i’m not talkin’ ’bout movin’ in


I heard on the news today that Texas was in the last stages of outlawing every high diving board in the state. Now this may not seem like a big deal given what else is going on, but there are two very disturbing trends here. First, Texas used to be the most libertarian, devil-may-care state in the country, a group of people that would rather eat their own arm off than be held captive to a bunch of laws they didn’t like. It was this Texas of the 1970s and 80s that could be counted on to make semi-rational decisions, but it looks like they, too, have fallen lockstep with the zeitgeist.

The other disturbing thing is this: as NPR reported today, kids are going back to summer camp with almost all of the activities we loved – archery, diving, hiking, etc. – truncated to the point of Absolutely No Fun. Swimming pool owners are refusing to pay the liability costs associated with high diving boards, and thus the “can opener,” “jacknife,” “cannonball,” and “Fat Larry’s Ass-Out Revenge” will become great dives of the past.

Maybe this is the one area I will cross over with Republicans, but the litigation surrounding accidents, especially those that were done in the name of Fun™, has neutered the fuck out of being a kid. Before I had comments on the blog, I bemoaned the same phenomenon on the side of a milk carton, but now that I’ve had a kid, I’m even more adamant. Lucy must have adventure.

She must stand on the top of a high diving board, and contemplate her jump. She should hoist herself off a moving swing and scrape up her knees. She should climb to the top of a tree and have a brief existential moment, before she can pronounce “existential.”

The human animal, especially the young human animal, sees Denial as a virus and works to thwart it. If there’s anything thirty-nine years of anecdotal evidence and years of psychology study has taught me, it’s that we all need to get our ya-yas out at some point. Denying this will always lead to trouble: in small towns in Iowa, it means playing chicken on the freeway and killing your friends; in your thirties it means cheating on your wife and alienating your kids.

Since ya-ya’s must be gotten out, why not get them out at a young age when you are still relatively pliable and thirsting for adventure anyway? I swear, Americans (including myself) are always afraid of the wrong things. We grossly underestimate obvious threats (smoking, obesity, motorcycles) and overestimate things that are relatively safe (high diving boards).

Kids died in the 1970s, not from high diving boards, but from parental ennui. There was no adult by the pool telling their sons and daughters to wait 15 seconds before the next dive. Texas thinks it can get rid of this problem by making high diving boards illegal, but all they’re doing is displacing their kids’ thrills to somewhere much less safe.

I keep several sets of Jarts© around, both here in LA and in New York, not because I think Jarts is the greatest game of all time, but because it serves as a reminder that in childhood there necessarily must be some perceived danger. Nobody ever died from a Jart, but the urban legend makes it powerful. I keep it around as a trick, so that maybe my kid can feel exhilarated by the unknown so that later, she doesn’t feel compelled by the truly dangerous.

Will it work? Can we combine the fun of the 1970s with the mindful surveillance of this millennium? The uncharted wilderness of your children’s imagination is far past the jurisdiction of stupid laws, so maybe I’ll construct my own high diving board and see if Lucy ever wants to climb.

0 thoughts on “i’m not talkin’ ’bout movin’ in

  1. Chris M

    I agree with every single word. Boys and girls need to have fun that means the risk of putting an eye out or breaking a neck. I read somewhere that one reason that parents today take fewer risks with their kids is they only have one or two. Back when you had five or six kids you could afford to lose one here or there. Plus you didn’t have time to keep such a close eye on so many kids, what with the key parties and all.

