Play equipment safer today but less creative | Opinion


The children’s slide at Reaves Park looked more like a meat cleaver than a traditional slide. The kids climbed up gripping the yellow rails along the side that carried you to the top. Letting go meant sliding down the glass facade on a bed of sand.

The only issue was that the slide faced east and the morning sun and the stainless steel bed made for a hot ride or could be used to cook breakfast if you brought the eggs to fry.

Nearby, the merry-go-round could knock kids off like a slingshot if enough leg power propelled the device.

During this time, some of us were known to hide under the contraption just to see how it worked.

In Edmond, the Rocket Ship in Stephenson Park is falling apart as the city upgrades the historic downtown park.

The slide and rides are long gone from Reaves, which is also getting a makeover. The wooden pirate ship in Andrews Park is long gone, as are the green wooden seesaws.

The community-built ‘Big Toy’ Reaves Park, envisioned and championed over 20 years ago by Mike and Robyn Tower, has stood the test of time and thousands of smiles.

But most of those death-defying playground toys are gone these days. They’ve been replaced with softer, softer structures that present less accountability to towns and villages.

Drawings today are not so conducive to children’s imaginations. We had border designs, a few Conestoga wagons, spaceships, coil spring animals, and even cartoon characters.

The Edmond rocket slide was installed in the 1960s when Americans dreamed of space travel. Residents commonly refer to the park as Rocket Park.

An old exhibit of playground equipment and vintage catalogs was shown in the historical museum a few years ago.

Century-old catalogs claimed quality playground equipment designed for better-trained future leaders.

Fewer reformatories and juvenile courts would be needed if children spent more time in the city or local school yard.

Part of the push was to help socialize the new American immigrant population in the early 1800s. They learned the language and culture from their peers.

Early playgrounds were more like large sand gardens. They included swings, slides and climbing bars. Instructors were often hired to lead children in organized recreations.

These vintage playground pieces are flea market staples today. Collectors pay big bucks to bring home a solid steel merry-go-round or slide.

Edmond plans to put his rocket in a museum, keeping it off the resale market for at least a little while.


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