Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"The Wave" at Pioneer Townsite

Weaver School playground ride installed at Museum

   I started the first grade at Weaver School, Consolidated #13, west of Frederick in 1959.

   There was no such thing as kindergarten in those days -- at least, not for country kids. Sure, town kids could attend a kindergarten class but the school at Weaver started with Grade 1.

   Mrs. Latimer's 1st and 2nd grade classroom (yep... two grades per teacher and classroom) was at the north end of the school's long, long hallway. I can still remember the sights, sounds, smells and feelings from that classroom, and I'll bet that every other student can, too. It was a pretty wonderful place.

   And... Just outside the door of the classroom was an impressive piece of playground equipment. It was sort of a sinister merry-go-round, but much too big and dangerous for 1st graders. There was a small, regular merry-go-round for the youngsters that was located in another part of the playground. As I recall, you had to be in at least the third grade to ride the Wave.

   Like a merry-go-round, it did have benches all the way around, and it did turn. But... It also rocked and crashed against a center pole, making a big "BANG" noise and hitting hard enough to rattle your teeth. Of course, that was the fun of it. I don't remember anyone actually getting hurt on the Wave... but they probably could have.

  Although I may not have ridden the Wave as a 1st grader, my classmates and I certainly did later... for years. The fun of it was getting enough people on board to make it crash and bounce in a lopsided manner as it turned. It was a good time.

   I have no idea how long the Wave had been in place just outside at the school's north door. I'm sure that it was there for many years prior to my arrival at the school in 1959.

   One summer in the mid-to-late 1960s, the Wave disappeared. It was taken out because the Weaver board and administration decided that it was too dangerous. It was a real disappointment to arrive back at school that fall to find that the Wave, a fixture of the Weaver playground, was gone.

   After it was removed, Robert McCord purchased the surplus piece of playground equipment and set it up at his home for his daughter Rhonda. And... it remained at the McCord home for years.

   As such things do, it fell into disuse and disrepair. I'm sure that the equipment was not used for many, many years. It rusted, its wooden benches decayed, and it was a shadow of what it used to be.

   Last spring, Robert McCord donated the Wave to the Tillman County Historical Society and the old piece of playground equipment was given a new home, to live on as a visual token of playgrounds past. The Wave was installed at the Pioneer Townsite Museum, just outside the back door of the one-room Horse Creek School. Museum manager Jimmy Espinosa replaced the decayed benches and set its center pole in place. It is easily visible from Floral Street, positioned just inside the museum fence.

   I like seeing it there. It certainly brings back memories for me.

   I must point out, though, that the Wave is now non-functioning. It is locked in place and does not turn at all because, in our safety-conscious society, it would not be advisable to allow anyone to play on it.

   There is, after all, a reason that it was removed from the school playground in the first place!

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