  2. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    I LOVE your post today! Your post hit a nerve for me because:
    1. I am 38 years old and I have to date never gotten my ya yas out. Never. Not once. In childhood, I was too nerdy and shy. In adolescent, I was too serious. In young adulthood, I was too depressed. Now, I am too busy and tired. When I finally do get my ya yas out, it will probably be such an explosion of repressed urges that it will make national headlines. Hopefully NOT in a Mary Kay LaTournieu or crazy postal worker way. . . .
    2. Yesterday, Helen wanted to ride a Razor Scooter that she received for her 7th birthday last week. I have been stalling, worried that the razor scooter is too “dangerous”, complaining to my husband that the gift-giver did not get “clearance” from me for such a dangerous gift, blah blah blah. I finally decided to allow her to ride it. With a bike helmet on. In our cul de sac only. With me out there, watching for cars. The poor kid is such a good sport. She was just grateful that I allowed her to ride it. .. . she is nearly as tall as me now, and she looked semi-ridiculous with this bike helmet propped on her head. She rode that Razor like a pro! As Helen zoomed with grace and confidence around the road, I made a mental note that I try my hardest NOT to take all the fun out of her childhood.
    What is it about our generation that is so worried all the time???? We all survived without bike helmets, car seats, booster seats, peanut-free school cafeterias, signed liability waivers at birthday parties. . . WTF has happened to us???

  3. Bozoette Mary

    I was a kid in the 50s and 60s — played in the woods, walked to the pool, swung high on swingsets, climbed trees. But there were also limits — my dad cut down the thorn bush because my brother got a thorn stuck in his eyeball. I couldn’t ride my bike on the street because my older brother got run down and killed by a drunk driver. I had to be in the house when the streetlights came on. The swing set was anchored in concrete. I couldn’t light the fireworks. It all has to do with reasonable precautions — cuts and scrapes can be fixed with bandaid and a kiss; head injuries and missing limbs can ruin a life. I know, Ian, that you’re responsible. Lucy will get to play with the Jarts, but I suspect that you’ll teach her the Safety Rules first.

  4. kate from the DTH front desk

    I really liked your post today, Ian.
    I don’t know what I would have done during the summer in Oxford, NC if I hadn’t been able to practice my cannonball and gainer on the high diving board at the pool. My sister and I didn’t have videogames and cell phones and all that shit to play around with when we were 8 years old. Mom’s rule: if it was sunny outside, we had to play outside, especially during the summer. So we did… we climbed trees, jumped off swingsets, played “Jump or Dive” at the pool (a hilarious game of running to the end of the board and jumping off, then doing whatever the lifeguard yells at you: Jump, Dive, and the occasional “FLIP!” which resulted in a lot of belly-flops), and a lot of other stuff that kids don’t do anymore because it’s considered “dangerous”.
    The last pool I went to had no diving board, no slide, and pool games weren’t allowed. That meant no baseball, no fox on the wall, no Marco Polo, no underwater freeze tag, etc. And 20 minutes of every hour was “Adult Swim” which meant that people 17 and under weren’t allowed in the pool. I could hear a foghorn in the distance…. BORRRRRRRRRRRR-RINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

  5. Hodi

    My wife’s quote from yesterday; “Don’t fall off, you’re my only kid!” (spoken to the 10 y.o. Bink, who was 35′ up on top of the roof). So, a tip of the hat to Chris M., I didn’t really think about it that way.
    Question for Laurie: What really made you that way about your daughter? I would have never thought that profane, grunge listening, frat party keg drinking, mountain biking, snowboarding, stoned road trip to New Orleans taking X’ers would be this way with their children, but they are.
    Your post is refreshing today Ian, and you will get away with some of this on your upstate farm, but the harsh public eye will curb the majority of what you’re talking about. You will not be able to defend “trying to kill your kid” to the Park Slope crowd. You will break, you will not want to tell well intentioned (personally miserable and uptight) strangers to fuck off. You used to be capable- but not now.
    One more thing Laurie; the Yamaha xt225 would be perfect for you to ride around on gravel roads or in your neighborhood. You will feel empowered and the traffic will be low or slow enough to rarely actually kill you. The bike won’t kill you either, only break your leg at the worst. I’m glad you mentioned Mary Kay, she makes me want to be a kid again…

