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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Antique slide proceeds to be donated

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Four-year-old Grace Urhahn walks up the stairs while her older sister Madeline, 7, and Conner Dittlinger, 7, help four-year-old Sydney Dittlinger
(Photo by Michelle Felter, Staff)
BENTON - Slides and kids go together.

That's what Rick Dittlinger said, and part of the reason why he is donating the proceeds from the antique elephant slide he selling to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"It's for the kids and a sliding board is for the kids," Dittlinger said of his donation.

The slide has been in Dittlinger's family for most of the past decade.

Dittlinger found it in a junk pile, and took it to his parents, Neil and Barbara Dittlinger. Since it was right before their first grandchild was born, they fixed up the slide and have kept it in their backyard for the children to play on ever since.

"Dad welded it and Mom painted it and fixed it up," Dittlinger said.

All of the grandchildren are quite fond of the slide, he added. And his two nephews, named it 'Delorias.' "Where they came up with that, I don't know,"

Dittlinger said, admitting he wasn't sure of the exact spelling of the name.

But the kids have gotten older - and outgrown the slide. "The kids were getting bigger and not playing on it as much," Dittlinger said. "It was time to get rid of it."

Originally, he planned to donate the slide to the local day care. But when Jeff Scherer, whose wife owned the day care saw it, he told Dittlinger it was probably worth a lot.

"I just thought it was unique - it was different, something I'd never seen before," Scherer said. "It looked like it was well built, wasn't something they'd build anymore and probably hadn't been built for a long time."

Dittlinger guessed the slide was probably built in the 1940's, so must be about 60 years old.

But they aren't sure of the age or actual value. "We don't know how old it is and there are no books to research it," said Herman Schwartz, co-owner of Antique Centre Mall in Benton. The slide is all metal with a stainless steel slide and embossed with the outline of an elephant, he described.

"I didn't realize how valuable it was - it's worth a lot of money," Dittlinger said. So after Scherer's reaction, he decided to sell the slide and donate the benefits to St. Jude Hospital.

The price tag on the slide is $200, and is tax deductible, since it is a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The slide is currently on display in front of the Antique Centre Mall, located next to Diebold Orchards in Benton. And owners Herman and Phyllis Schwartz are being generous to St. Jude as well.

"Since he's kind enough to donate the whole slide to St. Jude, I'm donating the commission, too," said Herman Schwartz, who usually keeps 30 percent of the total cost of each sale. "Whoever buys it will make the check out to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and we will take care of getting the check to them."

Whoever does buy the slide will be getting something nice, Scherer said.

"Personally, I think it's something that you're not going to find anywhere else," he said. "So whoever does buy it is going to get a nice item that is worth something and it (the money) does go to a good cause, too."

And Dittlinger wants to help the cause - choosing to donate the proceeds to St. Jude was quite easy for him, since he makes a personal donation each month. "I don't know anybody personally that's ever been there, but it's always been my favorite," Dittlinger said. And since kids and slides go together, it just made sense.