Barreling down the highway at 75 miles per hour with no seat belts. Welcome to the baby boomer childhood. I think back to it and I wonder sometimes how I survived. In our Cadillac (with five kids in the family), my seat was the arm rest in the back or the back window where I liked to lie in the sunlight as we headed to the summer home.
I would rush through the garden we planted in the springtime and came back to enjoy in the summer. There along the Chesapeake, I would pick turnips (my favorite), wipe them on my shirt and eat them.
I drank out of the garden hose. I wandered along the shoreline and abandoned cemetery on my own as a young child, exploring my world.
No creepers picked me up in their cars, no parents yelled out the front door to find me. I had no cell phone or way to communicate. I just had my feet and my determination. As long as I showed up for supper, that was great.
Remember some of the ads and advice on health?
Evel Knievel set a standard for daredevil fun. I remember building a parachute to jump off the barn, making ramps to jump the sled over the creek, and trying my hand at sewing a hot air balloon and heating it up with a Coleman camping stove. You don't wanna know what happened!
Our parents didn't seem to mind that we wanted to imitate them including their smoking. Remember candy cigarettes with powdered sugar? You blow and the powder came out like smoke!
We played with games and on playground equipment that we shockingly survived. And we skateboarded and road bikes without safety gear.
We rode our bikes so far away from home, our parents had no clue. I remember crossing the highway on foot to go to the drugstore to get french fries. That was about 4 miles away.
I would go to the university to play tennis against college kids because I couldn't find anyone my own age who could compete. I also recall walking through the woods near George Mason University and there'd be hippies smoking pot along the trail.
Mom would send me to get my sister at twilight from her friend's house a mile through the woods. If she refused to come home, I was walking through the woods without a flashlight.
Remember thermoses with shattering insides? Getting bell bottoms caught in the bike chain? Playing with fireworks, cherry bombs, and firecrackers?
Yeah, those were different times. Sometimes, I'm amazed I survived it, but it definitely made me develop some mad skills at a young age. I had confidence to do things independently and a good sense of balance and street skills.
We not only survived our childhood, we thrived because of it.