When I Was A Kid…
This piece came about following receipt of an e-mail from a friend on the same topic.
Yes, kiddies, this is one of those “remember when…” discussions. So, the majority of you under the age of 50 will not likely relate to this walk down memory lane and many under the age of 60 will probably remember what it was like and probably experienced it in a manner similar to my experiences.
When it came to food preparation, our mothers cut, chopped and diced hard boiled eggs, vegetables and meats on the same preparation surface (a cutting board or the counter top) and then prepared our sandwiches on the same surfaces. With the same knife. Without the magical sterilizing properties of a bleach or other chemicals.
And the best news? We did that prep and ate the food that was prepped in such a primitive and dangerous manner and didn’t get food poisoning!
School lunches or picnic meals were wrapped in wax paper and carried in a paper bag or metal lunch pail. There were no hot or cold packs, no vacuum sealed containers. Oh, yeah, and no foodborne illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food. And absolutely no e.coli.
For swimming, we had a man-made lake (a dam the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed) less than 5 miles East of my hometown that was used by people from near and far. There were no pool or beach closures to interrupt our fun. In fact, I only swam in a community pool about 6 times before I left home at age 15 to attend school. And, I was never on a seaside beach until I joined the Air Force and was stationed on Vancouver Island.
Life was obviously much simpler then.
When I Was A Kid…
We all played school sports and participated in field days and Department of Education sponsored athletic competitions. And, according to what the so-called experts of today believe, we risked serious – if not permanent – injury because we wore canvas sneakers instead of having cross-trainer athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors that cost as much as a small car. I can’t recall any injuries but they must have happened because the so-called experts of today tell us how much safer we are now.
We got the strap for doing something wrong at school, they used to call it discipline yet we all grew up to accept the rules and to honour and respect those older than us.
In my town, we all started our school experience in a one-room building that housed grades 1 through 4. City slickers called their equivalent facilities Primary Schools and usually had one room for one grade.
But I digress.
So, in spite of there being 20 or more kids in one room with one teacher, teaching 4 grades at once, we all learned to read and write, do our “times tables” (by reciting them every day) and basic math and properly spell all the words needed to write a grammatically correct letter.
I wonder; can you say the same about the grades 1 through 4 kids of today?
Yeah. Right. Fat chance!
We celebrated Christmas by decorating the school and putting on Christmas plays that every parent and friends and other family attended. And a good time was always had by all. We wished one another Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays. We all said prayers in school and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school brought all sorts of negative attention from the parents. No one picketed the teachers and proclaimed that their perfect angels would never do any wrong and therefore, all fault lay with the teachers. Who all lived in the community and socialized with the parents of their students.
The general belief was that we were supposed to accomplish something before we were allowed to be proud of ourselves.
And, without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations, we weren’t bored! Plus, we spent most of our free time – winter and summer – outside. Being physically active. Learning how to play with others.
Also, there were bees and hornets and wasps and we all got stung… many times… and even survived without the absolutely necessary antibiotics and sterilization kits without which the modern experts say we will surely die!
Hah! Apparently millions upon millions of us defied death and defeated it!
When I Was A Kid…
We played “King of the Hill” on hay stacks and piled up hay bales and when we got hurt, we were treated with iodine or mercurochrome and hydrogen peroxide and patched up with cloth strips or bandages… just before getting a couple whacks on the ass.
Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10 day dose of antibiotics and the affected parents call a lawyer to sue the land owner for not ensuring that the hay piles were walled off like a maximum security prison or top secret military base so as to remove any threat at all to their little darlings… rather than teaching them how to safe-proof themselves.
Until 30 or 35 years ago, I had never heard the term “dysfunctional family” let alone wondering if I belonged to one. And that was one less worry we had. I also never knew of anyone getting referred to group therapy and/or anger management classes.
We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac.
How did we ever survive?
As it turns out, life’s most simple pleasures are very often the best.
I salute all who shared this era… and survived… beyond all odds… at least according to the practices and beliefs of today’s experts in parenting, health, and safety.
I wish everyone could have experienced this type of unsophisticated, wonderfully free era, where kids were able to wander around without fear of being abducted or abused and where we were welcome in every home in town.
I’m sorry if you missed such a wonderful childhood experience and had to live in a closed-in and fearful society. A society dominated by politically correct jerks and socially responsible whack-jobs.
I wouldn’t trade my childhood experiences for anything.