The Years of Living Dangerously
July 6, 2009 12:36 PM   Subscribe

"... [M]any of us who were raised in the 1950s, '60s and '70s are survivors. We were tiny daredevils: sun-blasted, pocket-knife-carrying, bottom-spanked, cow eaters. We ran the streets armed with BB guns, boxing gloves and bottle rockets, wholly unprotected by bike helmets, sunscreen or Amber Alerts. Our houses were filled with the blue cigarette smoke of our cocktail-drinking parents and we believed it wasn’t supper without a mountain of red meat." posted by ericb (157 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
In before 'walked uphill both ways'.
posted by kldickson at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah but the pot wasn't as strong back then (that is about the only thing I got when trying to keep my kid in line).
posted by Danf at 12:42 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


“Back then, I don't think anyone seriously expected to live past the age of 30, so the very notion of ‘healthy living’ would have struck us as completely alien,”

So true. I still can't really take it seriously. I do caution the younguns of today, though, to always have a plan B, in case the sea of glass plan never comes to fruition.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


When Phyllis Murphy's mother was pregnant, back in the 1950s, her doctor advised her to take up smoking for relaxation.

My mother's OB-GYN prescribed amphetamines for her to take while pregnant with me, to keep her from gaining pregnancy weight. The idea was that gaining weight and then losing it was unhealthy, and much better just to keep from gaining at all. Better living through chemistry...
posted by ambrosia at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2009


"What? Pay let some stranger look after my kid? I'd just as soon leave him home by himself!" Bill Cosby's dad as quoted by Bill Cosby on his "Chicken Heart" routine off his album Wonderfulness.
posted by zzazazz at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


You remember having a rotary phone.

Remember? I have one right now. I'm looking at it as I type this.

You know, by heart, the words to Weird Al Yankovic's songs.

Still do.

You remember when there was only "G", "PG", and "R".

A better system, if you ask me. PG-13 serves no purpose that PG itself didn't. It was advising Parental Guidance, that is all. And what does NC17 offer that wasn't covered by X?

That said;

sun-blasted, pocket-knife-carrying, bottom-spanked, cow eaters. We ran the streets armed with BB guns, boxing gloves and bottle rockets, wholly unprotected by bike helmets, sunscreen or Amber Alerts.


This entire sentence still more or less applies to me at 38 years old.
posted by quin at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Years of Living Anecdotely. Brought to you by the same media that convinces you that sending your children out to play is tantamount to just putting them in the pedophile's van yourself.
posted by spicynuts at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2009 [56 favorites]


Right. We used to have to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before we went to bed, drink a cup of sulfuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, pay the mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

And you try and tell the young people of today that . . . they won't believe you.
posted by The Bellman at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I remember the day the milkman (remember them?) told me that I could no longer ride in the truck with him because the company was afraid of liability. That was a sad day.
posted by caddis at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


You remember having a rotary phone.

How about you never had to look for the phone?
posted by caddis at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


“All those ingested toxins and lack of concern for personal safety measures gave me a clear advantage. Just like a child from a poverty-stricken, Third World country, I believe we develop a cast-iron stomach. A little adversity is the key to longevity.”

I wonder if she's, you know, looked at longevity in the third world vs. the soft-and-weak first world?

No, the world you grew up in sucked in very different and distinct ways than the world sucks now... but you've got a fighting chance of making it to gripe about how much the world tomorrow sucks from when you skateboarded in concrete skateparks, rode bicycles down steep and rocky bike trails and risked carpal-tunnel syndrome with computer games. Nothing those entitled little softies with their hoverboards and jetpacks and mental-immersion computer simulations would understand...

Conservatives suck. There was no golden age, except a brief window in the '90s when you had the Atari Falcon, Amiga 1200 and Apple Powerbook all on the market at once. Now is as good as it's ever been, and tomorrow will likely be better.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:52 PM on July 6, 2009 [14 favorites]




People live dangerously now, just as they lived dangerously then. They'll claim that "doctors told you to smoke" or "we didn't know they were unhealthy," despite the term coffin nail being a slang term from the 19th century.

Excessive sun exposure still happens now, even though skin cancer is well documented. However, I'm sure leathery skin isn't a new thing, and people were able to figure out causality beforehand.

A lot of the "we did this and came out fine" specious reasoning caused by a huge selection bias.
posted by explosion at 12:54 PM on July 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


I fondly remember the fun we had running through the fogbanks behind the DDT sprayer as it went through the neighborhood on hot summer evenings. And standing under the massive big electric towers I grew up a block away from as they crackled in the rain. Not to mention memories of eating freshly fallen snow my mother assured me was contaminated by the Russians with nuclear test fallout, which we had amply prepared through ducking and covering and our well-stocked basement shelters. Those golden years of childhood, it's a miracle we're are still around.
posted by fellene at 12:55 PM on July 6, 2009


When I was a kid, and by this I mean well under the age of 10, my parents would let me;

1. Leave the house all day/afternoon, without adult supervision, as long as I gave them a rough idea of where I was going and who I was going to be with. Basically, it was all good as long as I was home for dinner (i.e. 5:00 sharp).
2. Swim out into Lake Huron as far as I wanted to, as long as it wasn't extremely wavy. "Don't go too deep!" was usually the extent of my mom's instructions.
3. Snorkle at will across the entirety of a small lake located next to a Parry Sound-area campground my family often visited, usually out of sight of my parents or anyone else.
4. Go fishing by myself.
5. Ride my bike wherever I wanted, without a helmet or any other safety equipment.
6. Jump into the (extremely fast-moving) St. Clair River from the railing of the walking trail located below the Blue Water Bridge.
7. Hike trails in provincial parks by myself.
8. Walk to school by myself.
9. Go to the movies by myself....

You get the idea. Now, admittedly, I lived in a fairly small city, but still...
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:55 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I used to ride around with five people hanging of my bicycle. I was like a bicycle bus service. We called it giving a buck, and I could usually manage one behind me on the banana seat, one seated on the handle bars (ape hangers, of course), one hanging from the back, and two hanging off each side. When I'd go down the tarred blacktop slope at Fern Hill Elementary, if I hit a bump, children would go flying like those monkeys that explode at the end of the Planet of the Apes remake. Then we would pick ourselves up, walk the bike back to the top of the slope, clambor aboard, and do it again.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I remember the day the milkman (remember them?) told me that I could no longer ride in the truck with him because the company was afraid of liability. That was a sad day.

I remember the day the milkman told me that he'd had a vasectomy the year before I was born. That was a sad day.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2009 [18 favorites]


I remember the day the milkman (remember them?) told me that I could no longer ride in the truck

When I was four or five my next door neighbors "borrowed" me and sent me through the milk delivery door thing in their house to open the door for them, because they had accidentally locked themselves out. All the houses in our neighborhood had those little double-doored milk delivery things, but now I can't remember what they are called.
posted by ambrosia at 12:57 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Those golden years of childhood, it's a miracle we're are still around.

If everyone says 'it's a miracle we are still around' I would like to suggest it's not a miracle. I mean, it's a miracle anyone is even born, period, when you think about it, but millions of us still breathing is no miracle.
posted by spicynuts at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was truly a zeitgeist that has disappeared. I was kind of disappointed when I made it to 20. I mean, what the hell was I supposed to do now? Anyhoo, I retooled, and now I'm a cubicle drone with a bad attitude.
posted by No Robots at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Back then, I don't think anyone seriously expected to live past the age of 30

I try to explain this type of thinking to my eldest, who is 18 this year, and she just can't comprehend it; I can't imagine living without it.

THE WORLD WILL END IN 2012 OMGWTFKERMIT!!1! thing gets an, "Eh. Maybe," from me largely thanks to this mindset.
posted by elfgirl at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2009


Now is as good as it's ever been, and tomorrow will likely be better.

I feel really fortunate to live right now. I've seen video games go from Space Invaders (when I was a tot) to practically photo-realistic. Computers and especially the Internet are a huge culture-changing technology that is rivaled only by radio and the television insofar as communication is concerned.

Sure, some of the mystery of life is taken away, but it's replaced by being able to look up nearly anything at the click of a mouse, and learn astrophysics from the comfort of my own home.
posted by explosion at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I miss my banana bike!
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


We ran the streets armed with BB guns, boxing gloves and bottle rockets, wholly unprotected by bike helmets, sunscreen or Amber Alerts.

One of my relatives who grew up in that era has had a hook for a hand ever since he blew it off messing around with fireworks as a kid. Fond memories of dangerous childhoods are nice and all, but some people didn't make it out unscathed.

A better system, if you ask me. PG-13 serves no purpose that PG itself didn't. It was advising Parental Guidance, that is all.

