Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sliding pond

I heard the term while listening to an episode of A Way with Words not long ago: sliding pond. It brought me back to my Brooklyn childhood.

A sliding pond (or sliding pon) is what most English-speaking United States residents would call a slide or, less commonly, a sliding board or sliding plank. A wonderful article by David L. Gold, “Three New-York-Cityisms: Sliding Pond, Potsy, and Akey” suggests three possible origins of sliding pond : 1. Sliding on a frozen pond or on a slide built at the edge of a frozen pond. 2. The Dutch glijbaan or German Rutschbahn, each of which means “slide,” with baan or bahn morphing into pahn. 3. An “indigenous creation,” deriving from slide-upon or sliding-upon. Gold leans to a “partial loan translation” of glijbaan as the most plausible explanation.

All I know is that I hadn’t thought of a sliding pond in ages. And all of a sudden, there one was, all metallic and blazing hot, right in the playground at New Utrecht and 43rd.

[“Three New-York-Cityisms: Sliding Pond, Potsy, and Akey” appeared in American Speech 56, no. 1 (1981).]

comments: 4

Anonymous said...

Michael--I have never heard the term "sliding pond" before. I remember those slides becoming quite hot in the Kansas summer sun. Our elementary school had one with a bump in it so the whole trick was to get going fast enough that you bounced off the bump.

We used to use wax paper to "grease" the slide so that you could go faster. Also the trick in going fast was to see how far out you could land from the end of the slide.

All the simpler days of physical fun and seeing what you could do to go higher in swings or faster on slides!


Michael Leddy said...

Wax paper: crafty kids!

Unknown said...

Anonymous: we did that too! In addition to the playground slide, our grade school had an ancient spiral fire escape, a winding, two-story slide. Using waxed paper made it as good as an amusement park ride, but the metal would get so slippery that we had to spit on the soles of our shoes to climb back up.

You are the first person I've "met" who also used this tactic. These efforts to fly far from the base of the slide are among my best childhood memories. I'm amazed that no one ever tried to stop us from playing on the fire escape when school was out.

Michael Leddy said...

Wow! Had I come upon the scene, I would like to think I would have said something about safety, even if I had things thrown at me for doing so.

I would never have thought that wax paper would be so available to kids. “What are you doing with that wax paper?” “Uhh, making sandwiches?”