This past summer, St. Peter Macomb took down the fabled Big Toy, to replace it with a play structure that can only be described as the product of a generation of over-protective parents and million dollar lawsuits.
If you were a Minuteman or Patriot, you know exactly how much of a devastating loss this is. (Actually, if you were never a Minuteman, you have no idea.)
You grew up on that solid wooden structure. You felt the timber that had been worn smooth by years of kids. You got caught in that abrasive blue net. You ducked through the blue circle door to command pirate ships with the metal wheel. You threw pebbles down the slide, which was polished to a mirror after thousands of butts slid to the ground. You ran across those three beams with the railing on one side, daring gravity to pull you towards a pebbled demise. You spun one too many times on the tire swing, only to wind up barfing in Mrs. Grawberg's office on the little cot. You hid in the belly of the Big Toy like you were hunted by the SS. You climbed up the back of the rope net like you were a ninja turtle. You picked away at the yellow foam that filled all the gaps when the hornets started stinging kids. You lived for recess with the Big Toy.
The Big Toy was an X-Wing, a fort, an amusement park, a skyscraper, a field goal post, a play house, a provider of shade, the Titanic (for a brief period in 1997), an obstacle course (Field Day!) and most of all, a friend. While it might not have the flashy paint job or multiple slides of the new version, the Big Toy had heart. It never let you down.
It was so much more than the current childproof lawsuit-preventer that sits on the hallowed ground that so many of us spent hours utilizing. We created entire worlds from nothing more than some wooden posts, rope and a few metal bolts. Today's kids can't even play Legos without turning on the computer or XBox. As Big Toy veterans, we used our imaginations.. With the Big Toy, the possibilities were endless.
So here's to you, Big Toy. Thanks for your service. May you find rest wherever you are.
Feel free to leave a memory of the Big Toy, or just St. Peter in general. #therapeutic
By Aaron Brandt, 1999's "King of the Swings"