Friday, February 10, 2012


Reminiscing about playground equipment today...

The local gradeschool has several swings, the rounded rubber-seated kind. Speaking of rubber, all the area under and around the swings is covered with ground-up tires. I'm all into recycling, and there is no doubt reasons why they use the stuff, but it's hot and prickly and you can twist your ankle walking through it. But then, I don't swing on swings anymore, so it's a moot point.

They do still have monkey bars and a slippery slide, but I don't think they have teeter totters. Teeter totters are a little like weapons; they are safe in the right hands, but not safe in the wrong ones. I could never understand why someone would get off one end of the teeter totter when somebody else was way up in the air, letting them crash to the ground. Maybe that's why they don't have them on playgrounds anymore, a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Monkey bars nowadays are basically like several hamster wheels tangled together. A kid could almost get lost inside one of them. The monkey bars "back when" were much more simple and included a bar amongst the swings where you could hang upside down from your knees. They were mostly used by boys, since girls were required to wear dresses to school every day. You could do it wearing a dress, but both hands had to be used to hold the skirt in place, so getting off and on the bar was a little tricky. (my daughter-in-law says farmer's wives used to do everything farmers did...only they had to do it wearing a dress!)

I remember the big old slippery slide we had for grade school. It would get so hot in the sun that it all but burned the skin off your you slide down it in your dress. After a while, the slides developed drag, stranding a kid halfway down, so somebody would get some waxed paper and smear it on the slide for more speed. We had a merry-go-round (not the up and down kind) that held a lot of kids at one time. Nobody really wanted to be the one stuck spinning it. We always tried to find a bigger kid to give it the first turn. Just thinking about it now makes me nauseous. (Plus, I'm still a little ticked that I lost tongue cells from that time I decided to rest the theory of whether or not tongues would really stick on cold metal...and, fyi, they really do.)

Another whirling dervish toy was called the giant stride, so named because you grabbed ahold of one of the hanging bars and ran with great strides to pick up speed. Then you simply ran a few more strides and repeated it til somebody either flew off and broke their arm or go the wind knocked out of the. Needless to say, they don't have those on the local playground anymore either. There is one at a park somewhere in northwestern Utah that we stopped at a time or two so the kids could play. They always wanted to come home by the "Pioneer Way". There was an old stagecoach/buggy on display, plus some wonderful carvings in short fence posts, and a genuinely wonderful country park...

...with a working giant stride. Wheeee!

Every kid worth their salt had a pair of roller skates, complete with tightening key. You just slapped them onto your shoes, tightened the strap, adjusted the top clips with your key and off you went. We got pretty good at it.

I had lunch with my cousin, Ruth Ann, a couple of weeks ago and we got talking about playing jump rope. She has a good memory about that stuff. I remember the sing-songy "Blue Bells, Cockle Shells, Evie, Ivie, Overhead. My mother, your mother, lived across the street. Every night they had a fight and this is what they said: Icka backa soda cracker, icka backa boo, icka backa soda cracker, out goes you!" It started out at a regular pace but after the rhyme, the jump rope holders would spin the rope as fast as they could til you messed up and got a whip burn. Ruth Ann reminded me that the fast-roping was called "pepper". There were probably more than a dozen little jumping rhymes, none of which made sense and some of which were no doubt politically incorrect, but we didn't notice. We were watching the rope and having fun. When you got really good at it, they could turn two ropes at the same time. We got pretty nimble.

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