Saturday, May 5, 2012

Slinky woes


I don’t recall being particularly thrilled with most toys when I was a kid. Our parents always made a good attempt to buy our most requested items for Christmas, but they didn’t buy us many toys the rest of the year.

“Play” meant going outside and finding something to do—taking a walk, playing wiffleball, climbing trees, swimming in the creek, shooting baskets in a hoop attached to an old smokehouse. 

I got over playing with baby dolls at a very young age.  Barbies bored me too.  

I do recall wanting a Slinky very badly when I was about eight or nine years old.  Slinkys are a tightly coiled flexible spring that you can pour from one hand to another.  You can walk it down stairs once you acquire some Slinky-manipulating skills. 

One Saturday morning trip to town, I convinced Mom to buy me one.  They were just a cheap little toy, so she caved. 

I was so excited!  When we got home, I played with the Slinky awhile, pouring its perfect cool coils from one hand to the other. 

Then I had a bright idea.  I wonder how far it will stretch? 

I called one of my younger brothers over and had him hold one end while I walked backwards with the other end. 

I walked ten feet…twenty feet…that was about as far as it would stretch.  “OK, you can let go now,” I said to my brother. 

He dropped his end.  I expected it to spring back to me.  It didn’t.  Each coil was spread about two inches apart.  I tried squeezing them back together, but they wouldn’t stay. My heart sank. 

Pretty soon, my arms were full of a tangled mass of coils.  I carried them into my room and stuffed them under the bed, fighting back tears. 
I didn’t say anything about the mess I’d made of my Slinky to my parents, but I felt sick about it for days.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Days, play days


Doing the “Dizzie Lizzie”

My favorite memories of recess, the ones that stand out the most anyway, are also associated with pain. 

The playground at my old elementary school consisted of a large grassy area, a blacktopped square with a basketball goal, and a sandy area with monkey bars and a balance beam that stood about knee high. There was a swing set with three or four swings, but most of the time, only one or two were operative. (Chain broke, seat broke, big mud puddle beneath, etc.)   

I liked the monkey bars, though.  It was a simple apparatus with a row of bars, and a kid could swing from one to the other like a monkey.  It was quite a feat to swing all the way across without touching the ground. 

One day, I was determined to make it across. I almost made it after a few attempts, but my palms burned so bad from swinging and twisting.  When I looked down, I saw that my skin was blistered and peeled back.

One of my teachers noticed and took me to the office to get doctored up, but my hands hurt the rest of the day.

We played relay games a lot at recess, too.  You know, sack races, the three-legged race and the “dizzie lizzie.” 

Did anyone else ever do the “dizzie lizzie?” 

You ran to a designated mark, picked up a ball bat, and placed your forehead on the grip end of the bat.  The other end of the bat stayed on the ground. You circled the bat three or four times in this position, then you dropped the bat and ran back to the starting line.  At least, you tried.  The faster you circled the bat, the dizzier you got and the harder it was to run straight.

Although this “exercise” didn’t exactly hurt, it usually made me feel nauseous. 

Sounds like a lot of fun, huh?