A MIND FOREVER VOYAGING THROUGH STRANGE SEAS OF THOUGHT, ALONE


This is my second blog.

My first blog chronicled my experiences over three years caring for my dad as he lived through and finally died from Alzheimer's. That is the book that is for sale.

This second blog kind of chronicles of life, what it is like to start your life over in your late 50's. After caretaking, you are damaged, file bankruptcy, and the world doesn't care what you did. After 8 months of unemployment, you wake each day knowing the world doesn't want you. Finally you do find a job, 5 weeks before homelessness, but doing what you did 30 years ago and getting paid what you did 30 years ago. So this is starting over.



The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Friday, December 13, 2013

ROPE CLIMBING WITH MR. MUIR

There are certain things about our childhood that make a lasting impression on us.  I've been searching the net for several months, trying to find a picture: it is a picture of the double slide that use to reside at the little park off of Highland Ave. by the water tower in Blue Island IL back in the 1960's.  I really wanted to find the picture because when I tell you about the slide, you won't believe me.

What got me thinking about the slide was when I was walking through the park nearby recently, putting an end to the rumors I'm not getting out much, I saw the play ground equipment and felt so sorry for kids today.  I cannot believe the wussie play equipment kids have today.

Greenbriar School, K3, had a 10 step slide, monkey bars, and swings we use to swing as high as we could and then time the jump off to see who could fly the farthest.  And it was on concrete.  I don't remember anyone getting killed, maimed, or seriously injured.  These things that pass for kids playground equipment today, no wonder all of our boys are barely more than girls.

But the double slide, I wish I had a picture because you will not believe this, was about 24 steps high.  It was absolutely scary as hell to kids.  It was a right of passage to us as children, we became big boys when we could not just climb and slide down the slide, but what was seriously cool was once at the top, swing over the railing and sliding down the pole like a fireman.

Honest, it was about 24 steps up.  It would not surprise me to find out it was 30.  When you got to the top, there were two slides, one left, one right.  And two poles supporting the platform, more on them later.

The first time I got to the top I was probably 4,  the bigger kids, including my sister were not paying attention, and I started up the ladder and was almost at the top when someone noticed and started screaming.  I think it was my sister and I swear she was screaming "JUMP" but I might be wrong.

But one of the bigger kids raced to the slide and up the ladder and got to me at the top and we had to go down the slide together, and then I got yelled at when we got to the bottom, yelled at by my mom when we got home, yelled at by my dad when he got home and I think some stranger driving by the next day yelled at me too, but that might have been for something else.

But climbing that slide was a passage from being a little kid to being a big kid.  And the day you climbed outside the rail and slide down the poll was just the ultimate in balls when you did it before any of your friends.  And without wetting your pants, that was important.  Didn't count if you wet your pants on the way down.

Which is all leading to a man who made an impression on me as a kid, Mr. Muir.  He was related pretty closely to John Muir, I don't remember how, but he was the gym teacher for the k6 school district.  Now here is what you have to understand about Mr. Muir, he was already in his 60's when I started school.  But the guy was all muscle.  It was bizarre to see the bulging biceps with old people's skin over it.  And no one ever beat the guy in HORSE, that bastard almost never missed a basketball shot, no matter where he took the shot.  He even demonstrated, at his age, climbing the rope to the top of the gym ceiling every year.  I remember he did 100 pushups and 100 sit-ups every morning, as he told us.

Do they still climb ropes in gym class?   Do they still have gym class? I doubt it.  Even back then I could never figure out why they put that 1 inch matt at the bottom on the gym floor, I guess if anyone fell it would keep them from damaging the hardwood floor because it sure the hell wasn't going to keep you from dying from the fall.  But no one ever did.  Die I mean.

That rope climbing was scarier than the slide, but I don't think any kid who never did that slide was ever going to make it to the ceiling of the gym in 4-6 grade because it was a LONG way down.  But every year, Mr. Muir would haul his 60 year plus body up the rope like he was Tarzan and come back down barely breathing hard.  And somewhere in the back of my head, I told myself to be like Mr. Muir when I am his age.

Well, I'm not his age yet and probably not in nearly as good a shape as he was at 56.  But not bad.  I doubt I could climb the rope today, hell , if I found that slide it would probably scare me, but there is that burning in me to keep in shape.

Taking care of my folks, I learned the value of making sure your legs and intestines are working well.  Either of them go and you go down fast to helplessness.  Which is why, today, after bringing the dog in from his walk, I did pushups, squats, and sit-ups.  Twenty each, not one hundred.  Heck, it's 4 o'clock and if I'd done 100 of each I'd probably just be finishing.

But it's the memory of Mr. Muir, the simplicity of childhood, the monster double slide over 24 steps tall and what a little boy had to do to be a big boy.  And in another few years, it all got so complicated.  I think that started when we all wanted to do something to Marcia Brady, but just weren't sure what.

Woke up this mornin' feelin' fine
There's somethin' special on my mind
Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood, whoa yeah

Somethin' tells me, I'm into something good

She's the kind of girl who's not too shy
And I can tell I'm her kind of guy
She danced close to me like I hoped she would

Somethin' tells me, I'm into something good


Herman's Hermits

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