children Games

The Joy of a Swing

collage of photos of a family

Veler Marcus: Daddy would make us rope swings. Tie a rope in a loop on a limb in the yard where our shade trees were. Then he’d fix us a board for a seat. Notch the board so it wouldn’t turn us out. You had to be careful or it would turn you out and you would get hurt.

Helen Nichols: I can remember once having a swing made with an automobile tire. One long rope tied onto an oak tree limb, because oak was supposed to be stronger than anything else. Of courses, somebody had to push.

Mrs. Rae Shook: We used to make swings. Somebody would climb way up on a tree and tie the ropes, and you’d get in it down here and somebody would swing you way out over yonder. You’d go a long ways. We’d have a piece of hickory bark across it for a seat.

—”Appalachian Toys & Games” – edited by Linda Garland & Hilton Smith



Tipper and Paul

I spent untold hours swinging as a child. When we first moved into the house Pap built he didn’t have time to move my swing set from the little rented house. Every time he went back to get it, there was a little girl swinging on it and he couldn’t stand to take it while she was there. Finally one day she wasn’t there and I got my swing set moved to our new house.

We also had a rope swing Pap built in a dogwood tree in the backyard. Looking back I guess he built it for me. Steve would have been too tall to swing on it and Paul too little. I swung on it until one day it broke leaving me on my back on the ground. I cried and cried and acted like I couldn’t walk, I’m sure I was really a sight to behold. I remember Granny tied up my back with something and then put my big long winter coat on me. She said it would make my back all better and it did.

As we got older Paul and I would swing and make up pretend stories that we acted out. Our favorite was one where we gathered an imaginary team and competed against each other. Our teams were mostly filled with Major League Baseball players of the day like Ron Cey and Nolan Ryan.

Martins Creek School had great swings. The school swings were the old tall metal ones you used to find at all playgrounds. You could really go high on those swings and if you were really brave like some of the boys and a few of the girls you could flip over backwards and land on your feet as you flew high into the air. I never got brave enough to try it, but I loved to swing so high that the chains snapped and clanked as I came back down.



The girls loved to swing too. The photo above shows Chatter on the first swing set they had. The seats of the swings were hard plastic and didn’t mold themselves to the girls backsides so we had a terrible time of trying to teach them to swing with out sliding out of the seats. They finally came up with their own method of swinging. They laid on their bellies and pushed off and then pumped their legs backwards. It sort of worked 🙂 at least they had fun doing their own version till they finally figured out how to stay in the seat.

Today’s Thankful November giveaway is a used copy of the book “Appalachian Toys & Games.” To enter the giveaway leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends on Saturday November 16.


p.s. The winner of “Mountain Makings” is Terry Stites who said: “Thank you Tipper, for everything. I enjoy your writings so much. You make my day every day. Happiest of Holidays.”

The winner of “Rough Weather Makes Good Timber” is AW Griff who said: “I’ve never been to one of the old time barn dances but as a young boy I would listen to the adults talk about barn dances. The ones they talked about in E.KY. sounded like bad places to be. There were plenty of fist fights and some knife fights. I heard Dad tell of one barn dance where one fellow was carving on another and he pulled a pistol and shot him plime blank in the heart. Another story I remember well was about a Great Uncle who had a kicking, bucking mule that he kept his whiskey on. When anyone would ask for a drink, he would tell them if they could get it off his mule they could have it. So the story goes nobody ever got any moonshine. Fast forward many years and my Great Uncle was the last person I remember riding his horse to church. He never owned a car or got a driver’s license.”

Send your mailing addresses to me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the books!

Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    November 13, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Tipper this bring back such a sweet memory about my swing I had a dog named Ring my playmate said let race to the swing so Ring got Elma by her little dress tail and held her until I got to the swing first then he turned her loose. She cried and Dad got her in his arms and explain to her He told her Ring wanted me to bet to the swing first. He called Ring up and told him to kiss little Elma hand and he did like he was so sorry he scared het

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Most of my swinging was done on grape vines. Someone attached a steel cable to a bridge and we did a lot of swinging and jumping or diving into the river. I Did a lot of that before I learned to swim. I would tread water until the current carried me to where I could touch bottom and walk out to go again. I thought I was swimming. I learned better when I dove into a swimming pool. Those things don’t have a current. My time with the swings now is spent pushing the little ones at our church playground. That’s a lot of fun also.

  • Reply
    Amanda Burts
    November 12, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I have always loved to swing, and still do, when I get a chance to!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Loved to swing, still do if the chance arises. The higher the better. Mother, though, told stories of her brothers taking down their tire swing, then teasing each of their sisters into shaping herself within the tire hole, then rolling her down the hillside. Can’t believe they all made it into adulthood.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    We did have a swing that my dad made. Ut also like swinging on the grape vine to. All of kt was fun when we got to swing.

  • Reply
    Melinda Kessler
    November 12, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Dad made swings in the 1940’s but the younger kids had a store-bought swing set.

