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Playground Equipment of Yore...


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While looking for a photo of the super-dangerous but OH-SO-FUN playground equipment I remember as a child, I came upon this blog post.

http://tstbob.blogspot.com/2009/12/walk-down-memory-lane-to-dangerous.html

 

I daily risked life and limb on the Witch's Hat, the Octopus, the Hamster Wheel, and the Swinging Gate at my elementary school. And lived to tell about it.

 

Nasty dislocated shoulder from flying off the Witch's Hat, though.....

 

astrid

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OK, I am seriously LOL. I find it extremely amusing that I have a monkey bar dome, teeter-totter and tetherball in our back yard. What does that say about me? :tongue_smilie:

 

I fondly remember so many of those! My favorite was the rocket! When we went TDY with DH a few years ago, there was an old-fashioned Merry-Go-Round at the playground and it was The Hit with the kids.

 

I remember many of those playground features being on concrete. Yep, concrete. :lol:

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Love the Metal Slide o' Doom. We used to spray water on ours in winter so it would ice over and we'd slide faster. We were idiots, but it was fun.

 

The kid across the street from me has a tetherball, and I entertained myself this weekend watching him devise ways to punch it so it would swing around and whack him in the head. I figured it was accidental the first time, but then he kept doing it, with increasingly creative maneuvers. I think I like that kid.

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We were in FL for vacation and found a park with a merry go round. My kids all looked at it and asked what it was!!! They still talk about that piece of equipment!! LOL

 

When I was in elementary school, we had a merry to round without a platform in the middle - just the spokes. We sat around the outside. So, people could get it going REALLY fast from the middle.

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We didn't have a rocket, but we had a spaceship that went a whopping 6 feet off the ground. And how awful that it had a ladder that went from the ground all the way out the top! And can you imagine, we actually used to climb out on the roof of that dangerous thing! And sometimes jump off! Egads!

At least my kids got to play on it when they were little; before they removed that and our big double, twisty slide of doom. That one was about 15 feet or more in the air. My kids were not happy when they took those out of the park, and replaced it w/ the modern garbage they call playground equipment.

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Ha ha, that was great! We didn't have many of those - I didn't know about the Octopus, Witche's Hat, Rocket, or Swinging Gate before reading that post. I do remember a gigantic jungle gym (the big square) at our local park, teeter totters and the "Death Duck" type animals on our school playground. I remember people rocking so violently on the spring animals that they would almost hit the ground LOL And, oh, the metal slides! Scorching your butt off.....sigh. We had one wavy one, and a twisty one at school.

 

When I was in kindergarten, they installed "the worm". It was a long, wavy ladder that was horizontal. That was his body, crawling, and you could climb all over it. He had a huge, HUGE head with big eyes and antennae. I will never forget, the very first day we had it installed, my Kindy teacher's nephew fell off the head and broke his arm. He spent a part of the day sacked out on a nap mat behind her desk, waiting on his dad to come get him and go to the dr. Most of our old school equipment has been dismantled and replaced by the plastic "fun" centers like at the top of that page. I have to agree, they may be more safe, but they are NOT more fun.

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Along with the Witch's Hat, this was another favorite in my northern New Hampshire paper mill town: The Log Roller. So you stood on it with another kid, held on to the horizontal bar and ran as fast as you could. If the other kid was faster than you, just like in REAL log-rolling, you fell off. Except you had a death-grip on the bar, so your legs went flying out behind you and the rolling log spun against your shins, inserting a bazillion needle-sharp slivers into your flesh from ankle to knee. And still we loved it... one of the most popular items on the playground. Good times. :D

 

astrid

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Yeah I remember the playground entirely sited on concrete. Our current one still has an ancient merry go round and equally ancient rusty metal slides and see saw, it's on tarmac and grass though. I do remember this huge tower slide thing when I was a child, seemed massive, had several metal slides and children were regularly know to fall through the wooden boards and break bits of themselves. It wasn't until they redeveloped the land though that it got torn down, I don't think safety was such a priority then.

 

Our park had a log roller until recently until the roller fell off and the council was too cheap to replace it so its now just a bar.

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We had the slides and blue square monkey bars at school.

 

I loved the merry-go-round and have seen the safer version of it at local parks. Safer means set at ground level and can't go very fast. My grown up self gets really sick on the safe version.

 

I've been to two parks with tall metal slides. Watching my kids slide on them scares me silly.

