Bangberry* Ride (*Banbury Cross)
There was an oak tree with a long, low limb. A 6’4” dad would put a girl on his shoulders and let her scramble into the crook of the tree’s limb where she could hold on to small branches and settle into the oak’s saddle. The tall dad would then grab the limb’s end and pull it down, down to the ground. Anticipation made the girl’s grip tighten. The dad would go down and up, down and up to the tune of an old nursery rhyme:
“Here we go down to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady ride on a white horse.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She will have music where ever she goes.”
Then the dad added an “Ole!” as he released the limb to make the girl spring up high as the tree was free to boing, boing, boing back into place.
Head and hair surrounded by branches and leaves, the girl felt equal to the free-flying birds.That 4-second thrill was a perfect balance of joy and fear. She looked down on her siblings from her queenly perch as they did the “Me next!” dance and she gave the mere mortals a slight smile before she accepted the dad’s huge hand that helped her dismount her tree throne.
Besides the wooden roller coaster at the beach, the “Bangberry Ride” was the girl’s favorite ride. With a rhyming song, a heavenly seat, a touch of danger, a parent’s attention, her sisters’ envy, and her stomach’s tickle, the ride was a moment of childhood perfection.