Although the current ratings system isn't perfect, it's nice to have different levels for very young children, older pre-teens, and teenagers. There's not much the seperates a PG-13 rated film from an R rated film, but if they got rid of PG-13 the studios would push to get all of the old PG-13 films released as PG because they wouldn't want to lose out on the large audience that a lower rated film can draw.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:01 PM on July 6, 2009


had a hook for a hand ever since he blew it off messing around with fireworks as a kid...

One of our neighbors, a dental surgeoun, blew of three fingers with an M80. Lost his dental practise!
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


*surgeon*
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on July 6, 2009


In other news: pendulum reaches the end of it's range of motion - MAJOR SHOCKER when it begins to swing the other way.
posted by GuyZero at 1:04 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I miss my banana bike!

I had one of those, although in my neck of the woods we always called it a banana seat bike. It was a present for my seventh birthday, and when it was wheeled out for me at my party I was so excited I convinced my parents to let me ride it around the block once even though it was clearly too big for me (I had to push the pedal on one side and then wait for the one on the other side to rotate to where my foot was, and I had to fully extend my arms to reach the handlebars, which made it extremely difficult to steer). I made it around the first three corners, but on the fourth I took the turn wide and smacked into a tree. Everyone heard me crying, and my dad came down to collect me. He sat on the bike with me in his lap and started walking the bike back to our house. I kept telling him it wasn't safe to double on bikes (I'd recently had a bike safely class in gym at school), he kept saying it was alright, we were only a few houses away, and sure enough my foot got caught in the spokes of the front wheel and I got pulled off the bike and hit my head on the sidewalk (in front of everyone at the party, who had come out to the front yard to watch).
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


I remember the day the milkman (remember them?) told me that I could no longer ride in the truck with him because the company was afraid of liability. That was a sad day.

The driver of the schoolbus that I took in elementary school used to let me sit next to her on the plastic console and work the little toggle that turned the flashing lights on and off. She also had a menagerie, and one time stopped the bus and got a couple of 6th graders to grab the snapping turtle that was sunning itself in the middle of the road. She then proceeded to drop off the rest of the kids with a hissing snapping turtle at the head of the aisle.

I really feel sorry for kids nowadays. The culture of fear has taken root right at the foot of their beds - it's one thing to worry about atomic fire, and another to worry about sun cancer, food poisoning, your neighbors, your video games, drugs, brain damage, etc.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2009


My mom's big warning to us every summer was to remind us of a cousin someplace else who had dove into the river head-first and broken his neck. "Never do that," she said.

In terms of helmets and bikes, we were all doing jumps with our banana-seat bikes on the road, using old pieces of plywood. One girl tried the jump on her ten-speed. She wore a hockey helmet to be safe, but unfortunately she crashed, broke the bike frame in half, and left a little, white front tooth impacted in the pavement.

She teaches anthropology at a major university these days.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to set my bike on fire and ride in the middle of the interstate with rattlesnakes in my pockets and a grenade in my mouth, leading a pack of pitbulls and pedophiles on a high speed chase to death.

Good times.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2009 [50 favorites]


I grew up in the seventies. I ended up in the emergency room somewhere around seven times before the age of ten with something major either broken or bleeding profusely. This number was that low because I was very lucky. If I hadn't been lucky as a child I would have died, lost a limb, lost an eye, had major brain damage, lost the ability to father a child or at the very least lost a couple of fingers. Looking back, I'm sort of amazed that none of my friends died before junior high. We raced our bikes through busy streets without helmets, jumped those bikes down staircases, climbed up to the top of high maple trees, held lady finger firecrackers in our hands while they went off, blew shit up with M80s, started fires in the woods, climbed up on the roofs of three story buildings, raced down steep streets on bikes, sleds, roller skates, skate boards, tonka trucks, etc. And I was a quiet nerdy kid with thick glasses who read books alot. Other kids in the neighborhood were really crazy. And our parents never had any idea where we were or what we were doing. As long as we were home by dark, it was OK.

On the other hand, when we were with our parents, they were probably chain smoking with us in a closed car with no seat belts and half a buzz on from happy hour drinks. My sisters are much older than me and were smoking by the time they were 13 or so so I might be in the car with four people all smoking. Saturday night game night at our kitchen table would have a literal cloud of smog over it from the fact that everyone teenage and older were chain smoking. I never smoked but I'll probably end up with lung cancer from the proximity over all those years.
posted by octothorpe at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


A lot of the "we did this and came out fine" specious reasoning caused by a huge selection bias.

The only 'selection bias' is that we survived. And are better because of it.

Things kids can't play with/do now that I did:

1. Dynamite. Farmers are allowed to have it to get rid of stumps, but there was always some left over for some good times.

2. Edged weapons. You name it, knives machetes, swords, axes, spears, all in the hands of 11-12 year-olds. I left the Boy Scouts when they failed to see the logic of having a machete when camping.

3. Fireworks battles. Not just some namby-pamby bottle rockets, I mean roman candles, mortars, the works. Fired Horizontally At You.

4. Shooting firearms unsupervised by the age of 12. And doing it responsibly.

5. Take a horse or motorcycle on Friday, and say I'll be back Sunday, mom. I'm going out for awhile; at the age of 15.

6. Car chases. Not racing, chases. Does anybody even do these anymore?

I'm now a well-adjusted corporate department head with all my limbs and only a few scars, and some damn good stories at the bar.

It gets me mad to see all these kids in some kind of nerf-world, never leaving the house, and without even a stray set of Lawn Darts to liven things up at all. Good God, kids. You are missing out!
posted by chambers at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


One year, my grandmother sent me a care package at summer camp that included a fairly old bag of "fun size" packages of M&Ms. I opened one to discover that they were old enough to still have red M&Ms. I agreed to share them with my cabinmates on the condition that they give me all the red ones, because I was curious if they'd really give me cancer if I ate them.

Not so far.
posted by elfgirl at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


We were kids. Kids can have fun anywhere, doing anything; it takes an astonishing amount of trauma to suck the fun out of a kid's world. So when we reminisce, it's easy to see the world as a better place than it is today. Kids see the world as astonishing, and totally new, and every new day brings tons of discoveries about the way the world works.

We grow up, we (hopefully) learn a lot, and it's not the same kind of fun anymore, which makes us long for the days when the world was different. Except it wasn't; we were different. We were kids.

Kids today are having just as much of a blast, in different ways. And when they grow up, they'll reminisce just like this, and wonder how badly whatever they're doing to keep their kids safe is screwing them up.
posted by MrVisible at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I've got my own list. Delivered a paper route on a bike without helmet, reflectors or hand brakes; sledded down a hill that ended in a parking lot; went off to play in the woods, for hours, by myself; ate dirt; etc. I even spent some time in a group home where the juvenile delinquents could spend part of their allowance on cigarettes, which they bought at a local bar. (At least one person that I've told that to refuses to believe me.) For at least a short time in the 70s, the La Crosse Tribune (the paper that I delivered) advertised pornographic films in the paper. (This was when VCRs, like microwave ovens, were enormous and expensive.) And so on.

Some of these lists, though, are at least a little horseshit, and in one specific, I came up with a theory of why we don't tolerate some of this recklessness any more. I got this email forwarded to me by someone who quickly figured out why I should be taken off their distribution list (aside from "You didn't check Snopes before you forwarded this, did you?", of course). This one started out with something about how they were raised in cribs that were painted with lead-based paint, which they chewed on, and hey they ended up OK. (Debatable, but anyway.) I mean, the fucking Romans knew about lead poisoning. Why would someone even try to get away with that happy crap? I mean, I've worked with the developmentally disabled, at least one of whom was there because of lead poisoning...

Ding! goes the little lightbulb over my head. Before mainstreaming, before ADA and so on, all these kids were institutionalized and kept away from us, so we didn't see the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, lead poisoning, kids who grew up around what would be Superfund cleanup sites in the future, kids who were in a bike accident or weren't wearing a seatbelt when Daddy (who had tied a few on, but it was cool because DUIs were no big whoop back then) missed the stop light. No racing wheelchairs or Kurzweil reading machines or nice big bathroom stalls with the grab bars. No ramps on public buildings.

And then we stopped pretending that they didn't exist.

And you can argue that things have swung too far the other way, when you've got the likes of Jenny May She Die In A Fire McCarthy, but... hey, I wear a helmet when I ride my bike, these days, and not just because of random assholes talking on their phones in their SUVs.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:38 PM on July 6, 2009 [40 favorites]


Those golden years of childhood, it's a miracle we're are still around.

Some of us are not. I don't think anyone of my generation doesn't have a couple classmates who did NOT make it to the age of 18, or spent the rest of their lives in a wheelchair due to a horrendous accident 'just having fun'. Oddly, the ones I knew who failed to grow up unmangled were all kids who bullied me (including the son of a 'television legend' who went on to write a book about his failure as a father). It caused a weird mixed feeling of guilt and power that "you better not mess with me or karma will get you good". Since high school, that pattern did not continue; in fact, one of my 'bosses' who I most respected died of lung cancer from smoking. But still... YOU BETTER NOT MESS WITH ME.

