Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gimme Danger

Stinky forgot to fasten her seatbelt the other day, and it made me a little nervous. Not just for the fine that we'd get if a cop spotted it, but for what would have happened if we had been in an accident. Then, I had to laugh at my spaz, because I don't think I ever wore a seatbelt until sometime in the late eighties. People always say that cars were bigger and safer in the seventies, but we had a little Toyota Corolla back then and now I have a Subaru station wagon. And honestly, I'm still not very good about making the girls wear bicycle helmets. I'm not saying it's bad that we're safer with our kids now, I just wonder how me and my friends made it out of childhood alive with all the dangerous shit we did. Here is a list of things we did the back then, that probably would cause DHS to maintain an active role in our lives now.

1. Not only did we not wear helmets when we rode bikes, we also didn't even wear shoes. My bike was red white and blue and had one of those big banana seats, (it was called the Liberty Bell, and you can start being jealous right now) so I could usually fit one friend on the seat with me, and one on the handlebars. I sure couldn't see very well, but no one ever seemed to worry about that.

2. When I lived in Mesa, during monsoon season we would lie in the gutters in nasty, dirty puddles of water on Horn Street ( a very, very, busy street) and wait for cars to drive by and splash us. I never heard of even one kid getting their legs run over. Weird.

3. We played in construction sites almost every day. In Mesa, during the seventies, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a building project, and that's exactly what we did. We threw rocks at new windows, climbed around in half-built houses with bare feet and pretended they were ours. I do remember one kid stepping on a nail and having to get a tetanus shot, though.

4. When we lived in Chicago, we used to play this game called frisbee tag. It was basically like dodge ball, but with a hard plastic frisbee, so it would do more damage. Did I mention that we played this quaint game in the middle of the street?

5. We used to go up to a relative's summer cabin on Paw Paw Lake on the weekends. My Uncle and his brothers would get drunk and take us kids water skiing. After a while they'd get bored and think of imaginitive ways to make us fall, so they could drive the boat back to the cabin and get more beer. My two favorites were; cranking the boat up past 30 miles per hour and making the sharpest turns possible, and then taking us right up to the ski ramp so that if you didn't let go of the rope, you'd be forced to jump at neck breaking speeds. I wish I had been drunk at the time so I could have appreciated it. Come to think of it, it was really funny when they did it to my cousins...

6. My Uncle's mom used to give us a lunch bag full of M-80's on the Fourth of July to play with. Is it four or eight of those that equal a stick of dynamite? We liked to blow them up in the big pipes that were used for irrigation in the ground. (explosive gases? What gases?) One year, my cousin Teddy thought it would be fun to explode all the toys in his sandbox with M-80's. I have to say, there is nothing more satisfying than watching metal trucks blow-up and knowing you were responsible. The next morning, I found my six year old cousin on his knees in the sandbox, lamenting the demise of all his Tonkas. He must not have finally realized that when you obliterated something into tiny pieces, there was no putting it back together.

Here is me and a cousin on an inner tube at Paw Paw Lake in 1980.


Lynnster said...

Your choices of daily song lyric titles never fail to thrill me.

I never, ever, EVER wore a seat belt until 1986, when I was 20 years old. And only then because they passed the seat belt law in TN.

I was mad as hell about it for many years, primarily because one of my friends that died in high school in a car wreck might have lived through it if he had not been belted. No, he might not have survived being thrown from the car or otherwise moved either, but he would have stood a better chance than he did. He was basically crushed from the chest down.

So I was pissed about the law and vehemently against it for many many years. Nowadays I am less angry and wear mine willingly rather than begrudgingly, and I realize it's true they save more lives than not. But there's still a little part of me that's pissed about my right to choose for myself being taken away.

Oh, and in those 20 years w/o a seat belt? I rode in the backs of pickup trucks countless times as well a frequent rides in the rumble seat of a Model A (my boyfriend's dad one), beltless, and obviously lived to tell about it.

Mr Atrocity said...

