King of the castle

castleThe Grand Poohbah — aka my cuzzint — commented yesterday wondering why she had never taken me to Eberwhite Woods when we were kids and my family came down to The Planet Ann Arbor for weekend visits at her childhood home on Crest. I commented back but here’s more…

We were not deprived of playground equipment when I was a kid up in the yooperland. Our town was crawling with kids and I lived right across the street from Stinkin’ Lincoln School, where there were three or four swingsets, two slides including one of those big old nine-footers, old-school monkey bars, two sets of crossbars, and I fergit how many teeter-totters. My grade-school buddies and I ruled that playground back in the Jurassic Age. We didn’t just *swing* on the swingsets. We would get swinging as high as we could and then twist our swings up together. Round and round until we finally slowed to a stop. We were all over that big old slide, using it in ways that were never intended. And we won’t even talk about the monkey bars. All of this with cement or gravel underneath. Skinned knees anyone? Mercurochrome in the nurse’s office? I’m not sure they even bothered to call home for that kind of thing in those days.

What we did *not* have over at Stinkin’ Lincoln was one of those little playground merry-go-rounds. I *loved* those things. Grab hold of the bars, run around in a circle as fast as you could (and I could run *fast* then), jump on and watch the sky spin around until the thing stopped (or somebody else got it going again). The only playground I knew of where there was a merry-go-round was at Brimley State Park and my parents would *rarely* pay the 50 cent (or whatever it was) day pass fee to go in there.

So, my dearest @Pooh, I will guess that the main reason you never took me over to Eberwhite Woods was because I always insisted on going to Virginia Park, where there was a *merry-go-round*! (Besides the fact that we were only down here for weekends and didn’t have a whole lot of unscheduled time, what with feetsball games…)

castleggI think the nanny state outlawed nine-foot slides and old-school monkey bars a loooong time ago. Merry-go-rounds? I dunno. I’ll have to make a conscious effort to *look* for the one at Maryfield Park The Yellow-slide Playground next time I Red-Queen through there on my way downtown on a Friday night. Nowadays, we have all of these fancy “safe” play structures that kids aren’t supposed to be able to get hurt on. Except I bet they do because they probably use those structures in ways that the designers never envisioned, just like we did on the old nine-foot slide. (Climb up the steps (or slide), climb over the side, and slide down the pole. Yes.)

Still… We got over to Eberwhite yesterday morning and, before heading over to the trailhead, the GG walked over to the castle. Ignoring all of the signs saying not to play on the thing outside of school hours (why are there so many damn signs on playgrounds?) he walked over and around the whole structure, exploring all of the nooks and crannies.

Was he reliving some childhood fantasy? No, he was not. He was an integral part of a large team of volunteers who BUILT the structure. Although Eberwhite was not our elementary school, we were involved with a co-op nursery school then. Some of our co-op friends lived in that neighborhood and he answered the call for volunteers. Good times and good memories ensued.

I miss all the simple but dangereuse old-school playground stuff we had when I was a kid and have mixed feelings about manufactured play spaces, but maybe there’s a place for both the simple stuff and fancy castle-like structures like this. I can imagine being a kid and acting out various scenarios throughout a structure like that and exploring all of the nooks and crannies.

6 Responses to “King of the castle”

  1. isa Says:

    The thing that was really cool about the Eberwhite structure was all the tunnels and other enclosed hiding spaces (also height differentials).

  2. Margaret Says:

    I remember those merry go rounds; they made me kind of dizzy. Old school play equipment is gone. Monkey bars were scary to me, even as a child. Too high!

  3. Tonya Watkins Says:

    I loved those old merry go rounds. For my 6th birthday, my parents gave me (well, and my little brother) a merry go round — it fit four on seats with handles and you had to pump your bodies to get it going. It was actually quite cool (and good exercise!) Mostly, though, our playground was the “woods.” Every kid should have the experience of playing in the woods.

  4. jane Says:

    kids these days! we got to ride without helmets, fall from the monkey bars, skin our knees, etc. and look how well we turned out. I feel sorry for the poor kids these days who don’t ever get to experience ‘life’ in all its skinned/scabbed knee glory.

  5. Pooh Says:

    To add to Jane’s comment, sometimes we got a hands-on experience with physics. As in, if your baby sister is much smaller than you, you should let her get off the teeter-totter first. A lesson learned the hard way at Virginia Park. Sorry, Jane!

  6. jane Says:

    no need for an apology Pooh. I’ll assume that you were still young enough that you didn’t fully appreciate all the laws of physics yet.