Michael Bushnell

With the dog days of summer wrapping up, it seems fitting to showcase something cool and historic at the same time. Hence, we offer this linen style postcard of the Swope Park Pool, published by Kansas City News Distributors.

The printed description on the back of the card states: “Swope Park, with over 1,300 acres, is the third largest park in the country and contains acres of camping shelters, zoo lodges and other buildings. There are lakes and small pools, broad stretches of woods, winding walks and two public golf links all within the confines of this park.”

Swope Park was donated to the City of Kansas City by Dr. Thomas Swope in 1909. Mystery still shrouds Swope’s untimely death as he passed away under “questionable circumstances” on October 3, 1909.

The pool facilities, completed in 1941, are a prominent stop on Kansas City’s African American Heritage Trail (aahtkc.org). On June 20, 1951, six African Americans were denied the right to purchase tickets to the pool. The City’s contention was that equal facilities for Negroes were provided at pools in Negro areas.

 A lawsuit was filed by the Kansas City branch of the NAACP in August 1951 stating the pool should be open to all people. During the two-year litigation the pool remained closed. On May 7, 1952, Judge Albert A. Ridge ruled that segregation would have to be eliminated at the pool, or a pool of equal size and scope should be constructed in the boundaries of Swope Park. The decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals as well as the Supreme Court of the United States.

The pool underwent a $2.5 million dollar renovation during the offseason of 2017-18 and remains a huge draw during the summer months. A video of the renovation can be viewed at https://youtu.be/66ecugh73po.

Linen style postcards were popular between roughly 1934 and 1945 until the modern chrome style postcards came into vogue. The card was mailed to Mrs. Fred Wren, 108 Central St., Somerville, Mass., on December 5, 1946. The personal message reads: “Hi! Due to arrive in Boston Friday night. Trip is getting very tiresome. Can’t wait to see you. Love, Hazel and Ray.”