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Enjoying summer fun

I think playgrounds are open but I am not sure. It has been awfully slow opening everything up around here. I know there are no programs this year, but I think parents can still take their children to the playground if they choose to.

When I was growing up the playground played a significant role in my summer entertainment. Sometimes I went to work with my mother to be able to go to the playground that was near her work. (Number 2 School playground) That activity netted me many new friends since it was beyond my neighborhood. I especially liked the crafts that were done at the playground. I made baskets, coasters, and many other useful items. I also liked the tether ball activity. The idea was to wind the ball around the pole. If you succeeded, you won the game. Two people battled it out.

Of course, the playground equipment was part of the fun. I loved the swings. I pumped to get myself up as high as I could get. Sometimes I pretended that I was flying. I’d close my eyes and float until the swing died down. Unlike some of the others, I never jumped off of the moving swing. I was too afraid of getting hurt to do that. (Number 3 School playground)

I remember having a book of Robert Lewis Stevenson poems. It was one of those three-dimensional kinds of books with the pictures that would stand up. Whenever I read the poem about the swing I thought of the playground. Often, I recited that poem while I was swinging.

See if the poem does not bring back memories for you. I have included it here for you.

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The Swing

How do you like to go up in the swing,

Up in the air so blue!

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,

Rivers and trees and cattle and all

Over the countryside –

Till I look down on the garden green,

Down on the roof so brown –

Up in the air I go flying again,

Up in the air and down!

— Robert Lewis Stevenson

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Can’t you just picture a child on a swing going back and forth and up and down flying so freely? What a perfect activity for a morning or afternoon of fun!

I continued going to the playground until I was in high school. During the later years I played on the playground volleyball team. Once again, I met a lot of new people that way. A couple years ago at a class reunion I had the opportunity to sit with a classmate and her sister. After I sat down, I realized that I knew her sister from when we used to play volleyball. She was on an opposing team, but we knew each other. What a rare opportunity that was! A year or so later the classmate died so I will probably never get to see her sister again.

I never had the opportunity to get a job with the playground even though I was in elementary education in college. The jobs always went to others. I stuck with my job at a local store, then went to work at the dairy where my mother used to work for my last summer. I had many great experiences doing this. Once again, I met a lot of people – this time they were older people who I came to enjoy very much.

When my grandchildren came along, I took them to the playground. We went to Russell Elementary and to the one at Werner Park. Later on, we went to the one at Larimer Park. Often, we took our lunch along. That gave us a break. Following lunch, it was back to playing on the equipment. There was an ice cream place in Russell and we frequently stopped for ice cream on the way home.

You probably noticed that I did not mention taking my children to the playground. That is because at that point we were too busy to get a way from home. My husband was running the farm and often needed help. The children were part of his haying crew as well as daily milkers. We had recently moved to Hickory Heights and that was a lot of work for all of us. It seemed like everything needed fixing.

Our fun was at home. The children had a swing set courtesy of my grandparents who brought it over in pieces and assembled it for them. Since I taught school, I was good at thinking of fun things to be done at home. We often did scavenger hunts. I had to draw pictures because neither of the children were reading yet.

One Fourth of July we were stuck at home because the men were still haying. The children and I made tri-corner hats like the soldiers wore. They completed a treasure hunt and had a great time. For lunch we had a picnic on the porch. We had a lot of those. That night we were able to go to the fireworks. We found a place to park the car where we could see all of the aerial stuff.

Life on a farm is what you make it. Getting together with the cousins was a high priority.

The cousins always had a good time playing. The little Fisher-Price barn is still around. I recall having to empty rotting scraps of hay out of it. They were imitating what the adults were doing.

This is sure to be a different summer since almost all of the usual activities have been canceled.

Make the most of the time you have with your children and grandchildren. With a little ingenuity they can still have a very good time.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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