The Last Rebels: 25 Things We Did as Kids That Would Get Someone Arrested Today

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

With all of the ridiculous new regulations, coddling, and societal mores that seem to be the norm these days, it’s a miracle those of us over 30 survived our childhoods.

Here’s the problem with all of this babying: it creates a society of weenies.

There won’t be more more rebels because this generation has been frightened into submission and apathy through a deliberately orchestrated culture of fear. No one will have faced adventure and lived to greatly embroider the story.

Kids are brainwashed – yes, brainwashed – into believing that the mere thought of a gun means you’re a psychotic killer waiting for a place to rampage.

They are terrified to do anything when they aren’t wrapped up with helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, and other protective gear.

Parents can’t let them go out and be independent or they’re charged with neglect and the children are taken away.

Woe betide any teen who uses a tool like a pocket knife, or heck, even a table knife to cut meat.

Lighting their own fire? Good grief, those parents must either not care of their child is disfigured by 3rd-degree burns over 90% of his body or they’re purposely nurturing a little arsonist.

Heaven forbid that a child describe another child as “black” or, for that matter, refer to others as girls or boys. No actual descriptors can be used for the fear of “offending” that person, and “offending” someone is incredibly high on the hierarchy of Things Never To Do.

“Free range parenting” is all but illegal and childhood is a completely different experience these days.

All of this babying creates incompetent, fearful adults.

Our children have been enveloped in this softly padded culture of fear, and it’s creating a society of people who are fearful, out of shape, overly cautious, and painfully politically correct.  They are incredibly incompetent when they go out on their own because they’ve never actually done anything on their own.

When my oldest daughter came home after her first semester away at college, she told me how grateful she was to be an independent person. She described the scene in the dorm.  “I had to show a bunch of them how to do laundry and they didn’t even know how to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,” she said.  Apparently they were in awe of her ability to cook actual food that did not originate in a pouch or box, her skills at changing a tire, her knack for making coffee using a French press instead of a coffee maker, and her ease at operating a washing machine and clothes dryer.  She says that even though she thought I was being mean at the time I began making her do things for herself, she’s now glad that she possesses those skills.  Hers was also the room that had everything needed to solve everyday problems: basic tools, first aid supplies, OTC medicine, and home remedies.

I was truly surprised when my daughter told me about the lack of life skills her friends have.  I always thought maybe I was secretly lazy and that was the basis on my insistence that my girls be able to fend for themselves, but it honestly prepares them for life far better than if I was a hands-on mom that did absolutely everything for them.  They need to realize that clothing does not get worn and then neatly reappear on a hanger in the closet, ready to be worn again. They need to understand that meals do not magically appear on the table, created by singing appliances a la Beauty and the Beast.

If the country is populated by a bunch of people who can’t even cook a box of macaroni and cheese when their stoves function at optimum efficiency, how on earth will they sustain themselves when they have to not only acquire their food, but must use off-grid methods to prepare it? How can someone who requires an instruction manual to operate a digital thermostat hope to keep warm when their home environment it controlled by wood they have collected and fires they have lit with it?  How can someone who is afraid of getting dirty plant a garden and shovel manure?

Did you do any of these things and live to tell the tale?

While I did make my children wear bicycle helmets and never took them on the highway in the back of a pick-up, many of the things on this list were not just allowed, they were encouraged. Before someone pipes up with outrage (because they’re *cough* offended) I’m not suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and let your kids attempt to hang-glide off the roof with a sheet attached to a kite frame. (I’ve got a scar proving that makeshift hang-gliding is, in fact, a terrible idea). Common sense evolves, and I obviously don’t recommend that you purposely put your children in unsafe situations with a high risk of injury.

But, let them be kids. Let them explore and take reasonable risks. Let them learn to live life without fear.

