A few years ago, a bounce house in Arizona blew away like in “The Wizard of Oz,” injuring 2 children. When a gust of wind lifted the bounce house about 80 feet in the air, it dumped a 9-year- old girl out on the yard. Her 11-year-old sister landed on the roof of a house two doors down. Maan – and to think, they did away with the steel jungle gyms and monkey bars of MY generation, because they were “too dangerous.”
A Fscebook friend reminded me we wore dresses when playing on the equipment. But, of course – dresses were the only school day attire option in those days. Therefore, if a recreational feat requiring any degree of inversion was attempted, unless one wore either tights shorts under the dress, it was: “I see London, I see France…”
I’m not saying the likes of jungle gyms, monkey bars, and spin-fast-’til-you-puke merry-go-rounds were safe. More than a few busted lips, chipped teeth, broken limbs, and skinned knees were the wages of recess. Baby boomer playground equipment, like the adjacent, very asbestos-based, lead-laden school buildings where we were educated, may, indeed, have been designed to “reduce the surplus population,” as Ebeneezer Scrooge would say.
Maybe the mid-century playground was just another facet of natural selection – survival of the fittest. Perhaps those who designed them to thin our ranks thought:
“If they live through this, the next phase is the draft and Viet Nam war...”