State of Decay…Playgrounds


play1              Do you know what I miss? Playgrounds. You know, real playgrounds. Not the Saccharin sweet, Nerf-riddled snoozefests on which our precious snowflakes currently romp, but the good, old-fashioned, limb breaking, splinter giving, deathtraps that were our playgrounds growing up.

play2              Sure, there was the time that Timid Tommy impaled himself when he jumped off the tire swing. And yes, Cutey Cathy did lose an eye when fell down the curly slide and onto Tammy with the cheap and spiky orthodontics headgear, but oh how those were the days.

I went to my daughter’s elementary school recently, located in downtown Alba, Michigan (Go Wildcats!), and was horrified to discover that the old wooden playground, complete with tetanus covered rusty nails and sharpened gravel was entirely removed. Not only that, but in its place was a mommy-friendly monstrosity that looked about as much fun as a combination lobotomy and colonic irrigation procedure paid for with a Groupon.

play3              Oh sure, they had a tire swing, but the tire had more belts and straps than Sandra Palin’s bedroom (maybe just in my imagination) and more padding than modern Saturday Night Live skits. Nowhere around the tire swing was there located a pit of nails or alligator filled swamp underneath the swing like I remember from my school days.

play4              And what about the big slide? Whatever happened to the solar reflective panels that captured the full heat of a star called our sun and applied said heat to the skin of those sliding on it? Instead of an impressive third degree burn, the kids receive only a comfy ride down a plastic enclosed slide with rubber bumpers. Where is the fun in that?

In my day, we had a wooden enclosure that no adults would fit in. It was in this structure that we kids were able to use our naturally gifted graffiti artistry to apply examples of, and images dedicated to, every curse word ever created. But now? Heck today’s modern playground has no fully enclosed secret areas. The worst one can do is to apply some sort of funny mustache to SpongeBob SquarePants, and all that in plain view of parents and teachers.

play5             And what happened to the shaky bridge? It was a ten foot long bridge connected to chains and elevated fifteen feet high near the Bad Word Room (we came up with that literary genius when we were kids). The “railings” consisted of two chains and were sufficient only in keeping the bridge intact during a five mile and hour wind gust. We lost three kids to that swing, but the parents were each thrown a pizza party from Book It! to honor their loss and that was that.

We used to have such wonderful gravel on the ground on our playground, too. It was deep enough so that with every step our feet sand down about three inches which virtually guaranteed a twisted ankle should one of us try to run. And the gravel itself was stained brown, which masked that bloodstains beautifully once the stones were stirred up a little bit. Today? I tell the truth that today’s playgrounds have rubber floors, honestly. Rubber? You can’t bury a body in rubber. With every shovel stroke it just bounces back up. How is a kid supposed to have fun?!

play6           Oh well, I think I’ll just go back and look at pictures of my favorite childhood game…JARTS! Or as they might have been called, Lawn Darts. Now there was I game where I could both…

 

Be Good or Be Good At It!

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