Age and the Law of Unintended Consequences
To All the Kids Who Survived - Redux

To All the Kids Who Survived the 1930s, '40s, '50s and ‘60s

[PERSONAL NOTE: I am abashed, pleased and shyly proud to read the lovely things Doc Searls says on his blog about Time Goes By. Sometimes a simple thank you is inadequate and words are just useless.]

My friend, Rick Gillis, sent me what follows here. It has undoubtedly been making the email rounds for years and you’ve probably already seen it. But I hadn’t, I like it and it feels like it deserves a permanent place on Time Goes By:

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright-colored, lead-based paints. We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a water bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends from one bottle. And no one died from this.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because we were always outside playing. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were okay.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 500 TV channels on cable, no DVD movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no internet or internet chat rooms. We had friends. We went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

And you are one of them.


I love this! Thanks for posting it. It is so true.

Yes we have done our share ! :)

Ronni, Doc's comments are well phrased and you deserve every good pixel they are crafted with.

I love the statements made in that piece. Isn't it just flat amazing we are still here? And we're pretty successful. Congratulations to all of us.

Futhermore, my mother lived to 89 with high cholesterol and no drugs, and my father lived to 94 on nothing more than aspirin. I'm goingto continue being a risk-taker and not a drug taker. I'll take my chances, just like I did on my skates, my bike and playing in the empty lots near my apartment. Thanks again, Ronni

I've seen this before and it's always worth reading again, a good pat on our backs!

And Doc's words ring very true, Ronni - another pat on your back, you really deserve it!

I also enjoyed the link to Doc's article on The Live Web, especially about blogs being an act of giving. I hadn't thought of it quite that way before but it is true.

Thanks for your blog, Ronni!

Sounds exactly like MY childhood - but you can add FRIED SPAM to the menu! Plus sledding down mine dumps - forbidden for certain but enjoyed immensly anyway!

This sounds like anything but my childhood. People did die from some of the things mentioned, including two of my siblings, or lose appendages. As to communal drinking, we spread scarlet fever and other dreadful illnesses, that way. If one wishes to long for the olden days, fine; but, just because one survived doesn't mean that others did. (And, no, my mother did not smoke or drink alcohol while carrying any of her children--nor, even take aspirin since she was morbidly allergic to it. And she had never even heard of bleu cheese, I'll wager. Lettuce dressings were cooked, at home, and involved milk, but not cheese.) Obviously, not everyone lived the same, charmed life. I wouldn't take the old days back for all the tea in china!

Just read what Doc Searl wrote in his blog, and it is nothing but the truth, Ronni!

I've read this before, and it always makes me think of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life...", the end song to "Monty Python's Life of Brian".

In addition to the many good things mentioned, those were also the days when parents were in terror every time a child fell ill, especially in the summer, fearing that it might be polio. The death rate from auto accidents was very high, because only airplanes were equipped with seat belts. Many of us who survived the era as children are leaving the current one earlier than we should because our parents' ignorance of the effects of tobacco and alcohol instilled a temptation and resultant taste for these addictions in us. I could go on, but...

While I miss my youth, if I had a choice (which I obviously don't), I would prefer to be living through it now, rather than back then.

As someone once put it very accurately, nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

I don't want to go back 100% to the "olden days," but unlike CopCar, even though we poor as church mice, we had some wonderful times. There seems to me that with all the commercialism and artificiality in our culture now, so many younger people I meet have even larger holes in their souls than I do--and mine is pretty big. Communication has really improved, however; my family had a giant elephant in the living room that we walked around. Now I would say that the animal in the living room is smaller, but more fierce and easier to ignore. How we all long for simpler times, however.

I concur that Doc Searles paid you a well-deserved tribute, Ronni. In reference to his post, I still find myself wanting to share matters with my mother though she has been gone many years.

Was delighted to read again this item you posted. Coincidentally, I had just visited a new, to me, blog, Momma's Corner, and found those same words which you said you knew had been around a while.

As I read it again, additional memories came to my mind, almost all pleasant. It is sad that some of what was freely done resulted in tragedy for others. I can certainly see how scientific knowledge and attitudes have changed over the years. I love the present, but as Fran said, I miss the simpler times.

Found myself wondering where individual responsibility ends and rules, regulations and laws take over.

Joared (and others): I appreciate your thoughtful comment(s), but would add that not all of what I see as "progress" (nay, not even a major portion of it) is due to rules, regulations, or laws. It is due to availability. Helmets (or other safety features) were not available for bicycle riders. The bike that I shared with my brothers didn't even have brakes (and I bear five visible, parallel scars on my right upper arm where a barbed wire fence provided the stopping friction on one ride). We now have penicillin, which would most certainly have saved my younger sister. We have anti-lock brakes that shorten the stopping distances of our vehicles, and our tires virtually never "blow out" these days.

I recall having good times, although neither of my living brothers seems to. However, families weren't all that wonderful in those days, either. It was the "culture of the day" that children be severely beaten--sometimes for minor infractions. Life was simpler--but survival was anything but assured. Survival is still not assured, but the statistics have certainly improved!

I have seen that email probably 100 times and it always brings a smile. Yes, there were problems but we survived it all -- often despite our best efforts at times.

And Doc Searls is spot on in his estimation of your gifts, Ronni! Keep up the awesome efforts! I look forward to reading you every day!

Doc's compliments of your writing are well-deserved and accurate!

Wow...this info is really helpful for my project right now! You people are amazing!

What a lovely posting about our childhood. Here over in England we climbed to the topmost of tall trees and hailed pirate ships ahoy, disappeared all day onour bikes to play in a stream and build houses outof leaves and branches, glorious long summer holidays. Rock and rolled the late 50's and 60's away until responsibilites overtook us with marriage and children of our own. Ate our dinners in the garden, spam and luncheon meat. Makes me want to cry for those days, even though my Dad had trouble getting work and got upset sometimes.

Oh yes, what a wonderful email. I can't wait to have a child of my own to smother in lead based paint. Only being born in 1981, I am just a young'n and still very new to the world. But there is one thing I would like to say. On behalf of my entire generation, the pampered, the spoiled, and the "overregulated": Thank you. Thank you to all the risk-takers, the problem solvers, and to all the inventors. Thank you for directly handing down to us your great legacy. Thank you because we have now inherited a greater pile of problems, so urgent and so profound. The likes of which your great generation has never seen. If only we could keep you here to fix them.

I've seen this before and will print a copy of it now. It's a great piece and so true. But, one thing, aren't we also the generations who have now created all the rules our children live by and the gadgets they can't live without?

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