Saturday, January 16, 2016


Long before there was a fictional Disneyland, before tennis courts invaded green space, before
kids were immersed in electronics, there were public parks scattered around our hometown in Jackson, Mississippi.

 Poindexter Park was located in West Jackson at the edge of downtown. I lived within walking distance of this beautiful play land. As a child my parents brought me out on Saturday mornings to play before the summer heat drove us indoors. Most Sunday evenings we listened to music played by live musicians. Mother took pictures of my playing in the sand box, sitting on the baby swing, leaning against Daddy on a bench. A wide expanse of area, three city blocks wide and two city blocks narrow held swings, see-saws, and sand boxes.  Tall trees provided shade in the humid summer months, hide-aways for lovers, benches for the weary, cross walks for strollers.

 One area of our own grassy knoll sat a brick and stone gazebo called the Band Stand. There during elections stood candidates who'd promote themselves the only way other than through newspaper articles and advertisements. There during spring and summer nights the city band played while families spread picnic supper and kids ran squealing with delight.

For the little ones, the concrete sandboxes filled to the brim with sand got dug and filled in pails, poured over kids' heads, pee'ed in, spilled over into the grass.  All kids knew what having sand in their hair, on their faces, in their clothes felt like. Yet, every visit the allure of the sandbox began again for the return visitor.

 Two sets of six swings each sat at one area near the sidewalk that bordered the park.  Big kids pumped their swings into the air to feel the exhilaration.  There's no feeling like being airborne without a parachute.  Repeatedly,  swings flew higher and higher,  fingers holding tightly to the chains that held the seat in place.  You were lucky if someone --your dad, your mom, your older brother or sister, anyone, would push you into netherland.  No better sensation swelled in your body. No one thought in the 1930s of a man on the moon, but some kids were often heard to say, "Push me to the moon!"

The park was popular with students who attended Enochs Junior High School, a giant of a three-story building guarding one side of the street.  Mornings found kids scribbling their homework at the last minute, gossiping, and eating an ice cream cone for breakfast bought from the popular Seale-Lily store across the street. Afternoons students sat waiting for their buses, or short cut across the park to reach a nearby house or apartment. Six streets were in proximity of the park.
I have no reason to be in the vicinity of Poindexter Park anymore.  The city has expanded in other directions. Original families have found other parts of the city to live. The surrounding landscape has changed. No more Seale-Lily, movie theater, or Greco's Spaghetti House.  No sandboxes, no swings carrying shrieks of joy, no music from the gazebo which still stands as a silent reminder of its popularity when I was a kid.