The Elephant Slide 2012.10.17

Written by David Green.

elephant slideFormer Morenci resident Dan Green wrote the following essay that was published in the Observer in 1989. It came to mind recently when Jessica Stark from Little People’s Place called to place an ad in the newspaper. She wanted to sell the slide that’s been located on the preschool’s playground for years.

Wait a minute…isn’t that the elephant slide that stood inside the kindergarten room in Morenci’s old Union Street schoolhouse?

Sure enough. Former Little People’s Place owner Bob Dister confirmed it. Underneath the red paint is an elephant that provided so much fun for hundreds of Morenci students over the decades.

Jessica has heard that someone is interested in buying the old slide, but she hasn’t received any confirmation. If interested, it can be seen in the driveway at the preschool’s Locust Street entrance.

 

By DAN GREEN

When I was in kindergarten, my school had the usual outdoor play equipment, but there was also a little slide right in the classroom. There was a cartoon painting of an elephant on its wide metal side. When we climbed to the top, we went up the elephant’s back. When we slid down, we were zooming down its trunk.

The slide was great fun, as were the various toys available, and so were the furnace vents on the floor that made the girls’ dresses billow up like colored balloons as they walked over them. There was also chocolate milk on hand, every single day. It could have been paradise if not for the Hokey Pokey.

On a regular basis, Miss Gillen would get out her scratchy old recording of “Do the Hokey Pokey” and make us all stand in a circle. We were supposed to sing along as we did the dance. We were supposed to love it. We were supposed to know the difference between right and left.

elephant slide graphicWe hopped and jerked around like puppets gone berserk, limbs flailing, as the record sang out instructions about what to do with our heads and arms. I was half paralyzed with self-consciousness. Inevitably, when the record said, “Put your left foot out,” my right foot would go. By the time I figured it out, everyone else had gotten to the “shake it all about” part, so I hastily threw in a few spasms. It was a disaster.

I imagined the critical eye of the teacher burning into me. I figured all the kids noticed my confusion and were covertly laughing. While they were joyously singing “That’s what it’s all about,” I couldn’t fathom any of it. I just wanted to go home.

“Give me reading and writing any day over that motor coordination stuff,” is what I would have said, had I known what to say. Words were something I could wrestle with. They’d give up their meanings without much struggle. The Hokey Pokey sent me scurrying to the bookshelves—or to the elephant.

Up the back, down the trunk—now there was a dance I could understand.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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