You know you live in a small town
when the majority of your playground equipment
came from a farm.
I’ll give you a tour of the space
and what I remember.
It might remind you
of where you used to play
as a kid.
Top right: tractor tires on edge. Imagine three enormous tractor tires standing upright and partially buried in the ground. Each tire touching one another to create a tunnel of sorts. With the tire walls hollow, we could wiggle our way inside and shimy ourselves up, until we were looking down at the kids passing below us.
Below the set of three tires (in the drawing), you will see what looks like four Cheerios. They were also enormous tractor tires. They rested on their sides and made the perfect place to play tag. It was fun to run around, up high above the ground. We would quickly try to escape who was it by running to the outside edge of a tire without falling off. Jumping into the middle meant that you were safe. We didn’t play there after it rained. The insides became filled with water. (Note: this may not be the exact place where they sat on the property. I’m now wondering if they were to the left of the three tires. Regardless, they did exist and they were awesome.)
Middle: The Tunnel. I dubbed this one “the tunnel of love” after an infamous kiss between two kids in my class. I won’t name names. It was a huge piece of culvert I think. Solid metal pieces were bolted together to form a long winding tube. A thin metal ladder was attached to each end. It was cool inside and the sounds of our footsteps reverberated off the walls. We liked to play tag here too – quickly running through the tunnel to get away or pulling ourselves up the ladder to run along the top. I remember sliding off the curved walls if we didn’t think we’d make it to the ladder in time. We didn’t want to be it.
Far left: The round-a-bout was the best part of the schoolyard. I remember running as fast as we could, around and around to build up speed, until we could no longer keep up. We would throw ourselves onto the spinning top. Kids would get flung off, their bodies rolling across the sand and grass. The best part was trying to sit at the edge, holding onto the railing for dear life. Your hands would slowly slip and eventually you too would find yourself on the ground.
Along the left, near the spine of the notebook: Our playground sat on the top of a hill. Walking over towards the edge, you could see a narrow creek winding its way towards the bottom. It wasn’t a little creek that you could step through. It was one that rushed in the spring and we were warned to stay away from. A girl in my class was once pushed in by the boys (not being mean, more flirting), and I remember it being up past her waist.
In the winter, the hill was amazing for sliding. It was steep and the snow was quickly packed into smooth paths that you could fly down. As kids, we would bring our crazy carpets to school. Bins sat near the coat racks to hold our blue plastic sleds, rolled up and damp from the wet snow.
During the lunch hour, we were allowed to cross the wooden bridge that stretched across the creek. On the other side was an even bigger hill. Teachers would supervise us on the other side and watch as we tried to fly over huge bumps. The only rule – no GTs or flying saucers.
In the spring, most of our time was spent in front of the school or out in the baseball diamonds. The stretch of land between the front of the school and the parking lot, was dotted with pockets in the dirt – little basins used in very serious marble games. I remember having my own set of marbles and never wanting to play with any of my cat’s eyes (the clear marbles with a swirl of colour inside). I would always play with the ugly white ones that I wouldn’t be upset to lose.
Spring also meant skipping on the tarmac. Learning how to double dutch with the girls and chanting songs…
Apples, peaches, pears and plums,
Jump out when your birthday comes,
Is it January, February, March, April, May, June,
July, August, September, October, November, December
We could hear the repetitive slap of the rope against the tarmac, and tried to watch for our moment to jump in or out.
The ground was covered in chalk hopscotch grids
and recess always felt like it flew by.
The bell signaled the end of our play
and we quickly ran for the metal double doors
to our classrooms.
My childhood schoolyard.