While on FB I came across a little dittie that reminded me of the fearless generation from whence I came: the 70’s. If you were born a bit before then, the 70’s were just the right age when the stars aligned and curiosity, fearlessness, and determination joined forces and nothing stopped you.
Kids didn’t use seatbelts, let alone have their own car seat. Your seatbelt was your mom throwing her arm across you to keep you from smashing your tiny flexible skull against the dashboard (which only worked 20% of the time). There were lapbelts but, admit it, pretty lame. And pick-up trucks with an open bed – well now we are talking changing a three-seater into a jamb-as-many-friends-in-the-back-seater! The cargo area of a station wagon? Nope this was actually used as a free for all play pen for the kids. Wrestling, laying down for naps, having a picnic, all while dad tried not to lose his shit driving in beach traffic so you and your brother can eat a sand-wich; literally sandwich filled with sand from your sticky fingers (crunch crunch).
Creepy Crawlers… yes please let me inhale toxic fumes, I didn’t want to ace those bubble tests in third grade anyway. And the plastic glob of goo at the end of the straw that magically turned into a huge balloon? Inhale and residue on my fingers which will inevitably go into my mouth at some point, SCORE! Whoops forgot about the lead paint toys too. Back in the day there was no other way to adhere paint to toys to lead was added and those cute little wooden blocks that were used as a teething device was now dropping the SAT scores by the minute. Ivy League schools are overrated anyway.
Sunscreen was called baby oil back in the day. If you weren’t rocking a golden tan or peeling from a summer’s worth of sunburns you were lame and had the worst summer ever. And if you dared show up with Noxema on your nose to lessen the pain, you got your shoulders slapped to remind you of your burn there as well…. good times.
Games: lawn darts were made of razor sharp blades about 6 inches long and you tossed them 10 yards back and forth at one another with the hopes it will land in the hoolahoop on the ground for points. The company had to completely revamp its design with soft edges because people where getting hurt. Who got hurt with this game? Fess up! You have to be kidding. You didn’t know that when that 6 inch blade came even remotely in your direction that you wouldn’t move out of the way?! That was part of the fun – playing chicken with a javelin! Way to ruin it for everyone.
Helmets and elbow pads are for losers. Learning to ride a bike, roller skate (and later on a skateboard) takes balance. If you don’t get hurt falling off, the learning process takes so much longer. Plus the scars are really cool. Who didn’t ride on the handlebars or on the seat holding on to the driver’s butt (which was in your face and hoping he was a real friend and wasn’t going to blast you with a fart) as balance? There was nowhere to put your feet so your legs dangled and your friend had a bike and you had to walk like a dork so ride-sharing was the norm. Plus there is plenty of room for two on a one-seater, you just have to be creative.
Toss in the Big Wheel (and for you Evil Kineval types the wooden jump plank leaning on a concrete block) and now we are talking some adrenalin. Your friend Sully did it yesterday and you will be damned if he is going to show off that scab alone. Determination supersedes wisdom when you are young.
The adventurous play ground. The days of climbing up inside the ‘metal rocket’ with all its sharp edges, uncovered steel screw tops and nails exposed made for tetanus shots only a doctor’s office can dream of. Don’t forget the 200 degree metal slide against the back of your legs; it’s a beautiful day and that slide has been just soaking in the sunshine for several hours – go metal burn yes! But it didn’t stop you, you shook it off and kept going back up anyway because it was fun.
The special hideaway. Either you had one or your best friend did. It was in a tree house, sitting on a tree limb 20 feet high, under the porch, in a leanto, just some secret place for you to escape the tyranny of your parents or the unbridled beatings of your older siblings. Hiding away for hours was the norm; the police were not called if you were an hour late for supper, you just got grounded. And not the ‘fun’ grounded these kids have these days… TV, xbox, cell phone, all in the room to keep you entertained? Unheard of…you had the old school, sit in your room and stare out of the window at all your friends having fun playing tag or hide and seek while you were missing it. Lesson learned.
There are of course many more… the drinking from a hose and not bottled water, your baseball team losing and not getting the pizza party because “you tried really hard”, the walking to school (in the blizzard uphill both ways) because there weren’t school buses and your family only had one car that dad took to work….
It goes on and on and it was fun. It was a great generation and we learned so much. Please share any ‘good times’ that I may have overlooked.