Roam Free

I drank from a water fountain that quenched me as a kid. Much lower to the ground than I remember. (The fountain, not me!)

circa late 70s, early 80s

Small hands released warm water gurgles that thirsty mouths slurped up. Impatient voices from the sweaty line behind shouted, “Hurry Up!” We were little squirmy gerbils lapping up what we could from the tiny trickle before the line grew violent. No personal Yetis or plastic water bottles, just a few drops from a faucet to sustain us before sprinting back to the hot playground. No sunblock or hats on our tomato heads.

We were wild animals released from a cage. Run, shout, and play we did, before Mrs. Dermer or Mrs. Tupper blew their whistle. Most things I liked to be on time for, but that whistle I chose to ignore. I liked school but I liked playing on the playground more. Spinning on the worn monkey bars, tube sock wearing girls doing cartwheels in the itchy brown grass, holding hands in a tunnel with X, sending someone over during Red Rover, Red Rover, getting knocked on my bum during dodgeball, or my favorite – tetherball. The concrete slab and metal pole, with the spinning ball, are long gone. Probably jackhammered up after a knock or a trip. I suppose if a kid were uncoordinated enough, he could have wrapped the tethered ball around his/her neck. The metal pole was probably sent to the playground graveyard after a lawsuit. Piled on top of other rubble deemed “not safe.” They took away the risk; they took away the fun.  

My brother broke many bones on the school playground. Not once did my mom dial-a-lawyer before picking him up. She could have owned a school, bought with my brother’s bones. The same scene each time: “Michele, come inside, we have to pick up your brother. He hurt himself on the playground.” Not once did my mom yell at the principal or the school nurse; she yelled at him!

The rowdy relics from the past are gone. “Safe” structures made from recycled plastic and old tires now stand sturdy and strong. No more swing sets that lifted from the ground with each lifted leg in the air. No more chipped lead paint or rusty metal. And if that is not safe enough, there is now a locked fence around the safety zone. On the school playground, during a Sunday afternoon, kids no longer roam. They took away the risk; they took away the fun.

Schools sure as hell aren’t safer.  

Across the street is my childhood home. It looks different now. Gone are the eucalyptus trees, planted by my mom and me. Our old house is smaller than I remember and now surrounded by a fence. Not the picturesque white-picket kind, but the metal kind that says, “Keep Out” or “Lock him up.”     

So much has changed in the Valley of the Sun since I was a kid; reminding me of the years that have passed since sheep roamed in a field a few miles down the road from my childhood home.

As I looked down at The Salt River recently, I thought about the many experiences I had at the river or in the nearby lakes that the river feeds into: camping, fishing, boating, swimming, tubing, and my favorite – water skiing. I noticed that the river and the adjacent land have changed too. They are more beautiful than I remember.  

If you are interested in learning more about The Salt River area, visit: Salt River Info

If you are into maps, this is a cool website: Salt River Maps

What would a reminiscent post be without reminiscent music? My little boyfriend sang this song to me at the school talent show. Isn’t that the sweetest (and funniest)? I was ready to sail away! I packed my bon voyage bags after school. ⛵😂

Thank you for visiting and reading! Be well. 💗Michele

Check out my recent sky photos (sunset, evening, moon) and micro-poems on Instagram – @mlsefton

Photo of me taken by Casey Olson

© 2022 Michele Lee Sefton

91 thoughts on “Roam Free

  1. Vicki Parham

    I loved reminiscing with you Michele-you have given me a small smile and a quiet chuckle-gone are those unsafe playgrounds-gone is the carefree fun!
    Miss you friend:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Pat. I am sure a trained eye could point out what ails the area, but my eyes are more appreciative of natural beauty than ever before. 🌞 I also appreciate the protection of open space areas, everywhere. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Progress has a way of stifling common sense lessons learned during childhood as it takes a destructive swathe of our cherished aged fabric while dumbing down newer generations behind the guise of… for our own good. I empathize with today’s children stuck with modern day video game babysitters instead of living room blanket tent escapades and survival peanut butter sandwiches.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, progress in the form of distractions and busyness can rob us of our true essence. I believe it important to step away from that whenever possible, and yes, make living room tents and survive on P & J sandwiches! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very Best unforgettable memories during School Days , Best childhood and stunning photo of you dear and also
    Your marvellous story to read 🌷🙏👍🏻😊 no matter how irritating School days ,we all missed those days 😘💕👏
    Our life’s journey will bring back the beautiful time’s happiness and we tribute our memories 🌷🙏🌷I reading 📖
    Your article , my school days suddenly remembered 👏😊Thank you so much for sharing and grace wishes 🙏♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My brother broke many bones on the school playground.

    Really, Michele? I was in elementary school (public school in the USA) in the 80’s, and I can’t recall a single classmate of mine breaking a bone on the playground.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. My brother was a fearless daredevil. In many ways he still is. He was determined to fly, I think. One of the many superpowers he was attempting to hone. 😆 I remember one visit to the school – the school nurse taped a magazine around his forearm to keep his broken bone in place until my mom took him to get a cast. Playground injuries paled compared to his other escapades.

