|Milk River Elementary. My home away from home.|
The Milk River Elementary School, house of learning to some two hundred children, was on the north-east corner of the town.
On the north and east, it was bordered by farmland.
On the south, by houses.
And on the west, by the field that stretched between it and the high school two blocks away.
The only playground equipment was a set of teeter-totters (see-saws) at the east end of the school building, and a monkey-bar on the west.
Oh and sometime between grades three and four, near the garbage, they installed a tether-ball pole.
The very latest in school-ground play equipment.
Let’s face it, dependance on toys and/or playing apparatus for entertainment wasn't expected.
Or necessary, as it turned out.
Because we made up our own games.
And two hundred-plus kids pooling their collective imaginations can come up with a lot of 'entertainment'.
We held impromptu races.
Which Kathy 'The Jet' Angyal always won.
Flag football games.
I should probably mention, here, that I never saw the use in just grabbing the flag when you can grab the whole kid.
And Lloyd Eagleson has the scars to prove it.
Climbing 'the rock'.
But that was only for the older, cooler kids.
Hide and seek.
Fun, but limiting when you had nothing but an open field in which to hide. (Or the neighbour's barley crop, which stood some feet over our heads. Just FYI.)
Tag. In its many incarnations.
Kick the can.
And King of the Castle.
Games of hopscotch.
There was one time we tried to get really creative and have some fun 'off site'.
And had an early brush with the law.
But that is another post . . .
Several of the girls played jump rope games.
Very popular and truly amazing to watch.
I, who had a hard time walking and breathing at the same time, was astounded at what many of those girls could do.
And while chanting/singing, too.
I never saw the use for it, though I did try.
But after getting my feet knocked out from beneath me for the 40th time, I gave it up as hopeless.
And put the jump ropes to better use.
I should remind you that we were mostly farm kids.
And I and many others, like me, were completely infatuated with horses.
Thus, skipping ropes immediately brought to mind – harnesses.
We would pass the rope around the middle (waist) of our chosen horse, hang onto the ends, give the accepted 'start' command in a firm voice.
Giddyap! or something similarly creative.
And we were off.
'Driver' . . . umm . . . driving.
Around, over and through the other kids on the playground.
It was fun.
When we tired of running, we would nip into the aforementioned barley crop across the road and pull up armloads of green, sweet-smelling 'hay'.
And to build little nests for our steeds.
You know, now that I think of it, I wonder what the farmer thought when he saw the ragged south-east corner of his crop.
As Milk River still went on to produce three 'Barley Kings', I guess our armloads of stolen barley stalks didn't make too much of a difference.
Back to my story . . .
I was there recently.
At Milk River Elementary, I mean.
The school now has extensive and obviously expensive playground equipment.
And tall fences.
The monkey bars are gone.
As are the teeter-totters and tether ball.
There are still farmer's fields to the east.
But a large ball-diamond had been constructed on the west side, between it and the high school.
And houses and development on the north, completely eliminating our old barley field.
I stared at the 'developed' space and pictured us kids playing and laughing at recess and noon hour.
Do these modern children, with their modern conveniences, have as much fun as we did?
Somehow, I doubt it.