And Astro Zombie, as the driver of the bicycle bus, was probably in the safest position of any of the participants... assuming the kid on the handlebar was a little chubby and filled the role of the airbag.
posted by wendell at 1:38 PM on July 6, 2009


I spent the years from 4 to 10 in a Montreal suburb, where cheaply built new houses intermingled with farmland and scrubland. From age 7, all of us, including the girls, were allowed to walk or ride our bikes anywhere in the neighbourhood, including the creek, the haunted house, and the semi-boarded up barn, as long as we were back before supper and back in the evening before dark.

I never had a banana bike, but I managed to get my right toe ripped up very badly while riding my beloved coaster bike, somehow inserting it between the spokes of my back wheel. My mother couldn't get me to calm down enough for first aid, so it was my dad who had to sit me down in the living room and get me to put my foot in BOILING! WATER! (yeah, not really) before painting on the Mercurochrome. It was the greatest pain he ever put me through until the great self ear-piercing debacle of the following summer.
posted by maudlin at 1:39 PM on July 6, 2009


Here, incidentally, are the main things we were told to worry about as children in the seventies and eighties by my mom:

Avoid birds, they cause parakeet fever.
If you stand in a draft, you'll get Bell's Palsy.
Don't get your feet wet -- you'll get a kidney infection


Mom's information was pretty hit or miss. That Bell's Palsy thing would have been useful if I was a ten-year-old long distance trucker, though.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:46 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


my folks were pretty casual about things like that - even after i broke my arm riding a bike

i guess they just thought it was part of growing up
posted by pyramid termite at 1:49 PM on July 6, 2009


I would probably disagree that "now is as good as it's ever been", at least in some capacities. The changing face of childhood has had a pretty serious impact on our kids' health and intellectual character. The shocking rise in childhood obesity seems pretty clearly linked to the age of video/computer gaming as a replacement for outdoor play. When I was a kid, we played outdoors all day, morning until night. We biked, ran around, climbed trees, skipped rope, climbed the jungle gym (btw, what's with the crappy super-safe playgrounds these days? remember when it really meant something to be able to get to the top of the climber?), played tag, you name it. It was wonderful fun, and sure, probably highly unsafe at times, but I remember very few fat kids, if any.

I would also argue that the new childhood experience can have a pretty detrimental effect on the mental state of many kids. Based on my own experience as a high school teacher, most teens have the attention span of a fruit fly and a pathological aversion to hard work (Do I blame electronic gaming and the internet? Well, yes, just a little). They also have a complete lack of understanding of the concept of accountability. They refuse to take responsibility for their own learning. If they fail a test, the test was too hard or not fair. Just once, I'd like to hear a kid say "Wow. Didn't do so well on that test. I should have studied harder."

I don't blame the kids for this--I generally blame their parents. I think the side effect of this new paranoia with safety is that it's taught a generation that if something happens to them, there will always be someone else to blame. In my day, if you fell off the jungle gym and busted a tooth, well, it was your own damn fault and you should have been more careful. Something like that happens today and there's a lawsuit on the go practically before the kid hits the ground.

I know I'm generalizing, and there are still lots of wonderful children and teens out there with fantastic parents. And I would agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that now is the best of times, because really, there's not much point in nostalgia as a practical solution to a current problem. Kids today do also have a few useful skills that maybe took us a lot longer to develop (i.e. multitasking, information sifting). But I also feel kind of bad for modern. Sure, they have pretty frickin' awesome electronic devices to amuse them but I don't think that's a satisfying substitute for the kind of childhood portrayed in the article (which a lot of us clearly identify with).

Here's hoping they still sell jump ropes somewhere, because I'm looking forward to teaching my infant daughter the ancient and mysterious rite of "The Double Dutch" some day....
posted by Go Banana at 1:50 PM on July 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


It's kind of funny that the kids who appear overprotected today are given cell phones to gab away on all day long. They also are no better protected from stupidity than kids in my day.
posted by JJ86 at 1:50 PM on July 6, 2009


6. Car chases. Not racing, chases. Does anybody even do these anymore?

Not anymore, but 20 years ago? We drove rigid bodied cars and we played a game called "Bumper Tag."

It was fucking glorious.
posted by quin at 1:50 PM on July 6, 2009


You people act like you never heard of youtube!
There's a whole cavalcade of kids injuring themselves doing some of the stupidest shit I've seen since I was their age!

Makes me so damn jealous!
posted by orme at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I miss my banana bike!

I had one of these when I was about 8 years old. It was red and had pom pom ribbons coming out of the end of the handle bars. I rode that thing from dawn to dusk! Great memories!
posted by garnetgirl at 1:54 PM on July 6, 2009


I will say my list a few posts back is definitely on the more extreme side of things, but I grew up in the suburbs until I was 10, than then my family moved out to the country. That changed everything. Life without suburbia is a wonderful thing.

Living in the country is fantastic, but sometimes you do have to go a bit overboard to keep yourself amused, living without cable TV, and 45 minutes from the nearest town with a real grocery store or a traffic light. I'm pleasantly surprised my friends and I made it out of our teenage years without much damage.
posted by chambers at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2009


And what does NC17 offer that wasn't covered by X?

The short answer? Trademark protection for the MPAA. You see, the other ratings were all trademarked, but "X" wasn't, so anyone could self-apply it to their movie. And pornographers did, leading the public to think "X=porn", not "X=not for kids". NC17 was their attempt to have a movie rating that meant "adults only" without meaning "porn".

Sadly, it did not work, because the theater owners and/or the public thought as you did, that NC17=X(=porn), and refused to support movies distributed with that rating.

(Of course, they all ran out to the video store to rent the "unrated" version of the film when it came to home video...)
posted by fings at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2009


Does anyone in snowy climes remember playing King of the Hill at school? KotH consisted entirely of one kid standing on top of a hill of snow (usually the pile at the end of a concrete parking lot or playground after it had been plowed) while other kids climbed up the hill and tried to take his/her place by pushing him/her off. Good times!
posted by you just lost the game at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


1. Tobogganing wherever we wanted to in the winter. The only time the parents got upset with the five of us was when we landed and split it on a large boulder under the snow.
2. Meat Loaf Monday; Beefaroni Tuesday; Spaghetti Wednessay; TV Dinner Thursday; Fish Sticks Friday. No joke.
3. Mom would hold a bottle of coppertone near us before we went into the sun cos there wasn't enough to go on all o fus.
4. Model rockets, unsupervised.
5. Banana bikes? We called them Stingrays.
6. BB Guns for everyone.
7. War.
8. Building treehouses 20 feet up; hammers, nails, saws, wood in the hands of kids from 4 to 10.
9. Parents really happy all the time at night.
10. Time passes. Parents really scary all the time at night, alternating Tuesdays.
posted by nj_subgenius at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2009


Sticking my head out the car window as the we flew down the highway.
posted by PHINC at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2009


We played king of the hill, only it was on a dock or large raft and you had to Sumo motherfuckers off while avoiding getting Sumoed yourself.
posted by Mister_A at 2:14 PM on July 6, 2009


"Yeah but the pot wasn't as strong back then (that is about the only thing I got when trying to keep my kid in line)."

Yes it was. If you had Afghani hash, Thai stick or Jamaican, or similar exotic types, it was typically just as strong or stronger than anything domestic today.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


BB guns? You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2009


Mostly I just sat inside, quietly reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I never had stitches (other than the ones in my mouth when I'd have teeth pulled). I never broke any bones until I was twenty-two.

I try to make up for it now by drinking too much and falling down a lot.
posted by Evangeline at 2:19 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


One of my best summers as a kid was the year the city was paving several side streets not far from our house. There were enormous piles of dirt left near the curbs, and we'd climb them and roll down them, or push our bikes up one side and attempt to ride down the other. We'd return home absolutely covered in filth, and Mom would roll her eyes and ask "How in the world did you get so dirty?" To which we'd give the standard childhood reply: "I don't know."

