E is for En-Joie Pool and Elk’s Bake Shop. Fifth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!
During my elementary years Endwell, N.Y., was a bedroom community for folks who worked in the big local industries in Endicott (IBM and Endicott Johnson Shoes) and Johnson City (General Electric, where my dad worked).
So most out-of-neighborhood entertainment for us kids required traveling as well — usually to Endicott, which was closest. And one of the prime spots in the summertime was En-Joie Pool in Ideal Park.
Access to the pool in the public park was available for a small fee, and everyone from the neighborhood went there. You changed out of your clothes in the clubhouse, put them into a wire basket and got a long metal tag with a corresponding number that hooked around your bathing suit strap.
Then off you went to zoom down the slide or more gingerly descend the stairs into the water (that was me!) — depending on your temperament. There were also learn-to-swim classes in the morning, which were not for the faint of heart.
“In the mornings that was the coldest water in town,” recalled a neighbor’s cousin when a bunch of us met up for a reunion in Endwell last year. A chill he has not forgotten in the decades since!
What stays with me is the raucous noise of dozens of children cavorting in the pool, diving at the deep end (for the more adept swimmers), careening endlessly down the tall slide and generally having a rowdy time — quite a difference from my earlier solitary life on the farm.
Elk’s Bake Shop
There were concession stands in the park, but none could compare to the nearby Elk’s Bake Shop on Endicott’s Washington Ave. The bakery was located next to the movie theater, and I can still conjure up the wonderful aroma of baked goods wafting out to lure you in.
Entering Elk’s Bake Shop was like being transported into a wonderland — particularly during my elementary years when I could peer directly into the bakery cases. I ate my first black-and-white cookies there — and my first flaky elephant ears.
Elk’s Bake Shop also specialized in confections that appealed to the local Czech population, selling kolachky pastries and lekvar-filled triangle cookies — both of which I grew to love while living in Endwell.
I last stopped at Elk’s Bake Shop for pastries in 1993, when I was in town for a high school reunion — and I am glad I did, because sadly it has since closed for good.
Fortunately, on that visit I also purchased a set of Czech cookie cutters and a recipe for zazvornici, a ginger sugar cookie — which I later baked for family and friends one holiday season — thus keeping Elk’s spirit alive!
Up next: F is for Floods in spring and Fishing in Norwich. Please stop back!
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