And WE SURVIVED!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: April 12, 2024

Kids today have it way too safe and risk free. That’s probably a good thing when we consider larger community sizes, chemical abuse, more technology, and other challenges.

Back in the day, kids were just kids. We had parents, and some supervision, but we were often our own babysitters. Mom would open the door after breakfast and tell us to “go outside and play. Be back for dinner!”

Kids socialized, helped each other, played together, and invented ways to have fun. If we were thirsty, we drank from a garden hose, pump, well, or stream. If we were hungry, we grabbed fruit from trees, and produce from a field. If we could find some pop bottles, we claimed them for a few pennies of return fee and bought some candy. We paid for our Boy Scout Summer camp by collecting, selling, and recycling old newspapers. 

We had wild battles and threw everything from dried cow patties, dirt bombs, rocks, hedge apples, and… When armed with BB guns, we shot everything that walked, flew. floated, moved, or deserved to get shot. We invented toys and made-up games. Everything had rules and required some special skill. Skipping rocks, throwing spears, spitting seeds, climbing trees, throwing a rope, or… Others would teach and share their special skill. We were all winners except when we played baseball or other sports. No participation trophies, just winners and losers. 

When we got hurt, we learned to be more careful. Heck, “just rub a little dirt on it and keep going!” The black and white TV shows taught us inclusivity and behavior. The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Hondo, and Sky King taught us right from wrong and good and bad.

Sunscreen was not popular. Instead, we used Bronzing oil to darken our skin and peroxide products to blond our hair. Parks were filled with sliding boards made of hot metal. The higher the better. Other toys spinned, flipped, and swung us high. If we crashed, we knew the limits. It was always about going faster. Further, higher, and louder. Much of this happened out of the view of adult supervision.

As kids, we loved to go fishing. The only rule might be to wear an old-fashioned life vest. We sat on logs, piers, docks, rafts, and anything that might float. We netted our minnows, dug our worms, gathered our crickets, and played with sharp hooks. 

No one had a cell phone or radio. We might have made a bullhorn or tied a string between 2 empty cans. The kitchen phone might reach the dining room table but certainly not across the street. 

I remember driving to a fishing lake with my grandpa, and Dad. My brother and I sat in the truck bed, in the boat! If it rained, we yelled to go faster, so we didn’t get wet.

Our bikes took us higher, faster, and smoother than our roller skates or scooters. No helmets, sometimes no shoes or socks. If we bled, we rubbed dirt into the wound. Our knees, elbows, hands, and feet were always bloody and scratched. 

We walked to school, played until dark, hitchhiked, and biked across the county. Our crew would ride bikes over 10 miles to a fishing hole. Girls, boys, blacks, whites, natives, Greeks, Hispanics, pollocks, Italians, …  

We were all just friends and kids, and we survived!

Montana Grant

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