I also remember having several of these toys, including the Creepy Crawler maker. Nothing like a few second-degree burns to spell "f-u-n"!
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:20 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was dog shit everywhere.
posted by longsleeves at 2:25 PM on July 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


People in the sixties, seventies and eighties were harried by irrational fears as well. They were simply fears of a different stripe:

-Polio. Public pools were a breeding ground for this disease, and were avoided at all costs by many. Far better to forgo swimming than endure life in the dreaded iron lung.
-Heroin. Conveniently snuck into joints by the local "pusher." All youngsters under 21 were at risk for addiction to the needle, which could strike anywhere.
-Non-conformists. This category includes beatniks, hippies, angry young men, yippies, "pinkos," and just about any young person perceived as destructively angry at society. They'd wreck havoc on peace-loving citizens for the thrill of destruction. No small town or quiet neighborhood was safe, as testified by hundreds of movies on this theme (like The Wild Ones).
-Old age, particularly for women. Due to industrial accidents and premature death, many women were left widows and bereaved at a young age. Also, spinsterhood was prevalent and frowned upon. Old people were seen as lonely, physically weak and financially destitute.
-Popular culture, including movies, comics and TV. The threat of comics on youth in the fifties has been amply documented on Mefi. TV and many movies were seen as low culture, appealing to the "least common denominator" of society. Television was denigrated, referred to as the boob tube or idiot box, and parents limited TV watching time both for themselves and their kids. Apart from PBS and a smattering of shows, TV was seen as a mind-numbing wasteland; a threat to intellectual development for the young.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:29 PM on July 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


We called them Stingrays.

Yeah -- that was Schwinn's brand name for them. Sear's called them Spyders.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2009


TV was seen as a mind-numbing wasteland; a threat to intellectual development for the young.

You mean it isn't?
posted by Go Banana at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2009


We used Schwinn's trademark generically in an unwitting attempt at genericide. Now excuse me, I have to go google and xerox a few things.
posted by caddis at 2:38 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Yeah but the pot wasn't as strong back then

but the booze sure was. I was born in 1959, moved a lot for a few years until settling in suburban Vancouver around my tenth birthday. Two things immediately struck me:

1. how cool the (and deep) the forests were
2 the quickest way to establish myself was to hang out with the dangerous kids

This lead to pre-teen drinking, smoking etc in deep forests. We all survived and, key point, by the time we got around to being legal drivers had actually figured out how to handle alcohol.

Life is dangerous and full of peril. It always has been. But nothing is more perilous than being directed by fear, one's own or society's. Keep on rockin' in the free world.
posted by philip-random at 2:40 PM on July 6, 2009


Hi there. I just finished reading a book about childhood among the poor and working class in 1800s New York. So, right now I'm thinking about all the child gangs, newspaper boys drinking camphor and whiskey from the money they shook down from younger boys for "protection", random sweeps of children picked up for indentured farm labor in the West, the child-prostitution of "Hot corn" or "flower" girls, the special brothels *for* 11 year olds, rampant disease, the casual savage beatings, being torn to death by wild dogs, and the extensive use of young girls in horrifying garment factories because they had small hands and couldn't fight back. The work was so awful that if children where in a factory they where being kept their by their parents.

So, yah, you rode without a helmet and then wrote about how wonderful that was. Good for you.
posted by The Whelk at 2:44 PM on July 6, 2009 [20 favorites]


Flagged as seriously, we can do better than this.
posted by DU at 2:45 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gawd, do we have to do this again?

Can't someone just link to Miko's comments in one of the umpteen previous threads about our dangerous childhoods and be done with it?

(I would, but a life of danger has made me terribly indolent and surly.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:46 PM on July 6, 2009


I am for indolence and surliness.
posted by everichon at 2:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


We built pipe bombs and shoulder-launched rockets and somehow never lost anything more than a few eyebrows. Only one of us broke his neck and he got better.
posted by pracowity at 2:52 PM on July 6, 2009


"Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood", by Michael Chabon (b. 1963). Great article.
posted by stbalbach at 2:58 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: Hi there. I just finished reading a book about childhood among the poor and working class in 1800s New York.
What was the name of the book?
posted by hincandenza at 2:59 PM on July 6, 2009


No, the kids of the 50s, 60s and 70s were molly-coddled little wusses next to the kids of the 20s, 30s and 40s. And those kids of the 20s, 30s, and 40s were mollycoddled by the standards of the childhoods before them. Rinse/Repeat back through history.

This is the march of civilization.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:00 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's a whole cavalcade of kids injuring themselves doing some of the stupidest shit I've seen since I was their age!

This.
posted by davejay at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2009


I just finished reading a book about childhood among the poor and working class in 1800s New York.

I guess you don't recommend it :)
posted by stbalbach at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2009


3. Fireworks battles. Not just some namby-pamby bottle rockets, I mean roman candles, mortars, the works. Fired Horizontally At You.

4. Shooting firearms unsupervised by the age of 12. And doing it responsibly.


Huh. Somehow I have a hard time believing that kids who fired roman candles and mortars horizontally at one another would be inclined to use firearms responsibly. But what do I know? I wasn't even allowed to watch MTV.
posted by donmateo at 3:05 PM on July 6, 2009


I like to think of those days as the era of Lazy Fair parenting.
posted by srboisvert at 3:08 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my hobbies at age 11 was making pipe bombs. I used to ride my bike down to the army surplus store to buy rifle blanks for the powder.

I remember the moment, about a week into the process, that it finally occurred to me that it might be a good idea to drill the fuse hole before adding the powder.

I made no effort to conceal anything from my parents, and as far as I know they were perfectly aware of what was going on. After all, they were the same people who made no effort to take away any of my many boxes of matches even after I set our house on fire and burned away the back porch at age seven.

Our next house did have asbestos shingles, though.
posted by jamjam at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sheesh, if all you old people had had unlimited access to meth, oral sex, video games and hardcore porn when you were like 12, you would think that jumping off jungle gyms onto horses and riding them to buy roman candles was a waste of time, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


Both arms broken on ramps; Once a bike, once a skateboard.
I was run over when I was four - broken leg.
Stitches here and there. I've removed them myself. One was metal, and in the back of my head after an auto accident where I lost consciousness.

6. Car chases. Not racing, chases. Does anybody even do these anymore?
I've been in a couple; one high speed, one low speed, both ending with road spikes and detainment. After the low-speed one, I kicked out the back window of the cruiser. (The trick is to lie back on the seat and put continuous pressure with both feet on the center of the glass. It reaches a sweet spot and explodes in a barrage of glass shards(

Oh. I got attacked by a chicken when I was nine. He pecked into my leg just beneath the knee cap and I couldn't move my leg for two days. Got to miss school!

True stories all.

My girlfriend is super-over-protective of her kids, but I got her to relax enough for some family fireworks last weekend. I can't remember when we've had such fun together.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2009


Threads like this are why people hate baby boomers so much.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


We would take rolls of caps, unroll them, split the powder with razor blades, re-roll them tight, dip in paraffin and insert a fuse. Home made M80's. But, every now and again one might ignite and explode while making it. My brother was able to hide the burn mark on his bedroom carpet by moving some furniture around.
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on July 6, 2009


One of my earliest memories, when I was about three or four, was standing around outside with my sister and a cousin and lighting sparklers and then using them to set a tricycle on fire. The seat, handlebars and tassels burned with that aromatic toxic rubber oder, but the metal frame wouldn't light well. It was all parental approved (or at least ignored) science experiments.
posted by Bueller at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2009


Back when Tom Hanks was having his rpg-related psychotic break, my friends and I(all diehard D&D players by 10) would put on several layers of thick clothing, go into the forest and wing (real) shurikens at everyone and beat the ever-living-fuck out of each other with sticks all the while LARPing our asses off. We were fucking ninjas and warriors and wizards and shit!

Oh, there was plenty of blood, and it was awesome.
posted by zerokey at 3:23 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This sounds like the interview on this week's Speaking Of Faith. The interviewee is the Director of National Institute for Play and he makes a strong case for the importance of play, and especially risky play, in the development of healthy adults.
posted by munichmaiden at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


We did things so heinous, just reading about them would send you to the emergency room. But I guess we were just tougher back then. Or chewier, at any rate.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on July 6, 2009


A lot of the "we did this and came out fine" specious reasoning caused by a huge selection bias.

The only 'selection bias' is that we survived.


Yeah, uh, that's kind of the point. The ones who didn't survive aren't here to post about the flip side.
posted by decagon at 3:36 PM on July 6, 2009


Which means the survivors are more evolved.

/yes - I know it doesn't really mean that
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:39 PM on July 6, 2009


Threads like this are why people hate baby boomers so much.

Point taken. It's always annoying to hear people brag about how rad they were before their voices changed. But things have gotten weird over the past few decades in terms of over-protection of "precious cargo". I imagine it's only a matter of time before children put on helmets before they brush their teeth in the morning and keep them on all day. It brings to mind one of my favorite lines from the 1980s, usually thrown at some-mollycoddled-body who had no concept of how most of the world actually lived:

"What you need is a holiday is Cambodia."
posted by philip-random at 3:45 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Threads like this are why people hate baby boomers so much.

