- by Dennis Thompsett

We always called it Mosquito Park. It's that little park on 5th Avenue by 16th street, beside the Catholic Church parking lot. I suppose it now bears the name of some person who was a legend in their own time. Sadly it is a legend time forgot. So it will always be Mosquito Park to me.

Having said that I don't recall there being that many mosquitos there.

The wind coming up over the hill probably blew them all away. There were no tall trees below the hill, so there was always a breeze. And one of the best views of Owen Sound. But that wasn't what brought us there.

Every kid loves to fly. That's why Mosquito Park was so popular. It was the only place around that had playground equipment. Little swings for little kids and big swings for big kids, a couple of teeter totters, a few benches and an acre or so of cut grass.

The draw for us was the flying. Manned flight with no machines. Escape velocity provided by kid-muscle alone. That's why we always headed right for those big kid swings. No matter how small we were.

Like getting on a horse or a motorcycle, you always get on a serious swing from one side. Give it the respect it deserves if it can kill you. And those big-kid swings deserved it. They had really long chains so you could pump yourself almost into the sky and then stop at the highest point. Suddenly everything is calm and quiet. You are weightless. And happy.

Then you must make a decision: quit pumping and hang on and fly back and forth, until you gently touch down - or bail out and fly free. Well . . . for a second or two.

One type of flight is smooth and takes a long time as it brings you slowly in for a landing. The other type is short, exciting and dangerous.

Manned flight by willpower alone. The harder you worked the higher you got. So the longer you flew no matter what decision you made. Was that a life lesson? Sounds like one, doesn't it? But no. Every kid knew that working  hard was just the cost of good fun.

You'd think the type of flight would be determined by the personality or gender of the kid. But you would be wrong. I never knew what I'd do until I got up there. And many Child Psychologists agree that girls at 9 or 10 are at their most fearless and self-confident. So they would often be flying too.

Mosquito Park, eh. 

Training children to fly for generations


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