Surviving the Waves of Childhood: My Near-Death Hollowing Experiences in Piqua
By Robert Christian Sussman
Growing up in Piqua, Ohio, I had the privilege of experiencing the simple joys of life. In a town filled with history and a strong sense of community, there was one place that held a special spot in my heart—the Hollow Swimming Pool. But my childhood memories aren't just about sunny days by the pool. In this article, I'll take you on a journey through my early years in Piqua, including three near-death experiences that forever changed my perspective on life.
The Hollow: A Refreshing Oasis or My Demise That Is The Question
The Hollow Swimming Pool was more than just a place to cool off during the scorching Ohio summers; it was a cherished oasis for the entire community. Built in the early 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression, the pool provided much-needed employment opportunities and became a recreational gem.
Constructed with care and precision, The Hollow featured diving boards, slides, and a grand bathhouse. Its natural spring waters ensured a refreshing swim, and diligent maintenance, including chlorination and filtration, guaranteed water quality. It was a place where generations of Piqua residents created memories and beat the summer heat.
First Close Call: The Slide to Rescue
My first near-death experience occurred at the tender age of 5 or 6. I hadn't learned to swim yet but was tall enough to venture to the ladder of the slide. The excitement was touchable as I climbed, one step at a time, eager to take the plunge. However, as I inched closer to the slide's edge, the water level rose ominously.
Nervousness gripped me as the water approached my nose, but I was determined to conquer my fear. With a little bouncing, I managed to keep my nose above water. Triumphantly, I reached the ladder's summit and took my turn on the slide. But as I descended into the deeper waters at the slide's base, panic set in.
It was my first encounter with the terrifying feeling of drowning. Gasping for air, I struggled to stay afloat, my tiny arms flailing. Thankfully, like a guardian angel, the lifeguards rushed to my rescue. Their swift actions and expert skills saved my life, pulling me from the depths of The Hollow's waters. It was a lesson learned: respect for water and the understanding that the depths hold their own mysteries.
Second Near Miss: A Dive That Took a Turn
Around the age of 9, I decided to become a diving prodigy, training for the Olympic tryouts diving team. The deep end of The Hollow became my training ground, where I practiced front and back flips, inward dives, jackknives, and twists.
One fateful day, my mom, who had already pulled up by the deep end, honked and screamed at me to get in the car. I agreed but couldn't resist one last dive. Mid-dive, disaster struck—the pain was excruciating. My appendix had burst, and I landed in the water, writhing in agony.
Lifeguards To The Rescue
In the darkest depths of The Hollow's waters, where danger lurked beneath the surface, the superhero lifeguards emerged as true saviors of the day. With the determination of Batman on a mission, they swiftly sprang into action, their spedos of courage billowing in the wind. As a young, floundering swimmer, I clung to hope amidst the panic, gasping for breath like Superman emerging from the Kryptonite's grip. It was the lifeguards' unyielding resolve and their unwavering commitment to our safety that became my beacon of hope in that watery abyss.
With the grace and precision of the Green Lantern wielding his power ring, they plucked me from the clutches of the deep and delivered me to safety. Their heroic acts weren't just about saving a life; they instilled in me the strength to conquer my fears. To these lifeguards, I owe my deepest gratitude, for they were not just protectors of The Hollow but beacons of light in my journey of overcoming the waters' mysteries.
My mom rushed me to Piqua Memorial Hospital, where I underwent an emergency appendectomy. As I groggily regained consciousness, I realized I was in a hospital room with my own TV, nurses attending to my needs, and the coveted Ruth Lyons Children's Club gift basket. It was a childhood dream come true.
Yet, as I watched "I Love Lucy" on TV, I laughed so hard that I burst my stitches. The resulting pain was a stark reminder of my ordeal, and I switched to Batman and the Green Lantern for less rib-tickling entertainment.
With heartfelt gratitude
My heartfelt gratitude extends far and wide to the remarkable team at Piqua Memorial Hospital. When I found myself in a precarious situation, your dedication and expertise transformed a distressing moment into a life-changing experience. As I recall that fateful day when laughter turned into pain while watching "I Love Lucy," I'm reminded of your unwavering commitment to care and healing.
The doctors, nurses, and every soul at the hospital not only mended my physical wounds but also mended my spirit. Your efforts turned my traumatic laughter into a journey of resilience and strength. It was within those hospital walls that my appreciation for heroes was born. Batman, with his unwavering resolve, became my source of inspiration, thanks to your dedication to my well-being.
Furthermore, I cannot express enough gratitude to The Ruth Lyons Children's Program, whose thoughtful gift basket provided a beacon of comfort during a challenging time. Your generosity and kindness turned my attention away from Lucy's antics and towards the world of the Caped Crusader. You were instrumental in helping me transition from heartache to heroism, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being my real-life heroes.
A Bicycle Misadventure: Wrong Turns and Lucky Breaks
In a town like Piqua, even routine trips could turn into adventures. One day, while biking to football practice at Mote Park, I made a wrong turn. Instead of heading downhill toward the park entrance, I found myself pedaling uphill, far from my intended route.
As I reached the hill's peak, confusion set in, and I made a rash decision to cross the street on my Stingray bike. It was a choice that nearly cost me my life. An oncoming car struck me, and I went splat into the road. Miraculously, my football gear provided enough protection that I escaped without injury.
The car, however, wasn't so lucky—the wedding cake in the back seat was ruined, meant for a reception shortly thereafter. I've always hoped that Daniel's Bakery came to the rescue, but the incident remains etched in my memory.
My childhood in Piqua was filled with unforgettable experiences, from summers at The Hollow to brushes with danger that taught me valuable lessons. These near-death encounters remind me of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.
As I look back on those formative years, I can't help but smile at the resilience and curiosity of my younger self. Whether it was conquering my fears on the slide, surviving a burst appendix, or narrowly avoiding a cake catastrophe, each experience shaped me into the person I am today.
Stay tuned for my next chapter, where I'll delve into a secret dark web underground surveillance operation and the hidden network of spies hiding in plain sight—an intriguing tale from the mid to late '60s known as "The Piqua Mother's Network." You won't want to miss it.
About the author:
Robert Christian Sussman, also known as DJ Speir, is the founder of Speir TV and InterQ, the groundbreaking social entertainment and advocacy platform that provides inclusive, LGBTQ+ content to audiences around the world. Born on September 17, 1960, in Piqua, Ohio, Robert has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and HIV/AIDS awareness for over three decades and supporting Until.Org all the way. Robert has also been diagnosed with dementia, a condition that can be related to HIV infection or to aging. Despite this diagnosis, Robert has remained determined and is still able to live on his own and work on developing the InterQ Platform with the help of artificial intelligence to assist in his daily work and life, he will kick ass to the end lol.
Despite these challenges, Robert has continued to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and to build the vision for InterQ. He has been a trailblazer in the entertainment industry, using his platform to promote positive representations of LGBTQ+ individuals and to bring attention to important issues affecting the community.
Robert's legacy as DJ Speir and as a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community will continue to inspire future generations.