Swimmers in 1947 photo never lost contact

Photo of Park Burroughs
By Park Burroughs
Retired Executive Editor
Image description
Shown at Washington Park Pool in 1947 are, from left, Vivian Verderber Loar, Betty Smith Spence, Norma Mosier Lambright and June Knox Paluda.

Funny thing about old photos like this week’s Mystery Photo. Sometimes the people in them lose touch with each other and end up in different places all over the country. And sometimes they don’t.

These four bathing beauties, shown here most likely at the Washington Park pool in summer 1947, never strayed far from their hometown and never lost contact.

“I never recognized anyone in these old photos, and then I saw this one, and there’s my mom in it,” Jody Lambright of Washington said. “What a shock.”

Norma Mosier Lambright, third from right in the pool picture, died of cancer in 2002, Lambright said. “She and Betty were the best of friends, and June, too, all of their lives.”

June Knox Paluda, on the far right, is deceased, as is Elizabeth “Betty” Smith Spence, second from left, who died in 2010. David Smith emailed us when he recognized his sister, as did his sister, Mary Jane Smith, who wrote, “I think it was taken at Washington Park because we lived on Springfield and we would walk to the park to swim.”

The swimmer on the left is the only one of the four to survive: Vivian Jane Verderber Loar. Her daughter, Leslie, said that Vivian’s father was chief of police in Washington at the time. Verderber was chief for 22 years until his death at age 60 in June 1948.

Mary Jane Smith, four years younger than her sister, Betty, was 12 or 13 years old when this photo was taken. Summers then were spent close to home.

“We would be out in the street all night, Betty, too,” Mary Jane Smith said. “We swam, we rode bikes. Nobody had a car then, not like today.”

Look for another Mystery Photo in next Monday’s Observer-Reporter.

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