Thankful Thursday X – 70s Boy!

This Thankful Thursday, I’m thankful for my age. Well, not exactly for being in my 50s… although there’s a certain clarity of mind that perhaps was absent in younger me, there also is an increasing creakiness and aching of the knees and back to remind me I’m not all that young anymore. Not to mention the unfortunate but inevitable shrinking of the family ranks that I spoke of last week. But what I am thankful for is growing up in the 1970s.

It occurs to me because this week, two older guys talked about growing up when they did, and the kids today. Fellow blogger Phil talked of how wild it was in the ’60s. I bet. Everything changing and living with the constant threat of being drafted and sent over to a distant continent to fight a jungle war for who knows what end. Likewise, my brother-in-law of about that same age was talking of what was wrong with the kids today. I couldn’t help but agree with much of what he was saying. Too many of today’s kids are sheltered and afraid, destined to seemingly be big-bodied children even as their hair turns gray. It was different for me, and I think most of us born in the tail end of the ’60s, growing up in the ’70s and early-’80s.

I used to think my parents were overly protective when I was young. Compared to many, they probably were. But I count myself lucky I’m not one of the “bubblewrap kids” that have been raised in the past couple of decades. When I was a kid, if the weather was good, a Saturday or a day during the summer holiday meant getting out. Seeing my friends. Riding bikes came about as naturally to all of us as walking or knowing the lyrics to “More than a Feeling.” We’d get together, ride around, shoot the breeze. Maybe go to the plaza and get some pop. Maybe ride to the lake, three or four miles distant. When I got to be about ten or eleven, a couple of friends built a rough little treehouse down in the creek ravine near us. We’d climb up, sit there looking down on the town from all of about seven feet up, gossip and laugh and maybe get into a few youthful hijinx. Gawking at a copy of Playboy someone managed to sneak away from a dad or older brother was about the most daring of those. Or smoking a cigarette similarly obtained. I was much more into the pictures than the smoking I must admit. Or maybe we’d just go to the park behind my house and kick around the soccer ball. Play on the fort. Ah yes, the fort. If there was a clear description of the difference between generations, that was it.

The “fort” was a big wooden play structure the town had built in the park which sat between two halves of a subdivision, directly down from a public school. (Oh yes… we all walked or cycled to school ourselves too. Any parent would have laughed in our face, if we were lucky, if we’d asked them to drive us three blocks. We got our exercise even if it wasn’t a “gym” day.) Anyway, the structure had three wooden turrets for lack of a better word, connected by elevated walkways, one of them a swinging one. There were ladders leading up, tire swings hanging,some sort of rope ladder up one side, a slide down from the tallest one, to the giant sandy area below. It was lots of fun. Running around it, climbing, maybe jumping off the walkway all the three feet to the ground. Burning off energy, inventing silly games. We had fun and kept busy.

You probably guessed, that fort is now ancient history. A good two decades back the town tore it down. They had seemingly had complaints galore from a new breed of parent who fretted and were worried of a million-dollar lawsuit should any kid burn their behind sliding down a hot metal slide in summer in shorts or twist an ankle jumping off it. Besides the kids probably had little interest in it. Now they had the internet to keep them entertained and meet people presumably far more interesting than their peers from around the neighborhood.

Sure at times I fell off my bike and scuffed up my knee. I took it as a life lesson, a little tip on how not to take a corner too fast or ride across loose gravel. My parents, if they even noticed would tell me to wash it, put a bandage on it and be more careful next time. They didn’t see it as a chance to sue the city or bicycle company for a king’s ransom nor as a reason to keep me from ever going outside the confines of our yard again. I turned out fine.

At least I think so. I think at least I turned out better than kids born 30 years later who’ve never traveled more than a block from their home without being driven and whose only recreational activity involves a video game console will be when they reach their 50s. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thankful theirs wasn’t my childhood.

24 Replies to “Thankful Thursday X – 70s Boy!”

  1. I know exactly what you mean, Dave. I was born at the end of the 50s so the 60s is when I grew up and “go outside and play” was one of my mom’s favorite sayings. I explored every inch of my neighborhood and went some places I probably shouldn’t have, but I survived. At grandparents house where I spend a LOT of time there were always cousins over and we explored the marsh nearby, walked up the hill to the tire swing and spun like crazy. We rode our bikes everywhere and the elementary school was 5 blocks away and the middle school was 3 miles away. No nobody ever gave us rides and it didn’t hurt us no matter how cold it got in wintertime with no boots. My kids, born in the 80’s, have had it cushy in comparison. They started playing video games young as Nintendo was just coming out, but thank god there were no electronic devices like computers and cell phones. I feel genuinely bad about how the young people of today are growing up. With my new grandbaby, my prayer is they don’t let her near a phone and they don’t spend a lot of time on their phones around the baby.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree… just cannot be healthy for kids to spend so much time on smart phones. It must also make the job of being a teacher even more of a nightmare these days.
      I always walked to school (or cycled in good weather)… lived only about 5 doors away from elementary school but the Junior high was close to a mile away and high school was at least that… it was a drag if it was bad weather, but most of the time I’d go with friends along the way and going to and from was quite good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the electronics rewire neuronal pathways and not in a good way. It also affects attention span, so almost impossible for teachers to hold kids’ attentions. The battle of the cell phones, both in the classroom and at home, is something I saw frequently in my juvenile probation job. So many negatives ripple out from them. They are a dark presence! Sorry if I’m sound melodramatic but I’m not exaggerating!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. that with the social media isn’t doing anything good for the generation. And attention span… wha’ts that? A memory of distant decades now unfortunately