 

My local park growing up had the dome made of triangles, but I swear it was twice that size.

 

I remember a rocket, but it wasn't a place I played at regularly.

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My kids have gotten to play on one of the metal merry-go-rounds - they had one at a local eatery, along with a new-style (Rainbow?) wooden cliimbing structure. The food was greasy, but we'd go there and the kids would play. Then it all disappeared. Someone must've gotten hurt. We didn't ever eat there again (because without the fun, the food was just greasy). We were bummed.

 

We took a trip to Germany a few years back. Both of my kids got ER visits from the old-style equipment. One dd went between two metal monkey bars that were closer together than she was used to, and bashed the back of her head - blood everywhere!

 

Other dd was on the see-saw. I was sitting there watching, telling my friend how us silly security-obsessed Americans had gotten rid of all the see-saws, when dd came over with her nose split! Needed to have it glued back together...

 

Everyone's fine now, though! I think they might have not bashed themselves so quickly if they'd gotten used to that kind of equipment from when they were little (they were about 8yo at the time).

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They forgot to mention how the scorching hot slide of doom always seemed to have a loose top step, so if you hesitated when you were finally at the top of the ladder, you'd fall off and break your arm. My elementary school had one of those, and every single year, a kid fell and broke an arm within the first week of school. Yet somehow, they never bothered to tighten the step.

 

Different times. It's all been replaced by "fun" structures now. :(

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A local playground has a current/new version of the witch hat, with fatter bars, but they installed t a bit too tall, so the kids usually have a friend boost them, and then they dangle & someone whips them all around.

 

It's more dangerous than the older version.

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I love it!!

 

I remember all but the witch's hat and the octopus, but man, my Aunt and I could have had some serious fun with those. She's not quite 4 years older than me, so we were best friends growing up. We loved those spring animals, there were always contests to see who could get as close to the ground without breaking your nose or cracking the back of your head open. :lol:

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My kids still (or have in the past) play on:

 

~ see-saw

~ spider-web monkey bar thingy (every school playground has had one and DD's been to 5 schools)

~ spring animals

~ and we've found a merry-go round or two in our travels as well.

~ tetherball

~ metal slide of doom

 

I didn't realize they were so rare and that I should be documenting them playing with these ancient relics. :D

 

I do miss the Witch's Hat, though.

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A local playground has a current/new version of the witch hat, with fatter bars, but they installed t a bit too tall, so the kids usually have a friend boost them, and then they dangle & someone whips them all around.

 

It's more dangerous than the older version.

 

One of our playgrounds has one of these too, but I think it's up so high because it's intendedfor the bigger kids. But of course that doesn't always stop the littler ones--my 5y.o. was the best one at holding on to it the other day! The height makes it too hard to get it going too fast, though.

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My favorite park had the hamster wheel (the goal was to get a couple kids running so it spun very quickly so the other kids could spread their arms and legs and press against the inside of the wheel and spin around without falling - until someone inevitably fell...), the rocket (generally occupied on the top two levels by bullies who controlled who got to come up to play and who had to disembark via the metal slide), and the kite. Now the kite was similar to the witches hat (I think). It was tall and kite shaped and had two swings, one hanging off each pointed side, and it turned. The goal was to have one person sit in the swing and another person held the other swing and ran, spinning the kite so that the person sitting was swung high up into the air. Then the running person had to hold on because as the first person swung back down, the runner's swing would fly up. There was never time to get seated before that happened, so holding tight was necessary to avoid being flung aside. Loads of fun, and it usually had the longest line of kids waiting to play. Parents hated the kite. The merry go round was fun, but it only spun in circles, unlike the kite, which also flung you up into the air.

 

Yet we survived. I wish my kids could play on this equipment, but none exists that I know of. All has been replaced with brightly colored, boring sets with age limits. At least kids can still jump out of swings.

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In front of our previous house we had one of those merry-go-rounds on which both my kids and even the neighbour's teen would spin trying tomake someone get sick.

 

When we go back to get our post from our tenants or to pack, unpack stuff from garage and store room (we rented the house but kept the detach garage and storage room for our usage) my kids still have lots of fun thid one. Also it has a very high metal swings that the kids try and swing as high as possible and jump off.

 

No special covering just some weeds covering the ground and lots of rocks and stones.