Well, that and Don Henley.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I were a lad, there was an 'adventure playground' down the road from my house. Back in the '70s in Australia, adventure playgrounds were popping up all over the place. Imagine towering forts made of treated pine poles, with swings, balance beams, ropes etc. All at vertiginous heights over the parched clay-baked earth we called Melbourne. Soft fall matting? You must be kidding.

When I was about 6 or 7, my sister and I were playing there when a kid took a tumble off the balance beam - which was nothing more than a round pine pole about 2 meters off the ground. He landed in a heap in the dust and it soon became apparent that he'd broken his arm. Badly. Like bones-poking-out-compound-fracture badly. Some older kids, perhaps 12 or 13 year olds, calmed him down, helped him up and led him a couple of blocks towards his house. They sat him down in the gutter and tipped his bike over before running to his house and telling his mum what had 'happened'.

It still amazes me that everyone involved - from the injured kid to my sister and I - immediately and intuitively understood why this was happening. 'Tony fell off his bike and broke his arm' would only have repercussions for Tony, if anyone. 'Tony was maimed by the adventure playground' would come back on us all. I'd like to think that experiences like this taught me a lot about personal responsibility, accountability and freedom.

ps: Tony was back at the playground in a couple of months
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


My old high school is being torn down this week. It was built in the late 1890s. To commemorate the school, graduates from classes in the 1940s and 1950s were videotaped. One guy, a member of the school's rifle club, regaled everyone with stories about bringing his rifle to school on the bus. In a case, of course, and unloaded apparently, but still.

I worried less about BB guns than one of my brother's toys--it was designed as a toy truck but was supposed to be a missile launcher or something. You could press a button and a rubber-tipped missile, several inches long, right across the room. Now THAT could put your eye out.

And yes, we all rode around on our bikes, with fenders that could carry another kid or two, but wore no helmets, went swimming in Lake Erie without supervision, played in the streets and the woods, climbed on unprotected playground equipment, etc. Most of us survived but certainly most injured, disabled or sick kids were tucked away somewhere. I don't have a clue where. One exception in first grade was Danny, who had leg braces from polio. I'd like to say he was inspiring but in fact, he was a mean cuss who, after trying to hit the teacher with his braces and crutches, was packed off. Who knows why he was mean but I"m sure he was treated in ways that would not be acceptable now.
posted by etaoin at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2009


I worried less about BB guns than one of my brother's toys--it was designed as a toy truck but was supposed to be a missile launcher or something. You could press a button and a rubber-tipped missile, several inches long, right across the room.

I worried less about BB guns than one of my brother's toys--it was designed as a toy truck but was supposed to be a missile launcher or something. You could press a button and a rubber-tipped missile, several inches long, FLEW right across the room.
posted by etaoin at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2009



I remember the day the milkman (remember them?) told me that I could no longer ride in
the truck with him because the company was afraid of liability. That was a sad day.


caddis
Also in N.J. - Our milk came from Glendale Farms in glass bottles with a fat neck in which the cream just waited for me. And the delivery vehicle was powered by 'Maude'. Yep. I still remember that old horse's name.
posted by notreally at 4:04 PM on July 6, 2009


The Whelk: Hi there. I just finished reading a book about childhood among the poor and working class in 1800s New York.

What was the name of the book?
posted by hincandenza at 5:59 PM


Is it "Low Life"?
posted by orme at 4:08 PM on July 6, 2009


> It's always annoying to hear people brag about how rad they were before their voices changed.

I think in this context the changing bones are more relevant. Compared to adults, kids are pretty freaking indestructable.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before paintball there was Wrist Rockets and berries. Or if you were feeling really edgy, plain old rocks.
posted by Tube at 4:37 PM on July 6, 2009


Crab apples worked pretty well, too. Hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to cause injury (unless you hit someone in the eye). If you couldn't find any crab apples, chestnuts would do (and they were perfect for slingshots).
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 4:47 PM on July 6, 2009


Crab apples can shatter the back window of a UPS van. I'm looking at you, Paul D.!
posted by ericb at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2009


By the time I was ten I could mix a scotch and soda and empty an ashtray -- programmed from birth to be a bartender. And we had a trampoline. With no pads. In an unfenced backyard. And no one died or got sued, though I distinctly recall a couple of bleeding head wounds. It was not uncommon to spend all day Saturday in the woods, with no phone, no schedule, a mile from home. When mom wanted to buy me protective gear to be used with my recently acquired skateboard, dad vetoed it by saying, "Let him get skinned up, he'll learn faster."

A glorious time to be a kid.

Even if all I learned is that I suck at skateboarding.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:51 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only time I sound like an old codger is when I see kids waiting for the bus in their parent's SUV at the end of the driveway. Sure, in *my* day, we stood in the rain or sleet for as long as it took for the bus to arrive, etc. But this has me mystified. What's the problem on a fine sunny spring day? Pedophiles?
posted by acrasis at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2009


Somehow I have a hard time believing that kids who fired roman candles and mortars horizontally at one another would be inclined to use firearms responsibly.

I understand it seems odd, but growing up in the country firearms were in a class all to themselves. Most of us were brought up with firearms in the house and gun safety was something learned at a very early age. It was somewhat rare for my friends and I to go hunting or shooting together. When we would go camping, or just out in the woods for a walk, we wouldn't bring our guns with us. Of course, we were armed with everything BUT guns. There were wild dogs and bears to consider (guns would have been helpful in such situations, but in our teen years we didn't consider that 'sporting'). Guns are a tool, and a enjoyable tool at that, but we never considered the 'toys.' Sure, we'd bring them out to show one another and discuss the pros/cons and such, but the ammunition was left in the box/vault/case. With guns not in the picture, we would go nuts with just about everything else, hence the fireworks and crossbows and knives and explosives.
posted by chambers at 5:08 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crab apples worked pretty well, too.

Ah, fond memories of apple tag. It's not like those apples were going to be used for anything else...
posted by GuyZero at 5:09 PM on July 6, 2009


One guy, a member of the school's rifle club, regaled everyone with stories about bringing his rifle to school on the bus. In a case, of course, and unloaded apparently, but still.


Up until the early 1990's, we could still bring our guns to school on the first few days of deer hunting season. There was a huge problem with attendance on those days. Once you got off the bus in the morning, you checked your rifle at the principal's office, and on your way home, the bus would drop you off anywhere along the route you wanted. Of course, you had to have your parent's permission, have a valid hunting license and gun safety certificate, and have permission to hunt on the land you wanted dropped off on.
posted by chambers at 5:13 PM on July 6, 2009


3. Fireworks battles. Not just some namby-pamby bottle rockets, I mean roman candles, mortars, the works. Fired Horizontally At You.

When we were too old to trick or treat all the older kids used to get together and have a fireworks war. You have never laughed so hard until you see a kid running down the road with his down coat set on fire after being hit with a roman candle.

6. Car chases. Not racing, chases. Does anybody even do these anymore?

Eventually we graduated to cars we brought it to the roads and fields. Fireworks wars between cars. The cops knew us and generally didn't care. Nothing is better than shooting a bottle rocket into the open back window of a pickup truck and seeing the kids inside freak out.

ahh good times...
posted by alfanut at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hula hoops and swith blades...the 50's were fun. My brother and I were the kids on the block that other mothers would not let their kids play with. We were mean, proofed by the fact that bro is still a guest of the state of Texas.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:18 PM on July 6, 2009


My dad told me one time: it never would have occurred to us NOT to drive drunk.
posted by shothotbot at 5:19 PM on July 6, 2009


Everyone seems to be recounting their pre-teens and early teens, so I'll just add:
The Beatles. The Stones. Jimi. Janis. The Doors. The Dead. Dylan.
etc
etc etc
--in your town, live in concert. And you being totally blase about it, thinking it was going to be that way, always
posted by Restless Day at 5:19 PM on July 6, 2009


80s latch-key kid here. We did not think standing around in a circle while one of us shoots and arrow straight up and then running to avoid being skewered was dangerous enough.

So we tied firecrackers to the shaft.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well! This thread hits directly upon one of my pet issues designed specifically to make me want to write for hours. Lucky You!

MrVisible
, while kids will instinctively find ways to have fun, the problem is that their parents are severely restricting their world today, out of logical relation to any threats that exist out there.
I'm pretty far from being a Boomer. In fact, I was born in 1980, right at the end of Gen-X, and would probably be considered Gen-Y or whatever if not for my parents and siblings.

See, I was a late-in-life surprise, 6 years younger than my sibling, and 8 and 11 years younger than my brothers. I'd never really thought about it before now, but none of my friends had siblings nearly as old as my siblings were, and my folks were sort of just naturally influential around the neighborhood, so where their "Lazy Fair" parenting took my siblings, it took me doubly (as they'd already been through even the 70s version of over-protection and were over it) and extended to my friends as well, as my parents were the model for the parents around them.

