Recommended wine for today’s entry: Ashwood Grove chardonnay. I had this the other night and it was quite tasty. I’m not usually a fan of Australian chardonnays, but I do recommend this one. I think it was in the $10-$12 range. Give ‘er a shot for the weekend!
The other day, I saw a woman in our neighborhood washing her children’s swingset … except they’re not called swingsets anymore, are they? Playset, I believe, is the word used for the 1/4-acre-spanning contraptions that are made of carefully honed and stained wood and contain oh-so-much more than just swings!
It made me realize just how much childhood fun has changed.
I am by no means intending to disparage my mother, but I don’t imagine she was ever in the yard with the Fantastik and a scraper, ridding our slide of bird poop. In the interest of fairness, I never cleaned my children’s playset when they were little. Actually, if I’m honest, I sorta remember sending one of my little ones down in a Pull-Up to sop up some fresh bird poop before it dried. But I am sure that I immediately changed the Pull-Up. I think I’m sure.
Even though we didn’t have a playset when I was growing up, we had, I must say, a bad ass backyard. I mean, we had the biggest backyard in the neighborhood AND it had a swingset AND a creek brimming with snakes, crawdads and fish with slight mutations. AND as if that set-up wasn’t idyllic enough, we also had someone’s front porch that had disconnected from their house during, um, I don’t know during what. What would cause someone’s concrete front porch to dislodge and end up at the bottom of a huge hill in someone else’s backyard? Now that I think about it, that might have been a little weird. But you could play king of the mountain and when you shoved someone else off the front porch, they got all skinned up on the rough concrete where it’d torn off the house. C-o-o-l.
Anyway, no, my parents never washed our sliding board. And our SWINGset was just that, swings. None of the little horse thing that accommodated two people facing each other (which is good, because my brother would only have spit on me repeatedly with the opportunity granted by that proximity). No little forts with a canvas roof; no child-safety swings.
Just a rusted-out, all metal, straight wooden swings, swingset. That tumped over if you got going high enough. But the fun thing was to jump off at that perfect time — the sweet spot right before it tumped over. Sure, sometimes you vaulted off, landed in frog position on the ground about five feet in front of the swingset, giggled, then took a thunk to the back of the head as the metal rod that spanned the top of the set toppled behind you. And sure, there was some blood and swelling, but that was childhood in the 1960s.
There were times, too, when you didn’t feel like tumping it over, just swinging, up, back, up, back, thinking about playing a game of Dream Date (remember that cheesy game?) with your best friend later. Unfortunately, if your brother had the childhood body of a pit bull like mine did, they might catch you lost in your reverie and, with four quick pumps on the next swing, send you catapulting into the earth before you knew it.
Or you could twist yourself all up in the swing, as tight as the chains would go before they draped across your neck and decapitated you. Then you’d let go and whirl-whirl-whirl around until you puked. Or sometimes you got your really long hair all looped through the chains and when they sprang apart near the end of the unwhirling, they yanked huge chunks of hair out of your head. But you could just rinse the blood off in the creek and do it again.
And our slide was awesome. Too narrow to contain the McDonald’s generation, but perfect for the ’60s. I’m talking the good, old-fashioned metal kind, not the enclosed giant straw that looks like it belongs in a hamster cage. I mean, how do you fall off the edge of those things? You can’t. How can you push the neighborhood weenie off the edge? (Oh, wait, that was me.)
And besides, with the metal ones you could burn all the skin off the back of your legs on a hot August afternoon. Or your brother could trap you up there by having a friend stand on the ladder while he lifts up the bottom of the slide. There was a lot of fun to be had on a metal slide.
Yeah, some things should have been left as they were. What’s a little rust stain on the Garanimals? A little bird poop on the Pull Up? A bald spot for the second-grade picture? It was all a part of the outdoor life in the ’60s.
Then some dunce invented Pong and it was all over.