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Going to the Playground

I grew up in town — in Dunkirk to be exact. Going to the playground was my summer entertainment. As soon as my chores were done, I hopped on my bicycle and went to the playground. Yes, I enjoyed the equipment, but I also enjoyed the craft program. I made so many things at the playground. For years I used a tray that I made there. I shellacked mine after adding a design. I also made a set of coasters. We used those at home when we had glasses to set on one of the tables. I was so proud of my creations and proud that Grandma would use them.

That was at the playground where I went to school. I also visited another playground and made new friends there. I went to work with my mother at Briggs Dairy and went to the playground by No. 2 School. It was no longer used as a school at that point, but it was still standing. While I was there, I played tether ball. The ball was fastened to a pole. The purpose of the game was to wind the string around the pole to score a point. I got pretty good at that.

We also did crafts there. I remember weaving a basket. I had to buy the frame but the reeds were then provided. The friends I met there were not the people that I went to school with. Years later I met some of them as we all went to the same junior high school.

There was a third playground in my experience. Once I was in high school, I attended the playground at the Athletic Field. Sometimes I drove there, but often I walked. Although it was a long way away it was safe for me to do that. The reason I went there was that they had a volley ball team. I played on that team along with some of the older high school students. I worked during the day so this was the perfect activity for me since all games were played in the evening. If we

had a late game, I drove so that I would not have to walk home alone after dark.

The games were a lot of fun. I also met new people through that activity. Serving was my real talent. I made a lot of points for the team that way. I was not so good at spiking the ball. I was on the short side at that time. I think it was one of the chaperones at a house party that our sorority had that got me into that activity. She was the coach.

This was the same Athletic Field that they flooded over in the winter time so we could ice skate. I never worried about going alone because all of my friends from school would be there. Sometimes I would see my grandparents’ car ride by while I was skating.

Life was so much simpler then. We walked everywhere. No one had to drive us. It was safe for us to be out after dark. We did so many activities outdoors. The fresh air and exercise were good for us. Once my homework was done it was off to the Athletic Field.

I would not trade the freedom that I experienced when I was growing up for what the children have today. Although most of them cannot relate, some of them still get to play outside. Some of them still experience the simpler pleasures.

None of my activities cost much money if they cost anything. We did not have to pay to play in those days. The equipment was at the playground for us to use. We just showed up and picked up a game most of the time. That was called practice. It was nothing official, but practice and exercise it was.

Now that I look back on things, I realize what wonderful activities I participated in. I did not think much about it at the time. The friends I made in all of my activities were a bonus. I was taken into a sorority as a freshman because of the older friends I made. Our sorority did many good things for the community

although that was not the sole purpose. Those older friends I made were my mentors. I also participated in chorus with them. That was an activity in school that I cherished. It was so much fun to sing.

What a way to grow up! I did not realize it at the time but I think I had the best way to get to adulthood.

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

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