Raise your hand if you survived a childhood in the 60s, 70s, and 80s that included one or more of the following, frowned-upon activities (raise both hands if you bear a scar proving your daredevil participation in these events):

  1. Riding in the back of an open pick-up truck with a bunch of other kids
  2. Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on, at which point, you raced home, ASAP so you didn’t get in trouble
  3. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the school cafeteria
  4. Riding your bike without a helmet
  5. Riding your bike with a buddy on the handlebars, and neither of you wearing helmets
  6. Drinking water from the hose in the yard
  7. Swimming in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (or what they now call *cough* “wild swimming“)
  8. Climbing trees (One park cut the lower branches from a tree on the playground in case some stalwart child dared to climb them)
  9. Having snowball fights (and accidentally hitting someone you shouldn’t)
  10. Sledding without enough protective equipment to play a game in the NFL
  11. Carrying a pocket knife to school (or having a fishing tackle box with sharp things on school property)
  12. Camping
  13. Throwing rocks at snakes in the river
  14. Playing politically incorrect games like Cowboys and Indians
  15. Playing Cops and Robbers with *gasp* toy guns
  16. Pretending to shoot each other with sticks we imagined were guns
  17. Shooting an actual gun or a bow (with *gasp* sharp arrows) at a can on a log, accompanied by our parents who gave us pointers to improve our aim. Heck, there was even a marksmanship club at my high school
  18. Saying the words “gun” or “bang” or “pow pow” (there actually a freakin’ CODE about “playing with invisible guns”)
  19. Working for your pocket money well before your teen years
  20. Taking that money to the store and buying as much penny candy as you could afford, then eating it in one sitting
  21. Eating pop rocks candy and drinking soda, just to prove we were exempt from that urban legend that said our stomachs would explode
  22. Getting so dirty that your mom washed you off with the hose in the yard before letting you come into the house to have a shower
  23. Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper
  24. Playing “dangerous” games like dodgeball, kickball, tag, whiffle ball, and red rover (The Health Department of New York issued a warning about the “significant risk of injury” from these games)
  25. Walking to school alone

Come on, be honest.  Tell us what crazy stuff you did as a child.

Teach your children to be independent this summer.

We didn’t get trophies just for showing up. We were forced, yes, forced – to do actual work and no one called protective services. And we gained something from all of this.

Our independence.

Do you really think that children who are terrified by someone pointing his finger and saying “bang” are going to lead the revolution against tyranny? No, they will cower in their tiny apartments, hoping that if they behave well enough, they’ll continue to be fed.

Do you think our ancestors who fought in the revolutionary war were afraid to climb a tree or get dirty?

Those of us who grew up this way (and who raise our children to be fearless) are the resistance against a coddled, helmeted, non-offending society that aims for a dependant populace. In a country that was built on rugged self-reliance, we are now the minority.

Nurture the rebellion this summer. Boot them outside. Get your kids away from their TVs, laptops, and video games. Get sweaty and dirty. Do things that makes the wind blow through your hair. Go off in search of the best climbing tree you can find. Shoot guns. Learn to use a bow and arrow. Play outside all day long and catch fireflies after dark. Do things that the coddled world considers too dangerous and watch your children blossom.

Teach your kids what freedom feels like.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Living just outside of NYC, we would roller skate on busy streets, ice skate down icy hills, ride bikes and walk for miles (see your #2). Worse than that, by the time I was 11 I knew the NYC subway system like a pro — so well my parents let me ride it by myself on Saturdays. Incredible.

    • I’m older, and from Brooklyn. In the 1940’s, starting at age 7, my mother would give me 35 cents (two nickels and a quarter) for a round-trip subway ride to a park (nickel each way) and a 25-cent lunch. All the parks had water fountains running all the time. We played stickball in the middle of the street. We built fires in the street from old Christmas trees. I walked to Middle School every day, a one-way distance of nearly a mile. Nobody was afraid to walk in the street at any hour. And I survived.

  • I did EVERY single one of those! In fact, we used to play war in the woods from sun-up till sun-down with BB guns. No protective equipment but a blue-jean jacket. Yeah, it was dangerous, but surprisingly enough, we never put out anybody’s eye. lol

    • remember bottle rocket wars? when you and your friends went into the woods and shot exploding bottle rockets at each other?

      or building a dam on a creek, letting the water build up for several days and then breaking the dam, unleashing a torrent of water downstream onto unsuspecting plastic army men who were holed up in their secret lair?

      or going to the reservoir on a hot summer day and jumping off an 80 foot cliff into the cold dark water below (then climbing up to do it again)?

      or going fishing with friends in the same reservoir, unsupervised in a Sears jon boat, with no life jackets (ok no life jackets is kinda stupid but nobody drowned) and no fishing license?

      or dumpster diving for treasures behind shopping centers (but never restaurant dumpsters – ugh!)?

