Here we are in the dog days of summer, turning the corner into the home stretch, and I am left wondering…what the hell happened to park league?
Sure there are summer rec programs- we signed up Lil’ Cap for one run at his school. But that’s just the thing- we signed him up. What I’m talking about is, old school PARK LEAGUE (at least that’s the only thing we ever called it in West Medfid)…it probably had some official name when they dreamed it up at City Hall.
It was all over the city but, obviously, I was a Playstead guy. The best park…no dispute.
There was no “signing up” for park league. You just show up. No clipboards, no record whether you were ever there or not. Just a couple of hungover college kids to make sure you didn’t kill yourself while you were hanging out.
There were no “structured hours”…I mean sure, it was like 9-12, then lunch, then 1-4, or some shit like that. But it was come and go as you please. If you wanted to take off and get a slush puppy at Sunnyhurst, get some cheese fries at the Seafood Depot (not on the menu, but we knew a guy) or go to watch Dazed and Confused at Mark’s house…whatever. Didn’t need to tell anyone. Or maybe you did…we just didn’t.
There were no “field trips” with “busses”…there were basketball and kickball games scheduled across town against other parks. I don’t know how the city expected kids to get there, but in reality it’d be about 7 or 8 kids packed into a Honda Civic…and then me riding Christian on the handlebars of my White Heat (HOTTEST bike on the market…no big deal) all the way to Hickey or Barry. I refused to ride to Carr, but we did ride all the way to Morrison once…that was brutal. It was all a disaster waiting to happen.
There were no “learning activities” that were planned. Nothing to enrich the minds, unless you consider making gimp bracelets a mind-broadening experience.
There were no “quality or safe facilities”…every park had it’s own challenges. Barry had a super-tight double rim. Columbus was a damn death trap, complete with broken glass and used needles. At Playstead, we had our own version of the legendary Garden Parquet “dead spots”, with the 2 inch thick crack going directly through center court. Play it right you could force a turnover…or a broken ankle.
What we did have, was some good old fashioned fun. There was the time that:
- Christian almost fought the park instructor (name redacted, but let’s say it rhymes with Seal Schmoulding), threw his shirt off, then rode off on my White Heat
- Anthony Taylor dunked on me in a JUNIORS (8th grade max) game
- A current Medford resident, then in HS, bragging one morning that a park instructor had taken him to a frat party the night before. Wonder what the city council would’ve thought of that if they knew
- we spent all summer trying to figure out which park instructors were banging. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure it was just one big swingers club
- “some people” left the morning session to go to Arlington and Winchester and….wait… totally unrelated question: what is the statute of limitations for bike theft? Maybe I should leave this one out until I consult legal
- on July 5th, we’d collect all the unused fireworks from the night before, and put on a little show. Pro-tip: Cut off the end of a wiffle ball bat, and it makes an excellent bottle rocket gun, with surprisingly good aim. I took one in the leg, I think we got Ollie center mass…direct hit.
- We were able to win a very close playoff game, overcoming the adversity of being extremely distracted by the wicked hot park instructor from Gillis Park doing gimp suspiciously close to the sideline. I’m just glad our shorts were baggy…
- The Riverside project kids wanted to kick the shit out of us at Magoun. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure it had something to do with Christian shit-talking, and me stupidly backing him up.
So you get the drill…everything was better when we were kids. Everything is so structured, careful, sanitary, and perfect now. Kids need to be signed in and out, and they pack sunscreen. We just went and used random people’s hoses on Playstead road if we were thirsty…now they pack lunch and water bottles.
I paid 13 bucks last week for my kid to go on a field trip to an indoor inflatable park…we played king of the hill on dirt piles next to the tracks.
I really hope that these kids grow up with the same character we all did…at least the good parts.