By Steve Graf
I remember as a kid how we played outside until the streetlights came on. We all cried when our moms called our names to come inside. It was a time when you ran or rode your bike behind the mosquito fog truck, breathing in all sorts of chemicals! Times were much simpler back in the early 60’s and 70’s and no one locked their doors at night. People slept with their windows open, so the cool nighttime breeze flowed throughout the entire house. Political division was not as prevalent as it is today. If someone had a difference of opinion, you just listened and went about your business. We did not have social media outlets to get online and criticize what they had said. Today I’ll jog your memory as we go back to a time when right was right and wrong was wrong, and people had morals and respected each other.
I remember when your bike was your main form of transportation, and we rode all over town looking for a backstop (sandlot) to get a game of baseball or football going. Parents of this generation did not have to worry about where their kids were. We were mature enough to know the difference between stupid and doing something a little risky. We played baseball games on our own and used ghost runners when you did not have enough players for a full team. If guys disagreed on whether you were out or safe, you worked it out. But every once in a while, it came to blows, only lasting a few punches or until your buddies dragged you off each other. Then, the game would resume as if nothing ever happened. Good times!
I remember playing ball all day, only taking a break to eat something. We would walk to a black berry patch or a fruit tree like a plum, apple, fig or even a pear tree in order to get our nutrition. We didn’t have protein bars or a Subway sandwich store near us…and didn’t need one. We did have a donut shop fairly close that had an ICEE machine, which was a great way to hydrate in the East Texas heat. Nothing better than donut holes and a large coke/strawberry ICEE! I remember sitting under a shade tree with our awesome snack and hearing Little Johnny jokes from the neighborhood renegade (bad boy). It was through these jokes that I got my sex education…some or most Little Johnny jokes were not very clean. But to us, it was a form of dirty language we kept a secret among ourselves.
I remember when I would go fishing or maybe squirrel hunting by myself at the age of 10 with a 20-gauge shotgun. My childhood was awesome, and I still treasure those memories. Today, I feel sorry for kids that they never got to have the freedoms our generation enjoyed in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s sad, but today’s kids are sheltered and protected due to the world we live in. So, it’s up to the older generation of today to make sure we get these kids outside and expose them to the great outdoors in order to keep the passion and traditions alive that we associate with any and all outdoor activities.
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