Makeshift Playground Death Traps

Makeshift Playground Death Traps
Granite Block Pile  LOCATE IT – Located opposite California St off Merrimack, a small road led to a ship yard. This defunct shipyard contained the granite blocks up to around 1979. They were removed a short while after that. The large granite blocks must have been used once for ship building. There were approximately a hundred or so large granite blocks that were piled haphazardly which produced small caves and tunnels. A child’s dream and a parent’s nightmare.  My friend Jacob Andersen and I would visit the location regularly.  Yes lucky to be alive!
See the Map Site for the location of this place.
Sledding Hill LOCATE IT – Many a child flew down this hill unsupervised in sleds and toboggans in the dead of winter.  The hill was steep and it bottomed out into a sand pit.  I remember the best toboggan to use was those wooden ones with the curved wooden front that could hold at least four individuals.  Actually, they held a lot more.   The problem with those toboggans was you couldn’t steer them.   You could describe the ride down the hill as scary, fast and unpredictable.  You prayed that your trip down wouldn’t see you leave the approximately 15 foot wide smoothed out, and iced up road, until you made it to the bottom.
Tell us your playground death traps!
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 and is filed under Death Traps, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “Makeshift Playground Death Traps”

  1. p.j. nichipor on June 4th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    One of my all time favorite and dangerous fun spots in the south end has to have been the abandoned oil distribution tanks next to the old city railroad tracks near the foot of Bromfield St. The tanks were three steel cylinders about 25 to 30 feet in length by maybe 8 to 10 feet in diameter. They were mounted horizontally atop concrete support slabs with tops that were cast in a half moon shape to accommodate them. Gone was the barbed wire

  2. p.j. nichipor on June 5th, 2009 at 12:03 am

    One of my all time favorite and dangerous fun spots in the south end has to have been the abandoned oil distribution tanks next to the old city railroad tracks near the foot of Bromfield St. The tanks were riveted steel cylinders about 25 to 30 feet in length by maybe 8 to 10 feet in diameter. They were mounted horizontally atop concrete support slabs with tops that were cast in a half moon shape to accommodate them. Gone was the barbed wire that a decade or two ago had been mounted on top of the cracked and pock marked outer wall that surrounded the small complex. The support struts, rusted and bent, still in place. This place was, on any summer day with its close proximity to the Merrimack River, a haven for the Joppa winos as well as the various and plentiful “Ner-do-wells” that populated that part of town. If said “denizens” were in attendance when we ventured to the waterfront on a warm summer’s day, the tanks were by-passed and we had to choose another venue to play at. However, if we were fortunate enough to find it “wino free”, we claimed the place as ours. Word would spread to our fellow “river rats” from the nearby streets and we would soon have a decent sized crew. Some of the “skinnier” kids were able to barely slide between the tanks. This was a talent that had the draw-back of added risk of injury, as the ground below was inches deep in broken glass. Thus, the best spot for a slide through was over the area of the old pump hut. A small concrete sided and topped structure below the gap of the first two tanks. The first ones on site would load up on rocks or any whole Muscatel bottles and head top-side by climbing a rusted but worn smooth pipe that rose from ground level to the top level of one of the tanks. A fresh out of the box pair of sneakers was the best foot gear for jumping from the top of one tank to the other. I learned the hard way by showing up with some worn PF Flyers. I blame the smoothed-out bottoms for a failed jump resulting in my becoming semi-wedged between two of the silver painted, rusty vessels. I was extricated by my fellow cohorts, sporting some prize worthy scrapes as well as shredded clothing. The afore mentioned rocks and bottles were for defending the coveted tank top. At least for as long as the rocks held out. One extra special feature here, was the pipe we climbed up. Because when it came time to go down, we could lunge toward the same pipe from an established point with the correct speed and with the the very important correct hand placement, spiral to the glass covered ground below with the style and finese of a circus acrobat.Good times and adventure could also be had at the near-by brick sewer pipe. Said pipe was just big enough to accomodate a small human if on hands and knees. The opening was oval in shape and constructed of mortered brick. We had no idea how old the pipe was, but at best guess we figured it to date to the late nineteenth century. Sure, some of the bricks were loose. And it smelled bad, was dark and cramped, but most importantly it was fun because it was dangerous. My friend Tom D. claims to have crawled the several hundred feet into the “tunnel” to a point where it joined a more constricted concrete pipe that he said took him beneath Water Street. One drawback to venturing into the pipe was that it was so small as to not allow one to turn arround to exit it. We had to crawl awkwardly backwards to day-light. One day that always stands out as just plain “freaky”, was when Tom, Me, and a couple of other kids were to hook up at the pipe at an established time. However, one of the crew looked to be a “no-show”. Tom went in first, I followed, and so on. Maybe fifty yards in, Tom let out a shriek and and yelled for us all to back-pedal double -quick. We all responded, each of us yelling back to Tom, “what is it,a rat”, as we backed out in panic. On the out-side, wide-eyed and out of breath, we could hear the bizzare but familiar laughter coming from inside the pipe. And then through the darkness we saw the the emerging scrawny figure that was Herman”Butchy”F.. Once completely outside the tunnel and after getting shoved around by each of us, Butchy explained that he had gotten there about an hour prior to our arrival and had decided to wait for us in the cramped pipe. I shared my first “smoke” on that spot with a good friend, Carl B.. We had gotten ahold of Dexter cigar and some matches. At age twelve, this was the making of a great memory. I saw Carl a couple of days ago at his mom’s wake, the first time in nearly forty years. We didn’t speak of cigars but instead, Carl reminded me of a popular winter pass-time we engaged in. We never had a special “south end” name for it, but rafting around the fridgid waters of Joppa Flats on loose chunks of pack ice was probably the most fun and at the same time the most dangerous and stupidest thing I did as a kid… Of course building a hockey rink way out past the loose ice toward the channel was probably not the smartest thing we did either. Of equal stupidity was trying to wait the police out when instructed by them to come in off the ice. That’s a whole other story for another time, to go along with tales of rooftop ventures, Halloween dummies and police cars,wild times at March’s Hill, etc. Mostly things you never told your parents about when trying to explain salt water filled boots and frozen stiff clothes… Rest in peace Mrs. B..

