A child of the 60s

Published 12:06 am Sunday, June 10, 2007

I am a product of the 60s. Gasp. I’m still alive and I’m healthy. That is such a remarkable thing because listening to news stories, or recalls, or even doctors it’s a wonder that children reached the ripe old age of 10 or saw the turn of the decade.

When I grew up, there weren’t car seats for babies. Dad devised this nifty bed with hooks that set over the back of the front seat and we’d lay there within easy reach of mom’s loving hands. There were no seat belts, or air conditioners, for that matter. We drove with the windows down and our hair blowing in the hot breeze. Our hands would brace against the wind and, surprisingly, nothing came along and knocked off our hands.

We drank Kool-aid with real sugar. Ate cookies and popcorn but it was okay because we burned up all those calories playing outside, or doing our chores. We rode our bikes and played games that involved forts, and Indians, and cowboys, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. We held off armies with sticks, and believe it or not we didn’t put our eyes out.

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Shoes came off the last day of school and except for shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday, our feet didn’t see a shoe all summer. Flip-flops and sandals kept the heat off the soles just fine.

When we got a little older, our games involved dress-up with old clothes gathered from our moms. We’d let down the attic stairs and pretend we were Miss America.

If there was just one Coke in the refrigerator, we passed it around so everyone would get a swig. And then, we’d turn on the hose and satisfy our thirst that way. Of course, everyone would get wet, it was part of the fun. Nobody heard of cold water mold, and we kids didn’t care about bacteria.

When it rained, we’d play in the water rushing down the ditches, never thinking there might be a broken bottle in them or a rusty can, because folks didn’t toss trash out into other people’s yards back then.

I climbed trees and hauled my books up into the tree with a plastic bucket. Then I’d spend the afternoon reading where the cool breezes blew. We didn’t have cable, or DVDs or even video tapes. We didn’t have anything but a black and white TV and an AM radio.

When we wanted to see a friend, we rode our bikes or walked. When we got there we usually just walked it because no one kept their doors locked.

Holidays were such fun. Both sides had huge families so when we’d all get together the kids were shooed outside to play and the grown-ups would visit: women in the kitchen and men on the porch or in the big room. The TV never came on. It was conversation that was the diversion and family news was exciting.

Holidays were all about sitting on the porch listening to the brothers talk about the funny things they did when they were kids. And hiding behind the rocking chair listening to the women talk about all kinds of things. It was all about the yummy things my Aunt Marian, Aunt Ollie Bell, Aunt Alease, Aunt Lou Ann, and Mom conjured up in the kitchen and the aromas that reached the backyard barn drawing us kids from everywhere.

But it was okay, because there weren’t any X-boxes or computer games, or Walkman’s to make a child’s activity cease burning up those calories.

We walked to the store to get ice cream, we had to rake the mowed grass and leaves to earn an allowance. We tasted the dog food because the dog liked it so much, it had to be good. My sister put rocks in her mouth, and let lizards hang from her ear lobes. She’s still alive and healthy…it’s a wonder.