The summer of 1984, which for me fell between third and fourth grade, my father took a field assignment near Dayton, Ohio for several months. The whole family moved out there, just for the summer, and rented an apartment. I'm sure my adult tastes would see nothing memorable about the apartment, but it had a swimming pool, where I, age 8, spent quite a lot of time and learned to swim better than I had before.
The apartment had a television, where we watched Mary Lou Retton deliver her famous performance. I also watched a lot of subtitled music videos on the public television station. I have no idea why they thought they were airing them, but they were nearly my only exposure to popular music as a youth, and to this day, my benchmark for whether music is really old is whether I heard it then. In front of that apartment television, I embarked on my first and last embroidery project, ever, a little white apron that had a strawberry and watermelon design. I have no talent or patience for needlepoint.
The apartment was also reasonably close to King's Island (where I rode my first real roller coaster), and a smaller, inexpensive kids' park where we spent quite a bit of time. It was the sort of place with a few rides and more fun places to play, with a forest of giant, foam-stuffed trees hanging from ropes; tunnels, ladders and rope bridges to climb; pits full of plastic balls; kid-powered go-carts; and ropes to ride down on pulleys. Along one of the pathways were a couple of tall poles with bells at the top. If you were so inclined, you could climb up the poles, probably 15 feet or so, and ring the bell. As we walked past one day, an older boy (and a bit on the tubby side, if I recall) was about a third of the way up one pole and not making much progress. By this time, I had years of experience on the monkey bars at school, where I used to do all sorts of dangerous stunts that alarmed my mother. I also had plenty of pole-climbing experience, so I shimmied up the other pole, gave my bell a good, loud ring, and slid back down.