Friday, 18 June 2010

Sepia Saturday: Swing-time


This picture of my maternal grandparents, Asher and Hilda Gregory, encapsulates the spirit of my early childhood. Have we got rope and a piece of board? Great, let's build a swing!



And my grandfather's inventiveness didn't stop at swings. He once ran a length of cable between two apple trees and spent all day improvising a 'commando-style' pulley wheel, with hand-grips for me to hang on to. Halfway through my dangling, swaying, death-defying, trial run, it dawned on him that I wouldn't be able to stop before I reached the tree at the end. I heard him tell me to jump, which I did, landing unceremoniously in a series of forward rolls and uncontrollable laughter.

He was a big fan of 'French' cricket and badminton. We played croquet (home- made mallets and hoops, and recycled cricket balls) and even ventured into the surreal world of 'clock' golf. 

Whenever there was a new craze, he would replicate it in his own inimitable style. But some fun things were the products of his own childlike imagination. I remember how he fashioned celluloid flying saucers and launched them with huge rubber bands cut from old inner tubes of worn out tyres. Given the strength needed, I think this was one for him, rather than me. There was a see-saw/roundabout combination that involved the use of a long plank and an oil drum, a tree house and a wooden box on a set of old pram wheels.

As I relate these things to you, I'm thinking it's probably luck that I'm here to tell the tale.

This is a Sepia Saturday post.



© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

18 comments:

  1. I love this post! I had a swing made of a board and rope at MY maternal grandparents! Wonderful memories!

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  2. They look so carefree! Wonderful picture.

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  3. Commando style pulley wheels between two trees....a boy's dream come true even if danger lurked.

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  4. Hi Martin

    what a great grandad he must have been to you...one who risks life and limb for adventure and enthusiasm...I wonder, did your mother know of these shenanigans?
    My grandfather made us stilts and we became very proficient stilt walkers. He also taught us to swing a billy full of milk (bought daily from the dairy across the street) and sing irreverent socialist ditties, which I had better leave out...



    Happy days

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  5. why was it easier then to have genuine fun? i remember playing with my grandma in her kitchen, with cardboard boxes and various bottles, playing the pharmacist and treating her for some imaginary ailment... never thought i'd eventually end up working in an hospital.
    i miss those days. now, everything is about technology, not about spirit. i find it lacks some soul, and some real connections between human beings.

    HUGZ from MONTREAL

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  6. I adore that photo! It is an absolute illustration of the fun and joy that lived within your grandfather. Love the expression of exhileration on your grandmother's face, too!

    I think my sons would have killed to have an inventive grandfather like yours!

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  7. I love the "singin' photo; swings are one of my very favorite things. You were blessed indeed with such an inventive grandfather. Such great memories!

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  8. I meant SWINGIN' photo; I think there's a country western song by that title.....:)

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  9. This post made me laugh. My father was very inventive but for one reason or another he didn't turn his skills to making toys for his children or grandchildren. What a fun childhood for you. Did you live close enough to visit your grandparents every day? Also, it's fun to see older folks enjoying a swing like younger folks do.

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  10. They look like the nicest, most in-love couple. What fun to have a grandpa like him.

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  11. Your story brought back warm memories of the rope swing we had at my grandparents place. It was a very exciting ride as the ropes were longer than a conventional swing set. That made for a greater arc. It seemed like we could touch the sky on that swing. BTW your grandmother bears a striking resemblance to Barbara Bush, former President G. H. W. Bush's wife. Thanks for visting my blog.

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  12. That photo really captures the delight you describe--both for your grandfather & grandmother. Tho you may have a point about being lucky to tell the tale, how very lucky too to have known such a creative person who was willing to make things his own!

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  13. How wonderful you got to experience all those inventions... what fun for a young boy! Bet the tree house was great! Absolutely lovely photograph, such happiness, and over a swing! The good old days, when things were simpler and you made your own fun!

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  14. Thank you, everyone. They were great days, carefree and happy. My grandfather had a huge influence on me. He passed away in 2002, aged 92. Still sorely missed, but he has left us with so much good to remember.

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  15. Your post is an excellent illustration of an ongoing discussion that is taking place on my site and lots of others--how much risk is acceptable in child-rearing. Clearly your grandfather thought that fun was worth a little risk, and so did you! . . . We lived in a different era. I had homemade stilts, and I remember those see-saws made from a board laid over a drum. I never had a tree house, but I spent a lot of time up in a tree. Maybe it was a miracle that we survived intact, but we learned a lot as well as having fun.

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  16. Wonderful photo! Your grandparents looked so vibrant! So in love! It is amazing to me what joy a simple swing can bring. It is a true art form to create a good one! Congrats to your grandfather for being so inventive!

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  17. Susan - I know there's a danger of falling into the 'rose tinted spectacles' syndrome, but I really do believe that, sometimes, risk assessment is being taken to the extreme, to the disadvantage of our children and grandchildren. Parents and grandparents alike, can have their judgement seriously skewed by a fear of failure.

    I had my share of bumps and bruises, but I learnt about risk and had a lot of fun in the process.

    neetzy - They certainly were days to remember. I count myself extremely fortunate. Thanks for following Square Sunshine. It's good to have you aboard.

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