Murdo Girl…A decrepit Murdo playground

I was busy all day and I have not thought one minute about what I could write about tonight. I decided to go to the WordPress blogs and write about the first prompt I came to. When I saw it, I seriously thought about moving on. In other words, cheating on my own rules. I wouldn’t feel right about that, so here goes…


The prompt for this week is A Decrepit Playground. I am going to revisit the playground at the grade school in Murdo. The one I played on in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It’s no longer there. I think it was around 1966 when it was torn down, but it should be of no surprise to all of you, that I remember every detail of the layout. My visit will take place in the 90’s.

decrepit definition: in very bad condition because of being old, or not having been cared for, or having been used a lot:

Every time I go to my old hometown, I visit the grade school and the high school. It’s a beautiful day, so I decided to walk over to the grade school. There’s a new school now, but the old building and the playground are still sitting there waiting to be torn down. At least they were the last time I was here. Of course, that was over ten years ago. I remember I brought my ten-year old. He was very skeptical when we got there, but I think he had fun. Later, someone asked him how the old playground was and he said, “rusty.”

I can still hear the really young kids playing on the rickety old teeter-totters. The kid with the longest legs had a clear advantage. If you were short, sometimes you never got the chance to push-off. You went up and down at the tall one’s pace. If they were mean kids, they would get you up in the air and then suddenly push down on their end and bounce you off your seat. There was a handle at each end of the board that even then, it was in such bad shape, kids got slivers in their bottoms.

Next to the teeter-totters were the monkey bars. I didn’t play on them much.

The swings seemed so much higher back in the day. We would pump ourselves up really high and then bail out. My knees hurt just thinking about it. Remember, girls had to wear dresses back then. Sometimes you could talk someone into sitting on the flat seat while you stood up, putting a foot on either side of them. If you both pumped, you got dangerously high up…we got even with the pole the swings hung from. When we were there after school, we would throw the chain around the top several times to make the swing higher, or we would twist the chain as tight as we could so we could spin.

There was a short slide and a big tall slide. We threw sand on them to make them slippery, and then slide upside down, backwards two or three at a time, and whatever other combination we could come up with to make it more exciting.

Taken in our front yard when I was about 1 1/2

When Donny Johnson and I were only two years old, his older brother took us to the playground and Donny fell off the top of the big slide. He didn’t survive. I don’t remember it happening, but I remember the sorrow everyone felt for years afterward. The family lived across the street from us. It was a sad day when they moved away.

I remember the day Mom came to visit school. It was during recess. I ran across the playground to greet her, forgetting I was wearing the glasses I had stolen from my brother, Billy. I was so mad coming back from Rapid City the day we got our eyes checked. Billy bawled all the way back because he had to wear glasses and I cried because I didn’t. I purloined his glasses and held the earpieces under hot water so I could twist them to fit me. I wore them to school for several days. Mom said it was a wonder they didn’t make me go cross-eyed because Billy’s eyes turned out a little and that’s what they were trying to correct by drawing his eyes toward his nose.

Picture of Audrey Poppe. She was my 5th grade teacher. (This was in 1973.)

Billy later told me my cousin, Mark snitched on me and that was the reason for Mom’s unexpected school visit.

I tenember I loved playing tether-ball when I was in the 7th and 8th grades. You had to stand in line a lot of the time unless you kept winning.

Standing by my Francis grandparent’s graves at the Murdo cemetary. My rag muffin stage 1960

Well, I’ve been sitting on this teeter-totter for so long, I’m afraid to try to get up. This playground isn’t the only thing that’s decrepit.

Since I didn’t have a partner to hold me up in the air, I’ve been sitting on this board which is all the way to the ground.

I’ll just slide up to the middle where it’s attached to the bar. Up the board I go… “OUCH!!!”

8 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…A decrepit Murdo playground

  1. scoper07 August 8, 2018 / 11:24 am

    I don’t recall ever hearing the story of the Johnson family. How sad! I learned to play tether ball on that playground. Lots of memories MG.


    • Mary Francis McNinch August 9, 2018 / 2:42 pm

      I wonder if kids still play tether ball 07? They should. It’s so much fun!


  2. lifelessons August 7, 2018 / 12:05 am

    Oops.. meant to say we sat on wax paper when we went down the slide to go faster and it waxed the slide so everyone went faster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch August 7, 2018 / 12:27 am

      I remember seeing Donny’s little gravestone at the cemetery. It had a little deer figurine on it. Mom always said even though it was sad, they had little Debbie because they missed Donny so much. Not that she replaced him, but she was a joy so you can’t really question why certain things happen. Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons August 7, 2018 / 9:46 am

        Yes. Mother miscarried a baby between Betty and Patty and if it had lived, I might not have been born.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. lifelessons August 7, 2018 / 12:05 am

    I didn’t know you were there when Donny died falling from the slide. That was so sad. I was six and we lived across the street so I remember it well. Patti and I took acrobatics/gymnastics, square dancing and ballet from his mom and Patti took tap as well. She certainly livened up the town. I have a photo of all the characters and audience of a play Patti and Karen Bossart put on to raise money for his memorial fund. Just found it yesterday as I was sorting photos to put into albums (someday?)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. countrygirl57 August 6, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    What a memory! I went to four schools in the 2nd grade. I don’t remember which playground went with which school or if they even had playgrounds???!!!

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Mary Francis McNinch August 6, 2018 / 10:20 pm

      I know, Countrygirl…I hardly ever have anyone dispute my memory unless it’s about something that happened yesterday.


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