These kids these days

Here's an article nostalgic about the "good old days" when children could be children.

When I was a kid in upstate New York in the 1960s we were forever turning up missing after school. We could sometimes be hard to find at dinnertime, and my mother had a loud bell that she rang on the front porch to summon me. Depending on the season, my friends and I played baseball and football, or ice-skated on a nearby lake. A snowstorm meant that school was closed and an entire day was devoted to building snow caves and snowmen (snowpersons nowadays?), and to sledding ("sleighriding" in upstate-speak), which included more snow shovel excavation projects, such as the engineering of "jumps." And in the warm months there were games of "Kick-the-can," "Army," and "Cowboys and Indians."

We used to play Cowboys and Indians on bicycles and with BB guns. The game itself draws PC frowns today, but the fact that we were actually shooting at each other with Daisy BB guns would surely elicit horror from the contemporary gun control crowd.

Is childhood really different today, or are parents simply more afraid to let kids be kids?

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I Think There Are Still Some Skinned Knees Out There

I shot bottle rockets and BB guns at my friends (and them at me). One summer, the kids in my neighborhood took up a variant of dodge ball that used tennis balls and trashcan lids for shields, and everyone was forced to line up against a garage door (like victims in a firing squad), save for the kid firing tennis balls at everyone else. If you got hit (save for blocking the tennis ball with your trashcan lid shield), you were compensated by getting to become the kid rifling tennis balls at everyone else from 20 feet away.

Our parents all moved into a growing neighborhood, and we'd run amuck unsupervised in the construction sites of new homes being built once the construction crews left for the evening.

Come to think of it, much of my childhood involved getting welted by tennis balls. We played a version of "hot box" (a version of a run down in baseball with only two defenders, two bases, and an unlimited number of runners in the middle) using two slip-n-slides leading up to the respective bases. The tennis ball would always become drenched and gain a significant amount of mass, which made it hurt all the more when getting plunked in the back by accident since we were all barebacked and in our bathing suits.

Street and boot hockey (summer and winter) were always played with tennis balls, and no one wore any protection (even our goalies).

We also built a seemingly neverending string of tree forts after rading the dumpsters at the aforementioned construction sites for discarded 2x4s and plywood in the local county open space. The tree forts would invariably get torn down by the DNR, and we'd return home covered in wood ticks after a day's labor.

We made a lot of dry ice bombs (dry ice, water, and a two liter pop bottle). We'd also play street hockey at night with a flaming tennis ball that had been soaked in gasoline and set on fire (although it never stayed lit for very long as the fuzz burns away quickly).

None of us wore bike helmets for fear of ridicule amongst our peers.

The only people I remember complaining about us, or lecturing us about safety were the residents in the neighborhood who didn't have children. It was same old Betty that called the DNR every time we built a new tree fort as her backyard overlooked the county open space (joke's on both of them, because we liked building them more than sitting in them once they were finished). 

I'm only 25 now, so it's not that distant of a past.