  6. The Other Lee

    Excellent post, you hit on all the things I ranted to myself when I heard the same NPR story a couple of days ago except one. If we succeed in doing things like this, we will be turning our next generation into wimps, and that’s not a good thing. We will have a generation with no sense of adventure, no sense of the exhilaration that comes from the danger (real or perceived) that all of us should experience especially as children.
    Also Texas may have been once a bastion of independent though, but no more. It is now, with a few urban exceptions, (and very very few at that) a bastion of red state thinking. It is the reddest of the red states with most people spouting out whatever lies, half-truths, misrepresentations, or complete bullshit that they got from Hannity, Rush, Coulter, O’Reilly, or any other RNC talking point disseminator. This falling into lock step with the social conservatives has almost robbed this once unconventional free nation into a stronghold of “don’t think for yourselves, let us think for you.” There are still some deeply quirky people here, but they are few and far between. Of course I reserve the right to revise my opinion if by some miracle of God Kinky Friedman becomes Governor.

  7. kent

    This is kinda weird. We still have the high dive in Iowa City, fwiw. We have no swingsets left, but we still havea high dive.
    Imagine this though — when I was in gradeschool, we kept our baseball gloves in our desks, and at recess they sent us out with a sack full of balls and bats. They didn’t say ‘knock yerself out!’ but they trusted us not to brain each other. There were minor injuries associated with baseball — getting smacked in the face with a rubber softball definitely left a mark — but no major traumas.
    Kids don’t play baseball any more. Playing baseball was one of the deepest pleasures I had in life, and I was only in a league one summer out of the 7 or 8 we lived in California — the rest was what we called ‘work-ups’ where you cycled from the outfield to infield to pitcher to batter, and went back to the outfield if you were ‘out.’
    Here’s to reasonable dangers!

  8. Curtis

    Great post, Ian. I grew up in Iowa (just outside of Cedar Rapids, by the way). Among my best memories of growing up are: (1) running wild in a huge woods alongside our neighborhood, often engaging in air rifle skirmishes with the rival kids down the street; (2) jumping bicycles off of ramps without a helmet; (3) dodging cars while playing street football; (4) fishing off a makeshift boat on a nearby river; and (5) playing Jarts with the fathers of several friends, most of whom were slamming down Old Milwaukees the whole time. It is not an exaggeration to say that Jarts served as the centerpiece for social interaction in our neighborhood. Both adults and kids probably played four or five nights a week during the summer. And no one even came close to getting hurt.
    I can’t imagine growing up without these things. I worry that we are depriving our kids of these great experiences, and that they are replacing them with sitting inside playing video games — a worthless and potentially destructive activity.
    Thank you for allowing me my Andy Rooney moment.

  9. Boopsie

    Here in Paris, we can open the Metro doors before the train actually stops moving. I love that — but, of course, when I first moved here, I was shocked at how irresponsible it was of the RATP. Now I love hearing horrified Americans gasp as I do it.
    If you are fool enough to sprain your ankle, you don’t sue (rather, you die of embarrassment from looking like a fool in public. but that’s a whole different topic). I could jump to this and a correlation btwn the lack high school shootings, but won’t — just suffice it to say that you can git you some ya-yas along with that cafe creme.

  10. cullen

    YOu left out the very important, albe’em colloquially western-NC set of jumps/dives:
    1. The cowboy (rope hand up, other hand securely over balls)
    2. the banana (bow body for sit-splatsh, both hands peeled over balls)
    3. the pencil (self-explananatory)
    4. The Canton-Ball (modified can-opener, hold nose with one hand to reflect the smell of Champion Paper Mill, the rest all assholes and elbows)
    In the pre-hyper-litigious era, circa summer of ’79 or ’80, my Dad self-sufficiently broke a couple of very safe diving boards with his signature butt-bounce entry move:
    1. old Piedmont Pool, Waynesville, NC (whiplash)
    2. Pharsalia plantation pool, Tyro, VA (spilled beers)
    Happy Summer! Last one in is a rotten egg.

