Where, indeed, has it gone? Seems like just yesterday I was running barefoot through long summer days without a care in the world! I'd go out to the woods as early as 5 AM (before Mom could comb & tightly braid my long hair). There I'd stay, alone or playing with my friends, until hunger would drive me home for lunch. On other days, when Mom caught me first to do my hair & make sure I did my chores, I'd not get away until mid-morning, but that was worth it because my grandmother, "Nana," would often make me a picnic lunch to take to the woods, & that was just about as good as it can ever get!
Now before you all condemn my mother for neglecting us, let me tell you that we lived in a world far, far different than the one we now inhabit....there was very little or no crime in our neighborhood. Everyone knew everyone. There was no TV, no computers, & very little concern for kidnappers, sexual predators or thieves. Everyone had ONE telephone in their house (maybe 2 if they were really rich, which only 1 of our neighbors were).
There were no portable phones, of course, & we were all on "party lines," which means that several households shared one telephone line. When you picked up the phone, you had to listen first to see if anyone was already in the middle of a call. There was no dial tone, but there were live operators, to whom you gave the number you wanted to call, & they connected you by hand!
Anyway, my point is that we inhabited simpler times, and there was not the level of worry that mothers now must live with. It was a much lighter, more care-free existence, for sure!
Where we lived, there were 2 wooded areas. The one behind our house was the "little" woods, running along a tiny creek between our neighborhood & the small, public elementary school. When I was very young, that is, between about 5 & 8, I was not allowed to go across the street, so fortunately I could play all I wanted in the little woods without crossing any roads.
It was like heaven to little kids like us. Even though the whole woods probably took up less than an acre & a half or so, it seemed to us to be as big as the world, & sure enough, it was just about our whole world. We'd crawl through small openings in the brush (probably deer trails) and pretend that we were being chased by dinosaurs. This was especially exciting during summer rain storms, when the flashes of lightening & the crashes of thunder became for us the monster's roaring & firery breath. We pulled up weeds that had thick stems & shallow, clumpy roots(I think now they must have been stalks from milkweed or burdocks). They were perfectly weighted to throw at the "dragons" that pursued us.
So, my time is almost up for today, & I must ask myself - what is there, if anything, in these ancient memories of mine, that has any lasting value? Well, I guess not much, except that for me, there is the ability to compare & contrast the past with the present. In doing that, I observe the decline in the safety of the typical American neighborhood in just the past +/- 50-60 years. Today, you would NEVER allow a child under the age of 10 to be out of your sight for an hour, much less 5 or 6 hours! And I did not mean to say that it was DAILY like that - I do remember Mom checking up on me, calling me home, laying down the rules for my limits on how far I could go & making sure that my older siblings were with me or nearby to watch out for me. So do not assume that I was this baby toddler who was left "on my own" all day, every day. It was not like that.
But I do remember a much looser, more worry-free childhood than I see my grandsons having, and the bottom line for today is that it makes me sad to know that they will never have the blessed freedom from anxiety that I, my family & friends shared. That's all for today - God bless us all, & God bless America!