Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Are the Kids?

Today's main order of business was to see THE CARDIOLOGIST, the one who would thumbs up or thumbs down my scheduled heel surgery.  In order to get to the Geisinger Medical Center where I would see this expert, I had a drive of about thirty minutes to make.

Quick report:  All is good.  Even though I have a tiny hole in my heart (news to me), and a condition called ventricular bigeminy (see a typical EKG following), the doc is mostly concerned about keeping my blood pressure in a healthy range.  So, long day condensed, I'm good to go for surgery on Monday, June 17.  That's a mere four days away, and hopefully that will be day #1 of beginning to feel good and getting active again.

Sample EKG showing ventricular bigeminy
Anyway, back to the drive.

Leaving my hometown, I first passed by the town park, with its large Playworld Systems playground.   There are some truly awesome pieces of play equipment in there, and parts that can be enjoyed by youngsters of all ages.  

I headed east towards my destination, passing numerous suburban developments on the way.  I noticed quite a wide variety of interesting play equipment in some of the yards.

As a child, I would've been thrilled to have this setup in my yard:

What I do remember having when we were young, was a unit just about like this one:

Compared to what is in many kids' yards nowadays, this one is pretty bare bones.  Later, as I recall, when we outgrew the glider, my father replaced it with another regular swing.  As with all of his projects then and now, he added anchors and other safety features so that the unit could probably withstand a typhoon/hurricane/earthquake/tornado/overly rough neighborhood kids or whatever.  Heck, it's probably still there and still completely safe.  Rust free too, I'm sure.  I played on that swingset, oh, about 51 years ago.  

I remember playing during those long summer days with my girl posse - Laurie, Suzanne, and myself.   How we amused ourselves from morning until night, I'm not sure.  I do know that we were rarely allowed to play indoors.  We had to make our own fun, one way or another.

We didn't have loads of toys, but we had some.  There were jacks:

Our jacks were the plain metal ones with the little red rubber ball.  Nowadays they are multi-colored and even glow-in-the-dark. 

The girls in my posse each had a simple jumprope.  When we had all learned to jump various patterns, then we practiced "double dutch" until we mastered that, too.  Our ropes were very simple, but later on I remember acquiring an upgraded model having ball bearings in the handles.  It was sweet, and the girls were jealous, as I recall.
The basic starter model
I was the only one of the three of us that had a swingset and friendly parents, so it seemed that we usually congregated on my front or side stoop, or sometimes on the sidewalk for an hours long game of hopscotch.  We always used the same pattern, and later we replaced our simple stone markers with discarded heels from old shoes.  Having a heel to toss gave a player great advantage in the game, and since we all eventually had a heel, our competition was fierce.

One of my favorite memories from those days was hearing the distant melody of the Popsicle Pete ice cream truck coming.  My dad always seemed to have a quarter in his pocket for me, and often for the other neighborhood kids whose dads always had empty pockets.

I am fortunate to have so many good memories from a happy childhood.  I'm very grateful, especially since I know that so many children have not had that experience.  

Now, back to my original question:  Where Are the Kids?  In my entire 30 minute drive, I did not see one child playing in a playground or in a back yard.  Yes, it was a mostly cloudy day, with some moments of sunshine breaking through, but hey, it's summer.  School is out.  Kids are home.  

Or aren't they?  Where are they?  What're they doing?  What're they playing?  

Just wondering.


  1. Glad the Doc cleared you for the procedure:)

  2. Just because I was a boy, was no reason not to like playing jacks. I remember playing it way back when and believe it or not, I was fairly good at it.

  3. In this day and age, watching my grand kids and great grandkids, I'll bet they are either playing their electronic games or watching tv. So sad. Glad you have been ok'd for the procedure and on your way to good health.

  4. The lack of kids drives me nuts, too! In our last neighborhood there were a ton of kids and a community maintained playground. We were always the only ones there! Trust me, I do NOT go to the playground to play with my kids. I go there so they can play with OTHER KIDS! Luckily the neighborhood we're in now often has pickup games of street hockey, basketball, kiddie pools in the driveway, etc.

    Good luck on Monday!

    1. PS. This is Maura Pannell, by the way.