  11. Josie

    Accidents are, by definition, unexpected. I think you’re right. How can you regulate the unexpected?

  12. suzanne

    Ian, I’m SO with you. Lee and I are in the process of adopting and we talk constantly about the boundaries and limits kids need. But I’m SO conflicted!
    As a kid and teenager and twenty-somethinger I went from ya-ya to ya-ya. Getting my ya-ya’s out was my goal-I wanted to get all of them out as young as possible so I wouldn’t grow old wishing I’d gotten my ya-ya’s out.
    I jumped off high-dives as a kid and split my chin open once on some other kid’s head. I was a competitive swimmer and our races were at places like Duke, UNC, UCLA, etc. Those pools have 1 meter, 3 meter and 5 meter PLATFORMS. At the end of the meets we’d fling ourselves off the 5 meter platforms without a thought.
    I rode my bike around the neighborhood with other kids with flashlights strapped to the handles–I have no idea what time we had to be home. It was always late and dark. I rode my bike to the pool in the summer starting at 10 years old–the pool was more than 5 miles away and I rode most of the way on the 5 inch shoulder of Sharon Road, a narrow, winding race track in Charlotte. I never wore a bike helmet. Did they have helmets in the 70’s/early 80’s?
    I played kickball and football and climbed trees and built treehouses. My brother fell out of the treehouse once. I’m thinking it must’ve been 20 feet up? He landed on his back and knocked the breath out. As he was gasping for air, I remember my sister and me begging him not to tell Mom.
    When I think back, man, it was so much FUN!!! Being a kid in the world then (for me) was amazing. We were also really, really lucky.
    I just think that encouraging some sort of fearlessness in kids is a good thing. Terrible, terrible things can happen, I know. But, how terrible is it to quash the spirit of a child? Life is so full of risks. I feel like spending one’s life avoiding risk prevents one from living fully. That seems so sad to me.

  13. NOLAcathie

    I also grew up in the 50’s and 60’s on a block that had 54 children living in 24 houses. In a word, it was paradise. We climbed trees, bought candy at the corner store with our weekly allowance, left the “boundaries” of our block, rode our bikes up and down the ramps of Tulane stadium, and played “sardines” and “kick the can” outside on summer nights until 10 p.m.
    If it hadn’t have been for a high diving board, I would never have met my best friend. It was the summer before 7th grade and after weeks of watching everyone, especially children much younger than I, I decided it was time to take “the big jump.”
    My heart was pounding furiously and my knees could barely hold me up, but I was sure I could do it. However, by the time I reached the top stair I realized how absolutely wrong I was. Nothing, no bribe, no threat…not even the rule written in big red letters of “once up the stairs, there is no way down except by jumping or diving” could get me to jump. I took up residence on the platform until closing time. EVERYONE around the pool knew my name and was cheering me on, but not even that shame could get me to jump. The lifeguard relented, defeated, and finally guided a shivering scared-to-death girl down the steps. I started a new school that fall and the first and best friend I ever made came up to me and told me she knew me – that I was the girl who would not jump from the high diving board! (I did finally get up the courage to do it the next summer and the exhilaration and the fear were indescribably amazing). I believe it’s the litigious society we have created that has robbed us of personal responsibility and the thrill of attempting the exciting and fun things in life. What a shame!

  14. Beth

    My parents lost a child in between my older brother and me, so my mom overprotected the heck out of me. And yet she still let me climb trees (though not without sticking her head out the front door and hollering, “You better get down from there before you fall and bust your ass!”).

  15. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Suzanne — congrats on your adoption decision! That is very exciting!
    Reading all of these comments reminded me of other stuff my brother and I did. We would wander alone in the woods behind our house for hours. All sorts of adventures ensued. During the winter, we would walk on the ice covered stream, and occasionally the ice would break below us and we would have to pull each other out of the stream. During the summer, my brother and his friends would lower themselves down into the sewer drains and walk through the sewer tunnels to see where they all lead. None of the parents had any idea, despite the fact that most of the moms stayed at home. Can you imagine?
    Oh, and Hodi –I have no idea why I worry so much about my daughter. My general anxiety-ridden nature, I suppose. Like I said, I never got my ya yas out. Come to think of it . . . it is possible for a person NOT to have yas yas in the first place?

