May 16th, 2006


There are places I remember, in my life...tho some have changed...

mschaos posted a link to this article about playground safety concerns in Oregon. It reminded me of one my my most romantic memories from my childhood (romantic in the mythical sense of of the word, not in the OMG I used to have a crush on Scott Bittle in 2nd grade and I'd chase him til he had to hide in the boys room to get away from me sense). When I was a kid (0-10), I lived across the street from a park, West Davis Park (now called Redwood Park which was next to West Davis Elementary School, now called Cesar Chavez School). This park had a famous, nearly legendary, playing "thing" - an immense concrete egg with a slide inside, a sliding pole, a tunnel, and four holes on the top. The holes on the top were the biggest thing you could do as a kid: if you could squeeze through one and get on the top of The Egg, you were king or queen of the world.

It was featured on the cover of the Davis telephone directory, it was so well-known. It was damn near beloved; I think I may have had a birthday party at it.

But "bums peed in it" and later "teenagers did drugs in it" and there were myths about kids who broke teeth on the slide and who (OMG!) got stuck in the holes on the top and they had to call the fire department!

So, sometime when I was in either high school or college (early-mid 80's) The Egg went away and was replaced with a sanitary plastic...thing...similar to that in the photo (which is at the baby park, near the restrooms, where the lollipop swings used to be), only in loud primary colours.

The wood chips were taken out, too, and replaced with rubber padding.

You can't go home again...and if you do, you can't find anything because it's all been renamed.

We lived in the middle of the block, and I also remember when I went to the Elementary School, I could see my classrooms from my front yard. The School Administration, however, decreed that all students needed to cross at the signaled crosswalk at the end of the block. Which meant, basically, they wanted me to walk all the way down to the corner, cross, and then walk all the way back...instead of crossing via the crosswalk painted in the asphalt of the street almost directly in front of our driveway.

Because there wasn't a signal there. Nevermind that I'd been crossing there with mild supervision (someone was in the kitchen or the yard where they could see me doing it) since I was about 4. Even at the age of 7 and 8, I found this capricious "law" deeply, deeply stupid. And I'm pretty sure it's one of the catalysts that sparked my dislike hatred of suburban life.

I was also reminded, this week, of a little place on the Delta called Hidden Harbor, near Rio Vista. My dad had a sailboat from about 1976 (after my parents were divorced) to sometime in the 90's; when I was in junior high, he kept it at Hidden Harbor. We'd go there on the weekends. It was pretty much as I embrace urban culture, living in the woods and fishing and tracking birds and mammals like some sort of latter-day distaff Huck Finn was not bad, when at the end of the day we could go to the Harbor's diner and play pool and watch Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett on Saturday nights.

The last time I went there was 1981; I was 16, and suddenly had better things to spend my weekends on than camping on water. Plus, late bloomer though I might have been, I also had to deal with makeup, conditioner, and *cough* other feminine trappings. I had to pack too much crap to go out there all the time.

I had a red windbreaker with "Hidden Harbor" printed on the back of it (the two words shared the one "H"). I used to love thst thing, but everyone at school thought it was "weird." Well...sure. They'd never heard of Hidden Harbor.

Not the first time I'd been misunderstood by my peers, and definitely not the last.
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