      • Worked all summer and saved everything at age 15. At the end of summer I bought my first boat. 12 foot Jon Boat from Sears on sale for $79.00. I had a lot of fun with that boat.

        Bows and arrow with rubber suction cups on the end. The first thing to do was toss the suction cups and put the arrow in a pencil sharpener.

        As far as the above list, yep did everyone of those things!

      • Man, I did all of that, except dumpster diving. Used to climb small trees in a ravine until u got to top point they’d bend over and bring ya close to the ground. Sometimes not close enough so you just shuffle over a bit and a soft landing.

        Those were the days. I miss my youth. Winter snowforts and snowball fights until my mom would yell “SUPPER”, feet and hands so cold you couldn’t unbuckle your black boots… those old buckleboots didn’t work well with cold numb fingers. How did we ever survive?????

  • I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s and did all those things. We ice skated on ponds by ourselves and even fell in one time. Took a rowboat and went out with a couple of kids to go crabbing and fishing. Explored caves. Best part was leaving the house after chores and away from parents and not come home until dinner time. No phones, except pay phones to call and say we were going to be late. Walked or rode our bikes everywhere alone…..even at night.

  • Just last April I wrote a post for my blog called “Where did all the bad people come from?” A rhetorical question that I made no real attempt to answer; rather, I simply wondered why when we were children we didn’t need nearly as much protection as kids get today. I also wondered, implicitly, whether kids today really do need all the protection they get.

    Just to give a sample, more or less at random: “All parents know that at some stage children have to be capable of crossing streets without having their hands held. At some point car-drivers have to be trusted not to run them down, and ice-cream vendors not to rape them, and teachers not to turn comforting hugs into rabid molestation. Sooner or later – children have to be trusted to look after themselves.” Daisy has said this infinitely better than I could, and hers is a professional essay, mine mere amateur rambling. I’m so glad I came across it.

    (My blog is a strictly personal record, and doesn’t accept comments. But it does give my home email, if anybody wants to comment privately.)

  • Where I grew up there was a one hundred foot high stone dam enclosing a resevoir and when I was in junior high you had to climb it to be “in the club”. Not only did I do it, but in order to impress a girl I was ass-over-tea kettle in love with at the time (Meghan with her honey-blonde hair and oh-so deep blue eyes. Ahhhhh, to be young again!) I did it at night during a thunderstorm.
    I got a peck on the cheek for my effort and nothing more, but the other girls at school did talk and I eventually wound up with one of her friends (Georgia with her chestnut-brown hair and sparkling green eyes, yum!) I point the dam out to my older nephews now and when I tell them what I did when I was their age, their jaws drop. “You did what!?” they say I ask them what they do that’s crazy and they just look at each other and shrug. When their father and I tell them about the egg and shaving cream fights we got into with other kids in the neighborhood on Halloween, we again get the crazy stares. These poor kids don’t even know how to do a wheelie, or go off a jump on a street bike!
    Unfortunately their idea of a wild time is getting four friends to play HALO at the same time!

  • I grew up in the 90s but in a small logging town on the puget sound in Washington state. We did pretty much all those things. We also jumped off high cliffs and off old railroad bridges into various bodies of water. Went off very high rope swings, explored caves, crossed a bay in knee-deep muck during low tide without so much as a single bottle of water to prevent certain death by dehydration. We climbed up and down waterfalls and high cliffs. I remember we crossed various canyons over nothing more than drainage pipes… We ran around barefoot on rocks covered with razor-sharp oysters (and got cuts almost daily), swam in jelly-fish infested waters, swam out as far as we could without any adult supervision and then swam back without dying. We dug up geoducks as a team (because it takes great strategy and coordination), then came inside and prepped and fried them ourselves. We rafted down rivers on old pieces of styrofoam board. We walked up and down rivers to find where they meet the bay… We picked/ate wild berries without getting sick or mauled by bears. We were never in the house during the summer!

    And I was a cautious girl… I can’t imagine what the crazy kids did!

