The Great Scheme of the Monkey Bars.
There was really nothing better than hanging out on the school grounds. on weekends or after school. The place where we spent most of our working hours took on a whole new feeling once we didn't have to report to teachers or return to our classrooms.
But even during school hours, when classes were in session. I found a tremendous joy on the climbing equipment, and especially the Monkey Bars. I liked the dome-shaped bars that reminded me of a rocket and the overhead swinging bars. Flying hand-over-hand across those bars made me feel particulary strong, and more like Tarzan than a typical elementary school student.
After school hours I constantly tried to climb up the Tether Ball pole, or up the high metal supports of the swings.
These innocent looking metal structures were indeed a fruitless attempt at the mass extermination of children.
However, we fooled everyone; we survived. Not only did we survive, but we flourished, growing in numbers. We made the monkey bars our second home.
There was in fact, a certain hierarchy of supremacy directly related to monkey bars. The kid on the very top bar ruled the day. Soon, he - or she, would be joined by others seeking to be king, or to oust another person from power. Girls seemed to be more attracted to the things that moved, like the swings , or the teeter-totters . They always engaged in worthless activities like "jump rope" or "hop scotch".
Sidewalk and Playground Games
"Hop Scotch" grids could be seen about every 20-30 feet on our neighborhood sidewalks. These strange markings would appear from out of nowhere. Nobody ever saw the girls laying out these grids; they just appeared, like crop circles , sometime during the night. Though I never saw the appeal of Hop Scotch, I did have a certain respect for it. It was a game that was played outside, it involved marking up a city sidewalk, and it seemed to belong primarily to girls.
Street and sidewalk games were indeed fun. We used to be able to play in the streets, depending on the neighborhood, and how much traffic passed through. Mostly, there was little traffic. Us guys used to play street Football whenever we were instructed to stay close to home. We used to be able to actually run up to a parked car, touch it, and yell "safe" when playing tag without having to worry about a car alarm going off. During school, The playgrounds also belonged only to us. Sure, we were limited to how much rec time the hacks would give us, but classes be damned, us kids controlled the main yard.
After school, or on weekends, many of us kids would get together and play games on the school grounds. Games like "1-2-3 Redlight", "Red Rover" , or even Kickball, were commonplace. Soon, a new game was introduced to us: "Prison Ball" . This was the ultimate. Known to many as "Dodge Ball", we called it "Prison Ball" because once you were hit by the ball, you had to go over to the other team's prison boundary.
This game was interesting, because the older kids would try to use as much physical force as possible when throwing the ball at us younger guys. The basic object was to maim and cause as much physical and psychological damage as possible. Now I ask you, what can be more fun than that?