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the long slide down

I like to photograph empty playgrounds. On a day that’s really cold and windy, and in a town where the population is 65, the odds of finding a vacant playground were pretty good.

Hazard, Nebraska
photographed 12.10.2020

Playground on a dripping day

It’s been a hot summer here in Texas, so to make myself feel cooler, I’m posting this picture that I made on a cold, damp day last December. I found this antiquated playground in a tiny town way up in the top of the Texas Pandhandle.

Mobeetie, Texas
photographed 12.27.2019

The Bleak Playground

I think my dad’s family moved to Mobeetie in the early 1930s; the bank my grandfather had in Branson, Colorado, didn’t survive the Depression so they came to Texas to make a new start. My dad lived there until he and eleven other students made up the graduating class of 1940. He was 16 when he graduated, and he headed off to what was then known as Texas Technological College. (He went from a town of 400 people to a college with an enrollment of just under 3,800. No wonder he flunked out.*)

I don’t really think this playground equipment was there when he was, but I did get a bit of a weird vibe from it. Of course, that might also have been from the cold wind that day…

Old Mobeetie, Texas
photographed 12.27.2019

*Not to worry, though. He retuned to college and made straight As in his chosen field of civil engineering. The most frequently told story of my whole life was How I Was Too Young When I Went To College.

Ghost Slide

The difference between this abandoned school and all the other ones I’ve shot is that the Patient Spouse attended two years of elementary school here, which made the desolation a little more depressing.

But those two slides, barely holding their own against the onslaughts of time and weeds, turn a sad place into a creepy one…

Danbury, Nebraska
photographed 8.26.2018

The user, typically a child


On an overcast morning, a well-used and well-polished slide caught my photographer’s eye. I won’t tell you how many kids I had to chase away so I could get this shot.

Oh, you know what? Yes, I will tell you: none. There were only two kids at the park, and they were someplace else.

Ruddick Park
Colorado City, Texas
photographed 3.17.2018

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