  • my 8yo daughter has to work for her pocket money. We recently brought her to the local flea market so she could spend some of it. She picked out the books she wanted to buy at one stall, and I mine. Went to pay and the lady attending the booth was flabbergasted that I wasn’t just buying her books for her… made her add up the total, count out the money and pay politely. She was even more awestruck that my daughter had worked for her money. She thought it was a completely novel idea that a kid would actually earn their spending money and learn about how a transaction occurred. It has given my daughter a whole new perspective on the value of things. You don’t just get to go to the store and pick out the newest doll to buy, you have to work and save, then prioritize how to spend your money and know that when it’s gone it’s really gone and more doesn’t just show up in your wallet because you see something else cool you want.

  • Loved the list, but as a 6th generational hillbilly, I could add so many more. There was a rock quarry where I grew up. We could run through the woods to get to it. They had dug down deep and hit a spring. The spring filled up much of the huge hole that had been dug, effectively creating a crystal clear pool, over 12′ deep in places. My dad took us swimming there regularly but warned us not to go there alone, not because he was worried about us drowning, but because the owner of the quarry had asked my dad to. Later, my dad talked the man into letting us, so then us boys could go there and swim anytime we wanted (the quarry had been abandoned). This was all before me and my little brother were teens. Get that? At 12 I could take my 9-year-old brother swimming without supervision, we were both excellent swimmers. We’re all still here. Here’s some more for the list:

    -Shooting firearms without supervision
    -Building campfires anytime we wanted, without supervision
    -Run the wild woods all day by ourselves
    -Having a personal machete to hack away paths through the woods
    -Picking up snakes
    -Fishing by ourselves

    There are so many more but the best? Wrestling on the playground! In elementary school us boys had our own special wrestling pit. Every recess there were piles of boys in the pit, tackling, pushing, shoving, wrestling. There was always a teacher nearby keeping an occasional eye, to make sure clothes didn’t get ripped and to assist any unfortunate boy that got a little too roughed up. If I’m lying, I’m dying. Rip a boy’s shirt – go stand up against the school wall for the rest of recess. That was hell.

  • How about taking a rifle to school to make a new stock for it in wood shop in the late 70’s and was just told to not bring any shells with me… in believe it or not San Jose California…

  • I grew up in the 60’s in a small central Illinois town. We would entertain ourseleves by “skitchin'” behind the city busses on snowy roads in the wintertime; grab the bumper of the bus, squat down with your knees tucked in tight and let the bus pull you to the next stop sign. Or catching snakes in the summertime in the creek that bordered our neighborhood. I remember my buddy Louie let a sackful go in the convent of the catholic school that we went to. He got spanked. And riding around on our bikes (mine was built from a number of broken and discarded bikes from around the neighborhood) with a glass bottle of coke in one hand and a Mickey snack cake in the other. Sunburned, bug bit and dirty, life could not have been better.

  • Rising in the back of a pickup doing 80 at night, in the rain…

    My ranch cousins yelling “Run!” and then roping one leg with subsequent faceplant.

    Riding bike alone to local drug store for a 5c Coke, at age 6

    First afterschool job at age 12

    The list goes on and on…

  • I have been continuously asking myself who the hell are these people who call police when they see a kid playing outside unsupervised, and what planet did they grow up on?!?! Un-freaking-believable!

    As kids, we did so many outrageous things, and nobody died or even got seriously hurt. We lived next to a steep railroad embankment. In the summer, we would take turns getting put into a barrel and being rolled down the embankment all the way to the railroad tracks. In the winter, we would build ski jumps and sled down the embankment and over the ski jump.

    We took turns jumping off the garage roof to prove to each other that we weren’t ‘chicken’. We climbed tall trees to the tippy top where the tree top would bend over with our weight. We built tree houses, with little or no parental supervision, and spent many nights sleeping in them. We jumped 20′ out of the treehouses on to crash pads composed of old mattresses.

    We blew up tin cans, ant hills, and many other things with firecrackers. We chased each other around with roman candles. We divided into two sides for war games and then each side shot bottle rockets at each other.

    Nobody got killed, nobody sustained a serious injury. There were occasional cuts and bruises, and a few (very few) cases of someone needing to be taken to the doctor’s office for a few stitches.

