The Dallas Aerie pool is not something you stumble upon. You have to look for it.

But it’s definitely a find.

Tammy Bardwell learned about it from a friend who calls it the “secret pool.”

“Lots of people know about it, but it’s kind of hidden,” she says.

Her family has a membership at another pool, but it’s partially covered and “really, really small,” Bardwell says. So on a recent weekday, she took her two young sons to the Olympic-size Dallas Aerie pool where Michael, 5, had plenty of room to dive for pennies and Thomas, 2, could jump into his mother’s arms over and over again without splashing anyone else.

“We come here for the big-pool atmosphere,” Bardwell says.

Nestled between two creeks and surrounded by trees, the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge looks more like a campground than a community pool site.

“You’d never know it coming down that street, but you come down here, and it’s a little oasis,” says Jeanette Bronaugh, a Casa Linda Estates resident.

Bronaugh’s husband has been splashing in the Aerie pool since he was a child, and they are active members who support the Eagles’ many charities — such as research funds for heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s or money to fight kidney disease and child abuse.

Membership has its perks, such as less expensive use of the pool, and Bronaugh regularly takes advantage of this, especially during the week when it’s less congested.

“Though it’s never too crowded to where it’s not enjoyable,” she says, “even on the weekends.”

But lounging by the pool isn’t Bronaugh’s reason for being a member, and it’s not a good enough reason for anyone else to join either, she says.

“We don’t want people to walk in off the street and say, ‘I want to use your pool,’” Bronaugh says.

The point of joining the Eagles is to raise money for charity, which happens in a number of ways. One is the weekly Friday night dinners, where members create lavish concoctions such as lobster ravioli and sell it for a mere $6 a plate.

“It’s all home-cooked, and they try to outdo each other,” says member Donna Ledger.

Another is the pool’s weekend concession stand, where members volunteer to grill juicy hamburgers and hot dogs with proceeds going to the charity of their choice. Cocktails from the lodge bar are a nice complement; the Eagles don’t allow glass near the pool, but they’ve found a way around it.

“Believe me — the margaritas flow around here in the little plastic cups,” says past president Ray Cox.

Anything for charity.

Dallas Aerie pool

When: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sundays, noon-8 p.m.
Where: 8500 Arturo
Cost: $7.50; $5 for children 5 and under
For information: 214-327-9563


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