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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Lost Innocence

A Lost Innocence

If you are in this age group, do you remember a time when you were of middle school age, and you were allowed to go to the movies with a friend of similar age?  Because those were the days of innocence; most small towns didn’t have any bad history to make judgments by.  The years of my youth were so different from the days of my children’s’ youth, and they are ever changing for the worst.

I grew up with a limited environment, but I had more freedom of movement than today’s youth, who have the world in the palm of their hands (internet, cell phones etc.).  My neighborhood buddies and I used to play outdoors every day until it got dark.  Some of us had parents that were stricter than others.  You could tell who had the stricter parents, they were the ones that excused themselves from the game, and admitted that they were expected at home.  No one made fun of them, or tried to talk them into staying longer.  We were just happy that our parents allowed us to stay out a little longer.

My understanding with my mother was that I would head home as soon as it got dark, she assigned me an area where I could play in (she wanted to know where she would go looking for me if she had to).  I was only given one warning, if she had to come looking for me, I would be grounded from playtime the next day.  The funny thing is that I don’t recall any perverts hanging around the neighborhood, or any person that would cause us concern.  I always expected to meet with my friends, and always did.  Not one kid turned up missing or beat up, chased or otherwise imposed on. I never questioned that life should be exactly like that forever.

The neighbors looked out for each other’s kids, and God forbid that we were seen misbehaving, or had a letter/note sent home from school, because the time of reckoning was waiting at home.  My mother swatted me a time or two (okay, I can count in one hand how many times I got swatted), but it never hurt me physically (just emotionally).  It would break my heart that my mother would be so disappointed in me that she felt compelled to swat me.  As children, some of us were more daring than others, we all had one thing in common, we all obeyed and some feared our parents.

Some of our favorite games, tag, hide-n-seek, kick the can, marbles on Saturdays we played cowboys and Native Americans (politically correct).  I was the one with the most weapons.  I had enough six-shooters, and rifles to supply the whole neighborhood (kids) for a fun day of playing.  Because I owned most of the weapons I was always the good guy, never got killed (I could only get wounded if they had me dead to rights).  My favorite character was either Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or my all-time favorite The Lone Ranger.  Even with all the fancy and expensive video games, today’s youth couldn’t compete with the levels of fun that we had growing up.

On a very hot and humid evening we would cool off by sitting around on the curve of our neighborhood streets, and tell the scariest ghost stories we could come up with.  One night the ghosts turned the tables on us.  I tell that story in the book I am writing (working title; East Lincoln), my next post will relate that very scary happening. 
Whenever I hear my children or their friends talk about the good all days when they had no worries, and all they did was sleep, eat, and play, I think back to my youth.  I feel that I was better off because my days of innocence lasted into my late teens.  Today’s children have to be on constant vigilance, because of the monsters that lurk around every corner, at public places including schools and libraries.  Let’s all remain strong, and determined that good will prevail over evil, in whatever form in comes.  The best is yet to come….

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