An anonymous reader looks back on Haskell Community Center...
Growing up on Lawndale, near Patterson, I spent a lot of time there; both inside and out. I had three older siblings who would bring me either to Haskell or to “Hidden Park” so they could smoke (either cigarettes or what we now refer to as medicine). I remember when they were building the addition on the back of the community center and when the parking lot was expanded. Remember when the drive near the playground connected to the parking lot? Remember when they rebuilt the main sewer line and there were large construction sites on Forrest Hill, including one in front of Haskell? The Civic Park buses had to run down Lawndale instead of Forrest Hill because of the construction.
My neighborhood friends and I would ride our BMX bikes on the trails from the play ground to the Basset park drinking fountain. We would need that warm water fountain to prevent heat stroke, as our heads would be filled with “Dukes of Hazzard” and “CHiPs” episodes, so we would ride back and forth on the trails wearing ourselves out. This was just before they paved the Basset Park lot and closed half of the lot off. If they hadn’t put a chain across the access to the other half of the lot, the dirt mound they placed at the end at the paved portion would have made an excellent “hill jump” for us kids to take advantage of.
Many times, after heavy down pours, the low area at the trail head, near the Haskell lot, would flood severely. The water seemed like it would be several feet deep. On one such occasion, we attempted to convert one of the aluminum clad picnic tables into a raft. This didn’t work so well.
I miss the Tulips planted in front of the building; as I would occasionally steal one or two for my mom on my way home from Civic Park or Double D. The flowers made such a difference to the front of the building. It wasn’t until they stopped planting them that I noticed just how much of a difference they did make.
Whenever I wasn’t playing baseball at the Longfellow little league diamond or in the intersection of Lawndale and Patterson, we would be playing ball on the stretch of lawn in front of the Haskell playground. “Over the fence onto Greenway Ave” was a big deal and I only made it over a few times.
I too miss those odd swings with the pull handles and the damaged carousel that wobbled and squeaked as it rotated. Were the swings near Greenway modeled after a regular horse, or of the Nordic variety? I just remember a red horse head on the top beam across the swing. Remember the moon walk, face painting and rides on some sort of train that drove on the road?
I remember feeling really sad walking home from Haskell on the last day of 6th grade. We spent the whole school day there having a free day. It was a fairly cold day for June so we stayed inside. I just remember thinking that everything was going to change the next year. It wasn’t just because I had been given the choice between private school or Holmes middle, but because nearly all of my elementary school friends from Civic Park were moving out of Flint over the summer.
I think that is what I missed most of all; I missed all of my friends whom scattered in the wind with their families during the white flight of the mid 80’s. Some of us stayed behind; whether due to financial situations or stubborn family refusing to be chased off by the changing surroundings, but it just wasn’t the same place anymore. By the mid 90’s, my nephews were being warned to watch out for used needles on the playground or what color shirts and jackets they could wear.