As I sit here at Faberhills playground watching over my niece and nephews, I suddenly realize how much the park, as we have always called it, has changed over the forty-plus years since we moved here in 1970. Kids now play on designer plastic playground equipments constructed on soft rubbery foam ground. The small swings with synthetic flaps for seats are only for kids aged 12 and under. The seesaw is for bouncing and not balancing. I can’t help but feel the play equipments are just too safe for any fun.
Next to the kids’ playground, there’s an exercise area for senior citizens. This is after all a matured estate, and have seen through three generations. The planners removed the second play area and constructed an open hall for community events. Dotted around the park are two pavilions with seats, metal corrugated benches, replacing the wooden study benches a generation before. There is also a community vegetable plot with long beans, bringals and leafy vegetables like spinach.
We were among the first residents in the first phase of the estate in 1970. Then, the residents saw this patch of undeveloped land and started speculating what they would build here – garden, playground, but the female folks had hoped for a market.
The playground I played in as a child has two large circular sand pit with rusty equipments, one containing a roundabout which we pushed to rotate as quickly as we could before jumping up on it, hoping it would go a few more rounds on its own. Next to it was a dome-shaped monkey bar with the highest point at around 2m. We dared each other to jump down, scraping a few knees. There’s a squeaky swing with two wooden seats, suspended by rusty chains which stained our hands after swinging. There were two wooden seesaws where we enjoyed walking across to do balancing acts, trying not to let the ends touch the ground. The star of the park was this enormous concrete slide built on the grass slope. We could never slide down smoothly with all the sand causing friction. Across the other end, there was another sand pit with similar equipments but I can’t remember exactly now. When it rained, both the pits flooded, attracting tadpoles in it’s brown pool. In between the two pits was a large grassy field where boys played soccer.
After many years, when my sons were younger, the park underwent renovation, adding new plastic playground equipment with circular slides built into monkey bar set on sandy ground. The other pit was changed to an exercise area. A hard court was built next to the exercise area, where my sons played soccer with neighborhood boys despite the the ‘no soccer’ sign post, a rule which I could not fathom, since shrubs and bushes were planted on the original grass field, preventing the boys from playing soccer there.
This is a lovely park, for the gigantic rain trees which have been there since I was seven, with its bird nest and staghorn ferns, providing shelters for woodpeckers and more recently, a pair of kingfishers. I love looking at the random netting formed by the crisscrossing canopy branches as I looked up into the sky.
This is a heritage park which my children and I were privileged to have grown up playing in.