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Making a splash for safe swimming
Georgia Kramer spent three decades teaching the children of the Valley how to be safe in the water.
Now, the longtime Valley resident and former Si View aquatics instructor is honored as the Festival at Mount Si grand marshal.
When she was 6, in 1931, Kramer’s family moved to the Valley. Her father, a ship fitter at Bremerton, ensured a four-hour daily commute to buy a farm and enjoy fishing on the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
Kramer remembers him as foremost a father, then a fisherman.
“The river was right by our place,” she said. “You have to be fisherman to appreciate that river. It’s just nice and quiet.”
At her home in Ernie’s Grove, Georgia and her eight siblings earned nickels by selling cans of worms to local fishermen.
She and her friends went to school in what is now the lost community of Snoqualmie Falls.At the time, the lumber town was a world of its own, with a YMCA and its own hospital.
Georgia grew up and married Donald Kramer. Her husband was a sailor with the Military Sea Transport Service, while Kramer stayed at home and raised the family.
“He’d come home and we’d hatch out another one. You know how that goes,” she said.
She gave birth to six children, five of whom survived childhood.
“Then they went forth and multiplied,” Kramer said.
In 1960, Kramer and her sister Sharon Posey decided to volunteer at the Si View pool in North Bend. At the time, one man ran the park while one woman ran the pool.
“She couldn’t do it all by herself,” Kramer said. “I jumped in and helped.”
King County was offering free swim safety lessons to all area school children, and the Si View pool was packed.
“They’d line up 40 at a time,” Kramer said. She ordered 20 children at once to jump in the pool and learn, while the other 20 sat and watched.
Kramer and other mothers helped keep things rolling.
“All of us mothers would get in and help,” she said. “We all learned the word ‘volunteer.’”
“It was a lot of fun,” Kramer added. “You get hooked on that stuff.”
One benefit to bringing her children along to the pool — she always knew where they were.
“The lifeguards were my babysitters, and it didn’t cost me a dime.”
Kramer feels that the free lessons for all school children never should have stopped.
The Si View pool was so busy, “that water never quit wiggling,” she said. Kramer would slip in early and stay late to oversee extra swim sessions.
All those lessons, over 30 years, mean that Kramer taught several generations of Valley residents how to swim.
“There’s hardly a person in the Valley that wasn’t taught by her or her sister,” said her son, Bill Kramer, owner of The Welding Shop and a one-time lifeguard at Si View. “Almost everybody I walk up to tells me, ‘She taught me how to swim.”
“I know them all, and now they’re mothers and fathers,” Kramer said. The result of all those lessons: “This area was swamped with kids that knew not to fool around on the river.”