Giant Strides in One-Room School Playgrounds

After I read this article in the Wed., May 11, 2016 issue of The De Smet News, I knew I wanted to share it. Even within my generation playground equipment has disappeared, maybe for better, maybe for worse. Some things disappeared even before then. One was the Giant Strides. You hear references to a Giant Stride around one-room schools, but I self see first hand accounts, so I was very excited to find such an account.  Here is the Giant Strides part of the article where Donna Palmlund describes riding on one republished with permission from The De Smet News.

“The ‘Maypoloe of Death’ and Other Memorable Playground Moments” by Donna Palmlund

I was looking at an online photography group’s page recently and saw a photo of an abandoned country schoolhouse with a couple of pieces of playground equipment – one that the photographer could only identify. It was a large metal pole with a device on top that looked like it might have rotated at one time.

It brought back memories of the “giant strides” or what I called “the Maypole of death” on my own school playground in Carthage. This contraption consisted of a tall pole with several metal chain “ladders” attached to it. Children would grab on to a rung on one of the “ladders” and run around the pole so fast that they would lift off the ground and spin around in a circle as though they were flaying. It was not for the faint of heart.

There were usually half a dozen or more kids riding on the giant strides at any given recess. I normally tried to avoid ti, but my more adventurous playmates talked me into trying it a few times. Once should have been enough.

I have coordination and strength issues and I was not always able to keep my grasp on the ladder, or, for that matter, run around in a circle without tripping. So I was usually the kid sitting in the dirt getting hit in the head with a swinging ladder or someone else’s feet.

I was also a lightweight back then, and the heavier kids, who had more momentum, would slam into us. I suspect that wasn’t always an accident.

-SSU again, Also find photos on someone’s pet history project.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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trundlebedtales

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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