Do You Remember This Death-Defying Playground Equipment?
Owensboro has some amazing parks including Smother's Park which is rated one of the best in the country. They include equipment safe for all ages and abilities, splash pads, toddler areas, big kid areas, and even a zip line. The key word in all of that is SAFE. This was not necessarily a concern of playground engineers of the past! Even in the early 90's we risked broken bones and 3rd-degree burns to play on the metal jungle gyms and slides available to us as kids.
Bob Blakemen of Winchester, KY recently uncovered some photographs and 8mm film shot by his dad in 1979. Bob and his family would come to Owensboro to visit his grandmother, Ruth Westerfield, who lived on Legion Blvd. They always ventured down the way to Legion Park while they were in town. Captured in these photos and video are some pretty wild happenings! A little girl biting the dust and Bob's brother with his foot stuck in the craziest contraption I have ever seen!
Teeter totters always seemed mild until your partner tortured you by holding you up in the air! Only to let you drop and squash your "business" on the wood or metal under your bum! A friend of mine once busted her chin wide open getting knocked from underneath.
Look how high this swing is! How did he even get up there? I bet that was a wild jump-off once it got going. I love that you can see one of the shelters in the back corner. The beautiful trees are all still there for the plethora of squirrels and birds who wait for picnic leftovers!
This slide was an absolute MENACE in the summertime. You had to weigh the joy of flying through the air at full speed with whether or not you wanted to sizzle your thighs on the way down! I heard a rumor once that kids would take wax paper to sit on and slide down. Is that really true? That would be super fast! And kinda gross, not gonna lie!
This is a screen grab from the film posted below. I know some people frown at laughter inspired by others' pain, but when this little girl absolutely ATE IT falling off the merry-go-round, I could not contain my laughter. When she tumbled down, the adult, who I assume is her dad, just drags her away! This thing was so fast and SO DANGEROUS! I have a vivid memory of getting stuck on one just like this as a little butthead boy spun it faster and faster. I just closed my eyes and held on for dear life!
OK, so here is the real mind-blower. What the HECK is this, and who thought it was a good idea?! The little boy hanging off has his foot stuck in the bars just begging for a broken leg. Luckily, he made it with no injuries, but my stomach was in knots as I watched this insane device spin and wobble around on those chains. I've heard it was known at The Witch's Hat! It's scary alright!
With the exception of the merry-go-round, you will not notice a parent in sight. No one batted an eye at kids playing on things like this. It truly was a different time! I have to laugh thinking about how many precarious situations we all survived growing up. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did! It captures Legion Park of the good ole days right down to the cute chubby squirrel! If you close your eyes, you can still smell the metal on your hands from the monkey bars.