 

Our HS co-op meets at a park that has a high witches hat, some metal monkey bars, a very large see-saw an octopus and some questionable swings and slides. But we live in Africa, I have to say my kids enjoy it but sometimes my stomach churns.

Edited by sandst
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We just moved to a new state and we love the park here. We call it the death park (joking of course). But it has a teeter totter, a merry go round, tire swings that are pretty high up and a thing that is a dish that spins you around REALLY fast. We love it. It is like a park we went to as kids. ;)

Another thing I have to say is I have noticed the parks that are all new and plastic and "safe" have these slides that I think keep chiropractors busy. You know the ones with the waves in them and all the bumpy things that are supposed to make it more fun? They are horrible. I am one of the moms who like to play on the toys with my kids when it is not busy and I have been down some of them. Maybe it is because I am a bit (ahem) heavier than kids generally are but it HURTS my back! My kids don't like those wave slides either. It is just painful.:tongue_smilie:

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Oh, the memories! LOVED those playgrounds as a kid! (And yes, concrete. What else would it be? We were city kids.)

 

@ Astrid - I live in NH now, and there's a log roller at our favorite playground (but it's in - shock - MA!).

 

:)

 

Is the log roller in East Longmeadow, Mass?

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Okay, so slightly OT but the Death Duck made me think of it. Check out this gymnastics training video at about the 1 min. mark. The team went to a pool/playground for a little change of pace in their daily conditioning. They were doing press handstands ON THOSE WOBBLY DUCKS! Crazy!

 

 

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There a city here in TX that still has that exact rocket on the playground. My kids loved going to "rocket park" before we moved away.

 

There was a slide of doom in the playground I grew up playing at. It had an old wooden playhouse at the top, so tons of kids would be up there, but it was extremely high, at least 20 ft. The ladder was steep metal steps and the slide was one sheer drop and I burned the backs of my legs many times sliding down it. As recently as three years ago, it was still there and I (meanly) refused to let my then 6 and 4 year olds try it. We visited again last year and it was gone.

 

The same playground had a metal saguaro style cactus and each arm had a small flat platform attached so you could climb up the cactus. There were actually several of them and the tallest was about 10 ft and the small one was "only" 6 ft tall.

 

The most lethal playground equipment I remember from my childhood were the various gymnast bars. Our school playground had parallel bars and a high bar and then a super high bar that was too tall too reach from the ground, so you had to swing from the lower bar and jump up to it. For some dumb reason, I decided to try to swing around one of the parallel bars, like I would on the single bars, thinking I'd fit between them I guess, and instead I came around and my face hit the other bar and I busted out most of my front tooth. We'd also all dare each other to do the dead man's drop from the high high bar, and I remember watching one of my friends attempt it and land on both her arms hyperextended. I'll never forget seeing both her wrists fall limp... the wrong way. Gives me the willies to this day!

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We had the merry-go-round. The older boys would grease it very, very well and get it humming! That thing really flew and we always managed to launch a few first - third graders off the thing because they just didn't hold on tight enough.

 

The Monkey Bars were next. We had this VERY hard part gravel/part packed down sand playground and we'd hang upside down from the top rungs of that thing! Oh, Mrs. Z would come along and holler at us to get right side up pronto (we called her Attilla behind her back :blush:) and wait for her to head to the otherside of the playground so we could flip head down again. More than one kid during my elementary years broke an arm or wrist doing that. Ah, the memories.....:D

 

We had the very serious swing set. This thing was anchored in concrete and long chains on each swing. You could get those things just a soaring and the goal was always the infamous "go around the bar" as if this were physically possible. Most of the time we never got more than about 12-14 ft. off the ground, however, one boy practiced his brains out and managed to make high enough to cause a large amount of slack in the chain causing a free fall that at the moment the chain reached it's end, the force of the jerk plus an exponentially greater amount of gravity than had ever before been encountered any where on earth, caused a series of rapid fire events that ended with him being taken away in an ambulance and not returning to school for a week. He came back with a wheelchair and we all decided that the swings were not appropriate vehicles for space travel! :biggrinjester:

Then there was the very tall Slide of Doom! We took wax paper with us to school and after it let out, we would buff that thing. We would spend at least an hour (a whole bunch of us) buffing, buffing, buffing. It turned up just a little at the bottom and so once waxed to perfection, we could sail off the end and get airborn...we would dig a hole (a few feet from the projected landing site) to get the loam out and make a soft pile of dirt to land on. That was the flyer's job...try to land on the pile so you didn't break your behind, your leg, your arm, your head, your........