My only peers who were ever seriously injured/killed had their accidents in High School. They were all car-related. None of them were the drivers.

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had videogames my entire life, and adored them. I got a computer and internet at a pretty early age too. Still, as fun as all of that was (and is) we explored and ran around and found the dumbest things possible to do and tested out limits to the maximum. And, yes, it was glorious, and I wouldn't trade it for the way the most pampered kid gets to grow up today. And I'm going to be the awesomest Cranky Old Man I can be as a result of it all.

To give one example out of a lifetime of them: when I was 11 my parents were away for a week. Our Youth Minister and his wife took care of my sister and me. This would've been... damn. 17 years ago to the day, really. On the fourth of July, we sat back in our hot tub while our babysitters got tipsy on champagne and shot off bottle rockets into the neighborhood park. My best friend's parents sent him over because it was just too much fun to miss.

Another example, when my sister was 17 and about to go off to college, my mom started her on a sort of drinking-training program, so that she'd know her limits and wouldn't be taken advantage of as a Freshman. How smart is that? And how many parents can you picture doing that today?

I'm at law school now, at least five years older than most of my peers. They are the ones, who, when they get a bad grade, instinctively blame the professor. I'm having a particularly tough time, but except in the case of one particularly bad prof who has admitted that his grading is entirely arbitrary, that has never occurred to me. I was held accountable for my grades growing up, just as I was accountable for my own safety. The two are not, as modern parents hope, unrelated. Self sufficiency is key, and kids today don't learn it. Things are surely better in a lot of ways, but it is absolutely taking a psychological toll on the kids who aren't allowed to learn anything for themselves, which is practically all of them.

I hope to have kids someday soon, but I'm really hoping that the pendulum has swung back somewhat by that point, because there's a huge collective action problem here. Once enough of the parents start locking their kids inside, the neighborhood streets aren't welcome to kids anymore. And then, even if one household lets their children explore, they become ostracized as the kids with lax parents and there aren't any kids to play with anyways.

As with many things, the death of the middle class is most of the problem, really. When job stability is gone, so is community stability. Everybody's moving around and no one has time to get to know their neighbors, let alone trust them. The parents don't have time to get to know the area nearly as well as their kids could, and there might be a syringe out there or something.

Kids today have the same sense of wonder at the world that they've always had, but now their instinct to explore is held at bay until they're already jaded and filled with hormones and rebellion. This is fucked, and today's parents will pay for it worse than ours did.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I should also note I grew up in a part of western Pennsylvania that was somewhere between 'Green Acres' and 'Twilight Zone.' We had an albino superintendent, a color-blind art teacher ("Is this Green?" he once asked me), a day where you could drive your tractor to school, a football team of 10 players (instead of 11), and a graduating class of 69 people, which would have been 76 had it not been for several pregnancies and an multiple death auto accident in my junior year. They were trying to get home before their curfew, and hit a tree.
posted by chambers at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Beatles. The Stones. Jimi. Janis. The Doors. The Dead. Dylan.
etc
etc etc
--in your town, live in concert. And you being totally blase about it, thinking it was going to be that way, always


I dunno where you grew up dude, but no. Not really. it was a 2-hour drive, minimum to get any acts better than, say, Gowan.
posted by GuyZero at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2009


Oh and did I mention that my parents would regularly send me down to the corner store to buy cigarettes for them? When I was 7? "Mr Veon, can I have two packs of Doral Regular for my mom?" It's hard to imagine the shit-storm that happen if you did that now.
posted by octothorpe at 5:23 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember buying 4 cartons of smokes at a gas station about age 7, for a bunch of guys who worked at my fathers transmission shop. I distinctly remeber feeling like a badass, and getting a few odd looks from people on the street. No one questioned me, because what 7 year old kid would have enough money for 4 cartons of cigarettes, and actually buy cigarettes and then walk down the street as if it's nothing? Obviously, he's supposed to have them.

I learned a big lesson that day about camouflage: "Don't change color to match the surroundings. Act you belong and the surrounding will change for you."
posted by chambers at 5:30 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Whelk: Hi there. I just finished reading a book about childhood among the poor and working class in 1800s New York.

What was the name of the book?
posted by hincandenza at 5:59 PM

Is it "Low Life"?

Orme FTW. Plus some supplemental readings.
posted by The Whelk at 5:42 PM on July 6, 2009


Metafilter sure does love "When I was young" stories. See also.
posted by graventy at 5:49 PM on July 6, 2009


***Warning Parental Lamenting Follows***

One thing that has NOT changed is "name branding" and advertising on TV.

Me in '79/'80: "Mom I really NEED some Vans slip ons with checkers!"

Mom in '79/80: "Yea, right, you're getting $7 knock offs from K-Mart."


My kids today: "Mom, I really NEED some Vans slip ons with checkers!"

Me today: "Yea, right, you're getting $25 knock offs from the swap meet."

Not so fast, mom steps in, they're getting "real" Vans at $50 a pop. FML
posted by snsranch at 6:08 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


A couple of years ago I spent two days in Boru Bash, a little village near Karakol, to visit my boy Nursultan who was at Grandma's for the summer.

As a foreigner, all the kids were eager to show me around. The playground had a huuuge metal tripod thingy, sort of like a swingset but it was almost eight meters to the top. All these little kids, from maybe 4 to 8 years old, climbed up to the top and straddled the top post, then slid down the firemsn's post installed in the center. Hard pack ground underneath. Adults purposefully built this thing, for children to play on.

At first I was completely freaked out, and then it struck me... yeah, this is what childhood is supposed to be like, this is how I played around in the seventies.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, we used to spend hours - hours playing on the X-Box 360. I mean, I had a TV in my bedroom. We totally figured out how to download porn on it. When I wasn't on the X-Box, I was on my Nintendo DS. So sedentary. Guess what, I still haven't died of heart disease, I'm not obese, and I don't have carpal tunnel.

Actually, we spent a lot of time online, too. I had a huge network of friends I'd never met in person. We used to meet such cool people that way. Now parents are so afraid of cyber-bullying and child molesters, kids can't spend any time on social networks. I'm not sure how kids make friends these days.

I got my first car when I was 15. I used to drive everywhere in it! I never had any passengers, because all of my friends had cars too. I was such a bad driver, always on the phone, talking, texting. All the hours I spent on the road doing that crazy shit, I'm surprised I never wrapped my car around a concrete light pole.

I know people are talking about living next to freeways, with all that smog, but I used to live next to the harbor! Freighters, big rigs running on diesel, I'm surprised I don't have emphezyma!

And we were on so many drugs back then. ADHD, depression, anxiety. I started taking prescription meds when I was like 6. The doctors told my parents it would make me more well-adjusted. Better living through chemistry, amirite? In fact, my parents' medicine cabinet was so full of stuff - vicodin, oxycontin, pseudoephedrine, all sorts of stuff we used to experiment on until we were like having heart attacks! My parents used to keep Tylenol in the cabinet too! LOL!

I don't know how kids live today - so many safeguards. But I turned out just fine. Parents are just so paranoid. Whatever kids do these days, I wouldn't call it living.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]




When I was a kid, we used to spend hours - hours playing on the X-Box 360.

if you played 360 as a "kid" you are by definition still a kid. that thing is only four years old!
posted by caddis at 6:33 PM on July 6, 2009


caddis may have missed the point...
posted by Navelgazer at 6:35 PM on July 6, 2009


When I was five years old, I fell out of the front seat of a moving car onto a busy, six-lane major roadway and my mom didn't even notice until she was almost a mile down the road.

And yeah, I sat there in the middle of the road and waited. Because WTF MOM??!
posted by contessa at 6:35 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Though jabberjaw misses the point as well, because what we're lamenting here is the loss of kids taking risks, and everything he describes is modern-day kids either being complacent or else just acting negligently. Proof positive that we're looking at two very different things.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:36 PM on July 6, 2009


yes, that was an attempt at irony, and it failed me as I failed to read past the first paragraph
posted by caddis at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2009


How about hitting cars with snowballs and then having the slowest kid have the shit beaten out of him by the driver? Kids just don't know how to have fun nowadays.
posted by digsrus at 6:45 PM on July 6, 2009


When you throw snowballs at cars, don't hit cars being driven by people who threw snowballs at cars from that very spot a mere year or two before. They catch you in your escape route and you will eat some serious snow. When you get hit with a snowball, you of course go around the back side for your counter-attack. Time is your friend.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on July 6, 2009


Though jabberjaw misses the point as well, because what we're lamenting here is the loss of kids taking risks, and everything he describes is modern-day kids either being complacent or else just acting negligently.

