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Category Archives: Playground

Meet Ruby. 

She is the last original merry-go-round on the North Shore. She is creaky and rusty and she spins like a dream. Effortless. All you gotta do is hang on. 

Doesn’t really matter, though. Ruby’s days are numbered. Don’t know exactly when it will happen, but am told it is soon as she has been deemed dangerous. A circular piece of metal that sits (no lie) all of six inches off the ground? 

Yep, dangerous. 


“Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” (Merry-Go-Round) Playground Series (#18), Nikon D300, 32mm, F/5.6, 1/400s, +0.3EV, ISO 200, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

Knowing this fact going in made my job of photographing her all that more difficult. I took over 200 shots over a two-day period and I’m still not sure I did her justice. Completely breaks my heart. 😦 

In one of the earlier Playground Series entries, one reader took the time to post a lengthy comment that I feel compelled to quote a section of as he paints the oh-so familiar childhood scene better than I ever could dream of doing: 

“That rusty, squeaky carousel of old?  You betcha.  (You can still find these around here and there.)  A gang of us would climb aboard and several would hang out to spin us silly with three Gs of force (sometimes 4 Gs), trying to get us to either puke or fall off.  Laughter abounded when Jimmy Johnson went flying off one day screaming, unable to hold on … ending up about 15 feet from where he originally landed.  His momentum carried him that extra distance, but not before his open mouth filled with a goodly amount of “cushioning sand” surrounding the carousel as he eventually skidded to a halt, mostly on his head.  He coughed and cried and spit sand for 10 minutes while we rushed him over to the drinking fountain to bathe him off.  Afterward, he was good to go for more, back up on the carousel to “try and stay on this time”.  What a rush and a laugh that was.  Good times.” ~ Ruprecht 

Sigh, good times indeed. 🙂

“Nehi Orange” (Orange Plastic Swings) Playground Series (#16), Nikon D300, 46mm, F/6.3, 1/320s, ISO 250, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

Once I outgrew the baby swing I so loved, I graduated to the ‘big girl’ swings at the playground. 

Swings have gone through several manifestations over the years but the ones I most remember are those whose seats were made of molded plastic (hey, it was the 70’s). I preferred this kind since a favorite game of mine to play was to swing as high as I could then jump off, hopefully landing feet first into the sand below. (So, mom, if you were ever wondering about those dirty knees I would come home with, well, now you know. 🙂 )   

When the plastic ones wore out, playgrounds began replacing them with belt

“Rubber Soul” (Black Rubber Belt Swing) Playground Series (#17), Nikon D300, 80mm, F/7.1, 1/320s, ISO 200, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

types. Some were woven of heavy-duty canvas while others were made of  thick rubber. Didn’t really matter the type as each were notorious for wrapping tightly around bare thighs (well, shorty-shorts were the rave) leaving those tell-tale red marks.

Wait, it gets better. 🙂Sometimes the rubber seat was embossed with the manufacturer’s logo which would invariably become branded on said thighs. Seriously! 

I didn’t care much for this type for the reasons listed plus one more: in the heat of summer, the seat would somehow manage to laminate itself to one’s skin making removal tricky if not altogether painful. Ouch!

What we endured for fun, huh? 🙂

Sunny Saturdays are always good for monkeying around! 🙂

“Slinky Monkey” (Monkey Bar Ladder with Shadow) Playground Series (#14), Nikon D300, 60mm, F/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

This was the closest I could find to the monkey bars of my childhood and it won’t be around much longer as funds are being raised to replace all the old equipment at this playground with one of the new configured play structures.

“M is for Monkey” (Monkey Bars Shadow) Playground Series (#15), Nikon D300, 26mm, F/7.1, 1/640s, +0.3EV, ISO 200, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

While I was at the park, a young boy ran over to me, intrigued by me and my camera. After I assured the mom I was not interested in photographing the children, we began talking about how much fun we used to have on stuff just like this. Her son was having a ball, climbing, hanging and swinging from the bars. In other words, acting like a complete monkey! 🙂  

I have visited parks with newer equipment and I must say, I don’t see the same enthusiasm as I did in this little boy playing on those old, rusty metal bars.  

Who says change is always for the best?

“Swing, Baby” (Wood Infant Swing) Playground Series (#13), Nikon D300, 80mm, F/5, 1/1250s, -0.3EV, ISO 200, ‘Old West’ Toning Action

I didn’t even notice the set of infant swings when I first entered the park but, as soon as I was leaving, the sight stopped me dead in my tracks. At that moment, some childhood memory buried deep in my psyche hurled itself forward and I just about screamed,  ‘I remember YOU!‘ 

I loved to swing. LOVED to swing! That rhythmic back-and-forth motion giving the sensation of flying – oh my, what could be better?  

My memory, however, of those worn wooden slats and front handle bar doesn’t come from a playground. No, mine is much closer to home as we had a similar swing hanging from the rafters in our basement. For hours I would sway to-and-fro, happy as can be as my mom went about her laundry duties. Such gleeful times (well, at least for me). 🙂 

While I was photographing the swing, awash in a flood of my own memories, two young mothers were pushing their infants and soaking in every giggle and smile. It was a delightful scene to watch. 

There will be a few more swings honored in this series but this one by far, holds a special place in my heart!

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