      Your comment reminded me of my last few years in the HS classroom. I saw more and more casts and serious injuries as coaches pushed school athletes harder and harder… to their breaking point, literally. Thanks for commenting! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this reminiscence. At that same time, I was at a playground in Los Angeles, playing on a similar swing set, which lifted off the ground with each swing, just as you describe. Siblings, those two. Happy Saturday, Michele. 🍂🌻💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sure if my old mum read about your brother so she would say “How him, have a boy like him myself”. 😀 😀 😀 Guess she have a point. In a way if we from time to time don’t touch our “limits” so they or we are the wrong places. 😀 We don’t need to be envious of the succeeding generations – “we were there, we left our marks” – many of us are still making a mark in perhaps a very different way, but we do it. You still leave many good ones too – keep on doing that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. WOW Michele my Belle, what an empowering bowl of memories. To look at how much things have changed through the years, when we look at how innocent we were and how much simpler things appeared to us, like eating dirt that didn’t kill us, scarring our elbows and knees that didn’t break us, and things were not child-proofed takes me back. Oh and your poor brother, bless his heart, I guess his breaks almost seemed normal to your household. 😟 You are so right about things looking bigger when we were younger. I experience the same thing girlfriend.

    Thanks so much for sharing these heartwarming memories my dear dancing queen. 💃🏼🐱‍🏍💃🏽Let’s make some more FANtabulous memories! Enjoy the rest of your day girlfriend. 😍🦋🥰💋😊💐😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much gratitude to you, Kymbelina. 🤗 Those scraped elbows and knees. Yes. 😆 Eating dirt. 😂 I remember mud pies and wondering if I could dig my way to China, in the sandbox. Sweet (silly) innocence. 😇 My brother was a wild child! If at first you don’t succeed keep trying, does not extend to flying (from the roof). 😂 Thanks for sharing some memories and laughs with me. 🙏🏻😊💖 Have a wonderful week. 🌞 Remember to dance every day! I am excited about your poetry publication. Bravo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michele my Belle, you always manage to bring the biggest smile to my face. Thanks for those Memory Lane experiences. It didn’t break us, so I suppose it made us stronger huh? Yep, I am pretty pumped up about the book launch! 🥳🎉😁 THEN, that’s when the real work begins! Whooohooooo!!! Hugs and smooches for a FANtabulous week! 😍💐🤩💖🥰

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful post! So true at how times have changed. Take me back to the days when the worst thing you had to worry about as far as safety at schools, was hurting yourself on the school playground.
    Oh yes, remember those water fountains and wanting to just stay there and continue drinking but the child behind you is impatiently waiting for their turn. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy. I am glad you enjoyed my playground ponderings. 😁 Some things we can laugh about now and some things we wish were different now. 😔 I appreciate your commentary. 🙏🏻🌻


  9. Thanks for this amazing stroll down memory lane, Michele! I remember dodgeball, tetherball, and handball – so much fun! And swinging high enough to tap the big blue sky! My husband and his friends when they were little used to play up in the hills. No more of that freedom. Things have changed, but maybe not for the better in our schools in some ways with the mass shootings. We never experienced those, so I feel for the children of today, all ages. Thankfully, our children didn’t endure that horror either.
    Regarding bones, our son broke his left arm in fifth grade playing basketball, his second break on the same arm. And no, we didn’t sue the school. He probably tripped over his growing feet. That told us he was not going to play contact sports like his dad did. 🙂 It all worked out though.
    Anyway, wonderful post and beautiful photo of you, too! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writing and sharing is my pleasure and privilege. 😊 Thank you, Lauren for reading and extending my story with your own thoughts, experiences, and insights. I am grateful for your time and graciousness. 🙏🏻💗 Wishing you a wonderful week! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So true, the observations of yesterday when life, despite being hard, was still way more straightforward than so-called hard life not easy today. Life like in 1955, 65, 75, to 85 was still more pleasant than the life experienced and encountered now.

    When kids could be kids and fun was still fun, unchartered territories were still waiting to be explored by eagerly curious minds, and yet today, the young only see life from a small square screen and think it cool and yet cool for me was drinking water from the hosepipe and still being able to say that fifty years on it didn’t kill me because l was a kid laughing when life was simpler.

    Good post, Michele. Thanks for the read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A meaningful connection to my post. Thank you! Drinking from the hose, playing until the sun went down… kids being kids, yes! I do see kids playing in my neighborhood, but they never leave their yard. We roamed the fields and streets! I appreciate your time and your contribution to this post. 🙏🏻😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Precisely how is that fun? How is that taming the wildness of any child? The grandchildren of my partner Suze live in Australia with their mother, Suze’s daughter, and despite the ‘mother’ not being brought up on the inside of life but being allowed to explore, she still doesn’t introduce nature to her kids.

        I grew up in Australia, my sister was born there, and l was out and about with nature and bugs and thoroughly enjoyed being a kid without the tech – l mean, what was tech? If someone had said, “Hey, in forty years, kids are going not to want to play outside and will only be looking at miniature TV screens to play their games!” I would have thought the commenter was a wack job, and yet …

        Liked by 1 person

  11. The days before bottled water! I remember those days well.
    “They took away the risk; they took away the fun.”
    This statement says a lot and your statement that follows is sadly true as well.
    Well done, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s