Bullshit, if you think riding a bike without a helmet was "taking risks." Or walking deep into the forest, or playing with fireworks, or leaving your front door unlatched. I grew up in the same timeframe and did a lot of stupid shit, and my parents made a lot of dumb decisions when they raised me, and I survived. Broken limbs, near-abductions, second-hand smoke, biking through traffic without helments, playing with guns, bullets, knives, ninja stars, machetes, kerosene, gasoline, rock fights, king of the hill, fast food, tv dinners, riding along in the ice cream truck.

I just don't romanticize it.

It wasn't "taking risks." Risks involve some measure of calculation as to the dangers involved. None of us took risks. We just did dumb stuff because it was fun, or because there was nothing else to do, or because we didn't know any better. Sometimes it was complacency, and sometimes it was negligence. Which doesn't make it any less enjoyable or nostalgic.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:18 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Let's not forget Mr. Potato Head kids that came with real pointy body parts that you could stick in a real potato - or a sibling.
posted by adamg at 7:20 PM on July 6, 2009


We had Lawn Darts.
posted by ambient2 at 7:21 PM on July 6, 2009


Seems like a serious ripoff of Ebert's "Free range kids."
posted by cogneuro at 7:31 PM on July 6, 2009


I don't think it's a miracle I'm around but lucky.
The kid across the street from me fell into the creek, bumped his head and died in a few inches of water. The kid down the street died when friends pushed him across the lake in a grocery carriage and the ice cracked and he couldn't get out of the carriage.
Another kid up the street choked and died on a hot dog.
A pedophile tried to get me in my car when I walked home from school when I was 11 y.o. I ran the other way but wrote EVERYTHING down about him down do his brown pinstriped suit and license plate. He'd raped a few girls but they never had enough info. He pled guilty which was nice so I didn't have to go to court.
Hanging out after an under age dance my friends neighbor offered us a ride. He scared her off, kidnapped me and tied me to a tree before I got away. He's now a city cop.
My mom dropped me off at a pond with my ice skates on. Fell thru the ice and had to walk 2 miles home soaked to my shoulders in my stocking feet. Luckily I got out of the water since I was alone.
I wish someone had kept a little bit better track of me.
posted by beccaj at 7:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


He scared her off, kidnapped me and tied me to a tree before I got away. He's now a city cop.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:34 PM on July 6, 2009


Oh man, that reminds me of a favorite family story about how my older siblings and the neighborhood kids used to play this game where they'd put a crudely constructed dummy onto the 55 mph road at the top of our street. They had rigged it with ropes so that it looked like a human flailing in the middle of the road. Cars would slam on the brakes and hilarity would ensue as everyone disappeared into the woods, I guess.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:38 PM on July 6, 2009


GuyZero, I had tickets to see The Beatles in 1966, and a family friend invited me to go with them to Aspen Colorado in the off season (I'm from St. Louis MO); my mother said,
"The Beatles will be back--but you may never get another chance to go to Colorado." She was probably just trying to get rid of me for a while; I gave the tickets away.
But I did see all the other acts I mentioned plus a whole lot more.
posted by Restless Day at 8:01 PM on July 6, 2009


> It wasn't "taking risks." Risks involve some measure of calculation as to the dangers involved. None of us took risks.

QFT.

posted by Decimask at 8:10 PM on July 6, 2009


Oh man, that reminds me of a favorite family story about how my older siblings and the neighborhood kids used to play this game where they'd put a crudely constructed dummy onto the 55 mph road at the top of our street.

I had a friend who'd get me to do stuff like that with him, slower speed zones though. He'd also cover himself in ketchup and lie at the side of the road - then bail into the woods when someone stopped. I'd just tag along for the thrill of being chased. We would've been about twelve at the time, 1971-72 when Alice Cooper was all the rage -- the key point being, we were quite consciously trying to freak adults out as much as possible, and enjoying it immensely. It was just the thing to do.

Then came high school where he got heavily into marijuana and jazz music and we kind of lost touch. I hear he's an accountant now.
posted by philip-random at 8:12 PM on July 6, 2009


Fireworks wars. BB gun fights. Rock fights. Hell, just plain fights. Building explosives. Riding bikes in highly dangerous conditions, without any safety precautions.

If that stuff was so much fun, was so great for our development, was so amazing, then why don't we do it anymore?

Hell, we're adults. Nobody's stopping us. Why isn't there a bottle rocket fight scheduled for one of the upcoming meetups? Why don't we all get some rickety bikes, pile on, and head down a steep hill together at high speed into intersections? Let's all toboggan out onto the half-frozen lake, guys, how about it?

Kids don't understand the consequences of their actions. Adults do. It's our job to make sure kids learn about consequences while keeping them from killing themselves, or each other. Because plenty of kids died, plenty of kids had to live with disfigurement and permanent injury because of games just like this. Kids aren't immortal, they're not invulnerable, and they don't know it. And there's no virtue in letting them learn that the hard way.

Sure, you can go too far in trying to keep kids safe, and some people do, and it's sad. As a parent, you're always riding the line between overprotective and overly lenient, and the line can be pretty narrow at times.

The crazy and dangerous things that we did are burned into our memories not because they were the most fun, but because we think back on them often, amazed that we survived. And because we can't believe that we were ever quite that stupid. But we really, really were.
posted by MrVisible at 8:24 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Those golden years of childhood, it's a miracle we're are still around.
Some of us are not. I don't think anyone of my generation doesn't have a couple classmates who did NOT make it to the age of 18, or spent the rest of their lives in a wheelchair due to a horrendous accident 'just having fun'.


AFAIK, no one in my grade group died of misadventure. One kid a couple grades ahead did. This was in a high school ~1000 kids. Circa 1980s.

OTOH, my friend's daughter is 18 and has seen four friends die; three from stupidity involving drinking and driving, and one from leukaemia.

I suspect a lot more kids are dying these days than did a generation ago.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 PM on July 6, 2009


…and that's probably because way more kids have cars these days, and they're fucking idiots when it comes to drinking. We had plenty of alcoholics in my school, too, but they had the common sense to stay the night when bush-partying.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:48 PM on July 6, 2009


I suspect a lot more kids are dying these days than did a generation ago.

I think that is exactly wrong. According to this site which claims to get its data from the CDC accident rates for kids (5-14 or 15-24) fell almost by half between 1979 and 1995
posted by shothotbot at 8:54 PM on July 6, 2009


I hope so. I find it shocking that I've lost no friends, and she has lost four already. It might speak of her tendency to run with the wild crowd.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 PM on July 6, 2009


I'm from St. Louis MO

All I'm sayin' is that St Louis is Studio 54, CBGBs and the Viper Room all rolled into one compared to where I grew up. Of my childhood home I say often: "It's a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to visit there."
posted by GuyZero at 9:19 PM on July 6, 2009


I recall, that (even though she was lightening-quick) my Mom's arm didn't really work very well as a seatbelt.
posted by HyperBlue at 9:35 PM on July 6, 2009


I was born in 74, so I fit reasonably well into the child of the 80's category, and I can identify with the 70's list, too. But this item on the 80's list is completely foreign to me:

Conveyor belts regularly carried washing machines, deep-fat fryers and a cuddly toy.

Huh? What on earth? Are they talking about the pick up area of service merchandise? Someone please explain!
posted by necessitas at 10:15 PM on July 6, 2009


Is it just me, or have we now gone from "You're a bad parent because your kid is not protected and will die YOU MONSTER"? to "You're a bad parent because you worry too much about your kid not being safe and dying, thus CRUSHING HIS SOUL"?

Honestly, to both those who want to claim I'm a bad parent for letting my 3-year old son play in the yard semi-supervised and those who say I'm bad because I don't let him go to the woods alone with matches and kerosene: just stop. Parents are mostly doing the best they can to weigh risks and allow independence, and it's fucking hard. Especially stop if you don't have a kid, and thus have never awoken suddenly at night and listened to be sure he hasn't died from SIDS or accidentally swallowing a Lego.

There are innumerable ways for kids to get hurt and die; mostly they don't, these days, thanks to medicine and safer food. But you will never be so acutely aware of how thin the line is the day you see your infant son chewing away at something and reach over and pull a thumbtack out of his mouth...and you didn't even think you owned any thumbtacks.
posted by emjaybee at 10:18 PM on July 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


I just favorited emjaybee's comment above, but wanted to expand on that.

I agree because it IS such a fine line. The comment about thumbtacks is what prompted me to type all this. I've actually had that happen! I still have no idea where the kid found the thumbtack!

At my work, especially in the summer, I see a bunch of upcoming college freshman and often their helicopter parents. In my view, I figure if a kid is starting college, well then they better have learned how to fly a little already and not still be getting forcefed semi-chewed pap in the nest. By the time I started college, my folks insisted that I have both a savings and a checking account and I'd better be at least mostly aware of how to use them. I'd had to earn money to put into both accounts. This is in addition to have earned a full scholarship to the college I attended.

