Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Freedom in the 1960s

The first time I can remember being sent to the store I was six. I could ride a bike and I would take a list and a couple of dollars and ride into the nearest store for my mom. If I had something cold or frozen, I would ride back as fast as I could.

I used to put my glove over the handlebars and ride across town to my ballgames. A few times my parents came to see me play, but it was nothing to eat an early supper and take off. There would be a row of bikes behind the backstop, so I wasn't the only one. Often, the only adults were the coaches and the umpire. When the game ended, we rode home in the dusk. No lights, no helmets, no adults.

When we visited my grandparents, my grandfather would tire of me underfoot and he would hand me a single shot .22 and a peanut butter jar full of ammo and shoo me out the door. I shot a bird in a tree once. Just once. I learned a lot about life and death and responsibility. I went back to shooting old cans and pine cones and never again shot anything I didn't plan to eat. I didn't need a lecture.

We swam in a creek, built a big dam to make it deeper, worked on that dam off and on for a couple of summers. I would come home so muddy and wet I had to strip off my clothes on the porch before I was allowed inside.

We climbed trees. I used to climb this one pine tree high enough to see out across a small valley. I would take a knapsack with a canteen and a book and climb up high enough the tree would sway in the breeze and read in the lazy hot summer afternoon.

We built fires, carried pocketknives, played war with BB guns, threw snowballs, and came home when we were expected to, usually for supper, but sometimes by dark.

I joined the Cub Scouts, which wasn't much, and then the Boy Scouts, which was camping every month and some real skills like cooking, hiking, canoeing, and pioneering. I still remember my friends from the Troop.

I was free in ways that kids today cannot imagine.

I was free in ways that I am not today.

6 comments:

shieldmaster said...

Enjoying your posts! Keep up the good words...

Tewshooz said...

In those days we were allowed to be kids. It was called "childhood". Full of adventure and sometimes scary stuff we did and just laid back fun. Especially the summers.....gone from morning until suppertime with nobody keeping track of where you were or what you did. Nowadays it seems that mommy must check in with you every hour or less..... ha ha we used to hide from our moms and pretend we did not hear them calling us. I feel sad for the kids today.

R.K. Brumbelow said...

By todays standards you should have been placed in foster care and placed under mental supervision, you were abused, neglected and a criminal .. but do not worry it was not your fault.

Sigh I grew up in the 70's and it was very similar. I walked home over a mile down a creek that I know had numerous poisonous snakes in it because I learned early on to identify them, got my first gun when I was less than 7 (I do not remember if I was 5 or 6). I remember riding my bike up to the mall when I was in middle school .. btw the mall was 3.5 miles away and across an interstate. Camping was something we all did, sometimes without adults getting into 6th grade was the big turning point I was no longer required to be underfoot or at home. Of course when I was in 6th grade I was 6ft tall so that may have made some difference, but my parents were country folks who happened to live at that time in the suburbs.

pigpen51 said...

I was born in 1960, this story sounds almost exactly like mine. in the summer we would call everybody in the morning and say what time to meet at the school ballfield for baseball. we played pickup games with no umps, no parents, no coaches, and surprise, worries about self esteem or liberal junk. we just played for the joy of it.
Likewise about shooting guns, staying away from home until supper and then until dark, with no parents worrying where we were.
We grew up with a sense of responsibility and a sense of self reliance that most young people today would find hard to fathom.

STxAR said...

Dad used to give me 50 cents and send me down the block to the gas station to buy his red Marlboro cigs. Put both quarters in, and pull the handle under your pack. I was about 6 or 7. They had the coldest water fountain in town, too. And if you bent over to drink just right there was this calendar in the back room that was quite an eyeful for a kid in first grade!!!

Biking for miles around town, bb guns, climbing on the school's roof, drinking from the sprinklers, playing baseball all day. We played night ball, too: Football under the street light. Picking up dog poop in the backyard. Saturday chore lists a mile long. Stripping nails from recovered lumber, knocking mortar off concrete blocks for our new cellar. I got tasked with putting on the ridge row after school. That was after reroofing all weekend. 5th grade.

Never a dull moment.

drjim said...

Doing all those things is what made us real adults, unlike today's kids.

We learned responsibility, and to be accountable for our own actions.