Recently, on a Saturday, I was passing through my  old neighborhood in Whitestone.  

Before hopping on the bridge to head home, I decided to take a walk through what we used to call “Doopie’s Park.”  It has another name now.  It sits on intersection of 20th Avenue and the service road for the Whitestone Expressway, across from Bridgeview Nursing Home.

 As a kid, we might walk the three blocks from home to there and disappear for hours without any adult supervision and with no worries.  At ten years old, I was allowed to walk to the park alone, and no one worried that I might be abducted in the process.

Now, forty years later, I walked around the baseball fields where there were some Pee Wee little league baseball games going and then headed toward the playground/basketball court area – just taking in the sights and sounds. 

Of course, the playground was completely changed from my time there, when we played on steel “monkey bars”over a concrete surface – and yes we all lived!  The park house and restrooms seemed untouched, but the water fountain just outside was gone.

The sprinklers as I recalled them were gone too –  replaced with a far more efficient, if not uninspiring pedestal that shot water into the air like an upturned pressurized watering can.  Two basketball courts now stood where the massive sprinkler system's concrete basin once was.  We used to cover the drains so that it would fill like a pool.

As I proceeded out of the park, I belatedly recognized that I was not welcome there.   A sign near the entrance listed the various persons and activities
prohibited from the playground.  Among them was: “Adults, except in the company of children.”  Hey, that’s me!

I absolutely understand the purpose of the sign; I may even agree
with it, but it bothers me.

There is an innocent and beautiful joy to the sight and sounds of children playing, and there is nothing wrong with a normal adult simply enjoying
those sights and sounds. It makes us smile and remember our own youth. 
It is not a perversion.  
 
Yet again, I’m not saying I disagree with the intention of this prohibition.  I need to think on that some more.  It nonetheless reminds me of how far we have come from the time when all the kids and parents knew one another and hugging a neighbor’s child was as natural as, well “a day in park.”

Patrick Reilly
8/4/2013 01:58:08 am

Sad to see that any park would even have to ban "unaccompanied adults"

I have stopped by Bowne Park in my travels-and P.S. 32 -both brought back good memories. It's more than passing strange that we aren't supposed to do so. Your sentiment about the sign is much as my own-as a parent, I fully agree. As a normal adult, who played for hours in these park, not being "permitted" to be there without my children or grandchildren is a tad depressing.

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cathy straub
3/11/2014 07:58:42 am

yes, i agree. the times are changing , and it is very sad to no you can't just stroll in a park today. but being a grandmother i wouldn't let my g-kids out of my site not for a min.

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dorothy mahon
3/11/2014 02:23:12 pm

Thank you for bringing me back to my cherished Whitestone ! I followed you step by step and enjoyed every minute of it. I raised my children there. Was a little bit of heaven...
Whenever a new neighbor moved in , we always found the need to ask "How did you find us?". It was a world set apart. . The memories keep Whitestone alive for me.. Please keep them coming. Thank you. .. Mrs. J.Mahon

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3/12/2014 02:10:12 am

Dear Dorothy: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Writing about Whitestone is a pleasure. In fact, I am working on an new children's book set there. Many thanks! Rick

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Barbara Monroe
3/12/2014 09:52:41 am

I remember the park well. I met my best friend, Ro, when waiting for some friends there. She was in a class at PS 185. We walked home together that day in 1964 and are still friends today.

My children grew up where they could play anywhere in Phoenix, but even here it is a different story. You don't let your children out of sight.

This should not be a commonplace event. Something is terribly wrong and needs to change. Or a least find out what the main causes are.

I would love to see the day that our children could live as we did in a place such as Whitestone. We did have a great time and have our friendships that are still going on. Will these children?

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