Archive for the ‘youth’ Category


Back then…

January 24, 2016

things were different ….

Things were different back then, and a ten year old disappearing until “whistled for” at suppertime was just the way it was. I was known to do that, and my friends and I created and experienced many adventures.

There was the new subdivision not far from my home, and we explored the caverns and hideaways formed when the excavators had cleared and bulldozed the land in preparation. The tangle of tree trunks and limbs, half buried in some spots and piled high in others, presented irresistible curiosities and irrelevant dangers for us to fill our days with, returning home at the sound of family signals announcing mealtime, mud covered and tired. Of course, we never told the truth of our recklessness, somehow oblivious to the extreme likelihood that our parents had rowed that boat themselves not too many years before.


Hikes were frequent during appropriate weather, an assessment wherein my opinion often differed from those of parental origins.

“No, you can’t go over to Bob’s! It’s fifteen below zero!”

“No, you can’t go on a hike with Fred! It’s pouring out, for crying out loud”

It is amazing that we only got lost once, necessitating a countywide search, including numerous police and other law enforcement personnel, as well as a detailed inspection of the nearby river. My father hugged me at the police station when we finally emerged from the netherworld in the middle of the night. Fred’s father escorted him to the barn the next morning and introduced him to the razor strop.

Torrential summer rains meant flooded streams and storm gutters in southern Ohio, an undeniable draw for ten and eleven year old boys, in spite of blood curdling warnings from mothers about being sucked into a drain, never to be heard from again. Nor were we dissueded by memories of consequences resulting from earlier mud-encrusted homecomings.

Our bicycles carried us beyond our usual range, leading to the discovery of at least three swimming holes and a haunted house or two. To a tween, “no trespassing” doesn’t mean “stay out”; it indicates the need for extra caution.

And then, suddenly, my father’s job took him a thousand miles away from friends and familiar small town environs to the outskirts of a major eastern city where my seventh grade class had a larger population than many towns.

Nevertheless, adventurism and adolescence continued, with newer and greater curiosities and adventures to satisfy, risks to be conquered, and “learning experiences” to accumulate.

Adulthood ensues, despite our most impassioned efforts to the contrary, eventually rolling forward primarily on momentum, presenting a time for reflection and for revisiting the adventures of another, earlier incarnation. Any man worth his salt probably has passing fantasies of going back, and any man with an ounce of sense realizes he was fortunate to have survived that gauntlet and really wouldn’t want to tempt fate by taking another shot at it all.

I find myself smiling, recalling with a bit of pleasure tempered by a dose of sheepishness and decades of learning to march to the beat of adult responsibility, sneaking away from Friday night “Canteen” with Mike and George to flex our fourteen year old derring-do at the helm of Mike’s father’s old Henry-J, a post-WW II version of the later 1985 Yugo. Mike’s parents were out with friends for the evening, presenting an opportunity we were old enough to know better than to exploit, but young enough to jump on anyway….but that’s another story for another time.


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