I'd also learned how to mix decent cocktails when I was young, but volunteered to be the designated driver for the high school drinking parties (aka pukefests), with my parents' knowledge and permission to use my mom's car. I could have had a beer or other alcohol at home pretty much anytime, so there was no big mystery. Sometimes I'd have one or two, but didn't like feeling that out of sorts around my parents.

Prior to that, yeah, I spent a lot of time outdoors, in the woods, on my bicycle across town, etc. However, if the streetlight in front of my parents driveway was on, I'd better be home within 10 minutes or have a good reason why I wasn't.

On the other hand, I'm glad about the age limits on purchasing alcohol and especially tobacco products now. Otherwise, I have a neighbor who'd never leave her house and would send her kids to the store constantly because she's so damned lazy.

I've had my kids get as hurt as badly on their scooters as they have on their bikes. The worst injuries I've treated at home have been from running the wrong way up a slide and having a chin split open (my son will likely have some shaving challenges in his future) and from whacking a forehead on a pointy table corner. Both were treated with careful cleaning, butterfly bandages, antibiotic ointment, and a bandaid over the top. The only times we've had to go to the ER (rarely) or the family doc were usual stuff like ear infections, strep throat, etc. Or goofy stuff like a cuticle getting super infected from over biting (spread to the hand with red streaks, now that was scary) or bad poison ivy in a tender area. I hope that if something like a broken bone occurs, I handle it well and in stride.

Now, my kids are 11 and 12. They know how to open child-safe medicines. And I teach them how to use them. I also teach them how to manage money, cook a meal, clean and dress a minor wound, wash clothes, etc. You know, common sense stuff. Things like READING AND FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS on the bottle, recipe, or whatever. I want them to be mostly self-sufficient by the time they leave my nest. Otherwise, I feel like I failed my parenting job.

With the incoming freshmen I see, it doesn't seem like they've been taught these basic life skills, and I feel like these kids are gonna have a hard wakeup call eventually.
posted by lilywing13 at 11:15 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


My mum took Thalidomide when she was pregnant with me. I got away with it.
posted by marvin at 12:35 AM on July 7, 2009


I grew up with parents who moved out to the countryside specifically so that they could control what my brother and I got up to. Luckily for brother and I, both of them worked, and the lady our parents chose to watch us was absolutely wonderful. She'd lie about how well-behaved and quiet my brother and I were; how we never got up to any mischief; how we stayed in or near her house as our parents demanded... Along with her two sons, who were my brother's and my age respectively, we got up to the following:
- tied a rope to the center roof beam of their A-frame three-storey barn, which had no front wall, and swung on it out into the open air. We tied it near the open front on purpose, see.
- played matador with a neighbor's bull and my hot pink coat. The bull charged and eventually ran down the fence, then roughed up a few lawns (luckily after we'd left and not while we were still waving my coat at it)
- rode our Hot Wheels (remember those?) as fast as we could down my family's super-steep, mile-long driveway -- being a driveway, it of course ended in a road...
- did the same thing with sleds when it would snow
- swung as high as we could on our elementary school's 15-foot swings (gawd those things were awesome) and jumped out. "High as we could" generally meant on a level with that top bar at 15 feet. This is one reason I love flying -- the sweet sensation of terror ("will I break my legs?!") mixed with the sheer bliss of being mid-air... ahhh. Other kids managed to go all the way around that top bar, getting up enough momentum to go upside down and around. Teachers were pretty perplexed at seeing the swings wound up like that when school got back in session. (Our nearby elementary school's playground wasn't fenced off; we did this sort of thing on weekends and in the summer.)
- jumped off precipitous rocks into local rivers and lakes. We always checked the dive spot beforehand to make sure it was deep enough, and wouldn't do this if it were too shallow or the deep part too narrow.
- waxed our elementary school's steel slide, straddled the top bars for extra height, jumped from them onto the slide to go so fast we literally burned our butts (well, our thighs near that area, anyway) and flew off the end, giggling like mad, of course.

My parents were also big on wilderness camping. One of their haunts happened to be used by the US Army for training, which we didn't know until seeing camouflaged Hummers and tents. Imagine my brother's and my delight when one evening, a Huey landed by the lake a few yards from our campsite. We ran up to it; the two pilots were more than happy to show us around and take us for a ride. My brother was so inspired by that experience that these twenty-odd years later, he's a flight mechanic who specializes in helicopters.
posted by fraula at 5:24 AM on July 7, 2009


Conveyor belts regularly carried washing machines, deep-fat fryers and a cuddly toy.


Huh? What on earth? Are they talking about the pick up area of service merchandise? Someone please explain!


There was a game show called the Generation Game in the UK that had a memory segment where items were rolled past on a conveyor belt and the participant would win each thing that they could remember. I was always amazed that people would forget the cuddly toy (there was always at least one and it was always described as such) because who wants a deep fat fryer when you could have a purple stuffed hippo?
posted by Sparx at 5:30 AM on July 7, 2009


My Go to historical anecdote about this sort of thing is some comment made in the early 1700s that drinking coffee and tea was making Our Children weak and effeminate and they should return to the traditional, manly breakfast of beer and milk.
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 AM on July 7, 2009


People in the sixties, seventies and eighties were harried by irrational fears as well. They were simply fears of a different stripe:

...
-Old age, particularly for women. Due to industrial accidents and premature death, many women were left widows and bereaved at a young age. Also, spinsterhood was prevalent and frowned upon. Old people were seen as lonely, physically weak and financially destitute.


That wasn't due to accidents - that was the more likely the effect of WWI and WWII. The deaths of so many young men in both wars meant that there were simply more women than men. In Europe, this was especially true of WWI, as fewer civilians died in that war; for the US, WWII would have had a greater influence on the sex inbalance. The young women of WWI would have been seventy to eighty in 1970, and the young women of WWI would have been fifty to sixty - and so many of them of both generations would have lost not just brothers, but also partners and future partners, only to be left alone for the rest of their lives. It's one of the ways that wars continue long after the shooting has finished.

As much as Vietnam had a serious cultural impact, it's demographic impact just wasn't the same as that of the world wars.
posted by jb at 6:42 AM on July 7, 2009


- jumped off precipitous rocks into local rivers and lakes. We always checked the dive spot beforehand to make sure it was deep enough, and wouldn't do this if it were too shallow or the deep part too narrow.

Alas, kids around my area are not that careful. We have a death every year or two by cliff-diving. I find it unfathomable: in a small town like this, everyone is aware that so-and-so died the other year by smashing into the shallows. Everyone who likes to cliff dive knows where it is safe. And yet some damn fool inevitably ignores history and jumps to his death.

But I suppose it's really not much different than the kids who drink-drive. Everyone knows of some kid who died because s/he was drunk behind the wheel. And yet there is always some idiot who threatens the lives of everyone around him/her by driving drunk, and always someone who piles it into a cliff face, or flies off a cliff, or drives into the lake, or smashes into a semi-trailer, or wipes out a family on vacation.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:15 AM on July 7, 2009


I was born in 1982, so suck it, Conservatives!
posted by mippy at 8:32 AM on July 7, 2009


Huh? What on earth? Are they talking about the pick up area of service merchandise?Someone please explain!

Service Merchandise was actually a catalog storefront:
Service Merchandise was well-known for its unusual ordering process which emphasized the catalog, even within the showrooms ... When ready to place their orders, customers would take the tablet to a clerk who would act as a cashier and submit the order to the store's stockroom ... The customer would then move to the "Merchandise Pickup Area", where the order would emerge from the stockroom on a conveyor belt.
Also look up the concept of "layaway".
posted by jabberjaw at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2009


Hey! That sounds just like Consumers Distributing! What a Soviet name for a store, sheesh.
posted by GuyZero at 9:30 AM on July 7, 2009


If that stuff was so much fun, was so great for our development, was so amazing, then why don't we do it anymore? and The crazy and dangerous things that we did are burned into our memories not because they were the most fun

Speak for yourself. Inadvisable, Darwin-tempting adventure every now and then is one of the best things life has to offer. As Redd Foxx once said, "Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing."

Safety taken too far is a prison where souls die. Danger taken too far is where bodies die. Better the body than the soul, I say.
posted by chambers at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the answer sparx. Never heard of the generation game!
posted by necessitas at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2009


...where the order would emerge from the stockroom on a conveyor belt.

There were other stores with a similar M.O. -- such as Lechmere, Inc. in East Cambridge, MA.
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on July 7, 2009


WOOO TIME FOR MORE BOOMER BACKPATTING
posted by tehloki at 4:06 AM on July 8, 2009


If that stuff was so much fun, was so great for our development, was so amazing, then why don't we do it anymore?

I was in a roman candle fight last Halloween.


I'm 32.
posted by electroboy at 9:10 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


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