Monday, September 26, 2011

The splinter

Playground equipment used to be just outright dangerous.

When I was in grade school, we had things like the witch's hat.  I didn't know what it was actually called until I looked it up on line.  Go here to view the perfect photo --
With kids sitting all around it, it could be spun around and/or banged into that center pole like a bell.  What degenerate designed this for children??  Some of them didn't have that lower, inner circle of metal for "protection."  Think smashed appendages.  Think lots and lots of them.

Then there were the ridiculously high swings.

We would try to get as high as we possibly could, without going over the bar of course.  That was always a concern.  We assumed we were perfectly capable of such a stupendous stunt, but just chose not to show off.

We did achieve a new level of elation the day Joe decided it would be interesting to see how far we could kick him.  (The name has been changed to protect the innocent - and stupid.)  We swung as high as we dared and while on the back-swing, Joe would position himself directly in front of us like the center on a football team, posterior ready for impact.  Our Keds sent him sailing across the playground.  And here is the "kicker" as it were - other boys started doing it too.  Weird.

But the star to this story is The Sadist Slide from Hell.  The one and only slide on our playground was metal with wooden sides.  Let me reiterate.  It was metal with old, gray, paint-peeled-off, wooded sides.  One day, I attempted to stop my self, mid-slide.  I grasped the sides and something stabbed me in my left hand between my thumb and index finger.  When I reached the bottom, I saw what looked like a small log sticking out of my hand.

I don't remember a nurse being at that school.  She probably got frustrated with all the witch's hat injuries and quit.  I showed my teacher.  She tried to pull it out (gulp) and only the thick, log part came out.  There was obviously more still in there.  At some point later that day, I was taken to see Doc Windnagel in Pine Village.  He pulled out another 1" section.  I think I was so stunned at how long it was that I didn't notice the pain.  Some time later - a week, maybe two - I was sitting in my mom's recliner, looking at my wound and noticed what I thought was a little piece of dirt.  I pushed around on my hand and finally got hold of it.  It may have looked like a little spec of dirt from the top, but it ended up being another 1" piece of wood.  OK, that finally freaked me out.  I thought this thing went clear up my arm!  As it turned out, that was the last piece.  A 2-1/2" splinter in all.

After my incident, they put a chain across the top of the slide.  As far as my classmates were concerned, I was the one responsible for shutting down 1/4 of their playground.  They soon got over it, though.  I think Joe and his pals had a lot to do with that.  For that, I am eternally grateful.  


  1. Thanks for the laugh. Not that I am laughing at your pain, I'm not. I'm thinking about the playground equipment that worked population control on my generation. Things like sliced Achilles from Radio Flyer wagons. Now they make fully plasticized wagons for my kids. Or the rocking horses suspended by metal springs. Wow. Wonder how many blind 30yo there are from those things.

  2. Goodness, ours were, thankfully, updated by the time I went to school, but that swing set looks fairly familiar. Eventually our one like that was replaced with one with a bar in front of the bar the swings were stationed on. We then invented the clinking game where we would whip the metal chains up as fast as we could once we got high enough to try to hit the front bar. Swinging turned into a race. Those swings have now been removed and the only set of swings is fairly low with that play mat outdoor material below it rather than dirt or rocks.

    We also had this fantastic wooden castle that the shoptec highschoolers made in like... the 70s or the 80s, I'm honestly not sure. We could take sections out and play on the parts that were meant for support only. Unfortunately that staple of my childhood was torn down while I was in high school. It's sort of tragic though, watching my childhood playground disappear.

    What I'm saying is, being from small town Iowa, I can definitely relate.