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Piano Man

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 11:38 a.m. CDT

From second grade through sixth grade, I attended Lincoln Elementary in Boone. And, like most children of the 1970s and ’80s, I thoroughly enjoyed our twice-daily recess periods.

Mostly because of the piano slide.

Most of our readers probably know what a piano slide is, but I’m willing to bet several of you don’t. To be brief, it’s a slanted piece of polished sheet metal (from back when slides were made of such material, not plastic) with a hand rail, shaped somewhat like the lid on a concert grand piano.

Except it was bigger. A lot bigger.

Most days, you could fit about 10 or 15 of us kids on the piano slide. The goal: get to the top. Once you were there, the new goal was to stay there.

We called it “King of the Slide.”

At the end of any given recess period, the kid at the top of the slide would start the next recess period on top. And then the game would continue. And continue. And continue.

There were 26 of us in my class at Lincoln — a few too many, but not enough for a second class back then — and while kids came and went, the piano slide remained. And, the game continued.

There were many times in the summer when those of us who were able would reconvene at the piano slide during summer vacation and have a real go at it for a couple hours. Amazingly, despite the cut-throat nature of King of the Slide, no one ever got seriously hurt.

Somehow, we always seemed to remember who was King of Slide come the first day of class each subsequent school year. And, once again, the game was on.

The only time the game wasn’t on was when it was too cold to get a grip on the slide. That’s when the boys would play pick-up football while the girls huddled in small packs around the four-square grids.

In fact, I’m not quite sure the game ever really ended. At some point, it must’ve ended, though, because the piano slide hasn’t been at its location on the corner of West Fourth Street and Marion Street for at least a decade.

My only guess is that someone must’ve deemed it a hazard. Or, kids finally tired of the challenge of climbing it, their penchant for playing video games instead of just playing having had its obvious result.

Either way, it was a sad day when I drove by and noticed the slide was gone. It was like one of the happiest pieces of my childhood had been ripped out of the ground along with it.

• • •

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading this in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

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