and how they should be used.

This is a very different view of urban space than presented by historians John Kasson, Kathy Peiss, and David Nasaw. They characterize commercial amusements at the turn of the twentieth century—such as Coney Island, dance halls, and movie houses—as social melting pots that rather painlessly dissolved earlier class and gender divisions but reinforced racial distinctions. According to Nasaw, "'going out' meant laughing, dancing, cheering, and weeping with strangers with whom one might—or might not—have anything in common. . . . Only persons of color were excluded or segregated from the audience." Kasson makes essentially the same point when he concludes that commercial amusements "help[ed] to knit a heterogeneous audience into a cohesive whole."

Just the opposite was true at swimming pools early in the twentieth century. Northerners' use of municipal pools throughout the Progressive Era reinforced class and gender divisions but not racial distinctions. Cities strictly segregated pools along gender lines, and people from different social classes almost never swam together. In many cases, middle-class northerners fought vigorously to ensure that working-class swimmers did not intrude upon their recreation spaces. By contrast, blacks and working-class whites commonly swam together, often without conflict.

All this changed during the 1920s, when northerners redrew the lines of social division at municipal pools. Different social classes of whites and both sexes plunged into the same pools and simultaneously excluded black Americans. This social reconstruction had many causes. The Great Black Migration contributed to the onset of racial segregation at pools by intensifying residential segregation in northern cities and heightening perceptions of black- white racial difference. Conversely, economic prosperity and the decline in European immigration mitigated perceptions of class and ethnic difference. Middle-class northerners generally became willing to swim in the same pools with working-class whites because they did not seem as poor, foreign, or unhealthy as before. Also, municipal pools became more appealing to the middle class during the 1920s because cities redesigned them as leisure resorts and typically located them in open and accessible parks rather than residential slums. At the same time, municipal officials began permitting males and females to swim together because they intended the new resort pools to promote family and community sociability. The concerns about intimacy and sexuality that had necessitated gender segregation previously did not disappear during the 1920s rather, they were redirected at black Americans in particular. Whites in many cases quite literally beat blacks out of the water at gender-integrated pools because they would not permit black men to interact with white women at such intimate public spaces. Thus, municipal pools in the North continued to be intensely contested after 1920, but the lines of social division shifted from class and gender to race.

Historians have largely ignored this racial contest over public space in northern cities after 1920, focusing instead on housing, work discrimination, and schools. John McGreevy, for example, recently concluded that "racial violence in the North centered on housing and not, for the most part, on access to public space." This book tells a different story. The imposition of racial segregation at municipal pools was a violent and contested process in the North. Blacks and whites battled one another with their fists as well as with bats, rocks, and knives. Racial segregation succeeded not because black Americans acquiesced, but because white swimmers steadfastly attacked black swimmers who entered pools earmarked for whites and because public institutions—namely the police and courts—enforced the prejudice of the majority rather than the rights of minority.

The social reconstruction of municipal pools between 1920 and 1940 marked a fundamental shift in northern social values and patterns of social interaction. During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the difference between people with "black" skin and those with "white" skin was a less significant social distinction than class. Furthermore, what we now think of as "race" was a less significant public social division than gender, class, and even generation. That changed during the 1920s, when race emerged as the most salient and divisive social distinction. Northern cities became fundamentally more integrated along class, gender, and generational lines, yet more segregated along racial lines. This racial division persisted throughout the rest of the twentieth century, despite court-ordered desegregation and the civil rights movement.

Northerners also contested public culture at municipal pools. During the late nineteenth century, working-class boys battled with Victorian public officials to determine the use and function of these new institutions. Public officials intended municipal pools to be used "seriously" as baths and fitness facilities. They were supposed to instill the working classes with middle-class values and habits of life. In defiance of these expectations, working-class boys transplanted their boisterous and pleasure-centered swimming culture from natural waters and defined municipal pools as public amusements. In doing so, they undermined Victorian public culture and helped popularize the pleasure-centered ethos that came to define modern American culture. During the 1920s and 1930s, swimmers refashioned attitudes about the body and cultural standards of public decency by what they wore and how they presented themselves at municipal pools. City officials attempted to dampen the sexual charge sparked by mixed-gender use and to limit exhibitionism and voyeurism by mandating conservative swimsuits. They could not, however, control popular demand. The acceptable size of swimsuits shrank during the interwar years and pools became eroticized public spaces. As a result, public objectification of the body became implicitly acceptable, and public decency came to mean exhibiting an attractive appearance rather than protecting one's modesty. The female nakedness and overt sexuality that pervade contemporary American culture originated, in part, at swimming pools. In these ways, ordinary Americans reshaped public culture by what they did and what they wore at municipal pools.

Municipal swimming pools were extraordinarily popular during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Cities throughout the country built thousands of pools—many of them larger than football fields—and adorned them with sand beaches, concrete decks, and grassy lawns. Tens of millions of Americans flocked to these public resorts to swim, sunbathe, and socialize. In 1933 an extensive survey of Americans' leisure-time activities conducted by the National Recreation Association found that as many people swam frequently as went to the movies frequently. In other words, swimming was as much a part of Americans' lives as was going to the movies. Furthermore, Americans attached considerable cultural significance to swimming pools during this period. Pools became emblems of a new, distinctly modern version of the good life that valued leisure, pleasure, and beauty. They were, in short, an integral part of the kind of life Americans wanted to live.

This story of tens of millions of Americans flocking to municipal pools, reshaping cultural standards, and redefining the meaning of the good life presents a very different view of modern American culture than offered by most historians. William Leach, Gary Cross, and Richard Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears are unanimous in arguing that consumption and commercialism became the dominant cultural ethos in twentieth-century America, effectively wiping out all competing public cultures. In their introduction to The Culture of Consumption, Fox and Lears claim that "consumption became a cultural ideal, a hegemonic 'way of seeing' in twentieth-century America." Additionally, many cultural historians characterize Americans as passive receivers of this consumer culture supposedly created and popularized by marketers, movie producers, merchants, and entrepreneurs. As William Leach argues in Land of Desire, "the culture of consumer capitalism may have been among the most non-consensual public cultures ever created . . . it was not produced by 'the people' but by commercial groups in association with other elites." This was not the case at municipal swimming pools, where ordinary Americans helped create a vibrant public culture not primarily focused on spending money and consuming goods.

Finally, the history of swimming pools reveals changes in the quality of community life and the extent of civic engagement in modern America. From the 1920s to the 1950s, municipal pools served as centers of community life and arenas for public discourse. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of people gathered at these public spaces where the contact was sustained and interactive. Neighbors played, chatted, and flirted with one another, but they also fought with one another over who should and should not be allowed to swim and what sorts of activities and clothing were appropriate for this intimate public space. In short, community life was fostered, monitored, and disputed at municipal pools. The proliferation of private swimming pools after the mid-1950s, however, represented a retreat from public life. Millions of Americans abandoned public pools precisely because they preferred to pursue their recreational activities within smaller and more socially selective communities. Instead of swimming, socializing, and fighting with a diverse group of people at municipal pools, private-pool owners fenced themselves into their own backyards. The consequences have been, to a certain extent, atomized recreation and diminished public discourse.