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lillycoyote's avatar

Those of you of a certain age; do you ever wonder how we managed to survive our childhoods?

Asked by lillycoyote (24815points) June 14th, 2010

No helmets or knee pads, munching on those little orange baby aspirins, playing in the neighborhood until dark or until it was time to come home for dinner, riding our bicycles everywhere? No shoulder straps in the cars? Between my brother and I trips to the emergency room were a regular event. I guess that’s probably a bad thing.

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25 Answers

janedelila's avatar

I rode in the back window of the Buick, chased fireflies and fell into the river, and my momma didn’t ever worry until six or seven hours since she saw me. We dug tunnels into snowdrifts, ran on pavement in bare feet, and jumped out of trees into mattresses. Life was so great!

prescottman2008's avatar

I had a few bouts of pneumonia before age 5 but no broken bones or stitches until I was past 30. I remember parents passing the word when one of the neighborhood kids got measles, chicken pox,mumps, etc, they would get us all together so we could get it and not have to wait. I had all the childhood diseases they vaccinate for now. We drank raw milk, stored eggs on the counter-top, covered Sunday dinner with a table cloth and ate the room temperature left-overs 4 hours later to no ill effect. We never wore seat-belts, no bike helmets, played outside in sub-zero temp’s for hours.

YARNLADY's avatar

Many of our contemporaries did not survive.

janedelila's avatar

@prescottman2008 I remember that! Momma made the boys and girls with chickenpox come over so we would all get it at the same time. I never did by the way, but we swam alone in the pond, we didn’t worry about strangers, and we didn’t go to day care.

prescottman2008's avatar

@YARNLADY , everyone I went to school with is still alive with 2 exceptions. One kid died at age 14 when he fell into a corn elevator and suffocated and another kid died in a car accident at 17, Everyone who made it to graduation is still with us.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not to mention being left alone at young ages and walking by yourself. Dun dun dun.
No childproof containers or car seats. And what about trick-or-treating?

john65pennington's avatar

My parents would not give me a motor scooter for my birthday or any other day. i thought they were overly strict. so, i built my own transportation at the age of 14. i had an old lawnmower engine lying around and a red wagon. i devised a plan to build my own transportation. i bolted the lawnmower engine onto the back of the red wagon and had a direct drive chain to a sprocket attached to the right rear wheel. the throttle was controlled by a kite string that ran from the engine, across my back and into my left hand. i had no brakes. the day came for my first trial run. i pushed the red wagon to start the engine. i guided the wagon with its tongue in front. i was off to the races. everything was going great. i was circling my block with the wind in my hair. i ran at least three stop signs. everything was going good, until the kite string broke and the engine was running wide open. i was traveling down the streets at 25 mph with no brakes! i attempted to stop my red wagon with my shoes. first, the heels came off and next the soles. bare feet were touching the pavement. on the third trip around the block, the engine ran out of gasoline and i came to a halt about one block from home. my heart was pounding to the max as i coasted into my driveway. my feet hurt, my heart hurt and my pride was glowing. my parents never knew it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

What is the “certain age”? I’m only 25, but:

I used to ride my bike with no helmet – all over the city – and I would frequently ride with no hands (including turning corners), I climbed Douglas Firs to the very top, I jumped off roofs with my cousins and sister all the time, I rode in the bucket of a tractor when I stayed with other cousins one summer (while the tractor was going full speed), went hiking into the woods with no adults (on a daily basis), used to weave my way in and out of giant boulders strewn on a steep hillside, started going to the mall with no adults at an age I would never let my own kids go, always trick-or-treated with no adults… Jesus – the list seriously goes on and on. Now that I think about it, I’m probably very lucky to be alive.

prescottman2008's avatar

@john65pennington oh yeah, I forgot about go-carts and mini-bikes, home modified “choppers” tree houses with nails poking out everywhere, learning to shoot a gun at about age 8, and so on and so on and so on….

janedelila's avatar

And then there was the camping…we slept outside all summer long in the yard. Four of us, all girls a year apart each. Even into our mid-teens our parents let us do this. Let us build our own fire, eat hot dogs, listen to AM radio after midnight, run the neighborhood. They just slept on, upstairs a half mile away. We had access to guns, alcohol, cigarettes, older boys etc. and chose not to go there.