  3. p.j. nichipor on June 5th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    One of my all time favorite and dangerous fun spots in the south end has to have been the abandoned oil distribution tanks next to the old city railroad tracks near the foot of Bromfield St. The tanks were riveted steel cylinders about 25 to 30 feet in length by maybe 8 to 10 feet in diameter. They were mounted horizontally atop concrete support slabs with tops that were cast in a half moon shape to accommodate them. Gone was the barbed wire that a decade or two ago had been mounted on top of the cracked and pock marked outer wall that surrounded the small complex. The support struts, rusted and bent, still in place. This place was, on any summer day with its close proximity to the Merrimack River, a haven for the Joppa winos as well as the various and plentiful “Ner-do-wells” that populated that part of town. If said “denizens” were in attendance when we ventured to the waterfront on a warm summer’s day, the tanks were by-passed and we had to choose another venue to play at. However, if we were fortunate enough to find it “wino free”, we claimed the place as ours. Word would spread to our fellow “river rats” from the nearby streets and we would soon have a decent sized crew. Some of the “skinnier” kids were able to barely slide between the tanks. This was a talent that had the draw-back of added risk of injury, as the ground below was inches deep in broken glass. Thus, the best spot for a slide through was over the area of the old pump hut. A small concrete sided and topped structure below the gap of the first two tanks. The first ones on site would load up on rocks or any whole Muscatel bottles and head top-side by climbing a rusted but worn smooth pipe that rose from ground level to the top level of one of the tanks. A fresh out of the box pair of sneakers was the best foot gear for jumping from the top of one tank to the other. I learned the hard way by showing up with some worn PF Flyers. I blame the smoothed-out bottoms for a failed jump resulting in my becoming semi-wedged between two of the silver painted, rusty vessels. I was extricated by my fellow cohorts, sporting some prize worthy scrapes as well as shredded clothing. The afore mentioned rocks and bottles were for defending the coveted tank top. At least for as long as the rocks held out. One extra special feature here, was the pipe we climbed up. Because when it came time to go down, we could lunge toward the same pipe from an established point with the correct speed and with the the very important correct hand placement, spiral to the glass covered ground below with the style and finese of a circus acrobat.Good times and adventure could also be had at the near-by brick sewer pipe. Said pipe was just big enough to accomodate a small human if on hands and knees. The opening was oval in shape and constructed of mortered brick. We had no idea how old the pipe was, but at best guess we figured it to date to the late nineteenth century. Sure, some of the bricks were loose. And it smelled bad, was dark and cramped, but most importantly it was fun because it was dangerous. My friend Tom D. claims to have crawled the several hundred feet into the “tunnel” to a point where it joined a more constricted concrete pipe that he said took him beneath Water Street. One drawback to venturing into the pipe was that it was so small as to not allow one to turn arround to exit it. We had to crawl awkwardly backwards to day-light. One day that always stands out as just plain “freaky”, was when Tom, Me, and a couple of other kids were to hook up at the pipe at an established time. However, one of the crew looked to be a “no-show”. Tom went in first, I followed, and so on. Maybe fifty yards in, Tom let out a shriek and and yelled for us all to back-pedal double -quick. We all responded, each of us yelling back to Tom, “what is it,a rat”, as we backed out in panic. On the out-side, wide-eyed and out of breath, we could hear bizzare but familiar laughter coming from inside the pipe. And then through the darkness we saw the the emerging scrawny figure that was Herman”Butchy”F.. Once completely outside the tunnel and after getting shoved around by each of us, Butchy explained that he had gotten there about an hour prior to our arrival and had decided to wait for us in the cramped pipe. I shared my first “smoke” on that spot with a good friend, Carl B.. We had gotten ahold of Dexter cigar and some matches. At age twelve, this was the making of a great memory. I saw Carl a couple of days ago at his mom’s wake, the first time in nearly forty years. We didn’t speak of cigars but instead, Carl reminded me of a popular winter pass-time we engaged in. We never had a special “south end” name for it, but rafting around the fridgid waters of Joppa Flats on loose chunks of pack ice was probably the most fun and at the same time the most dangerous and stupidest thing I did as a kid… Of course building a hockey rink way out past the loose ice toward the channel was probably not the smartest thing we did either. Of equal stupidity was trying to wait the police out when instructed by them to come in off the ice. That’s a whole other story for another time, to go along with tales of rooftop ventures, Halloween dummies and police cars,wild times at March’s Hill, etc. Mostly things you never told your parents about when trying to explain salt water filled boots and frozen stiff clothes… Rest in peace Mrs. B..

