Monday, July 6, 2009

Hey! I'm on MSNBC!

Some weeks back, I got word that a reporter was looking for input from people who grew up in the 40s and 50s and lived to tell about it. You know, back in those BAD old days, before any of us knew the dangers of suntans, red meat, bicycles, cigarettes, hairspray, hard candy, and such. By all rights, we Boomers should be dead, according to today's health and safety standards. But I feel pretty good myself; how about you? I frankly think my childhood was a lot more fun than what kids today experience, so I wrote the reporter and shared some of my thoughts on that. Lo and behold, he used my comments! Who'da thought it? As it turns out, he didn't do much reporting (doesn't even use a byline; what writer lets that opportunity fall by the wayside?!); he just printed some of the responses he got. But, hey, I'll take my fifteen seconds of fame from whencever they come.

Mostly, I thought it would be fun to use this as a prompt for YOUR memories of "dangerous" living during your childhood days. I've heard my big sister talk about foot x-rays (that was before my time) and I loved my mother's tales of driving the family car to school when she was nine. (Nine?!) One of my own favorite activities--which is totally banned these days--was walking barefoot around town in the summer; it felt sooooo good to go from that hot sidewalk on Main Street onto the cool linoleum of Ben Franklin's Five and Dime or the smooth hardwood floors of my Daddy's Western Auto.

I'm as cautious as the next person, but I think sometimes we get carried away with all these rules and regulations, and I have to say, I think the motivation for all the hoopla is more often about profit than public safety. Several years back I read Myrna Blyth's fascinating book, Spin Sisters, which shares in great detail how the media--women's magazines, in particular--thrive on alarmist stories targeted at "power moms"--those of us who are 25-54 with at least one child at home. Blyth should know; she was editor of Ladies' Home Journal for years, and helped give birth to one of my favorite magazines, More. She readily confesses that she was as guilty as the rest in making us moms second guess our belief that our homes and families are safe. Blyth's need to come clean (or, perhaps, just her need to sell a book, but that's okay) resulted in a mesmerizing examination of how media preys on our insecurities and need for approval. If you haven't read Spin Sisters, go find a copy. It's well worth buying, and certainly deserving of a trip to the library.

In the meantime, I invite you to confess all the horrors your mother may have unwittingly exposed you to in your youth, and the appalling risks you may have taken. Roller skating with no kneepads? For shame! B-B guns? The very idea! Truly, it's a wonder any of us survived to have children of our own.

Here's the MSNBC article. Hope it brings back some happy memories; scroll down seven paragraphs and one ad: .


Nancy said...

Yes, we survived all that healthy parental neglect. At a school in-service, our presenter talked about the different generations (trying to help us understand those "millennials" in our classes). She pointed out that we Boomers were turned out of the house with a warning to "be careful and be home at dark in time for supper." I think my mama always said, "Be nice." She still does.

We trick-or-treated so far from home--without parents driving slowly behind us in the car--that we often had no idea where we were when we decided to head back. Instead of slipping us arsenic-laced candy or razor-blade-studded apples, the people we asked just gave us directions home.

We rode not only without seat belts but sometimes in the "way back" of the station wagon--or up there in the back window where one usually sees the little dogs whose heads bob up and down. That was considered a real treat.

We baited our own hooks when we fished, and we cleaned the gravel out of our own knees when we crashed our bikes.

My parents let me leave home for college when I was sixteen, and they never had any idea what courses I took. I don't know that I even discussed my major with them. I went without a major credit card. When they wrote me (real letters--on paper with stamps and everything)they sometimes sent a five dollar bill.

Some have speculated that we became helicopter parents or snow plow parents, watching our kids so carefully because WE KNEW what we got into without our parents slightest awareness. Fortunately,
we lived to tell

Joan Ellen Gage said...

We had blue popsicles that had that blue dye that is now banned. How about candy cigarettes? My cousins had those; Mom was really mad when she saw them in our mouth. The same cousins had wax lips and mustaches that were edible and tiny chocolate bottles with liquor in them!

We had cars without seat belts; oh my!

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer said...

Now THERE'S a memory: candy cigarettes! I was quite fond of those. Wax lips, too! And I grew up to neither smoke nor solicit; amazing!

Susan said...

Yep, I remember the candy cigarettes. I also just got photos from our senior prom night the other day on facebook and was BLOWN away that the parents were throwing COCKTAIL parties before the prom. This means there was a WHOLE bunch of drinking and driving. Scary.


Bella said...

Hi, I just found your blog and enjoyed reading about your life. I signed up to follow your posts too! I'm a South Carolinian in Greenwood/Abbeville area and hope you stop by to visit my little blog in the blogosphere. I love to read books. It's nice to meet another SC'ian who likes the same. Blessings, Roz (bella)