Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weed Park...back in the day

An historical park donated to the city by the 'Weed' family, to be used by the people of Muscatine as a recreational area for family fun. Huge oak trees filled the park as did Victorian rose gardens and a pond for fishin', a simple pleasure that kids of all ages once enjoyed. It is said that there is a tunnel built under the pond so the ever curious Victorian could wonder through and gaze at the fishes from below, long since closed as a hazard to the public. But the duck house remains as a silent guardian to the whims of an age of discovery. The ducks and geese still roam grabbing the traditional bread crumbs from an anxious child on a days outing with Mom. The pond was also popular recreation as an ice skating arena in the frozen months. I remember freezin' my u-know-what off, with popsicle fingers we huddled together for warmth in the warm house, for a quick bit of heat, before heading back to the spins and dumps.

When I was a child, the old log cabin housed the reptiles, as the park now contained a small zoo, as was popular then. Housing monkeys of all sorts, a sad pair of lions confined to their living room sized concrete prison, along with a leopard, same scenario. Even Dolly, the elephant was there to grab our peanuts and the squeals of happy children could be heard as some lucky child was chosen to 'ride the elephant'. It was the thrill of the day to be take to the park, to skip the trails leading to the many animals housed at the park.

A beautiful bandstand also stands as monument to an era of cultivation of the senses, but to us, it was just a grand ol' relic of antiquity, worthy of our exploration. It is still used today for concerts, as people armed with lawn chairs reflect on easy times and memorable tunes.

Simple were the times back then, a child could dream the day away at the park. Civil war cannons graced the overlook of the Mississippi, inviting young boys to straddle and dream of the war games. I will always remember the shot my mother took of my Dad with his head stuck in the cannon...great fun.

There was also a public swimming pool where the smell of the chlorine invited you in to good clean fun on a hot summers morn. That memory has since been replaced with a much better version of the swim park...I guess what we loved as children was not good enough for today's standards. I remember it being so crowded with screaming kids some days, that our Mom just wouldn't leave us...BUMMER...MOM!!!

We also sledded the hill behind the pool. I remember my Dad skiing down the hill with his vintage wooden skis...what a sight that was. Socks on socks never quite keeping frozen toes warm. So bundled you could hardly move, but what fun when most activities of the outdoors were moved inside, as the season of winter played out in our park.

Grand memories to keep in our treasury of dreams, but, as with everything else the times have removed our youth and our playground. All replaced with safer plastic did we ever survive childhood on such dangerous toys, how did we survive lead-poisoning...our parents attended to their children, watching their every move...I guess a sign of the times. Over-population, lack of funding, lawsuits, pollution, all have had their hand in the demise of our parks. A lack of community pride and time for caring, as park personnel struggle to save a piece of our history. Keeping up with the trash we uncaring species leave behind, is a job left for someone else... are we too lazy to bend over or do we just not see?

But we have our precious memories of the great adventures we once explored, they can't improve on or remove them. I for one am glad for the memories of a quiet time, when we were still a fragile country, not totally wracked with corruption and toxins of the mind and body. I remember...back in the day.


Greyscale Territory said...

Memories like this are so precious. We can see those memories any time in just the way we loved them. And we can feel that deep thrill of inner joy again! No one can take that away!

Gee I loathe plastic playgrounds! And they're safe?? Hmmmmmmmmm I've seen children sticking on slides and getting "burnt"!

vikki said...

ahhh, memories! i can too remember weed park, with the reptile house - yecch, & the animals. our 4-H had our swim parties at the pool. always loved the rustic looking small buildings. even ol' mother goose land/fejevary zoo is not what it used to be with the monkey island. i dunno either how we survived ~ guess we did not know all the safety issues as now. even riding in the back of pick-ups & the other fun memories... at least we have those. happy thursday, m'friend. vikki ♥

Roses and Lilacs said...

It certainly is a pretty place now. Lots of unusual things to see and photograph. Weed is kind of an unfortunate name for a park, but I understand the sentiment behind naming it for the donor's family.

Christie said...

What great memories and descriptions! Your writing brings back my childhood and into yours.

Eve said...

It sounds like a blessed childhood. I live in a warm climate so I didn't get to experience the sledding but we did have a place where bands would play. A secret tunnnel under the pond? Wouldn't it be great if we had pics of that. Sweet memories.

High Desert Diva said...

Lovely post.

I adore the stone house with the crooked door frame