  16. John Schultz

    “Sue everybody” one of my favorite Jerky Boys quotes. Next they will outlaw bike riding until the age of 16.
    Cullen- how did you pull Tyro, VA out of the hat? I thought I was the only one here with any connection to Nelson County, VA (my wife is from there).

  17. salem's little sister

    I grew up riding horses and I have no idea how I didn’t get seriously injured. I wouldn’t even consider riding today without a helmet and sometimes, a vest if we’re doing cross country jumps.
    Our parents would drop us off at the barn and leave us unsupervised as 10-15 year olds with our horses. We rode bare-back, jumped huge fences we shouldn’t have and in a bust of inspiration jousted each other off our ponies with sticks. I had more fun those summers at the barn than at almost any time in my life, but as a parent and professional instructor, it makes me cringe thinking how dangerous our games were.
    I do still get my “ya yas” out by riding and jumping, but I keep them safe under my helmet.

  18. kjf

    when i lived in omaha the mayor once cancelled halloween because of a snow storm. my kids were devastated. would have been one of those great childhood memories – trick or treating in a blizzard.

  19. unc alum

    this is a topic I have thought a lot about lately as I am surrounded by overprotective parents it seems. My son Jake is 2 1/2 and if he doesn’t go through at least 2 changes of clothes in a day he hasn’t had enough fun. I believe in letting him get dirty and have fun doing it. Yesterday we went to a state park and he had a great time playing in the sand by the edge of the lake…of course he ended up naked and splashing at the water’s edge. He was covered in mud and sand and having the time of his life. We are having a small addition put on the house so today he discovered he could put his arms in the sheetrock mud clear up to his elbows. He held up his arms and said “look mommy! Gloves!”. His squeals of absolute delight as I hosed him down made the whole thing quite hilarious. I am surrounded by moms who pull out the purell every time their kid touches dirt so it is refreshing to hear all the comments today. How does one combine the freedom of a 70’s upbringing with the safety rules today without becoming a funsucker?

  20. Steph Mineart

    Nobody ever died from Jarts?! Aw, man! My mom took ours away because she heard someone got spiked through the brain. Damn. Oh, I guess I should be happy no one actually died from them, but still. I wonder where I can get some?
    On the otherhand, one of my classmates died on the playground when I was in second grade, after she fell off the monkey bars onto the concrete and hit her head. They moved all the playground equipment of the pavement into sandpits after that.
    But we used to make cannons out of pop cans taped together, with a tennis ball as ammo — you’d spray hairspray into a hole punched in the bottom of the can, light the hairspray with a match, and boom! The ball would shoot out. when my dad found out about it, he helped us refine the cannons by adding a flint switch firestarter in the bottom of the can, and providing lighter fluid in place of hairspray. We could shoot tennis balls all the way down the block.

  21. ken

    We don’t have kids (yet) but for me the worst manifestation of this safe attitude is that a lot of youth sports leagues today DON”T KEEP SCORE! I played baseball, basketball and soccer and we always kept score. In fact. most of the teams I was on sucked, and that was fine, it taught me that losing was a part of life and prepared me for being a lifelong Cubs fan.
    The one aspect I saw of this current manner of thinking was in high school. Someone petitioned (or complained) successfully and the time-honored tradition of the athletic letter (the big letters you’d get for excellence in a sport and wore on a two-tone leather-sleeved jacket) were expanded to cover any extra-curricular activity. So now you could ‘letter’ in chess, band, choir or pep club. Not to take away from those pursuits (hell,I lettered in band three times) but I chose not to put my band letters on my coat as I was (and still am) a purist, so it was only spots letters on my jacket.

