Living in the city gave you two types of surfaces to play on, concrete and asphalt. Any city park with dirt and grass was two bus rides away. The biggest yard was maybe 25 feet across and most were packed with tables, chairs and an occasional above ground pool. Since this was all were knew, we never gave it a second thought. Hard, unforgiving play surfaces had their advantages. The smooth city streets made for great rollerskating. Marking them up with chalk was like drawing on a black board. And you could always count on the ball bouncing true, no bad hops.
On the other hand there were many disadvantages as well. In the summer the black top got hot, very hot. Sometimes your sneakers would stick, like walking on tape. Every kid had perpetual scabs on their knees and elbows. It was something you lived with. I have the scars today to prove it.
City parks and schoolyards we covered in concrete or asphalt. The parks and schoolyards had swings, slides, see saws and monkey bars. The swings were steel chains hung from metal poles with a metal seat. The slides were all shiny metal and as hot as an iron in the middle of the summer. The best items were always the monkey bars. Steel pipes rising in a skeletal pyramid, ten feet into the air. You climbed them to the top, swung on them and hung upside down, precariously high from the concrete below.
Today I received a letter from the concerned parents of the PTA. It seems our grade school playground’s safety surface isn’t soft enough. And to make matters worse, some of the swings and slides may not have rubber bumpers on the edges. They also need money to remove the “Jungle Jim” (I guess monkey bars isn’t the politically correct term any more) because at 6 feet, it is too high and may pose a fall hazard. I stuck a few band aides in the envelope they provided for donations and a note suggesting that this may be a lot cheaper way to go and mailed it back