One block away from our home on Center Street was a large park. Our family and I in particular, used the park a lot. There was some really old playground equipment. I think it was old when I was young. There were two slides, one higher and longer. They were not safe by today’s standards since it would have been very easy to fall off. There was also a swing set and a pole, with chain hand holds attached. Kids would grab onto the chains, and run around and swing out. If we had a kid for each of the chains, sometimes it would get going really fast. It was also extremely dangerous if a kid let go, the chain was flying around, at face level. I’m sure that many teeth were broken as a result of this equipment.
On the northeast side of the park was a big grass covered area and two baseball fields. We played a lot of baseball there, and during football season, we played touch football. Sounds innocent enough, but there was a lot of contact, particularly if you were relatively small compared to the others in the game. Often there were some really large kids, like future Hall of Fame football player, Merlin Olsen. He lived just across the street from the park, which has now been named, “Merlin Olsen Central Park.”
That same area was used each summer for a “fish scramble”. The park was flooded to about a foot deep and hundreds of trout were released. The area was divided for different age groups, and then as the siren went off, we “scrambled” into the water attempting to catch a fish with our hands. I only remember catching a fish that way one time.
This area was also used as an ice skating rink in the winter. The parks people would spray the field with water each night until there was a thick coating of ice and then the rink was opened to ice skating. Everyone in the area had their own ice skates, usually used and not in the best condition. As soon as elementary school was out each day, we would race home, put on our skates and walk to the rink. Park staff Joe and Rulon would run the place and would play music as we skated away under the lights. At 6:00 we would go home for a quick dinner and then we were back until it closed down at 8:00. Too bad Logan is not cold enough to do that anymore. We would often have skating from early December through February.
Another lesser known and short lived attraction were some “rides”. My dad’s company made the rides for some event, but they were moved to Central Park and later to the Drive in. For a dime you could ride. One of the motorized rides consisted of an “airplane” suspended by chains and it simply would go in circles. The planes were old war surplus airplane external fuel tanks that had been cut open to allow two small seats in them. The other ride was similar, but the airplanes went up and down as they went around the circle somewhat like the old “tilt a whirl” rides did. When I rode in them I always chose the green plane with the “Abersold Equipment Company” label on the side. I was very proud of this ride and the fact that my Dad’s company had built them.