Monday, January 16, 2012

To All The Kids Who Survived the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s

Adapted from an email circulating the Internet:

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets on our heads. As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight. Why? Because we were always outside playing, that's why! We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day, and we were OK.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround sound or CDs, no cell phones, No personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms. We had friends, and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them. Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. If you are one of them, congratulations! You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives -- "for our own good". While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were. It makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?

This has been a pet peeve of mine for at least a decade. Don't even get me started on bicycle helmets! (Oops! Too late!) Consider how many bicycle rides end successfully, without incident, and without the need for a helmet. Think about all the times, as a kid, you just hopped your bike and rode to a friend's house, or just enjoyed the wind in your hair (try that with a helmet). We used to be on and off of our bikes 100 times a day. Sure there's a risk, but helmets would have been a serious impediment to good excercise.

Now, stop and think how many bicycle rides never happen because the kids today can't be bothered to "suit up" just to get to make a short hop. It's inconvenient and time consuming, so they don't do it. "Ride my bike? That's a hassle; I'll just text". Are they better off because of it? Does the risk of injury outweigh the lack of exercise? I think you know the politically correct answer to that question, as well as the common-sense answer.

Epilogue: Illiberal control freaks will notice that I have filed this article under the keyword oppression. They'll point derisively and shriek, "That's not oppression!" Oh, yes it is. Oppression is the opposite of liberty. Liberty includes freedom to prioritize risk, for yourself and for your kids. And to teach your kids to do the same.


  1. Nail on the head

  2. When I was born,in 1938, my folks drove a several-years-old Plymouth sedan, and for several months,in anticipation of my arrival, my mother drove with a glass of water perched on the dashboard. By the time I arrived she was able to shift gears (automatic was WAAY down the road) and brake without spilling a drop of water nor rolling me off the front seat onto the floor. And throughout my childhood I had the freedom of the whole car, and was never strapped down like a wayward imbecile, and never suffered the slightest bump. Thanks, Mom, for a fun---and safe--childhood.

  3. Remember these things? You could rip your knuckles to the bone in a millisecond with one of these. We used to ride them down the hills in Thousand Oaks, CA. They were nice and low to the ground too, so you didn't have to worry about being seen by motorists.

  4. Boy you just brought back so many fond memories it makes me pity the kids of today. They will never understand what it was like. When you mentioned riding in the back of the pickup truck being a treat you sure nailed that one. Especially on the freeway on a hot summer day coming back from the beach. Thanks for bringing back some of the best times of my life.

  5. Thank you. Best thing I read in a long time! I feel so sorry for my grandchildren. Swimming lessons, skiing lessons, skating lessons...It never stops! They don't have the chance to learn to do anything on their on. In the mid-30s, when I was five, at the lake, my father threw me in the water, from the diving raft. He said, "Move your legs and arms, Tibi!" I sure did. Like a little puppy. Later on, I improved the style watching the older kids. I could row the big boat at 6. My mother would give me a bologna, cheese sandwich, an apple and I would disappear for hours, exploring the lake. I discovered more New Worlds than Christopher Columbus. In Montreal, we had a mountain in the middle of the city. We were so inventive. A bunch of us learned to ski with makeshift gears. And the fun we had, going downhill, 5-6 kids, hanging on a flat, huge cardboard box. Better than any fancy toboggan!

    The other day, my son said, "You need a cellphone, Mom." I asked, "What for?" "So that we can reach one another, when you go out." I laughed! "Martin, my mother couldn't reach me when I was 6. And, at 82, my son doesn't need to know where I am. If I'm in danger, someone will call you soon enough." What kind of a world do we live in? After such a free childhood, I'm even finding it hard to strap myself in a car.


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