Lake Merritt Monster!
iJbie MO! "KY Lakeside Park play structure, first in the U.S., is a paradise for kids U 11 By PAUL LEWIS Trifamt Staff Writer E - , f . "-'" "-'" "-'" Ji- Ji- K t ' ; . v Bobett levy and Beth Fee at play. ri p HE Lake Merritt Monster has nothing in I I common with the fearsome denizen of J-- J-- J-- Loch Ness, except, perhaps, for size. Screams follow in the wake of the 10;ton behemoth here. Joy, pure joy. The fellow here is for play, unlike the Scottish dismay. It's for sliding and running and hollering (echoes built-in). built-in). built-in). And climbing and balancing and crawling and jumping and hiding and riding riding (a-horse (a-horse (a-horse or a-bannister) a-bannister) a-bannister) and peeking and sneaking and creeping. . . . It's the newest first in the United States of play structures designed to give youngsters a chance to build their fancies into any amount of situations. Philadelphia recently built a fanciful slide. It calls into play creative thought, competitive games, imaginative exercise, color perception and brings about downright puppy-like puppy-like puppy-like glee. Glimmering in yellow chartreuse on its own beach hard by the lake's bandstand, The Monster Monster evolved from a lot of careful thought and some degree of wistful reminiscing by Bob Winston, Winston, its designer. Teacher of sculpture and de sign at the College of Arts and Crafts, Winston believes with Amedee Sourdry, the Oakland Park Department's landscape architect, that some degreeofesthetic appreciation has to be given city kids these days. That is summed up by them this way: "The hills, the rocks, the trees and old stumps, the vacant, open rolling areas we (as children) had access to AND ARE NO MORE . . . well, something more than concrete play areas has to replace 'em." Replace Nature? Park Supt. William Penn Mott saw one of Winston's easy, free-flowing' free-flowing' free-flowing' forms of jewelry. Could he make something like that in another form? Big? Something for play that would permit permit constant supervision, that would of itself offer safeguards, protect youthful players? Something that would offer the fascination of a big old tree for play? Winston set to work in a virtually unexplored field. Only in Sweden had attempts been made to evolve modern play structures. He carved a succession of models in balsa wood. Forty feet of convolutions in iron evolved at the Macri Iron Works in West Oakland. Metal mesh was fitted around the skeleton and a spray of concrete concrete supplied the skin. Winston, who has a little boy of his own, contributed contributed all his talentsand 125 hours of worry over the manufacture of his' fanciful beast (which led him to call it The Monster). He ' charged nothing for his part in it. Oakland got its Loch Merritt device for about $3,000, but won almost that much in prize money at the California Spring Garden Show. It was displayed there while Mott readied its beach placement. More of Winston's imagery is to be placed there. Due off the drawing board is a spray pool which will unexpectedly sprinkle youngsters youngsters with water as they cross an electronic beam. You can bet they'll be beaming. . . Of the Monster, one little girl supplied this description; "It's something like a hill. With caves, sort of." Whatever it is, it's Oakland's newest attraction, attraction, as compelling as Children's Fairyland, o t It's rare fun, declare Frances Gallagher, 11. rk y The Monster hat varied fun uses. This is Allan Keil, 5V. x (i tn 1 V. X I -VP -VP - . , - y . m jet- kat v - - m Fred and Larry Bergold consider this a cave. The Monster's skeleton is as sturdy as a battleship's. ":' ., . -.- -.- -.- The Bunch sisters, Sue Ellen and Linda Jean,