AstroChuck's avatar

“Those of you of a certain age…”

Aren’t we all of a certain age?

lillycoyote's avatar

@AstroChuck You may be of a certain age, but I am timeless. :)

YARNLADY's avatar

The automobile fatality rate was 16% higher before seat belts became the law. This means thousands of children did not survive. My first husband never saw his 19th birthday, and several cousins did not make it to their teens.

janedelila's avatar

@YARNLADY but it still happens every day. I don’t think it was because of what was, or wasn’t. More teenagers have cars now, more have freedoms we didn’t dream of in the (60s 70s 80s pick one) and they still make poor choices like our childhood friends did. I agree with the seatbelt deal, but I don’t agree children are safer now than ever.

YARNLADY's avatar

@janedelila One statistic that I looked at said the number of deaths went from over 51,000 to under 40,000. That is 10,000 people saved in the reporting period used. A mere drop in the actual number, yes, but statistically worthwhile.

janedelila's avatar

@YARNLADY I’m not being disrespectful in the least, but that’s one statistic. Have you researched any other? Have there been rising in say, drownings from being buckled in? Burning? Airbags, another whole statistic. I feel your comments, I lost friends to windshields and rollovers. This question is about way more than that though.

Merriment's avatar

No, I don’t wonder how we survived those wild and wooly days.

It was two parts luck and one part creative thinking.

What I wonder is what is going to happen to the current crop of kids who never learn to fly by the seat of their pants?

cookieman's avatar

I got a house key tied around my neck on a shoelace when I was eleven because my mother switched to the day shift. She said, “you’re on your own. Be home when the streetlights come on”.

Over the next five years my friends an I…
• Built forts in an abandoned cinder-block factory
• Fell out of many trees
• Hitched rides on the back of moving freight trains
• Climbed billboards overlooking highways
• Raided friends parent’s liquor cabinets
• Looked at a lot of porn
• Smoked a lot of weed
• Drank a lot of beer
• Made flamethrowers from aresol cans
• Bagged drugs for an older friend to sell
• Spent a lot of time exploring the seedier parts of Boston

…but I never skipped school and was always home when the street lights came on.

then I got my first junkbox car, and all bets were off.

janedelila's avatar

@Merriment. Ah but they do. Home alone, keys to the apartment at 7 years old so you can let yourself in after school. Drugs on the playground and creepy people all over. Seat of the pants? Absolutely. And you, @cprevite just posted what I was thinkin! It still goes on, everyday, everywhere.

janedelila's avatar

PS I really love you @YARNLADY. You are smart.

Merriment's avatar

@janedelila – and yet there are so many kids being overprotected to the point that a mother who allows her child to ride the subway alone is vilified for “neglecting” her child.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Merriment – I’m with you, kids today are over protected. And over structured, every minute of their day accounted for, no time for their little minds to create diversions of their own. 10 minutes without a lesson of some sort and the cry “I’m bored” starts reverberating through the house.

I did most all mentioned above plus a lot of other dangerous and sometimes illegal acts, but I lived to tell the tale and pay taxes like most working grown ups. But I never would have dreamed of saying fuck in front of my mother and was terrified when the school threatened to call my parents.

prescottman2008's avatar

There was an article about this subject in Time magazine recently. It came to pretty much the same conclusion as you, @rooeytoo.

Silhouette's avatar

We managed to survive because we were a very tightly knit pack. We had each other’s backs, there was never a time when we didn’t look out for each other. Like all kids, we were fearless and the lack of fear made us bold. On the few occasions where we were out numbered or in over our heads, we were too arrogant to know it so we just jumped in and conquered whatever it was that needed conquering.

We pulled stunts which could have killed us everyday, including munching on those little orange baby aspirin. It was dumb luck that we didn’t die from the water drinking contests we used to have. When the old grump shot at us with his bb gun for eating his rhubarb and apples he could have put out our eyes, (lol) but it never happened, we were lucky.

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