Skip to Content

Swinging Abby Part 11: Swinging High and Smiling Happily

After nearly two weeks on the swing, living in the park was almost becoming normal. With the worst of the problems behind me, I was actually starting to get a second wind. I felt like I could swing forever. By now, the entire Valley (Sayre & Athens PA and Waverly NY, as well as the greater surrounding area and more) knew about the endeavor and a good-sized portion of the residents had stopped by to see the spectacle for themselves. Conversations overheard everywhere, from the local pharmacy to the pubs, had my name in them. Indeed, I found out people were actually placing bets on whether I'd finish, and not cheap ones either!

Talk of the Town.
The community support was an unexpected, humbling and amazing thing.

But it had to end sometime.
No one knew exactly when I was going to stop. Even I didn't. I only knew that once I'd passed the then-current record of 182 hours, there was no point in stopping at 183. Or 193. Or even 203. The picture of The Sign says it all. I stayed on the swing so long, I ran out of thermometer.

The Sign overfloweth.
Should've left a little more room at the top there, Dad. 

And how do you celebrate passing a current world record in anything? With cake, of course!

Abby cake.
I don't remember who made this, but my piece was of my face.

It was getting to the point where pushing it to the furthest extreme was becoming half the fun. Maybe I could even delay going to school! Honestly, I don't think the teachers would've minded as much as my parents.

Abby the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going and going...
She just keeps going, and going, and going...

But it had to end sometime.
The last day was a Monday. Upon greeting the swing at 6:00am, I still had not divulged nor even decided exactly when I would hop off for the last time. It was like a game now. Keep going…keep going…sometime soon…not just yet…very soon…
9/3/79 6:55 AM - The last day. Abby says she's getting off late this afternoon. We (all) are looking forward to going home.
With Mom packing things up and Dad going home to shower and prepare for the day, the first thing I decided was that unless a downpour was expected, the tarp had to go. Fortunately, the clouds cooperated and the Athens Fire Department came over and dismantled my little tent-home. It was pretty disorienting at first to have so much open space again, and the evidence of how long we had been there was visible on the ground, now grass-free in the semi-oval area surrounding my side of the swing set.

Grinning Abby
They took my house, but I don't care!

Armed with plenty of bubblegum, I all but flew through the air once again as visitors came and went. Relatives and Regulars made appearances, as did Randoms: Shelly Strange, Rolfe Hunt, Jean Wells, Dick Selleck, Robert McCarthy, Linda Fisk, Peg Bockstoce, Ricky Mosher, Nancy Riley and Bryan Husick, just to name a few from each page of the logbook. Reporters were there as well throughout the day, but since I couldn't give them a time when I would stop, there are no "She's done!" photos. (Ok, one…but we'll review that later.)
I had some lunch and continued on. cream.
My last free McDonald's food. Thank you Micky Dee's!

 I really didn't want to stop. I didn't! It was like starting all over again; the sky and freedom, the excitement and anticipation. I was reminded I'd said "sometime this afternoon", but suppertime neared and still I kept going. "When, Abby? When?"
"Pretty soon. No, I don't want a break. Next time I get off, it's for good. No…not yet! Pretty soon…"
7:00pm neared and, with people getting antsy, I finally announced that I would quit before it got dark. Not at seven though. No, not at eight either. Somewhere in between, I don't want an obvious or even number. That's boring. "Yes, I'll let you know. Let's get a group shot in the meantime!"

Swinging family.
Once more, in unison!  L to R: Dad Bob, Sister Melynda, Mom Carolyn and me.

At 7:30 PM my dad signed the logbook for the last time - a rare occasion where I can see his cursive autograph. Tick…tock…tick…tock… The swing slowed. Tick…tock…tick…tock… Lower…a little lower… Tick…tock…
"Ok everyone! Watch!..."
I jumped off the swing. The small crowd burst into applause. I went to the logbook and signed it myself for the first time at exactly 7:33pm, finishing with a grand total of 238 hours and 20 minutes. Then I ran around the park. I went down the slide. I played on the little animals. I did cartwheels. I hugged my parents and ran around some more. I hopped aboard one of the other swings and swung facing in the opposite direction just for the hell of it. I moved to the next swing, then the next one, then back onto my own contraption, much to the amusement of the crowd. It was over. I was done. I didn't have to do it anymore. But I also would never do it again. And I wasn't quite sure how to feel about that…
The weather is beginning to look a little better at the moment. I hope it clears- Abby wants the tarp off so she can end this marathon the way she started; swinging high and smiling happily.

We made it!