  22. oliver

    Taking unnecessary risks is just stupid. We’re talking about recreation. So aren’t we talking about gambling? Gambling with our safety? A little gambling we tolerate as silly fun, but plenty of people will do it to excess (like the ones who play the lottery, which offers ridiculous odds). Like Ian suggests about danger, sex is fundamentally important, but we apply maturity and safety limitations on sex too (not enough skills emphasis and instruction though). Back on the farm before Nintendo and licensed, supervised league sports, it was hard to experience a thrill during peace time–and we wanted all boys to grow up psychologically fit to be warriors. That ought not to be true now for middle-class America, generally speaking. But seeing as we’re verging on a draft and buying kevlar for everybody is expensive, stupidity probably still needs to be taught.
    I think with recreational gambling, drug use, danger seeking, and travel, we’re talking about escape experiences. We need these to the extent love and work fail to satisfy, which ranges from occasionally to always, depending on when and where and into what class with what genes we’re born, plus luck. Escape is addictive, so I think we should protect people from over-indulging, by law, education, supervision, licensing–whatever works. When people start to die, whatever our traditional approach may be may need revising. If people always have been dying while high-diving, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. I have no idea if it’s true, but there are bound to be traditional activities that our rich industrial society has overlooked in it’s pursuit to eliminate unneccessary. There are also bound to be traditional activities that have become more dangerous because the culture has changed, and so participants get less supervision and education by concerned peers and mentors.

  23. Salem

    Suzanne, I wonder if you ever pedaled past me and the “older” kids playing amongst the storm drains around Sugar Creek after a giant thunderstorm? I grew up on Sherwood Ave. biking from my Grandad’s Townhouse Restaurant to Mayberry’s Ice Cream at the age 10! Collecting beer cans and stuffing the occasional Playboy up my shirt when the 7/11 guy was not paying attention. I have to admit the only real dangers were of the head truama and broken bone variety. Today, the dangers just seem different. McColl wants a dirt bike. He’s 13 years old, he’s responsible, he disciplined, he has excellent judgement…..I am terrified.

  24. CP

    two things: 1) who’s mccoll? and 2) your restaurant looks AMAZING! I wanted to climb into the computer and eat the entire menu! I know ian’s mentioned it before, but guess I didn’t really put the two and two together until just now.
    and speaking of the jerky boys, back before caller ID (when we were about 12 or 13), my friends and I would get our ya-ya’s out by prank calling escort services from the yellow pages and channel 35. then caller ID and the jerky boys both happened, and we realized we were no match for either.

  25. craighill

    is that true about ken doing blow with the dea agent? damn. can he get us some of that uncut shit?

  26. salem's little sister

    CP, McColl is Salem’s step-son and I now have an upset-stomach thinking about my nephew and a dirt-bike. Thanks Brother.
    I totally forgot about Mayberry’s. I miss the old Myers Park.

  27. CP

    SLS, thanks for answering. I really was curious. also, from the way your brother describes him, sounds like he should be fine on a dirtbike, no? (then again, it’s not my family and I don’t have a kid. nor have I ever ridden a dirtbike, much less know what one even looks like, so I don’t mean to presume or talk out of turn.)

  28. xuxE - far east correspondent

    my 2 boys are fearless daredevils, which puts a weird spin on the whole protectiveness thing because i have to be very literally on guard. my youngest had his first stitches at age 1 and i am shocked we haven’t done any broken bones yet, must be just extremely lucky so far.
    my approach is just to encourage it in meaningful athletic ways so they can do outrageous stuff as long as they follow the rules – but they still get to do it and have fun. for example last year and this year coming up they are doing flying trapeze birthday parties at this circus training place. we are talking like, 40 feet up a tiny ladder to a tiny platform over the net. they said they had never seen a three year old go up the ladder, let alone swing on the thing, and my 6 year old actually hung by his knees. by the end of the session they had decided that the swinging wasn’t as good as just flinging yourself into the net – imagine what it’s like to see your 3 year old just jump off the platform? it’s totally thrilling but as a mom i also feel constantly on the verge of passing out.
    but none of the things they do physically or athletically scare me nearly as much as cars and trains. trying to get them from the train platform over “the GAP” and onto the trains in Japan is making me totally hyperventilate. i’m way WAY more afraid of big machines crushing them than i am of broken bones from falling off high dives or something.