    He told about the barn built in his teen years being the sight of several barn dances when it was new. At first they were all fun & good natured but later word spread & more rowdys from a distance began to spoil the atmosphere & then they were discontinued.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 10:05 am

    This story brought back the wonderful memories of the swing set my daddy made for me. I’m sure he didn’t have the money to buy one or maybe they didn’t even sell them back in the late 40’s and early 50’s. He took iron pipes and made the frame. It had a swing with wooden seat, a trapeze, and a teeter totter joined on to it. My brother and I loved it and my cousins sure enjoyed it too. We had quite a few parks that were like little patches of forest on a hill side and one was near one of my cousins. We would go there because they had a long rope hanging from a tree that we could grab hold of and swing out over the hill. We could pretend we were in a jungle like Tarzan. Lots of fun and a great way to expend energy. Wonderful memories!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 9:32 am

    When I was growing up that my dad made, too. We had apple trees—not good for hanging a swing but they were great for climbing and three were in the perfect position for bases in softball anyway, Dad built a tall wood frame and hung a wood board from ropes. The ropes were long so you could really swing on it! A good memory.

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    November 12, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Growing up in Charlotte and Miami, Daddy never had to make a swing, but we had family and friends who lived in the country outside of Charlotte., and they had tire swings. We just couldn’t get enough of that. Of course, there were the metal swing sets, but you had to be careful, because if they weren’t secured to the ground the right way, they would overturn, and lots of kids got hurt, and one even got killed when he was struck in the head by an unsecured swing. The best ones were secured with concrete, and we could swing as high as we wanted. I liked the ones that had a trapeze. The little kids always rode in the double glider that was always at the end of the swingset. Public parks had really high swings that had rubber seats. Those were our favorites.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Yeah, me too. I liked swinging high until the chains snapped and clanged and jump out sometimes while still high. Never tried no flips. My favorite swing was a big bull rope tied on a high limb of a pine tree. Never did know who made that swing but us boys were glad it was there. Years later I went back to that tree, it had fell over and rotted and the rope was gone.
    I made a tire swing for my Granddaughter and Grandson here in the yard. The Grand children and some neighbor kids had a fun time on it.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 9:02 am

    The only swing I remember having was at my grade school. It hung from a beechnut tree and was made with braided metal cable. I remember that cable being so long it was hard to see the end all the way up in that huge tree. Thinking back, it was dangerous to swing as high as some of the students did, but the teachers never cautioned us or asked us to slow down. We obeyed the rules and took turns about swinging while some kids ate the beechnuts that fell from that beautiful old tree. I would love to have a picture of that swing and the merry-go round that provided so many thrills during recess.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 12, 2019 at 8:39 am

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 12, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I made the kids a swing out of 4×4 treated posts. When we moved I didn’t try to take it; far too heavy and cumbersome. Then at the new place I made them a tire swing in the big old post oak in our yard. It was the biggest tree in our yard but it got root rot I think. Anyway it fell one dark night. That was long after the kids had grown and gone. Sigh.

    You know, when you think about it, it is a thousand wonders kids didn’t get hurt on those big old metal swings at school. You could really go high on them. One of the things we did was jump out on the upswing and ‘hit the ground running’ otherwise the ground would ‘come up and hit you’.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I don’t remember having a swing as a kid. The school had them but i was as awkward at that as i was at athletics. All i really cared about was farm stuff

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 12, 2019 at 7:56 am

    My Aunt Reva, my mother’s baby sister used to say, if you rock, swing or crochet you’ll never go crazy. I used to think about that and wonder how rocking, crocheting or swinging could keep you from going crazy but now I understand those things are all calming….and we all need a little calming sometimes!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 12, 2019 at 7:43 am

    We never had a Swing, Daddy told us to go behind the house and Swing on a Grapevine if we wanted to swing. That is just what we did. Harold was a little older than me, so he took a hatchet and chopped the top out of a tree, so we could lite in it. Soon the neighborhood Boys heard about this and we had a bunch landing in trees. It was at least 30 feet from the ground, cause the mountain was full of laurels and a few big trees. We’d go running down the mountain and grab on to a grapevine and pretend we were like birds. What fun we had!

    I thank God everyday for Him providing an older Brother that had the knowledge to build us a Swing. …Ken

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    November 12, 2019 at 7:35 am

    I had forgotten about the notched board on the rope swing. My cousins had one made with cloth clothes line with the notched board. We didn’t have any big trees in our yard but we had a porch swing and I remember many summer evenings with my mother on that swing and talking, talking, talking. Good memories. I love these old memories. Thank you for jogging my old mind.

  • Reply
    sheryl paul
    November 12, 2019 at 6:42 am

    I remember playing on my swing set with the entire neighborhood. I was the only child to have one and fid it ever get a eorkout. When my sidters were born we got a new one and the first was well and truly worn out!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Swinging is not as popular today as it was back when we were growing up, Papaw made us one out of an old front wheel of a tractor, and chain looped around a big limb, and that thing was there so long until it grew into the limb over the years, we had a lot of fun with that old swing. I know I’ve told this before on here about swinging, but beware jumping out backward with Dingo boots on, my ole buddy got the ring of his boots hung in the S hook and didn’t go so well for him when the ground caught up with him.

  • Leave a Reply