The Triangle Slide Was Real

Mike Paulus

I swear this thing was at least twice as big as it appears in this photo. (Image: Renee DeSchane)

Over the weekend I noticed a nostalg-i-rrific picture on the "You Know You're From Eau Claire When...." Facebook page of the "triangle slide" or "angle slide" that used to stand in Carson Park. Everyone in town loves to reminisce about the grandaddy of local playground equipment – the Rocket Slide – but I have just as many fond (and traumatic) memories of its angular, sheet metal-clad cousin. Here's what I wrote about the slide back in the summer of 2007:

Giant Metal Triangle of Death

Volume One Magazine; August 2007

Hey, remember the giant razor blade-like “slide” that used to be in Carson Park? What meth addict designed that thing? It was a giant triangle of super-polished metal propped up at an angle, capable of absorbing the sun’s beautiful rays and converting them into astounding amounts of knee-scorching heat energy. There was no ladder to get you to the top – you needed to either a) run up the thing extremely fast, b) scale the edge of the slide using a tiny railing, or c) rely on the friction of your bare skin against the smoldering metal to assist in your ascent. It was the most frustrating, elbow-bruising, noggin-clunking, ego-crushing piece of “play” ground equipment ever created.

It was awesome.

This thing was forged (in the fires of Mount Doom, no doubt) long before the numbingly safe playground equipment of today. Modern day equipment looks like it was made by Rubbermaid. Or Tupperware. Or both. The Razor-Slide of Aggravation would probably give today’s soccer moms a panic-induced aneurism. Besides its striking resemblance to a Jolly Green Giant-sized guillotine, there weren’t even any woodchips around it. Only sand. And piles of moaning kids. Sure, today’s equipment looks like plenty of fun (and I rarely see it filled with bored, listless kids staring off into space), but the jungle gyms of old seemed to be a lot more open-ended and more imagination-friendly. Many of today’s playground apparatuses lend themselves to only one or two forms of play.

The image of the razor slide is a perfect “before” picture in a comparison to what we see kids frolicking upon nowadays – a remnant from a very different playground philosophy. According to Phil Johnson, Eau Claire’s Superintendent of Parks, the big triangle slide was torn out somewhere around 1992, soon after the Consumer Products Safety Commission released a new set of industry standards for playgrounds, leading to a nationwide rejigger of public- and school-funded equipment. According to the new guidelines, the triangle slide, though sturdy as ever, was just not safe anymore ...

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