  29. cullen howell

    John Schultz, tell your wife I’m a somewhat Morgan (not Mormon), related by marriage to the Flippin family (not an adj.) that’s behind Lynchburg’s long-standing Farm Basket and Nelson County’s Silvercreek ORchards, OR Pharsalia to me, childhood eden that it was, replete with dogs, horses, cousins, kids, activity, accidents.
    That’s God’s country indeed. Missing home.

  30. ken

    It decreases the funny when you have to explain a gag so, craighill and caveman, my apologies. Apparently fun is being made of me with your witty comments about a comment I made a few days ago about taking a field trip to a DEA office where I saw (and smelled) cocaine for the first time. Just tell me the funny part, I promise to laugh at myself.

  31. suzanne

    Salem, How could we have missed each other? Who were the “older” kids you played with? We used to play in Sugar Creek too. Now when I drive over it I can’t believe we did that. It was always full of broken glass and cans and tires and stuff. It even smelled bad. my mom would cringe when we’d arrive back home stinking of sewer rats. She still let us go play and would just check us once in a while for things like impetigo and staph infections. ha! I ate a MATTERHORN once for my birthday at that Mayberry’s. My dad still talks about that. He seems proud somehow. I bet you you would have been an amazing play-buddy.

  32. John Schultz

    Cullen. Too weird! I just got back from lunch with Massie Flippin.
    Bill, Frosty, Camille, Ruth and all the Flippin family are very good friends. My wife is Mary McGinnis from Shipman. Small world

  33. tregen

    Take time for a read…. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner.
    I grew up in a small town and in the country out in the “hill country” of Texas. The kids in town all ran together…..all day and night. During the summer we would bike to “highbanks” on the San Saba river and jump off the 15 foot banks into a small deep hole in the river. We played with pellet guns, slingshots and .22s and every boy and half the girls had a pocket knife in their pocket. The activies we created and fun we had all had a dangerous side and someone was always getting hurt… but not to much. The scars on my knees, elbows and chin remind me daily of great times in the past with friends, cousins, and my brother and sister.
    I believe that a certain amount of today’s wimpiness stems from bad lawyers and a take-no-responsibility society but a much larger portion stems from the same fear that has permeated every other aspect of our culture. I often meet kids (people in their late teens and twenties) who have had no fun whatsoever. They don’t have campfire keg parties, they are required to take drug tests at school, they are so freaked about getting into college that they study all day on Saturdays…. it all makes me sad for them and our society.

  34. Salem

    Suzanne, We grew up on Sherwood Ave and Beverly Dr.. My Grandparents owned The Townhouse Restaurant for about 40 years until around 1980. I had a well worn trail from the back of the Townhouse, behind Myers Park Hardware and assorted banks to Mayberry’s. I could probably make 3/4’s of the trip walking on the top of brick walls without touching the ground. The brick wall on Huntly Place, behind what used to be the Townhouse, is one of my most cherished places. My Grandmother spent countless hours holding my hand as a toddler walking back and forth accross that wall. The wall gets taller and taller as it approaches the back of Eckerds, until it must be fourteen feet tall. When I was too old to have my Grandmother hold my hand I would sneak out behind the restaurant and climb onto the high wall. I asked my wife to marry me at that old brick wall. It’s almost the only little thing left of that era in Charlotte. I hope it never falls. I cannot even type this without tears in my eyes.
    I don’t think I hold my children’s hands as long as my Grandmother held mine. I don’t think I let them stay in their moments the way she let me get lost in mine.


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