By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
All of the older kids in our family attended at least some years of school at a four room Catholic school. One of my favorite memories of those early years was recess.
This was a time when children played games at recess that entailed little more than their minds and bodies, and maybe a ball. We played Simon Says; Red Light, Green Light; Fox and Goose; and Red Rover to name a few. We also had the typical playground equipment of the times.
My favorite playground equipment was the merry-go-round, followed closely by the swings. It was always a race to be out the door and to the merry-go-round and the swings in time to find a spot. There was only one merry-go-round, but it was always loaded with kids throughout each recess.
Our merry-go-round was one of the low type, like the one below. Some of the older kids would be the pushers and would push the merry-go-round as they ran along beside it until it was going so fast they could barely hang on. Then they would swing up and sit down while it spun round and round.
There was a well-worn path around it, and outside of that was the hard lawn. Everyone hung on tight because you didn’t want to slide off and land on the hard ground.
This winter we drove past an active church with an antique merry-go-round in the yard. The snow around the merry-go-round was tracked, so we could tell that someone had been playing. It was a very nice sight to see.
I also loved swinging on the swings. There were two sets of swings on our playground. One was near the ball diamond, and I loved to swing on that one and watch from high in the air as the ball game went on below us. Some of the girls played ball with the boys, but I wasn’t one of them. You had to be pretty good to be accepted on the teams with the boys.
Imagine our surprise when we found this swing set in Michigan right on the shores of Lake Michigan. We envied the kids as they swung on the swings, but their joy was contagious and we were happy to have been there while the swings were occupied.
As we travel around, we find these old merry-go-rounds and swing sets at old one-room schoolhouses and sometimes at old parks.
We know we’re lucky to find them these days because safety and insurance concerns have towns removing them to eliminate their liability.
If you drive by any old schools, look around the schoolyard. You might see some old playground equipment sitting silently nearby.