Friday, September 30, 2016

How Did I Survive Childhood?

Beyond the hotel at Lake Tahoe was a playing field at a local park.  I looked out one afternoon and kids had taken the field to play a football like game, wearing giant inflatable bumpers. It got me to thinking, how did I survive childhood? 

I rode in the font seat of the car, between my parents without a child safety seat.  This would actually be criminal today.  But it was normal, the child seats of the day, had a rigid metal frame and a steering wheel for the baby to crash into, I think my oldest brother had one, it was long gone by kid number 4. I have memories of crawling around on the floor under my mother's feet.  

I would have been 7 when my parents bought the first car with seat belts.  I remember waiting for the dealer to install them, before my mother would let my father drive away in his new Plymouth.  They had to find the right bolts, we didn't get home until after my bedtime.  

I played in the dirt, not a sandbox that was kept covered and sanitized, the end of my mother's vegetable garden.  

I rode in the back of open pick-up trucks.  My grandfather would put the tailgate down and let us ride sitting on the tailgate with our legs dangling in the wind.  

I rode bikes thousands of miles, almost always alone, and long before anyone had heard of a bike helmet.  

I explored miles of back country roads, alone and unsupervised.  

I shot thousands of rounds of target practice with a rifle as a teenager, alone, without adult supervision.  I did ban my middle brother from the field - after a close call caused by my bad habit and his disregard for basic gun safety, that I still don't talk about that.  

I rode mini-bikes, motorcycles, and three-wheel ATVs.  The motorcycles were something my parents didn't know about.  

Maybe I was lucky, maybe I was careful, likely a little of both.  I wouldn't trade my childhood, risks and all, for the padded cell kids in live in today. 


  1. AND, we had that playground piece of equipment that was round and flat with metal handles where we pushed it round and round until we went as fast as we could go. It was not safe, did not feel safe. That is what made it so much fun! We could do something dangerous.
    Practical Parsimony

  2. I'm older than you (by quite a bit I think) and I also had what might be considered a risk-filled childhood. Although your family appears to have lived life on the edge more than mine (i.e., no rifles, no pick-up trucks). Also, my father paid to have seatbelts installed in all our cars from the late 1950s onward. I sure would have loved those inflatable bumpers!

  3. those kids look stupid in that pix.

  4. I remember all of those things and I survived without the plastic bubble!

  5. OMG...a whole team of 'bubble boys!'

    I, too, had a reasonably unfettered childhood.



  6. Pitiful... just pitiful. I'm so glad I'm not a kid at this point in history.

  7. David,
    Same here, with a few exceptions. Of course there was no child seats in the back of our '38 Packard. Just me and my two younger brothers. One time our car was hit full force as my father was pulling out on the road. Our car did a 180 and me and my brothers where whipped across that huge, sofa like back seat, no harm done other than got our attention. I wasn't fond of shooting guns but my brother John did accidentally shoot my brother Isaac in the back with his '22. Fun times. We survived.