I Was A Teenage Stowbilly
Copyright Michael Pollick 2013
Published at Smashwords
These essays about growing up in the Midwest are also included in “A Very Stowbilly Sampler” and the compilation ebook “Collected Works (And Dry Goods)”, both available through Smashwords.
WOODLAND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: PLAYGROUND CONFIDENTIAL
Woodland Elementary School came with its own proving ground, although outsiders often wrote it off as nothing more than a simple PLAYground. Those of us who ran through that unforgiving and cruel jungle know better. The playground at Woodland was actually a bit schizophrenic. There were sections designated as safe for grades K-3, then other areas deemed suitable. for the more discerning 4th to 6th grade crowd. This 38th parallel was never actually marked with a physical line on the asphalt or anything, but the younger kids instinctively knew when they were getting perilously close to crossing over it. It was Stow's version of a prison shock collar, only without the explosive charges. The K-3 crowd had to content themselves with games like hopscotch, which was barely a game in the first place, and the dreaded small swings. The teeter-totters were also divided between amateur and professional grade, although the one “game” that became universal was the sudden jump from the lower position, allowing gravity to take care of the victim in the higher position.
One popular playground game evolved from the innocent version we all played in the school's so-called multipurpose room. For a while, it was the gym for indoor PE classes, then it morphed into the lunchroom for meals, then became a gym again until the artistic urge took over and it became the auditorium for school talent shows or outside performances or whatever. While it was still a gym, however, we played the game known as dodge ball. Dodge ball was the straightforward version-- there's a ball, dodge it. There was a natural upper limit to how much pepper could be put on those odd rubber balls only sold to schools, apparently. Throw, dodge, retrieve, throw again, hit, leave. These were all graspable concepts to a 4th grader.