It was the school year of 1961 At wattles Park Elementary School. I was in first grade. Not only were we learning our ABCs and 1 2 3’s, we also had in my opinion, the best playground, anyone could ask for to play in. The school was a new school, and it had a lot of work going on around it. This meant that there were a lot of dirt piles, mud puddles, and wooden planks to play with. The girls would be over near the building, doing their jump ropes, jacks, and other girl things, while the boys immediately turned into vehicles. 5, 6, or 7 of us made engine sounds and raced around the playground in and out of the mud piles using the wooden planks as bridges, passing over imaginary rivers. We ran all over the schoolyard, with tremendous speed, making hair pin turns a little over 2 feet above ground! We felt powerful and invincible!
The back of Wattle Park Elementary where this happened
As I have mentioned, there were these enormous dirt piles. Well they seemed enormous to us small children. You know how everything look bigger when you are little. I would estimate these piles of dirt were no higher the 3 feet. They seemed like mountains for us boys. They where there for us to conquer. They were irresistible. We named each of them different names. Mount wheat. Mount Jupiter. Mount Goofy. and others I can’t recall. All of us, like a pack of heathens from hell, with engines roaring, would race to the top of each “mountain” and claim it for our pack!
The front of Wattle Park Elementary
There was also a lot of dirt and rocks laying about. An almost irresistible thing for a boy to leave a rock alone and not throw it. We were severely warned about not picking up rocks and throwing them. Especially at each other. Well. Just telling this makes it all the more irresistible to a young boy or girl as far as this goes, to do just that.
Well. One day it happened. The thing feared most by school officials and teachers. We heard a loud yell from a boy and intense crying and screaming. I don’t recall the boys name. He had been hit in the eye with a rock. A teacher had been summoned and came running out to the boy. She put her arm around him and started to take him back into the school building. On the way she passed us boys, who had stopped there vehicles for the time being, to observe the drama going on. We all got a good look at the boys face. It is something that I will never forget. Right out of a horror film. The image will be forever etched into my memory. His left eyeball was laying on his cheek and intraocular fluid was running down his face. It was a horrifying sight! Us boys just looked at each other in horror. A bit pale from the experience. I would only hope if any youngsters are reading this to remember to listen and heed the warning of their elders. They have the benefit of a life time experience, and are only looking out for your welfare! So ride hard, run fast, and be safe!