Wistful for War: The Flawed Nostalgia of the Steel Playground Slide

John David Duke Jr

David was begotten and conceived in the ordinary way in the middle of 1972, possibly on his father's birthday. Since then, it's been an unremarkable go, except for the time his dad took him to help disarm a Cherokee woman who was shooting at her mother with a rifle.

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5 Responses

  1. Marchmaine says:

    Good observation when you think about it, our playgrounds were the imaginative projection of Basic Training for kids.

    Not consciously, I don’t think, but all the creative agility things in the ‘new’ playgrounds assumed we were going to climb cargo rope ladders in and out of troop transports. We all had to be proficient at climbing ropes up cliffs, or at least up to an observation tower and/or another ship.

    None of this ‘adventure’ lifestyle… we weren’t chasing experiences, experiences were chasing us.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    Nope. The giant steel slide was an engineering problem. The third-grade equivalent of Project Mercury, using all the properties of wax paper rather than rocketry.Report

  3. North says:

    I enjoyed these meditations, well done.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    Somehow I think this is over thinking things and that steel was used because we weren’t quite up on plastic technology yet.Report

    • Susara Blommetjie in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think if one considers the slide as a stand-in for the general way in which modern playgrounds are designed the point stands. Playgrounds are much, much safer now than what they were in the 70’s.

      And did this piece bring back memories of my own 70’s childhood Sundays – after church we’d pick up my grandmother and we’d have a Sunday picnic in this beautiful park. The grownups would have a post-lunch nap while we’d go play. There was a terrifying steel slide; staring up at it from below the precarious little platform would seem miles high, staring down from up there was even worse. I never could gather the guts to take it.

      Years later, when my boys were 2 & 3, we decided for very nostalgic reasons to take them to the park again. I was wondering whether the slide would still be as tall, as imposing, a terrifying at 38 as what it was at 8.

      It was. But I took the slide! Yeah! Perhaps the fact that my bum fitted the shape rather more snugly than 30 years before had something to do with having a more controlled decent than what I would have had earlier.Report