Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Lane - To The Dangerous Playground

Ahh, playgrounds.

No; I'm not talking about those sterile plastic lysol-sprayed hunks of crap nestled in a bed of rubbery soft nerfy flooring. I'm talking about real playgrounds. The kind we grew up with, the kind that mangled us and taught us life lessons. Playgrounds deemed too dangerous for today's wussy youth, which sadly have become a thing of the past.

This is what fun looks like today?!??!? Pffft.

Today the Bitter Old Bitch gladly takes you on a stroll down memory lane, to the playground equipment you loved and miss - and probably have a few scars to show from.

First Stop: The METAL slide of doom:

That's right bitches, take a look at that. The metal slide in all its dangerous sharp glory. Just sitting there in the sun, waiting to scorch any thighs that dare touch it. Who needs rounded sides or tubes? Part of the excitement about riding the slide of doom is knowing that at any moment, your shoes may catch on the metal and you're taking a one-way-trip over the side, possibly in sand - but likely in gravel tinged with bottlecaps and cigarette butts. YESSS!

Second Stop: The Merry-Go-Round:

If you haven't gotten 10 of your friends together and spun one of these until you vomited, I pity you. I was that one kid who was one hell of a spinner, I'd stand on the side and just whip the crap out of it, giving everyone a hell of a ride. Naturally, I would then try to hop on once it hit Mach 5. Of course, I never made it, but instead hung on for dear life, dragging my brand new jeans through the dirt, allowing my legs to dangle and drag on the ground until it finally came to a halt. After putting holes in the knees of my pants and filling my shoes full of gravel, I'd head home victorious. Good times, good times...

Third Stop: Those Springy Things of Death:

"Hello, I'm the Death Duck. Wanna ride?"

Obviously meant for the little ones, these creatures were also favorites of us bigger kids. They would rock back and forth, hitting the ground until they had enough of us - either bucking us off 5 feet away or popping us in the face knocking out a tooth. Either way, we learned a valuable lesson - sometimes you really are just too big to play with that.

Fourth Stop: The Teeter-Totter a.k.a. See-Saw:

More than just a staple of the playground, the teeter-totter was also an important lesson in physics. With the right amount of force on one side, you too can achieve this (Tip: wait for the slo-mo fun!):

Fifth Stop: The Jungle Gym / Monkey Bars:

Face it, besides teaching us upper body coordination and strength; jungle gyms and monkey bars are responsible for making sure as a child we got regular tetanus boosters.

Sure...it looks like fun now, but wait till they get a taste of the rusty bolts and screws holding it together from the inside. Heh.

Sixth Stop: The Rocket:

Extremely popular in the late sixties/early seventies the playground rocket was amazing. You could climb inside for one hell of a view over the whole area, or as a remote refuge to get your drug fix in private (i.e.: snorting pixie sticks). Do note that a slide-o-doom was almost always attached to these babies.

Seventh Stop: The "Barrel Of Fun" a.k.a. the "Hamster Wheel":

Now this is one of my fondest pieces of equipment at the playground. One particular playground near the community pool had one of these and it was always packed full of kids. They were hard to get started, but with a little help the wheel inside would start spinning. Of course, sometimes the wood planks were loose and caused you to pinch your fingers, and splinters were not only accepted, but anticipated. Lesson learned: No matter what, keep going! Because if you fall down when it is at full speed nobody is going to stop, instead - they all get to laugh at you as you receive concussion after concussion from flopping around in the wheel like a lone sock in the dryer. :D

Eighth Stop: The "Swinging Gates":

Our school playground had one of these puppies, but in the "single" gate version, not the double that is shown here. Much like the Merry-Go-Round you could really get one of these puppies going if you had a little help. We used to enjoy sitting in it towards the outside with our legs and arms wrapped around the bar to get the maximum amount of centrifugal force. YAY!

Ninth Stop: The "Witch's Hat":

The idea behind these were simple - you and a friend (or multiple friends) grabbed opposite ends of the ring and ran in the same direction until you got whipped off the ground. Of course, that would be too easy; so instead you always tried to pair up people of very different sizes for each side, so it would be off balance and one side would be flown up in the air from the other people's weight. Another important lesson in physics; often followed by a lesson in first aid. ;)

Tenth Stop: Teatherball:

Yes kids, once upon a time we actually had Teather Ball stations at parks and at school. Yes, you often got the ball smacked right in your face, but you liked it, dammit. These days the closest most kids get to one of these is by downloading Napoleon Dynamite. :( The world needs more tetherball.

R.I.P Teatherball court....R.I.P.

Last Stop: "The Octopus" a.k.a "The Maypole" a.k.a "The Big Strike":

Here's one you won't see these days. Much like the Witch's Hat above, the Octopus was a simple design. Slap a huge metal pole in the ground, attach a buttload of chains, and allow the chains to swivel from the pole. Add kids, and you're done. Simply put, everyone grabbed on, you ran around as fast as you could until...LIFTOFF! Of course, half the time the sucker would throw you ten feet if you couldn't hang on, and you could be certain that sometime or another a chain next to you was going to slap you in the face, and you were possibly going to slam right into the pole itself. With excitement and danger like that - it really is little wonder why we played all day long. And considering today's lame nerfed playgrounds, can we really be shocked that today's kids don't?

Bring back the danger....bring back the fun.

....thus sayeth the Bitter Old Bitch.