Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who knew it wasn't safe to be a kid?

  • Who knew it wasn't safe to be a kid?
    Current mood:imaginative

  • Each day, I do a check out of my engine. Check the fluid levels. Make sure that the equipment is in place and has not been lost. I reset paperwork. Order parts. Arrange for repairs. Change the batteries. Refill the water jug.

    Its the water jug that apparently is one of those things of great debate. I, for the life of me, do not know why. The oppoeite shift at my station is so triffling, and worthless, that the water jug never gets touched. Since I have been here, taking care of my engine, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I have came in and it appeared that those clowns changedthe water, and added ice to the jug.

    Yet, apparently, someone used a waterhose to refill the jug some time in the past, and it brought protests - from the g uys who never touch the damned thing. Leaves an after taste, they said. And, to boot one of the genius's came up with some fun fact, that they heard from a friend, who read it on the internet, that drinking water from a water hose is not good for you.


    Waterhoses were god-sends to us, when we were kids. Instant water sourses, as long as you let the hot water run out first (the sun would heat up any standing water in the hose. I drank a river of water from the hose at my parents house. I'm still kicking.

    Fruit is bad for you now. Unless you damn near run it thru a wash cycle. We kids grew up on the local fruit in our neighborhood. Our yard had a sour green apple tree. You could pick up an apple on any givenday off of the ground around the tree. Or you could toss a bat up into the tree, and knock down fresh ones. Belly aches from green apples? Nah. We ate so many of the damned things, we became immune to that. Anothe kid had a peachtree in his yard, and we had a secondary food source, with a plum tree. We never ate junk food at home. Oh, we'd bike up to Grimes or to the 7-11 and buy candy, slurpees, but that was secondary to our steady diet of green apples.

    Playing with guns is the worse thing you can let your kid do, these days. Oh really? We played 'Army' all the time. With pop guns, we'd load up with mud. The occasional cap gun. and with dirt clods for grenades (shot with sling shots, if we were firing artillery). We stormed the beaches of Normandy. Tredged thru the hedgerows. Fought the japs on Iwo. We played sniper in the trees (and tree houses). Sewer culverts were pill boxes (but a well thrown dirt clod would wipe out the squad). Piles of leaves, that we raked before burning in the curb, was the best cammo anyone could ask for.

    Playing daredevil can hurt you. I guess. If you let it. Every kid, to a man, was an expert bike mechanic. Had to be. Or you walked. Some had single speeds. I had a three speed, abit large framed bike with a banana seat, and hippie bars. Others had 20' spider bikes. One guy had a cool looking bike that had a spring in the forks. Heavy to pedel and hard to ride though. We jumped ditches, curbs. Played tag. Had slide contests (though if you slid thru the tire tread and got to the tube, the bike mechanic stuff came in to play) We'd wreck. Occasionally we'd tear something up (bent fork. Broken rim). For a while, we went thru a phase where extra bikes had the front forks sawed off, jammed up on the forks of a second bike, making a chopper out of it. Notice I said nothing about welding/tacking the extra forks. So, if you lifted the front wheel, you ran the very real risk of the entire front end falling apart. We even had a kid turn bike thief one summer which started a neighborhood vs neighborhood war, that went on, until the adults got involved with it.

    No kid sould ever feel ike they won or lost at anything. Everyone tries. What utter bullshit. Home run derby was played in our street. If you did not hit a home run (ball was caught, you swung and missed, or it did not gofar enough) you rotated positions. Street football was between the light poles. 2 hand touch, or if you stepped off of the street at the curb. When it got too hot to play in the middle of theday, we'd sit on the porch and play monopoly. marathon, massive pot on Free Parking monopoly games. We ran thru a couple of games each summer (we'd literally wear the money and cards out). We dug forts in the ditches for us kids, and minature ones for our GI Joe's. Played lawn darts and no one gave a second's thought of getting impailed on one of them. Same stink stuff with chemistry sets. Grew protozoa for my microscope. Built the Sears tower with an erector set. Fort Whatever, with Lincoln logs. Ran scale miles of Hot Wheel track over and under damn near everything. Rain made puddles, which were fun to jump in. Even more fun to slide thru on your bike.

    No kid should go hungry. We never did. A mayo sandwich (or a onion and mustard one)went a long way. Or a handful sized hunk of velveeta was heaven. Mom's handmade lemonaide never tasted better, even though it had enough sugar in it, to light us up for hours each night. Occasionally a kid would come up with chips or other junk food. You hungry? Grab a piece of leftover cornbread. Or bisquits. The occasional cookie. We cooked french fries over the oil heater grate in the center hallway. You had to leave your door open to get heat in the bedrooms. Or the A/C, if dad left it on at night.

    Kids watch way too much TV. I grew up listening to the radio. Started out with a crystal set. Far away ball games, in far away cities. Old country music shows. My dad was one of the first in our neighborhood to get a color TV. Back then, shows were about 50/50. Some in color (like Disney). The majority of the ones we kids were allowed to watch, were not. Sometimes the neighbors wouldcome over and watch Ed Sullivan - everyone watched Ed on Sunday nights. On Saturday afternoon, the Saturday Afternoon Major Leage Baseball Game of the Weekcame on. Mantle, Maris, Berra, or the Dodgers with Kaufax, or the Giants with Mays. Baseball games were special things back then. During the day, mom would not even let us in the house, except to go to the bathroom. We ate our lunches on the porch - interupting the mid day monopoly game. We were just not ever inside, unless it was raining/storming.

    Kids run wild. They have no structure. Really? We knew our boundries. North, south, east and west. Basically it was as far as your parents knew the neighbors well enough. Sometimes it was the length of a long bike ride (if going to the 7-11 or Grimes). But all of the other parents knew you by name, and knew your parents, and their phone numbers. So, if you showed your ass, they'd just pick up the phone. We had one rule. Only one. Be home before the street lights came on. Don't make your parents have to look for you. You'd hear the occasional kids name yelled out in that long, sing-song voice that parents seem to know from birth. And an answer of I am coming. Or else. We did not take anything fron strangers. But strangers in the neighborhood had already registered on the parents watchdog radar - they knew about them before we did. If you were staying over at another kids house for dinner, they already knew, due to the mom's phone mafia.

    I had no idea. I was in danger? Did my parents mistreat me? Was I neglected? Was I one heartbeat from being a social workers statistic?

    No. I drank out of water hoses. Rode a bike like a maniac. Ate green apples all the while balancing what they might do to our bowels. Girls still had cooties. Dogs were cool. Box turtles were cooler. I lived as free as a bird, within the confines of a very structured set of rules. I was self sufficient - as long as I coould keep my bike tubes from leaking, and I could find enough bottles to turn in for the nickel deposit - to keep myself in comics. The soles of our feet were like leather, from walking on the hot tar/graveled roads in my neighborhood. We had dirt everywhere, but nothing that a hated bath would not fix. We burned leaves in the street gutter (a smell that to thisday as an adult, I still love). Halloween was heaven in the fall. No one even thought about putting anything but candy in your bag. Christmas was everything. The Sears Wish Book did not stand a chance.

    Come to think of it, maybe all of that whining about the water jug isn't the most important thing in the world anymore...
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