Monkey bars, swings, see-saws and playground tilt-a-whirls and painted hopscotches all on the pavement at our elementary school. It didn’t take long for me to learn the value of paying attention because when I didn’t… I got all skinned up with some interesting battle scars. All of us at some point, had a few but everyone loved the creative space to be whatever we wanted.
Not all of my classmates were as lucky because my father created an awesome playground at home for my siblings and myself with everything the school had except ours were on the lawn. Slipping or falling wasn’t as painful at home. Recess was always to short so as soon as we got home, we’d play until dinner time.
But then the Parent-Teacher Association decided that the playground equipment was too dangerous so they were all removed and sold off. Recess involved jump rope or dodge ball games. Not as much fun to me. However, that’s when our home became the cool place to hang out for all the neighborhood kids. My father wisely purchased another see-saw, the monkey bars and one more tilt-a-whirl for our increased usage. After school our yard was the place to be until we had to go inside. It irritated my mother that the kids didn’t take the hint and go home. She would shoo them home at dark. We always heard her complaining to our father that someone was going to get hurt out there.
During the summer months we were always at my grandfather’s in Vermont. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the neighborhood kids from playing at our house. I remember the summer I was eleven coming home to find both tilt-a-whirls broken and a see-saw busted. My father unassembled them and tossed them in the dumpster. No one offered any explanations or apologies for the broken equipment. A couple of the kids complained when they weren’t replaced. One more cruel sign childhood was ending.
I miss the wind whipping my hair back as the tilt-a-whirl spun.