One Reporter's Ramblings: Playground perils
One Reporter’s Ramblings ...
While discussing how much safer playground equipment has become with co-workers recently, I recalled how different my playground was.
We even had a “quarry.” Adults might have called it a bunch of big rocks.
Being in San Marcos, our school bordered some undeveloped land and had rocks such as limestone and quartz (pronounced “crystals” if you’re a kid) that the minors would try to mine at recess. Our tools? Other rocks of course.
Another activity centered on the school’s extra wide shed, which wasn’t flush with the fence, meaning there was a gap behind it. That gap provided the perfect spot for a game I’ll call “hide from Jerry.”
Jerry was the principal’s son who helped out and was generally well-liked by the students. He was also the least likely to punish you, so we decided the best thing to do was try his patience by waiting until his back was turned, running behind the shed and waiting until he finally realized some of the kids weren’t visible.
We actually never got into any more mischief back there. Just being unaccounted for was the main goal.
The school had actual playground equipment if it seems like it didn’t.
The swings were an excuse to launch each other into orbit. Swingers would walk the leather-strap seat back as far as possible and then fly forward and back until they got enough momentum to jump far from the safety of the swing set’s bedding and on to the hard ground outside of the area.
You might get cuts and scrapes, but if you beat the previous record, you didn’t care.
Then there were the slides.
The slides themselves were a comfortable 10,000 degrees fahrenheit in the Texas sun and framed with fiberglass guards that had splintered over time.
These would be used to climb “the fortress.”
The fortress was a slide-fort that actually had only one point of entry — a ladder built into its support post in the center of the structure. Most kids had to use the other entrance once the first group of kids had taken up residence and claimed the fort for their use only during recess.
This injustice could not stand, so other kids would run up the blazing slide, losing their ability to walk the traditional way half up the slope.
They would then resort to crawling up, using the guards and picking up splinters along the way.
Of course, the biggest obstacle was right at the top where a waiting protector of the fort would pry up the climber’s fingers and push them down with their feet. The climber’s shirt would ride up as the slowly descended, giving them extra time and contact with the slide’s surface.
If they managed to get past the defense alongside a couple of friends, then they could claim the fortress and send the first party down the slide pirate-style ... and wait for the same to probably happen to them.