News Column

Madison in 100 objects: Giant shoe slide

July 7, 2014

By George Hesselberg, The Wisconsin State Journal

July 07--There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

In Vilas Park in Madison, right next to the zoo.

For thousands of children and their babysitters, too,

And their brothers, and sisters and friends, all who

Have happy memories, of picnics, and hiding,

Of peeking out the windows, of climbing and sliding.

She must have been smart, that woman whose shoe

Was so inviting to children, she knew exactly what to do.

The Vilas Park shoe-slide has been the go-to spot for romping children since the 1950s.

It is a whimsical throwback, a comfy place when all else fails, a connection to make-believe.

City record keepers say it is a mystery how the slide came to be. Art Cart students painted it for the first time in 1976 and paint it anew inside and out every year. So it changes annually but stays the same, too -- a description that would fit most of its users.

Young lovers have been known to leave messages inside. Newcomers to Madison on their first trip to a city park need only be told to meet by the big shoe. It is probably fitting that this refuge is within roaring distance of the lions and tigers and elephants at Vilas Zoo.

And more than a few couples have walked away from the shoe-slide holding hands, big ones and little ones. For this shoe, one size certainly does fit all.


(c)2014 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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Source: Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)

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