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Gradeschool Recess Memories

March 3, 2012

Getting back in touch with old schoolmates was one of the fun things I was able to do on FB. It brought back a lot of memories. Like memories of playing on The Ocean Wave at recess time. What was The Ocean Wave? Well, imagine a flagpole with a free-swiveling, upside-down metal cup on the top of it. From the rim of the cup were attached spokes that radiated down at about a 60 degree angle and supported a merry-go-round seat. In essence, it was a 3-dimensional merry-go-round/teeter totter hybrid. Sometimes a really crazy kid would jump into the middle when we really got it cranking and run around the pole to avoid being crushed between it and the annular seat. I still don’t know how we all didn’t get dismembered by that thing. But boy was it fun. You just don’t see good playground equipment like that anymore.

I would also like to correct any inaccurate recounting of a certain event in my young life. I believe I was in fourth grade when out of the blue, two third grade girls decided to have a crush on me. What Laura and Sherrill saw in a skinny, nerdy, misfit, I’ll never know. But they would come running out at recess calling my name and carrying crayoned messages that only third grade girls can produce. On the second day of this carrying-on, I had had enough. I was trying to play tag with the guys. I paused long enough to rip up their artwork and scatter it to the wind. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem deterred. On the third day I was heading to the four-square courts when I heard Laura’s voice behind me. She was breathlessly calling my name and gaining on me fast. I turned just as she came to a stop beside me. I felt embarrassed and didn’t want my pals teasing me about little third grade girlfriends. And she was invading my personal space. She was a girl, ew! Don’t stand so close to me! I gently pushed her on the shoulder and she took a step away. Then she tripped on her untied shoe lace and somewhat ungracefully landed on her bottom. She sat there a little stunned for half a second, then her face did a slow dissolve to a grimacing wail. I felt sorry for her. Really I did. It was her own shoe lace, honest. I never did get any love letters after that, either.

Other good times at recess were had when we would try to find rocks under the Big Monkey Bars that still had blood on them from the kid that failed at the Spiderman Jump. Ah, shoot. You don’t know what the Spiderman jump is, either. That was when you would stand on the highest chin-up bar and leap about three miles (well, OK- would you believe twelve feet?) through thin air and grab onto the large diameter pipe of the monkey bar. I tried it once. It scared me silly. It was during summer vacation and I was on a long bike ride by myself that wound up at the school playground, so nobody was around. The first two attempts allowed me to judge just how hard to leap. The third attempt I gave it all I had. I was shocked as my hands struck the cold bar and my fingers wrapped around it. The momentum of the leap swung my body perpendicular to the horizon as I clutched at the bar for dear life. In my mind’s eye I saw images of my head bouncing off the ground and trickling blood from my unconscious noggin staining the white gravel, to be found days later by my underclassmen. Slowly, my body swung back vertical, and I quickly dropped to my feet. It was a good thing I had chalked up in the dusty gravel. Watching summer Olympics had paid off. I shakily climbed onto my bike and weakly rode home.

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