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Tilles Park back in the day

When I was a child, my brothers, sister and I spent a great deal of time at Tilles Park, a park about six blocks away from our home. Our parents took us to play on the swings, and the slides and to swim in the “wading pool.” We brought our pets to Tilles Park for the Pet Competitions. Our cats, our dog, Cookie, our horse, Scout and even our turtle, Squeaky came home with ribbons. Our parents entered us in the summer park competitions. I won Miss Tilles Park one summer. My sister outdid me, winning Miss Tilles Park and going on to win the all city competition, Miss City Park.

Tilles Park was a fun and safe park back then. We had picnics there. We loved climbing on the big cannon. We went to Easter Egg Hunts and had fun looking at the unique rock formed Japanese architecture. Back in 1978 when I was asked to illustrate a calender for the Fort Smith Junior League I included Tilles Park for one of my months.

The park lost its place as a safe and fun family destination in the sixties when the culture started to destruct. Hippies took over the park with their drugs. Later, the younger brothers and sisters of the hippies moved in, then came the gangs and meth users and not long after homosexuals started to meet each other in the park. Today the neighborhoods surrounding the park are rundown and most are rentals, not single family homes.

Parents don’t let their children go to the park to play anymore so why in the world would they take their handicapped children to the park?

Of all the parks in our city why in the world are there plans to put in a 40,000 dollar playground for physically challenged children at Tilles Park? Who asked for this money? Why is it part of the stimulus?

The school where I teach art just had a big renovation, adding a new cafeteria and lots of new classrooms. What pitiful playground equipment there was had to be taken out to make room for construction. The parents were naturally outraged and started a fundraiser but so far have only raised five thousand dollars.

That only takes care of one piece of playground equipment. That stuff costs big bucks anymore. When I was a child the only thing we had on our “playground” were swings and the old seesaws. I used to love it when the kid on the other end of the seesaw jumped off and I landed with a big bump. I don’t know why, but I did. The arbiters of the political correct don’t allow that type of childrens’ playground equipment anymore, along with the harsh play ground games like Dodge Ball. (which I loved) Gone from our city parks are the merry go rounds where kids could sit on a round bench and push each other round and round, getting dizzy. (as portrayed in the drawing above) That equipment was taken out. In its place are a bunch of individual spring riders which aren’t very satisfying to the little ones.

Most of the kids at our school would really enjoy the $40,000 playground that is going to be put in at a park a few blocks away that will be trashed almost as soon as it is put in.

Talk about a waste of money.