Of course, we only had recess from 1st through 6th grade, the same as today. Our playground was one large field – well – large in my mind, but I think much smaller that many of the school playfields that are common today. I recall that there was some sort of a large collection of balls and other equipment for playing games. There wasn’t any organized games, it was kind of a decision made by the old “majority rules” concept. And - the games were only self-refereed and usually were fairly incident-free.
I think that the biggest difference from today’s playgrounds was the area where the bars were. There were various configurations of bars that we all played on. They were all made out of metal – probably iron – pipes. So, they were really hot or cold to the touch depending on the weather. There were ladders (suspended horizontal ladders) – were they called monkey bars? The rings, that you would swing from and clang loudly as you swung from one to the next. There were horizontal single bars that you wrap your knee around and spin in circles. I think we had a merry-go-round, and a few others. There was always a huge rush to get to your favorite apparatus first, and then perform as best as you could in front of all of your friends.
The area where all these bars were was on asphalt. It’s probably a little different than the bark, sand, grass or rubberized mats that are more commonly underfoot for the kids out on recess today. It does seem that today there are a lot of plastic or composite materials in the large variety of playground equipment that kids play on. And there are things like ships and forts, bridges and hideouts... lots of cool things we never had.
One thing we didn't have to worry about... there were no kids hanging out smoking behind the portables. It was something that would never have happened or been a concern back when and where I grew up.
Do you have memories of recess from your childhood? I’d love to hear them!