When I was little, my grandad would take me and my sister to the quarry to watch them blow huge chunks of earth out of the ground whilst we had a picnic and enjoyed the show. Picking small lumps of rock and soil out of your sandwich was part of the fun. Don't think they'd allow that these days. Come to think of it, don't think my mum would've allowed it then if she'd known.

Les Quinn said...

Makes me laugh when I look at your links... me and the other Les....a couple of Les's are we...

Margaret said...

I think all this safety BS has put a creepy damper on childhood adventure... my cousins ans I used to take the 3-wheelers (I don't think they make them anyomore) from the hunting trailer, drive them to my granddad's concrete plant, and play evil kinevil on the piles of gravel, sand rebar, and sometimes broken up concrete.. helmuts, but no shoes

broinlaw said...

Did you guys blow up some of your sisters stuff, 'cause she has absolutely no appreciation for recreational demolition.


Churlita said...


A kid in my daughter's high school jsut got thrown out of the back of a pick-up, after the girl who was driving it thought it would be fun to go fast over a speed bump. So, maybe things haven't changed that much, afterall.

Mr Atrocity,

I would love to watch rock get blown up at the quarry.


Yes, there are many Les' out there.


I forgot all the Evil Kneivel stunts we tried on our bikes. If we had had 3-wheelers we would have been in hog heaven.

Bro in-law,

I don't remember blowing up her stuff, but she's always been nervous about that kind of stuff. Hmmm.

Rachel said...

Our porch was on the second story of our house so we would put a big pile of blankets and innertubes on the ground and jump into it. It was fun until I severely sprained my ankle.
We would also go to this abandoned mill. They had a dam that had a steep vertical type slide that was made of cement and covered with slime. We would slide down it and then climb back up the edges. I think someone cut their foot once. It was really fun but I think my mom would have had heart failure if she had known. She couldn't figure out why my swimsuit had green stains all over the back.

dmarks said...

"When we lived in Chicago, we used to play this game called frisbee tag. It was basically like dodge ball"

But did you use bicycles??? We did this, also in the middle of the street, for a few times in the summer. The person who was "it" stood in the middle while everyone else rode in tight circles around him or her. Then the "it" person tried to incapacitate the rider or the bike with the frisbee. Of course, when the bike is incapacitated, the rider gets thrown. One day it was real bad, and most players got injured including myself. Mothers immediately banned the game. I remember it as "Bicycle Gladiator Frisbee"

EEK said...

When I was a kid, if you had hiccups my father would hold you by your ankles over the back deck (overhanging a hill off of the second floor of our house) in order to 'scare' them out of us. When this was occurring, the victim would normally scream in terror while the rest of the children looked on and laughed. I'm pretty sure that this is why I'm afraid of heights now. I'm also pretty sure that my dad was intoxicated through much of this.

Churlita said...


Your abandoned mill story, sounds like the beginning of a Lassie episode. Nothing good ever came out of an abandoned mill.


I'm glad we didn't know about using bicycles in our game, or we would all be dead by now. It would have been fun while it lasted, though.


Can you imagine trying that hiccup cure now? All you kids would have been in foster care.

fringes said...

Your stories are amazing. I, um, played jacks and beat up a girl who lived around the block and I got bitten by a dog once. That's pretty much it. I'm jealous.

Churlita said...


I'm jealous of you. You probably aren't half as messed up as me, because of your mellow childhood. As far as I'm concerned, the less war stories, the better.

Killer said...

When I was a daycamper at the YMCA we used to get to run wild and free through the 20 acres of woods next to the camp.

When I was daycamp director, no one was allowed in the woods. All I ever thought of was some homeless guy in the woods eating some of the kids.

I don't know when I changed.

Churlita said...


That's what I'm saying. I'm so overprotective of my girls, and when we were kids, as long as the adults didn't have to know, and we were home before the street lights went on, no one worried.

people say things were different back then, but there were just as many creeps, it's just that nobody went on Oprah and talked about it.