Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Little Windows--The Unfortunate Swing Set Incident

Invite the neighbors, the cousins, and your maladjusted uncle! It's summer in the mid 1970's and the grill is lit!

Pull up a lawn chair, grab a beer, and soak up some scintillating conversation.

But what to do with those pesky kids?

Sears, my friend. Sears.

Forget about how they violated physics to get the whole thing in the box. Grab a socket wrench, a screwdriver, and some bandaids, and you too could have a knee-slapping swing set.

Just look at the pandemonium!

Monkey bar, teeter totter, sliding board buffed to a rusty sheen. The works!

They look like a happy bunch.

But the truth was darkner, my friends. This little group of friends/family/neighbors trailed some seriously bad karma over the years. There was the time my neighbor got his thumb nailed to a tree. And the time our experiments in gravitation shed light (albeit red) on the stone-skull effect. Sooner or later, my turn came. Karma sets aside a summer day for all of us, I suppose.

But it wasn't my fault! It was my cousin. He was bad, bad, bad.

It's okay. We can say it.

There I was chilling on the teeter totter. I could ask you whose business I was minding, but you already know the answer.

I did not consent to a ballistics test on my head. I'm quite sure of that.

My cousin took the empty swing. He took aim. I turned around and caught cold steel on the forehead. If you weren't aware of this before, let me impress upon you that those cuts on the head BLEED.

So, with the thumb-to-tree crisis and gravity experiments fresh in my mind, I sought an audience with the adults to discuss the situation. Politely, of course. Calmly. I didn't want to make a scene. However, my neighbor's mom, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from the nailed thumb, screamed. At least, I did my part to maintain the peace.

Here I am blissfully unaware of what fate was cooking. But my pose is strangely prophetic, don't you think?

P.S. After getting stitches at the hospital, I never did regrow hair on that little patch of my scalp. It was a quirky little bald spot. A battle wound.

Until my forehead overtook it several years ago.

(The "Little Windows" Series: A while back, I transferred our old Super 8 home movies onto VHS. Now I'm moving those to DVD. They're an odd record of the past. More vibrant than photos, but still distant and imperfect. I thought it might be fun now and again to share some of these "little windows" into my past.)


Rene said...

I remember those tubular swingsets. We tried to swing as hard as we could so the posts would come up. I do remember using the swing seats as a mace. I fortunately never suffered much injury from it.

jackt said...

Haha the scar/receding hairline joke at the end is hilarious!

anne said...

I was there! Well... that's what it felt like reading this. :)

Scott said...

Back in those days, kids were given to self-government. It's like that today with some families, but it's my sense that those bygone days were so much more hands off. And there are many advantages to that. Although this is a bad memory, it's a good one too. We were allowed to experience life instead of living in a protective bubble, allowed to make mistakes and make our own adjustments. Parents functioned like the Supreme Court, the last resort. Except when it came to little siblings.

Erik Ivan James said...

My cousins had one of those swing sets. The supports kept bending and the screws all fell out. But we had great fun while it lasted.

Bernita said...

Ah, my father-in-law bought one of those for mine before I was even pregnant.

beadinggalinMS said...

AAWW lil cutie pie!
I remember those swing sets. Lori got hurt real bad on ours and had to spend the night in the hospital. She cracked her pelvic bone. I also remember all of us getting busted lips one time or another from the monkey bars on it.
Such blissful fun we had. The whole neighboorhood kids would show up to play on it.
Thanks for sharing your memories. :)

Brian said...


I'm always creeped out to find someone who lived a parallel childhood to my own. Yet with far more bravery than I to delve into the treasure trove of horrors.

Melissa Marsh said...

My niece and nephew are actually still using the swing set that my brothers and I had growing up.

Love the pics!

Kira said...

Why do injuries and swing sets go so well together? I ended up with a bloody scalp, too!

Anonymous said...

Rene, sounds pretty typical. :) I'm surprised more of us don't have head injuries.

Jackt, welcome welcome! Glad you liked my little autobiography. Hope to see you back!

Anne, too bad you weren't. It would've been a blast. (As long as you don't mind the sight of blood).

Scott, I've thought about the same thing. My parents let me do so many things that I wouldn't let my kids do today. It would be interesting to study the reasons for the changes in parenting style.

Erik, sounds like you got your money's worth!

