Team Zelenka at Glenwood Hot Springs
The Zelenka family has a long history tied with Glenwood Hot Springs. My dad, Tony, was a Marine in 1945 when he first experienced the healing waters of the hot springs pool. At that time the facility was operating as a Naval Convalescent Hospital. After returning to South Dakota he married my mom, Dory, and they started their family. However, he often thought about that Colorado town. In 1967, Dad’s dream came true when they packed up all eight kids and moved west. Their first stop was Glenwood Hot Springs. Mom and Dad bought a season pass, sent the eight of us inside to swim, and went house hunting. Soon we were residing only three blocks away from the famous landmark.
Since the late 1960s, nine of my ten family members have been employed at Glenwood Hot Springs at one time or another. Dad was the only one who did not work at the pool. In 1969, Mom began working as a pool cashier and also in the retail store which was known as the Suntan Center. Later she supervised the Sport Shop as both assistant manager as well as manager. Coworkers absolutely adored her. Mom treated everyone like they were part of her own family. She truly enjoyed her job and remained a loyal employee for 32 years, retiring in 2002.
All of my brothers and sisters had various jobs there. Kay started out at the old Lodge desk. Mary initially worked as a waitress in the Coffee Shop and Timberline Room and years later was one of the first instructors hired at the Athletic Club where she still leads aerobics classes to this day. My brothers George, Bob and Charles all spent a good portion of their teenage years working as lifeguards. Joe and Jim worked several jobs in the Coffee Shop, too.
I started working at the Pool at age 11 as a dressing room attendant. Later, I handled swimsuit rentals (which required a one-shoe deposit) and also chair rentals in the summer. Then I moved up the ranks as a retail sales clerk, pool cashier, lifeguard and vault cashier. I remember spending hours sitting at the Middle Stand lifeguard chair, watching that Coppertone clock. But to keep us on our toes, the pool manager performed routine “orange hat drills” and everyone on duty had better respond immediately! We had a lot of laughs, too. One of the funniest memories was when the lifeguards got egged from outside the fence on Halloween!
We literally spent the majority of our youth at Glenwood Hot Springs. Swim team practice started early in the morning at 5:30 a.m. Then we would do our work shift. As soon as we finished working, there was dive team practice in the afternoon. Then another round of swim team practice. After all of that, we would go swimming in the evening, just for fun! The side-effect was a lot of greenish-colored hair.
Honestly, Glenwood Hot Springs was the most fun place to work as a kid because all my closest friends and I worked for my mom. And today, I still go to the pool regularly to see lots of those same friends.
However, I have to say, my Dad loved the pool most of all. After he retired, he soaked in the thermal water every day. We thank him for bringing the Zelenka family to Glenwood Springs.