  4. se on January 25th, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    what about teenagers out in the woods behind crows lane and parties on plum island point?

  5. Mark on August 11th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    My mother grew up on Rings Island, Salisbury, and told me that she and her friends used to walk across the old railroad bridge that crosses from Rings Isl. to Newbyport. This was nearly 70 years ago and, obviously, at that time, trains still crossed the bridge. I asked her what they would have done if a train had crossed (the bridge was extremely narrow, only wide enough for the train). They could have either jumped off into the Merrimac, or been crushed by the train. I said, “to think you used to yell at me for all the stupid, dangerous things I used to do as a kid!”.

  6. Ken on February 2nd, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I am much younger than you all on this website. My family moved to Newburyport when I was 5 in 1989 so I missed a lot of Newburyport.

    Some of my favorite death traps in town growing up were the new houses being built in the west end of town in the 90’s. My friends and I would take our bikes out to the big dirt piles and the piles of construction material while once the workers would leave and ride until we had to come home. Some times we’d have to run and hide from the workers in the area so we’d climb into the houses and hide.

    I grew up near woodman park on Crow Lane so at a young age I had to deal with all of the kids drinking at the park. My parents used to always find beer bottles and cans in our front yard (most of the time the kids would have the decency to put the cans and bottles back in the cardboard packaging. My parents would take the cans and bottles over to the store and keep the deposit. I would ask my dad why he didn’t saw anything about the underage drinking (I was 8 or so and a goody – goody) He would tell me that as long as the kids were respectful and didn’t just throw the bottles and cans around our property he didn’t have a problem with them.

