He sat on it. He flipped it over and it became his turtle shell. Then he climbed up it to the mountaintop before sliding down it into the water park pool. Thanks to his ever-flowing imagination, grandson Lincoln was getting his parents’ money’s worth out of the kid-sized overstuffed chair that had been his older brother Oliver’s.
Next on Lincoln’s activity circuit was trampolining. Together we were counting his bounces as he held lightly onto the yellow bar intended for safer jumping. He paused to catch his breath on 47 and transformed the rebounder’s bar into a swinging trapeze.
As I snapped some photos and tried to keep up with him as he went into his dismount, I remembered my own childhood trapeze experience. It was 1960-something and the kids in our neighborhood were bored.
Summer was winding down before school started again. Most of us had taken our family vacations already, and we had played as much kick the can, hide and seek, and softball in the nearby empty lot as we could take.
We wanted to do something we’d never done before. A few of us older kids (9 and 10 year olds) put ourselves in charge and created the 1st Fair Acres Carnival. We recruited our friends and their siblings to be jugglers, high-flying acrobats, balloon animal artists, singing dancers, and clowns in swimsuits willing to be dunked. Moms agreed to provide baked goods and lemonade. Dads helped build stages and cushioned landing space under the swingset in our next door neighbor’s yard, the perfect place for the festivities.
I had never actually hung by my knees on their trapeze before. My brother David had always lifted me up so I could just sit and swing on it. But this was the “Big Time”, and I was determined to add something exciting to the summer celebration.
The plan was for me to shimmy up the swingset leg, where the trapeze would be pulled over waiting for me to hop on. I would swing seated, then hanging by my knees for a bit before flipping my legs through my hand grip and dismounting like an Olympic gymnast. Tah-dah! All my years of acrobatics training with Mrs. Toohey would come in handy as I wowed the crowd.
All went well after weeks of practice and at dress rehearsal the day before. No one’s costume malfunctioned. The timing of each act’s appearance through the passthrough cut in the hedge from our yard to theirs was perfect. I slept soundly and woke excited to DO THIS!
Even though the rope that was supposed to hold the trapeze ready for me must have come untied, some taller-than-me neighbor reached the bar for me and saved the day. Everyone had so much fun that no one wanted to call it a night.
Families went home and came back with hot dogs, marshmallows, cookies and ice cream. An unplanned bonfire with s’mores-making and fireworks provided the grand finale. And the beginning of living in a neighborhood that now felt both larger and smaller at the same time.
I’d love to support you as you recall summertime childhood experiences. Let’s get started remembering and sharing them today!
Your JOTTINGS for Generations Coach
Capturing Moments That Matter…Energizing Your Reminiscence…Passing It On!