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  • Writer's pictureTerry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Playing in the Park

I know it seems so ordinary, but there was always something special to me, just playing in the park.

The park was in the middle of Leicester Square in the Winnipeg PMQs. The equipment was spread out, leaving vast amounts of grass for whatever the play of the day was.

There were teeter totters in the northeast corner, moving west was the sandbox that was refilled each spring, leaving a huge mound of granular fun. Past that were the swings where, if you went so high that you spun over the top bar, you would turn inside least that was the rumour.

Nearby was the slide. eight feet high, it seemed so much higher to young me, gleaming steel that soaked up the summer sun, burning your skin if you hesitated at the top. You could be normal and climb the steps or be a brat and climb up the slide. That was us, always looking for a challenge. That lead to some slipping and sliding and the odd fall but what's childhood without some of those?

At the far end of the park, kitty-corner to the teeter-totters that we started with, was the Monkey Bars. Now, whoever designed these knew how to have fun. They were circular in design, with the uprights bending inward at about the six foot mark and all meeting in the center, which was topped with a steel ball.

There were so many things you could do with an implement like that. It could be a cage with prisoners and guards. It could be acrobatics with everyone having to run at it and get through the openings as fast as possible. You could race to the ball, climb down upside-down, swing, drop, monkey swing, the days were not long enough to exhaust the possibilities. Oh, and you could fall, which we did, frequently. But it was fun. Oh, and you could stick your tongue to the ball in the winter...I know. :p

Then there was another set of swings, but this one had a baby swing with a basket like seat with holes for the kid's legs to stick out and a bar that slid up and down making it easy to get the kids into the seat and then secure them. I never liked that swing much but it also had the regular swings, just a leather band between two chains. These were the best because you could push out on the chains at the height of your swing, increasing your momentum. Also, they were easy to launch yourself out of for a parachute jump. Parachute jumps were fun unless you didn't time your launch right because then you would do a pretty serious face plant. All in good fun though.

There was another set of see-saws and a sand box that, as I recall was really just a hole in the ground that someone would occasionally add sand to. It was still fun to play in though.

Being a kid in the Winnipeg air base PMQs in the early 60s was amazing for me. There was always so much to do and mostly all you needed was your imagination.

What were your favorite activities and places to be when you were between the ages 3 - 6?

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