 

We played chicken on the teeter-totters. These were rather TALL ones as well so if the person on the bottom jumped off unexpectedly, the person at the top had a rather rapid and long fall that could end up really crunching your ankles. Usually you were better off trying to launch yourself off before the other person and try to control your descent. It was a mind game...you had to learn to read the facial expressions and gestures of your opponent so you knew when to leap! I am not making this up, Mrs. Z once yelled, "If you break your ankles on that thing, don't you come running to me!"

 

In the spring, the teachers let us hold tug of wars over the big drainage ditch (which always had at least a foot of water in it). We had OLD SCHOOL teachers and they figured it was good for us. Not once in 4th or 5th grade did my team lose. We were GOOOOOOD!

 

Those were the days. If we broke something on our bodies while doing something stupid, the general parental philosophy was, "That'll learn ya!" As for the ditch water, well, it was an unspoken rule amongst the parents that once the weather became warm, clothes that looked like they'd been in a nuclear war, were fit for school! :lol:

 

It was a GREAT playground!

 

Faith

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The kid across the street from me has a tetherball, and I entertained myself this weekend watching him devise ways to punch it so it would swing around and whack him in the head. I figured it was accidental the first time, but then he kept doing it, with increasingly creative maneuvers. I think I like that kid.

 

 

:lol::lol::lol:

 

This thread gave me the giggles.

 

I used to LOVE the Witche's Hat! Several of our local parks still have the death ducks and merry go rounds. :) We have a see saw in our backyard.

 

We used to have a metal slide when I was a child as well. In the summer, we would lay huge plastic tarps end to end at the bottom of it and then hose it all down, put on our bathing suits and have our very own slip and slide. :)

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Each July we go to a one-day art/music festival. It's in a tiny town (pop. about 87) and they have over 100 vendors...thousands of people at the show. Parking along the highway...it's crazy. Anyway. Next to the stage is a small playground. They've put in a few new things, but they've got the spinning ring thing (she called it Octopus or May Pole) and our favorite. What we lovingly call "The 4-Tiered Spinning Tower of DEATH"! Here's a pic of my dd on it this past summer. They also have teeter totters and the springy animal things.

 

The town I grew up in had these amazing teeter totters...they were huge and green. There was a piece of metal on the bottom that had a row of curves in it. You would lift the whole thing and move it to put more on one end if you & your friend weren't the same size. We were having fun...didn't know we were actually LEARNING anything. :) I think those are still there. I'll have to look the next time I'm there.

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I do remember, where we used to live when I was young, there was some sort of...something (it was a place where we held events for the people who worked for my grandpa... kind of rustic, like a cabin look from the outside, but inside a big dining hall, kitchen, etc), and outside there were swings and slides, but the BEST part - the seesaws. These things were huge LOGS with massive seats made by making each end flat on the 'up' side, and handlebars. You could literally fit 3-4 kids on each side. They were AWESOME.

I don't remember the rest of the playground that much. But those seesaws? I remember being on them with the other kids, and one of them was nearly a teenager. :)

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What about the metal monkey rings? All the playgrounds around here had them; the rings weren't on chains, but were about a foot in diameter and were attached to the overhead bar. If you were good on them, you could slam every ring against the top bar as you let go of it. I just got blisters, and could never get the rings to slam satisfyingly. The last ring set I know of disappeared when the neighborhood school remodeled last year.

 

Oh yeah, and the rings were always over asphalt, just like the climbing structures. The good ol' days... sigh...

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Oh man! I've been wishing lately that I could find a merry-go-round and some teeter-totters for my boys. We have a new park by us, and it mostly looks like the sterilized plastic safety ones. But it does have a few decent twisting climby bars, and there is a tower with a faux rock climbing wall on one side and curving bars on another. All the kids get up but then are afraid to get down, and I've seen so many parents climb up to rescue the kid and get stuck themselves. lol. There is another park not too far that has a really high metal slide, but no bump in the middle.

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We had an octopus at my elementary school, but we called in the chains. It was awesome! There were strict rules though; I think you had to be in 4th grade to play. The town playground had a witch's hat that had seats. Maybe 20 kids could sit around it and get it moving back and forth. The playground nearest our home still has a merry-go-round and a metal dome climber. I've never seen a rocket slide. Wow.

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