10 incredibly fun things we will never find at playgrounds today
Kids today will never have to suffer from hot metal slides.
No matter how different our childhoods were growing up, we all had one thing in common: the playground. It was the first place we learned how to socialize, make new friends and create new rivalries. Most importantly, it was where we had fun and let off some steam.
Playgrounds back then were nowhere near as fancy as they are today. All we needed were a couple of swings, a slide, maybe a roundabout and plenty of room to run around and play.
Granted, we didn't have the best equipment either. Who remembers the feeling of going down a metal slide during the dog days of summer? Or the feeling of a swing set ready to fall apart the higher we swung? We didn't need state of the art technology to have fun. We made due with what we had.
That brings us to say, kids today will never know the joys of playgrounds from back in the day. Here are 10 reasons why this generation is missing out.
1. Metal slides
A metal slide combined with a sunny July afternoon meant trouble. These numbingly hot slides left red marks up and down our legs, but that was the price to pay for so much fun. Let's not forget about the rust some of the older slides accumulated.
With possible tetanus and burn marks, these slides are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Most of the newer playgrounds only have plastic slides, ensuring kids won't get first-degree burns during recess anymore.
Having scrapes and bruises was just another rite of passage for us growing up, thanks to playgrounds that were built on blacktops. Whether it was jumping off the swing set, sliding into home plate during kickball or falling while playing tag, asphalt ensured we wouldn't get out of playtime unscathed.
Eventually, asphalt gave way to wood chips, providing a slightly more comfortable experience. More recently, wood chips have been eclipsed by rubber padding, ensuring no kid will ever get a scrape or bruise again.
3. Rocket slides
It was important to be reminded about the looming threat of the Cold War at a all times, which is why so many playgrounds had slides shaped like rocket ships. The Space Age let us believe we were Apollo 11 once we shot out of the top and landed on the "surface of the moon" (asphalt) at the bottom.
4. Rickety swing sets
Forget about rocket slides. The closest way to reach outer space was the swing set. Who remembers the feeling of going so high you almost lifted out of the seat? That feeling, paired with the uncertainty of whether the swing set would stay fastened to the ground, provided for a thrilling experience.
Image: Wishbook Web
5. Monkey bars
We might still be able to find these at playgrounds, but we can also be certain they're not as fun as they used to be. Monkey bars were the ultimate test of strength, leading to blistered hands and scraped knees from letting go prematurely. And if another kid started crossing from the other side, it was a battle to the death, or until one of us fell off.
Playing with a tetherball was also a guarantee that we would get whacked in the face at some point during the game. If we were playing against someone we didn't like, then the whole point was basically to hit them upside the head. Anything less would be an utter disappointment.
The point of the roundabout was to pile as many of us onto the contraption as possible, then spin it faster and faster until someone flew off (onto the asphalt, of course). Half of the fun of the merry-go-round was wondering whether the piece of equipment would detach and fly off into space.
8. Tire swings
We don't see many of these anymore, and we're not quite sure why. Maybe tires have lost their appeal on today's materialistic youth compared to the fancy rubber padding or plastic slides.
But we all know the tire swing was one of the best aspects of the playground. It was like the roundabout and swing combined to create twice the fun. If you didn't get dizzy, you weren't doing it right.
9. Wooden jungle gyms
Do you think kids today know what a splinter feels like? Wooden jungle gyms were the absolute worst to play on because we'd always come home with a souvenier (i.e. a giant wooden fragment lodged in our fingers or feet). Alas, wooden jungle gyms were the only alternative to the scorching hot metal ones, so it was a choice between the lesser of two evils.
10. Witch's hats
A common theme for playgrounds was not only to expose us to inadvertant danger, but also make us dizzy to the point where we couldn't stand. An important staple we can't find at the playground anymore is the witch's hat. We would grasp the side of it and run around to make the witch's hat spin. Once it had reached optimal speed, we could throw our legs up in the air and be flown around for a few moments. Only to fall and scape our knees.