    My friends and I used to climb the fence (or pass through a portion of the fence that had been knocked down) to go to the highway next to woodman park. Some times we’d just go up to the cliff and watch the cars go by for hours.

    By the way, this is a great website and I cannot wait to check it all out.

  7. DSouther on March 16th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    My brother Jim and I played in those rocks that was where we would hide to smoke butts with Tom G. Eddie P. and all of the walnut st gang.

  8. Deano on June 26th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    When I was 5 or 6, my mother worked at the Starboard Galley in the early ’70s (it was waaaaay different back then.) On Saturday nights the jukebox blasted 3 dog night and the bar would be full of Coast Guard officers and construction workers. There were no tablecloths in the building and Arty would be in the kitchen making the finest meal they served; clam chowda..

    Anyway, my mom would have to take me to work on occasion and behind “The Galley” was a myriad of washed-up twisted timbers, old boat rigging and wooden dumpsters only accessible at low tide. I would climb around and under these hazards and even climb down into crevices looking for anything I could find. This was also one of Duncan Chase’s hang outs and I would hang out with him on the old docks in the afternoons.

  9. Shawn G - Moderator on August 16th, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    @DSOUTHER What ever happened to Eddie P? Rumor was he had an incident with an electric pole. I’d like to put that one to rest.

  10. GMAN on December 31st, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    To Shawn G…

    From the web in 2007

    In Memory of
    Edward H.
    “Eddie”
    Provencher
    Obituary for Edward Provencher
    DRACUT-Edward H. “Eddie” Provencher, Jr., 45, a resident of Dracut, died Sunday, February 18th in Saints Medical Center after a brief illness. He was the beloved husband of Janet L. (Dunn) Provencher with whom he was married for 15 years.

    He was born on August 2, 1961 in Newburyport the son of Edward H. Provencher, Sr. and Marie A. (Plouff) Provencher of Fort Meyers, Florida. Mr. Provencher graduated from Wilmington High School.

    In his free time he enjoyed reading, especially Stephen King novels. Mr. Provencher also enjoyed playing cards and traveling. He was an avid sports fan and enjoyed playing basketball.

    In addtion to his wife and parents he also leaves two daughters, Monica M. Provencher of Dracut and Jessica L. Provencher of Dracut; his sister, Debra M. Provencher of Fort Meyers, FL; five nephews and nieces, Matthew Dion, Danielle Dion, Jenny Elliott, Joey Eno and Mary Osborne; his father-in-law, Francis W. Dunn of Dracut; many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

    He was also the son-in-law of the late Jeannette E. Dunn.

    Friends may call at the DRACUT FUNERAL HOME, 2159 Lakeview Avenue, DRACUT, on Thursday from 5:00 until 8:00 PM. His funeral will be held from the funeral home on Friday at 10:00 AM, followed by his Funeral Mass at 11:00 AM, in Ste. Marguerite D’Youville Parish at Ste. Therese Church in Dracut. Burial in Tyngsboro Memorial Cemetery in Tyngsboro. Flowers may be sent or memorial contributions may be made in his name to The Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor, Brookline, MA 02445-7295.

Leave a Reply

Upload Files

You can include images or files in your comment by selecting them below. Once you select a file, it will be uploaded and a link to it added to your comment. You can upload as many images or files as you like and they will all be added to your comment.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.

Thanks for visiting NBPTMA.com Re-live your history, contribute, add posts, photos and comments – circa 1950 -1990

Photographers / Photos Wanted

If you want to be listed on a new page as a writer or photo contributor please email me at questions@nbptma.com We are looking for pics from about 1950 to 1995 that tells the History of NBPTMa.

.

SIGN UP HERE NOW! Use Facebook or Wordpress to login.

.

Random Memory Quotes

“Don’t walk on the grass or you’ll go to the office. That office was Joseph Donnelly’s office.”
by SLGearin NBPTMA.com – History Your Way Newburyport Ma Circa 1950-1990 » Patrol Boy

Click For Next Quote

.

.

.

Updated Posts

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

People Places and Things

Blogroll

Cemeteries

Genealogy

High School

Homes

Military

Music

Names

Newburyport Blogs/Sites

Tagged Posts

Meta