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.”