Just hangin’ out. Yep, that’s what kids do today, they hang out. When we were kids, we hung out too; it just wasn’t the same thing. We hung out in front of Henninger’s drug store (at Longcommon and Burlington, where La Barra restaurant is. Today’s kids really hang out, in trees.

You have probably seen them hanging around in their hammocks attached to trees at the Big Ball Park or other places around Riverside. I think it is rather neat. Some are reading, some are just rocking back and forth and some are conversing with each other. 

They aren’t causing problems, although I would like to see them all wearing masks and keep their distance, as prescribed. They also need to remember to pick up after themselves, just like at home. With school “starting,” they may not have much time to hang around much longer, so enjoy it while you can.

If we flip back a few years to the Big Ball Park and the Commons, as the strip of parks trailing down Longcommon and Nuttall Roads are called, I dare to say there would be no hanging from trees or hanging around the park.  

Seems there was an attitude by some residents across from the parks that there should be nothing going on in the parks, their feeling being it was for their enjoyment. My answer to that was, well, then you maintain it. Here’s the lawnmower.

There was to be no organized ball playing on Sundays in the Big Ball Park, even if you had been to church earlier. And who can forget the Turtle War? 

Turtle Park was named after the turtle-shaped play structure placed there. But, while it may have been a favorite of the little kids who played on it, it was not a favorite of some adults who thought it was ugly and that it didn’t fit in with Olmsted’s plan for the area. It created quite the hue and cry. 

What could be more beautiful than little children playing? For a time, the naysayers won the battle and the turtle was banished. But after much deliberation and arguing, the turtle was brought back and is still there today.

In 2020, the Commons are alive, kids playing. The turtle is where he belongs and bless those volunteers who diligently are out there tending to the parks. Don’t know what Olmsted would say, because no one has talked to him lately, but I don’t think he would mind.

He might even hang up a hammock of his own and hang out with the kids. Nothing like hanging out, enjoying beautiful Riverside, no matter how old you are.