Playground Find: Ladysmith, VA

You never know when you’re going to find an old playground. By “old” I mean “vintage”, as in pre 1980s. On a recent family trip, we needed to find a place to stop for a picnic dinner and to let the baby stretch her legs for a while. Anyone who has traveled with kids knows that you don’t always gets to pick your exit – you make do with what you find. We turned off I-95 at Exit 110 for Ladysmith, VA, looking for a park. Not too far from the exit, on Route 639, we found a school.

The school is the former C.T. Smith School, built in the 1960s, which, not surprisingly, replaced a school from the early 20th century. C.T. Smith closed in 2009 due to school consolidation. Since then, the school has become a community space. The grounds still contain playing fields, basketball courts, and a small playground. The only pieces of playground equipment were a jungle gym and a slide, but they peaked my interest.

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My elementary school had this exact playground piece, only larger. This one appeared to be for the younger elementary school kids. You might call it a jungle gym. It has monkey bars, climbing bars, and more. My friends and I found hours of entertainment on it during recess. Its official name is the “Giant Outdoor Muscle Man” produced ca. 1971 by GameTime, Inc.

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From the book, “Once Upon A Playground” by Brenda Biondo.

The second playground apparatus was a classic metal slide, also made by Game Time, Inc., presumably from the same era.

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Also a GameTime Inc apparatus.

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Stamped on the underside of the slide steps.

When looking at aerial photos on http://www.historicaerials.com, the playground was not visible (to my eyes) until the 1990s. However, this playground equipment does not date from the 1990s; the 1970s is accurate. It is possible that a) the resolution of the aerial photography wasn’t clear enough to show the equipment and they blended into the ground or b) this playground was moved from another school in the 1990s.

What do you think? And, have you played on a “Giant Outdoor Muscle Man”? Have you seen any GameTime, Inc. equipment lately?

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, however and wherever you celebrate! I hope your tree is trimmed, your hearts are full and you are all happy and healthy and with people you love.

Did you trim your tree? Here are a few classic ornaments that always find their way to the O’Shea family tree. These were my mother’s ornaments from her childhood. My sisters and I always think the elf is a devil!

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And we have some of my grandmother’s ornaments, too. Sadly a bunch of them broke when our tree fell over – years ago. Our trees are so large, it sometimes happens! But we have a few survivors and the original box.

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Merry Christmas one and all!

Build a Playhouse!

Yesterday we talked about a dream house from a child’s perspective along with children’s impressions on the built environment. To follow up on that topic, I wanted to share a few pages from a book I found last summer in an antique shop in Barton, Vermont. It caught my eye because of my ongoing interest in playgrounds.

The cover of the Children’s Playhouse booklet from The Home Workshop Library, published 1950 by the General Publishing Company, Inc.

The Home Workshop Library was a series of books for the industrious DIY-ers in the post World War II era, that reprinted articles from Popular Homecraft magazine.

Inside cover.

“A playhouse is in the largest sense, a child’s castle. It is also a safe haven for young energy and a storage place for a child’s priceless treasures.”

Table and contents and the first design.

Ranging from playhouses to playground equipment to bunk beds to playhouses, the pages are filled with plans and specifications and equipment needed.

page 6 and 7 – directions for the playhouse

Pages 8-9: info about construction and post foundations.

“A Wee House for Wee People”

Who wants an elephant slide?

I think I will build a playhouse in my backyard (someday). Anyone else? Have you used old plans to design a structure, whether a slide or a house? The Home Workshop Library also includes household furniture. Anyone have a copy or something similar?