Skip to comments.Seesaws: A Vanishing Part Of America
Posted on 06/17/2011 4:36:33 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
Seesaws: A Vanishing Part of America
By Bob Dorigo JonesCan you remember the last time you saw a seesaw? Im talking about an old fashioned teeter-totter the kind without springs.
If you are under the age of thirty, its very possible that youve never seen one. Although they were once a staple of playgrounds around the country, the lawsuit explosion in America prompted school officials and park superintendents to start removing them in the 1970s and 1980s.
Philip Howard, a prominent attorney and the author of the bestselling book, The Death of Common Sense, wrote this about seesaws eight years ago: Visit a playground and look for a seesaw. They are rapidly disappearing, going the way of merry-go-rounds, diving boards, and other joys of childhood.
The problem wasnt that every school and community was being sued. No, it was simply the likelihood that they would be sued in courts that were increasingly turning a blind eye to personal responsibility that motivated schools and communities to rip the teeter-totters out of the ground and install less risky things for kids to play on. The real possibility of being sued was enough to cause insurance rates to skyrocket, so kids had to say good-bye to their seesaws.
Books have been written about how playgrounds dont challenge kids enough nowadays. Playgrounds often dont often allow kids to take the kind of small risks help them grow and develop. Not that seesaws were a huge challenge, but they did at least require a little leg power and balance. Todays spring-loaded seesaws require very little effort to move, and some experts believe such changes are one of the reasons childhood obesity has become such a problem in America.
Despite the virtual extinction of the old-fashioned seesaw, there is at least one still around. In my most recent Lets Be Fair radio commentary, I mention that I actually found one! However, it isnt in a public park. It is located in one of the few places in America where lawsuits are as uncommon as seesaws are in the rest of the country an Amish community. Makes sense, huh? The photo above was taken at a school in an Amish enclave in northern Michigan. The hitching post for horses is visible in the foreground.
Do you have a story to share about how life in America is changing because of the ever-present threat of litigation? If so, Id like to hear it.
One or two kids with permanent spinal injuries, and they have to spoil the fun for everyone.
I still know quite a few places that still have seesaws. Merry-go-rounds, otoh, are harder to find.
See saws taught us about levers and Merry -go- rounds taught us about centrifugal force.
The best ones were the long see-saw plank mounted atop a swivel post.....kinda like a kamikaze merry-go-round with a tilt-a-whirl flavor...... it’s some nasty crap that happens when one falls off....the remaining one gets a nasty ground crash in two dimensions.
and a swimming pool.
Ah, the good old days. We had asphalt on the part of our playground where we played Red Rover and I had forever scabby knees until the age of 11. And I never see any kids climbing trees any more, playing kick the can, tag, stick ball, cowboys and Indians or hide-and-seek along with the loud cry of alle, alle, outs in free!
Sand boxes are litter boxes for all sorts of critters.
Oh yeah, those metal slides! Worse than a black Naugahide seat in a late 60’s car.
Here’s a playground ride that I’ve never seen before that was spun extremely fast. Watch what happens when a boy tries to hold on!
Don’t leave us hanging here—WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DOG? Did he drown?
Oh my goodness, I was just lurking on this thread thinking about that kind of see-saw. We had one when I was in first grade. I figured nobody would believe such a contraption existed, so I didn't mention it. As I recall no kid ever was badly injured by it, but it sure taught us to be quick, cause if that thing hit you it smarted right much. Still it was my favorite ride on the whole playground.
Don’t forget riding bikes and sleds without wearing a dorky helmet......
We found a local school playground (Lynnwood, IL) that not only has real see saws, but also a VERY high STRAIGHT sliding board with a nice hot metal surface. We take our kids there regularly. One of these days I’ll pick up a roll of waxed paper (another disappearing piece of Americana) and show’em how to REALLY fly down that sliding board.
And let's not forget that they also required... TRUST. Seesaw partners that thought it was funny to leap/slide off causing you to smash to the ground were unwelcome. You always had to be wary for such an occurrence. Part of the challenge.
I certainly remember seesaws from circa 1960, and they were monsters! Thick planks with a row of “teeth” in the middle, consisting of a pair of racks running along the edges at the center, each with 3 or 5 semicircular fittings that matched the 4” diameter pipe that was the fulcrum. It had a heavy chain slung under the pipe, which kept it confined to the general area. Of course, you were supposed to be able to adjust the fulcrum so a lighter child could seesaw with a heavier child.
At about ten years of age, we were more interested in creative abuse. We used to slam the seesaw to the ground to make it rebound against the chain, in hopes it might break. Also balancing on it like a surf board, leaping off it, etc.
These days it’s hard to even comprehend all that.
Thanks, Fiji Hill, for posting an item that brought back old memories from my childhood.
Elementary school in the early 1950s included ferocious dodge ball in the gym when it was cold or raining outside. Results = bloody noses and busted lips.
In good weather, it might have been kick ball (not soccer), where the boys were about evenly divided between two sides. There were no position players or goalies. The two sides just ran at one another like a scene out of “Brave Heart”, with boys getting knocked down and bloodied, as each side tried to score a goal.
After school, the gym coach would check out equipment for us to play basketball, baseball or soccer. There was also a very large front lawn area in front of the school and kids (boys and girls) would divide into two groups of about 25 each and play Red Rover. Many prior disputes were addressed during Red Rover, as specific individuals were subjected to punishment in the game and, again, there were bloody noses and lips.
Swings were meant to test one’s guts. We tried to see if we could swing as high as the crossbar and then bail out onto the gravel below (this was to gain status, you know). Monkey bars (not the PC “jungle gyms”) were called that because us little kids climbing around on them resembled the monkies at the zoos. The merry-go-round was our way of getting temporarily “high”, as kids would take turn running as fast as possible to spin the thing and make every kid hanging on as dizzy as possible.
Kids that grew up in that free environment without all of the law suits, political correctness and nanny state BS that exists today GREW UP TOUGH and better suited to deal with adverse conditions than the kids of the past few decades.
Of course, that last paragraph is just my personal opinion.
“SHE” was a rat terrier - scampered up the cliff and stood there smirking at me!!!!! Bee ouch!
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
MODERATOR, OH MODERATORI!
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