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lisa…I’ve seen Bailey and his friends inside with us and they would actually text one another! I shamed them of course but I agree with you. They would not know how to function without a electronic device and it does/has affected them.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. What irritates me is when I’m out somewhere with my friends and loved ones and they are staring at their phones and halfway paying attention to the conversation. It’s insulting to me, but it’s become the standard 😦

        Liked by 2 people

      5. It’s a given thing now. I have to admit I was bad doing that because of work…and then Jen put her foot down on Bailey and I…then I realized…hell I’m as bad as a kid. We put our phones away at a restaurant now.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. a good place to start ! In town the Magnolia Restaurant (the ‘Fixer Upper’ couple’s) have like, fabric pockets on the chairs and benches and they want people to put their phones into them while they eat so they can actually interact and talk . I’ve not been in to see how many people take that advice though.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m beginning to wonder if in 5 years anyone I know besides myself will have a clue how to go to Wikipedia let alone open a book to find anything out rather than just yelling at some stupid electronic device . We have two of those things in this house, I hate them, and people do less and less themselves. Not to mention we have at times “crossover” if you will, someone’s “talking” to Alexa in one room and Google thingy is trying to answer and probably turning off lights randomly in the other.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. LOL…yea we have Alexa and Jen is trying to say something in it while I would be talking and it gets all confused. I like messing with it…I’ll say hey Alexa marry me. It does have an answer.

        I agree though…the internet was not enough…we need more.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I do think those Alexa type devices are going to be the next big potential target for hackers… they keep coming up as security threats when I run a virus scan on my computer (though it would seem like there’s no connection , but I guess using same Wifi, there is).
        I actually bought a World Almanac last week…used to buy them regularly as a teen or young man. Now, I imagine every bit of info in its 1000-ish pages is online somewhere, but I quite like having it in one compact book AND I find myself with a few minutes to spare, browsing through it, finding interesting stuff I wouldn’t necessarily have ever thought of searching for – San Bernadino has the most bad air quality days of any city in the country, for instance. Found that one yesterday…

        Liked by 1 person

      10. There are many people who simply will not buy one because of the invasion of privacy. Someone could get in and see if anyone was home etc.

        I still love books and that one would be fun to have. I’ve had a few in my life…bits of knowledge you would never know.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a cool bike in your picture! Anyway I love the post Dave. We got out and explored and that helped get us ready for life…both good things and bad.
    We learned first hand…if a stove (or slide) is hot…don’t touch! Sounds simple but when you learn things a natural way you will remember it much more than your parents telling you the same thing.

    I’m all for protecting my son but in a lot of things…I knew he was making a mistake and it’s my duty and I would tell him…but I would say do what you want…most of the time yes…it would go sideways and he would learn. 9/10 it stuck with him after that.

    We grew up in a fun more innocent time. We developed a trust with our parents about where we were. It’s not like they could just call us on our cell…most of the times we honored that trust…if we didn’t guess what? Lesson time. Now parents have to be on top of their kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. And dare I say “better” time to be a kid. Of course, it’s a big topic and I didn’t get into the media and its role…people today are so paranoid because of sensationalized news, amber alerts and so on…. now, amber alerts for the RARE cases where a small child is abducted are good, no question. But so many are teenagers who’ve voluntarily taken off, or are with one parent in a custody dispute. But it all leads a lot to think “if I let little Jimmy walk to his friend’s three houses away there’s a strong likelihood some pervert will see him and kidnap him! It happens all the time!”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes…and there were perverts in our day also and probably more out and about…but neighborhoods looked out for one another…today no one talks to neighbors as much or knows each other.

        My friends and I would go miles away from home…I never felt threatened…we did things we shouldn’t have but I learned lessons.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep, true on both… it seems like most people I know older than me have some sort of story, at least second hand if not first, of some sex predator relative or neighbor that everyone knew of back in the good ol’ “Lucy days”. It just didn’t attract a lot of media attention so somehow the threat wasn’t seen as there. You’re right about the neighbors though… I think I could still draw a map of the street I grew up on til my parents split up, and write on the family names of over half the houses. And that was over 30 years back. Not many moved and everyone did seem to know each other. Not like that now in most places

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yea the media wasn’t anything back then unless you were a serial killer or a star. Now the whole world lives in the Truman Show.

        That part about the neighborhoods is sadly missed today.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. true. Even in the 90s, I lived most of decade in a 3-storey apartment, about 20 units. There was always turnover but about half of us stayed for years and knew each other to some degree, would time to time go over to a neighbor’s to have a beer or watch a ballgame, or run into someone in the laundry room and spend the whole time chatting with them while the clothes washed. Don’t think that happens so much anymore in most places

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The only reason we don’t… that I can think of is social media and we want to get back to it? I don’t know…nothing replaces just talking to someone.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Ps- it is a neat looking bike, right? It’s a stock image but it’s somewhat similar to the first one I had when I was about 6. Later I moved up to a small 10-speed racer.

      Liked by 1 person

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