We lived across from a public park with a “tot lot”. Compared to today’s parks, our was a liability wet dream. There were these miniature iron merry-go-round horses on giant springs. Back and forth we would ride the horses, trying to touch the nose and the tail to the sand. Yep….SAND. The whole place was white beach sand. There was a very tall…..in my childhood memory….maybe 25-35 ft high “fort”. Ladder up one side, center firehouse pole down the center and a narrow metal slide down the front. We would jump off the sides into the sand below. We would get rug burn on the insides of our legs sliding down the pole. The slide was sheet metal and would get scorching hot in the summer. This park was a serious death trap. And we were usually totally unsupervised. There were no Mommies sitting on the park benches with juice boxes and snack packs. There was no referee or umpire. We were exiled to the park everyday. It was either do chores or go outside and play. As long as we could hear my dad whistle, we were LOOSE.

My favorite part of the park were the swings. These were not the sissy swings of the backyard genre. No way! These swings were on 15-20 foot chains. You could easily get a 120 degree arc. We would pump and pump and pump and then JUMP out the front of the swings like poll vaulters. We would lie on our bellies and twist the chains up and then fly while the chains unwound. We came home with shoes full of sand, sand matted to our scalps, sand under our finger nails…sand everywhere. How did we survive that park? It is amazing there was never a typhoid outbreak or cholera. The ONLY source of water was a single water fountain that was perpetually clogged with sand. The bowl would be puddle. We would have the rake the water out of the bowl before we could drink. Otherwise, your ear got baptized while you drank. And of course, your cheek touched the metal water fountain that 1000 other faces had pressed against. The horror.

I loved that park. That park was a refuge. That park was sanctuary.

4 thoughts on “Swing”

  1. That park taught you kids how to “cope” with the world…how to survive, how to explore, how to be “brave”, how to lead, follow or get out of the way.
    Too bad that children nowdays don’t have a Cutler Ridge Park to teach them….they are so sheltered, “mommied”, protected, scheduled, SAFE, they will have a rude awakening when it comes time to make decisions about life, people and taking chances or “do or die” ….. I feel sorry for today’s children, we’ve allowed the government/media to frighten parents and schools, etc. to wrap them all in cotton batting and cocoons — I find it very sad, but also harmful….they have no crust, no shell, no backbone, no guts, no scars to learn from… I’m glad my kids grew up in Cutler Ridge Park…they are all the better for it.

  2. Sarah J Robertson - Sanders


    You are so blessed …”Honestly” I hear and can only imagine the wonderful memories you are able to remember. I enjoy listening to Sid share the love and passion of his memories of you and your sisters in the years of you all growing up. His stories and your stories / memories are with such vivid passion and loving memoires… from Sid and Patsy allowing you to grow and find independance. Also realizing that Patsy was the mother and primary home care taker. You are blessed it sounds they seem to have both wanted you and your siblings to be independant, strong and happy.

    I know the love I hear from Sid with so many stories of you and your sisters and your mother from the past that fall into precious memories, for all of you.

    Precious Memories … they never fade away. No one and no time will diminish or take away from them… They will allways be treasured by all of you.

  3. RIDGERATS RULE!!!!!! Good times :)
    ….the wagon with the 2 poles in the middle. (Do we have any pics of the tot lot?) We would take our cars over build villages/towns/castles. Climb on the top of the swings while friends were swinging walk across the top. Wild!! …boxball, carrom, kilah,pingpong. That place rocked. Paper trees, cherry trees. The pool, bike rack. Teens, Jrs, Shorties. Bowl-O-Mat bus. Penrod!!!
    What a great place!!!! Great friends and neighbors.

  4. Debbie…. you have it right,,, you mentioned many things that I remember. I was in summer program from 6 or 7 through junior high. Shorty Boys… loved the Shorty Girls. It was amazing how long Penrod stayed. She would probably still be there if the County didn’t force her out.

    I remember the smell of the pool and the dressing rooms. I remember the room in the back of Penrods office where we ALL put our paper lunch bags. I remember playing kick-the-can at the school. I remember not being allowed to go to the church (but sneeking there) I remember the big sewer cement tubes in the sand area. Could you cross the “Cowboy” monkey bars, then back? Could you rock the horses forward and back and touch the sand? Ha! I remember it before the tennis courts. Trips to Matheson Hammack, The Zoo, Venitian Pool, Crandon Park Beach and the movies before the Cutler Ridge Mall. And of course the huge wild scary jungle area that was the water tower.

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