Bernita, bet he had a great time assembling it too. ;)

BeadinggalinMS, broken pelvis?? Ouch! Ditto on the more minor injuries. And of course, it was required to walk up the slide the wrong way.

Brian, glad you enjoyed digging through a few with me. I'll have more, rest assured!

Melissa, the pressure-treated wood version seems to have taken over. Glad a few of the good old style survive. Thanks for the comment about the pics too. Those movies are hilarious. =)

Kira, were you an assault victim too or was it a fall? Just too many moving parts, I guess. I couldn't even count how many times I got pinched.

anne frasier said...

too cute!!

you, not the head wound.

Jeff said...

Ouch, Jason! I'll be that hurt. I believe all of us at one time or another have either fallen from a swingset or had one used as a weapon against us.

mermaid said...

You can brag about that scar and be mighty proud.

Anonymous said...

Anne, my hair lost it's curl. A little.

Jeff, yeah they should put child-proof locks on those things! Oh wait. I guess that would defeat the purpose. :)

Mermaid, I was brave at the hospital. Really. ;)

Bhaswati said...

Poor you; that must have been painful! The contest between the bald patch and the forehead added a nice lighter touch though. Please keep your humor intact :)

Jay said...

That brings back so many memories of my own, and yet, I completely enjoyed sharing yours as well.

ann marie again said...

Hi Jason and thanks for your comment here and at the other blog! Very kind.

I know that situation - oh how well - want to sit down in the garden, grab fresh mint leaves right there and put them in a white wine spritzer ... and they are running! Help! Laurieanne {5} come back! Thomas, what are you doing, eating stones?

A fun and true post.

Yes and I know that I am surfing under my other ID, because I may be hiding in the basement but it is fair game now that it is no more a secret... I switched back to my name - with a twist


News from the poetry basement

Take care and have a great day all!

Ann Marie

ann marie again said...

I am sorry - I meant

News from the poetry basement

here I advertise and make a bad linkie!

Bailey Stewart said...

I used to play high wire act and walk across the top of the set. Fortunately, I never hurt myself that badly. I do remember swinging hard just to make the back legs of the set pop-up from the ground.

Martyn said...

I once did myself a nasty injury as a kid doing Superman impressions jumping from the sofa to the chair and back again. You can imagine what happened when I misjudged my jump...

Ouch !

Anonymous said...

Bhaswati, don't worry, I see humor in most everything. :)

Miss Jay, somehow I'm not surprised that you've gotten into your share a trouble. ;)

Ann Marie, thanks for the link update! I hope Thomas spit out those stones.... :D

Eve, whoa! A high wire act across the top?? Now that's some serious mojo.

Martyn, oh my. A belly-flop onto Mother Earth cannot feel too good.

Kira said...


I was an assault victim and I fell - darn church group boys. threw a rock at my head while I was swinging, hence the fall. Glad I don't have pictures like you do!

Anonymous said...

Kira, assaults by the church group.... I should've known! ;)

HD said...


You wrote: ... Monkey bar, teeter totter, sliding board buffed to a rusty sheen. The works! [my emphasis]

Perhaps I'm just quibbling, and perhaps I'm just wrong on the facts (sue me [grin]), but I don't see a teeter totter in that photo. If you mean the fourth apparatus from the left, well, I don't know what to call that thing, but it's hanging from the top bar, right? So I don't feel like the semantics of 'teeter totter' can be stretched to include it, on account of its hanging. But that's just me. I'm a little sensitive. I have pretty much achieved a monopoly on teeter totters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, perhaps even in all of Michigan and beyond. So I make it my business to correct any spurious claims of teeter-totter-hood. And yes, I realize it's an old photograph. I'm just saying ...

And Scott is right about the protective bubble business. Why do I have a monopoly on teeter totters? It's not that I've taken over them all. It's that the parks and the schools have removed them all due to safety concerns.

Anonymous said...

HD, you are correct. It's a hanging appartus which seated two people. One on either side. A poor man's teeter totter perhaps? It was kind of lame. Come to think of it, it neither teetered nor tottered. It always remained horizontal to the ground.

Point taken.

September said...

it sounded as if you were talking about my childhood. :) thanks for taking me back in time. I remember getting a swing set and a doughboy pool on the same day - both from Sears! I was 8 and the happiest person on the block - until a swing (in my case, it was the two benches that face each other, whatever those were called)came and hit me on the head! LOL