The next time you go to a park and see an old piece of playground equipment, check for a manufacturer inscription. It might have been made by Kokomo's own General Playground Equipment, which built everything from swings to teeter totters to slides for playgrounds around the world. In fact, there are still a few of these slides in Kokomo parks. The red slide in Cutler Park still has the original steps that identify the maker and "Kokomo, Ind." There is also a green one in the fenced in tot area at Highland Park.
The story of the General Playground Equipment company was included in "Kokomo: A Pictorial Pictorial History," by Ned Booher. According to the book, the now residential neighborhood of Courtland Avenue, just south of Markland, was all farmland in 1888 when William C. Smith of Rockford, Illinois, came to Kokomo in search of a location for a factory. "The land, 12 acres offered by three farmers," Booher wrote, "was so far out in the country that the only thing that could be seen of Kokomo was the top of the courthouse; the nearest road was more than a quarter of a mile a way." A factory building was completed there in 1888 for the manufacture of augers, bits and carpenter chisels; the building later was enlarged and peak employment reached nearly 160. A successor tool company closed up shop in 1918. In 1920, the Hill-Standard Mfg. Co. of Anderson took over the building for the manufacture of all kinds of playground equipment for parks and schoolyards. Later known as the General Playground Equipment Co. Inc. and the Kokomo Specialty Co., it went out of business in 1979.