Monkey bars, jungle gyms and merry-go-rounds

Sep 29, 2022
This blogger reminisces about the playgrounds of yester-year. Source: Getty

Looking at photographs of the playground equipment we had when I was a kid makes me wonder how many of us survived and lived to tell the tale.

No shade, a metal slide that had no sides, was sky high and burnt your bottom as you slid down. Swings that soared far above the frames they hung on and flipped you off. Jungle gyms erected on solid concrete so if you fell you could break a leg and merry-go-rounds which accelerated like a flying saucer. But, we loved them.

Perhaps it was the possible danger and lack of parental supervision which gave us the chance to have so much fun.

As a sharp contrast to the playground equipment of today which is covered with a shade awning and provides soft fall underfoot, our childhood playgrounds were pretty basic, but like kids in any generation, we could make our own fun, and so we did.

The hot metal slide would sear the parts of your bottom which had exposed flesh. We would either slide on our cardigan or wear shorts if we had them. But the speed, the acceleration as we flew down and off the end with a thump onto the concrete. Ouch. But, we loved it.

And the swings which flew through the air. Soaring far above our playmates we would pretend we were flying – and sometimes we did fly off and land on the ground. But usually, we dusted ourselves off and got up again.

The jungle gyms and monkey bars which almost ripped your arms out of your sockets and left you hanging in mid-air above concrete. The shrieks and yells of excitement as kids clambered and climbed, totally oblivious to danger.

There was a wooden merry-go-round that went so fast it flung kids off the edges. But, we loved it and fought to get a turn. Then, there was a peculiar dragon thing that was relatively tame in comparison. It rocked on a base and had seats you could sit on. If we were minding younger kids we could leave them on it to entertain themselves and stay out of our hair.

Playgrounds were quite a community in those days. In an era when we made our own fun, they gave us a place to hang out and make friends and enemies.

Usually set in a park, there was the opportunity to also kick a ball, play chasing or tag or to also ride our bikes safely.

Our world has changed so much, and as I supervise my grandkids at the playgrounds of today, I applaud some of the equipment which encourages creativity and is inclusive of disability. When they climb the steps of a rocket that seems very high, I just cross my fingers that they will slide down in one piece. After all, kids will always be kids and we managed to survive, so they will too.


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