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From the Rooftop Playground


In the lower right of this photograph, just beyond the green playing field (which comprises the roof of a field house), you will make out some fencing. The plain fencing borders the playing field. The blue, angled fencing beyond it protects a preschool playground (also rooftop). When I took this shot, there were no children on the playground. Now they're back out there, screaming their heads off. They're at just the right distance from my windows to be charming.

I don't know when the playground opened, but it has something to do with Leighton House, the really very tall building to the right that went up in 1989. The old Rheinlander Center, a recreational building dating from the Fifties, was demolished (the Center itself moved downtown), and the developers fixed up the parish house of Holy Trinity Church. That must be when the playground opened. I don't remember when I first noticed the screaming enough to look for the source, but it can't have been long after the children began playing beneath the blue fence, because I have no ability to shut out extraneous noise. The screaming is eternal, but the children are not. This first bunch of preschoolers, who may have been five at the time, are getting out of college this year. They have been replaced by fifteen or sixteen classes of identically-sounding screaming children. I hope to be around for the first crop's first children - which in New York may require another fifteen years.

Is this an old man's reflection?


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Yes and no. This is the beginning of a line of thought which can only conclude that children are OLDER than we, the ones watching them, are. Because they truly carry more of the universe on their backs. And are screaming for the sheer novelty and crisis of being so lately born. As for you, these are NEW reflections not given to the young, so there is nothing old about them.

Oh don't mention screaming children. Right behind the house that we live in is a lovely park. Chock-full of non-stop screaming children. There are certain sounds that just send me over the edge, and children screaming at unimaginable pitches is one of them. Why do children scream so much these days? I must be old, too, because I do not recall being around kids who made so much infernal noise. And as a child myself, my mother made it very clear to me that screaming, or making any excessive noise of any kind was simply NOT acceptable.

I enjoy children's laughter, but for the love of god, make the screaming stop.

patricias remark about not recalling screaming kids when we were young, rings a bell. of course in montana rarely would more than two/three kids congregate, but still, i do not recall them or us screaming, we reserved that to encourage the billings broncos on the gridiron. i suspect we are seeing the effect of rock/roll and all that other noise called music today. just back from managua where i would stroll past schoolyards and parks, screaming in spanish is pretty much like english, russian and zambianese, i do not recall the turks of istanbul violating our ears, probably the headscarves reflected the sounds, keep happy yall, granpa chuck

Funny, I was thinking about screaming children just the other day. It makes me feel very young, because I remember hearing them in the afternoons when I was in bed for several weeks, sick with chicken pox, measles and german measles. In those days, you had to be in a dark room- no reading, no music, no people except parents, doctors and nurses. It just seemed too cruel to hear people having a good time-squealing with delight- while I lay in bed, itching, with a fever and bored to death.

"Squealing with delight" - that's it, exactly.

It may be that, but it's charming anyway.

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