Thanks for linking up with The Lounge! This week, we’re talking ‘parks’.
In the 1980s, a trip to the Abercrombie Street park was a rare treat. It didn’t happen on a daily basis, but when we were allowed to go, we’d tear down that hill, as fast as our little JC sandals could carry us.
Back then, parks with decent play equipment, were few and far between. If you had a good one nearby – you were definitely lucky.
The Abercrombie Street park consisted of a see-saw – steel and a plank of wood, a set of swings – steel and a couple of planks of wood with chain, and a big, metal slippery dip.
Our monumental slippery dip had sky-scraper dimensions. For the few short-lived seconds of being at the top, you were king or queen of the world – the tallest person for miles, with a tail of kids lined up, waiting on the ladder beneath you, at your mercy.
Upon negotiating the steep angle of the slide and working up the courage to finally let go, you were catapulted down the metal surface at death-defying speed. The exhilaration of the slide was epic, but it was all too brief. The unavoidable conundrum of a good landing was always an issue. Alighting at a short distance from the slide was the goal, but landing in the dirty ditch at its base upon dismount, was often the reality.
And God help you in the summer! Summer brought with it an added slippery dip problem – the elation of a good quick slip down the slide, versus a well-seared bottom and a few potential tears…
The see-saw, like the slide, was no mean feat. If you shared the see-saw with a similarly sized kid, you’d be in park heaven – but those times, when a bigger bully would turn up, smirk and sit on the other side… Those times were filled with terror. The minutes felt like hours as you would hold on, as long as you could, up high up in the air. Before too long however, you would inevitably start to inch down, splinters from the weathered plank of wood would inject your thighs and hands and you’d smudge your face with dirt, when wiping away the hot tears.
As I got older I learnt the reckless skill of slowly walking up a see-saw, then racing down the other side as it slammed to the ground. Such skill required great balance and a dexterity that could only be achieved upon becoming a veteran of the park.
The swing set was always my last stop. A push-off from an older sibling or neighbour and I was set, gliding through the air as high as I could go. The freedom of swinging engaged my imagination, but by far, the best benefit was the chance to cool down and rest my hot face against the cold chain before the long, hot walk back up the hill.
The Abercrombie Street park was a proper park!
If you fell, it hurt. If you didn’t get a turn, you didn’t get a turn.
No synthetic soft landings, no plastics, no colour, no canopies, no barriers, no fencing, no safety standards, no litigation.
Just grass, trees and a bit of wood and metal.
As far as we were concerned, it could’ve been Disneyland.
Parks have changed. What was your park like when you were growing up?