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Terror at...!

Dun dun dunnnnnn!

Smith Playground!

*Insert scream!*

Ok...  Well that was a bit much, but you get the general idea here.

So on my Facebook, I have a link to a magazine article about playgrounds in Philadelphia, as well as a snarky comment about Smith Playground.  And while that may mean precious little my Florida friends, it holds a great significance for me, because as I mentioned in said snarky comment, Smith Playground is where good times go to "get a massive splinter!"  Oh sweet lord!

For those of you not local to Philadelphia, Smith Playground (or as it is currently known as Smith Memorial Playground) is this playground in Fairmount Park that has a gigantic wooden sliding board (more on that little gem in a moment) and a big creepy Resident Evil style mansion, and it's also surrounded by woods too (More on that in a moment too).  It also has the very dubious reputation of being a place where you come in nice and healthy but leave with some kind of injury, because everyone I've ever known who had gone to Smith Playground has some traumatic tale of injury and destruction.

Case in point, when I was about two or three years old, I remember getting this HUGE black splinter in my foot.  I vividly remember how much it hurt, how much screaming and crying I did, and how terrible it was going to be to pull it out of my foot.  Yes, even now I still VIVIDLY remember this, because it was THAT bad!  My next sunny point, the second time I went to Smith Playground.  I was about 9 or 10 and we went as a summer camp field trip.  I was running around like an idiot with the other kids towards the big wooden sliding board, and I tripped and fell and scrapped up my knee and hands.  Not the worse injury of the day, because a friend of mine got a big honking splinter from the WOODEN sliding board, but it was still pretty bad.

And can I take a moment to ask, why in God's name would you have a wooden sliding board?!  What in that sounds safe?!  I understand it had been there since, I don't know, 1800 something, but back in those days wood was all the material they had.  By the time I was a kid we had plastic, although...  When I was a kid sliding board technology had only progressed to where they would have metal sliding boards and those usually faced in the direction of the sun, so in the summer time when wearing your shorts, if you slid down the slide you would end up at the burn unit of the hospital shortly thereafter.  Or the one kid who would always wet himself, yet still choosing to semi-slide down the sliding board, but not go all the way down because the pee would adhere them to the sliding board then you had to smell that hot pee smell the rest of the day, but still.  Some sliding boards were plastic, most at that time were metal, but of them all were scary.  In hindsight, I guess getting a splinter is a bit better than sliding on a human frying pan.

However getting back on point, why would you do this to children whom all you want to do is have fun on a big sliding board.  Mom told me the couple of times she went to Smith Playground as a kid, she ended up with some splinters from the sliding board.  I think my brother told me the same thing.  He also told me that he knew someone had broken their arm in the pool that was over there.  And if it wasn't a physical injury you came out with, it was the urban myth of being kidnapped, dragged off into the nearby woods, and killed by "Nature Boy" that traumatized you.

Now that I'm an adult, I have to admit this "Nature Boy" story is really stupid and farfetched, but when you're a little kid and you have older kids (and I think Mom broke this out too) telling you, "You go in the woods and "Nature Boy" is going to get you!"  well crap, that would be scare the pants off anyone.  But "Nature Boy" was supposed to be either a feral child who's parents dumped him off in the woods and he was forced to live off the flesh and blood of the children who played at the playground.  Or his father was the "Jersey Devil" and he was born half human but mostly devil and liked to drag the kids who played at the playground off into the woods and eat them.  How the "Jersey Devil" got to Philly to have a kid, then dump him off in the woods by Smith Playground is beyond me, but that was the legend or whatever.  So this story went around and pretty much scared all us little kids half to death.

Actually, when I think about it, I think that's how the 2nd injury I sustained happened, because the big wooden slide was by the woods and why we were running is because someone said they thought saw "Nature Boy" coming.  Huh...?  Nice to remember why that happened.

But anyway.  Then there is the creepy Resident Evil mansion at the entrance of Smith Playground.  Now in all the years I've lived in Philadelphia and all the times I'd been to Smith Playground, I have actually never been inside the mansion.  Every time I had gone, it was closed for various reasons, renovations, not opened on X day, T-virus outbreak whatever the case may be.  But Mom said she had gone in and she also said it was pretty creepy inside.  They had this room filled with porcelain dolls and some of them she recalled looked really really creepy and she didn't like being in there.  Who would?!

Sigh...  I'ts been a long time since I was at Smith Playground.  The last time I went they were overhauling the entire park and I wasn't able to go inside, but from what I understand the city did some extensive modernizations to it and it's probably a lot safer than when I went as a kid.  But part of the charm of Smith Playground is coming out with some war wound of some sort.  Without the threat of imminent injury it's just another lack luster playground.

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