    Today any one of these activities would get our parents arrested and prosecuted, and we would be kidnapped by CPS and taken away from our families. All of us need to personally and vehemently get in these peoples’ faces at their offices, as they are going to and from their homes, etc. Only when they start getting angry and outraged and literally in their face yelling, vitriol, and denouncement everywhere they go will they even begin to get the message.

    • At least down South, we don’t have this problem of pussified kids … down here, they’re pretty self sufficient, tough, well mannered, and independent …. and that’s by the age of 6. The city kids won’t make it …. sorry to say and their parents can take pride in the fact that they have let society, the ps police, the schools, and other “authorities” take over child rearing.

  • I rode my bike (no helmet) at least ten miles to school everyday in jr. high. I delivered newspapers with my brother, who rode in the back of the pickup truck. I actually dumped him off the truck while making a turn. BTW I was driving at age 11. I did 98% of the things listed.

    My 14 yr.old son today has done many of the same things. Screw the PC police!
    He’s shot BB guns and arrows at beer cans and other things in the backyard.
    He rides his bike without a helmet.
    He actually works to get money for things he wants to buy. Like a 26″ LCD TV.
    He climbs trees and goes camping regularly.
    He goes fishing and comes back a stinking mess and is hosed off outside.
    He also cooks dinners for US and does his own laundry.

    It’s all about how you raise your kid.

  • I’ve often wondered when the switch occurred and kids were not “allowed” to do anything risky anymore. I did more than a few of these things growing up in the 80s and 90s in central NY while managing not to kill myself or anyone else. The one thing I do wonder about kids back in the day being allowed to use is lawn darts. That always seemed crazy to me…but not crazy enough that I didn’t use them myself. I am glad I grew up when I did and not in this day and age.

  • I grew up in the 80s. Some of that new agey “everybody gets a trophy” stuff was starting to filter into the culture by then, but by and large it was still a time when a kid could be a kid. I have very fond memories of Reagan era America.

    Me and the neighborhood kids played army all the time, and we all had arsenals of very real looking toy guns. Nobody ever had a massive freak out at the sight of us running around with realistic toy AK-47s and Uzis. We used an empty field next to our school as a BMX proving ground, complete with various ramps and obstacles of our own design. I launched myself over handlebars on more than one occasion. Not only did nobody wear a helmet, I don’t even remember ever seeing them on the store shelves.

    I really feel sorry for these kids today, kept in boring and sterile environments where any sense of adventure has been browbeat out of them by this overweaning nanny culture.

  • We had our own fort, dug out and built ourselves one summer, complete with a space that could accommodate an evening fire. That is until some kids a year older found it and tore it apart with hatchets. I fondly remember BB guns, slingshots, snow and mudball fights, bicycling across town, exploring the woods down by the river, breaking into the little league fields to play an impromptu game in the morning, and hundreds of toys buried in the yard somewhere. My brother won free hockey tickets a few years back my telling the station his favorite toy growing up was mud. Kids need to be taught how to be responsible adults someday, but they also need to be kids.

  • Heck, I’m 13 and still do this stuff. Ride on the back of the Toyota, go fishing til dark, shoot guns and bows, all that stuff. Living in Maine and being a redneck, I never though ANYTHING on the list was weird or bad. Shooting guns and bows, fishing, hunting, all are great things that I do daily. Providing wild meat for the family always gives me pleasure. Last year I got my deer. I’ve been getting grouse and rabbits often. Squirrels are always fun to go after. I remember the first time I shot a rabbit. Great time. It was my very first kill besides fish and stuff. My grandfather and I were scouting around with the ol’ Ruger 10/22. At the time, I was a tiny guy and the rifle was hard for me to shoulder offhand so when we saw the rabbit, my grandfather held the end of the gun for me lol. One shot and he was down. An a amazing experience. I was shaking of excitement. Rabbits don’t taste bad, but deer and grouse are a whole lot better. Last year when we were grouse hunting, my grandfathers 12 gauge got all messed up. It was before I got a job and bought myself some new guns with my own money so since I didn’t use his shotgun, I used the .22. REALLY cool experience. At firs, it was pretty tricky. Grouse have really thin necks, so you wanna try their heads. At anywheres from 5-40 yards, some offhand head shots were hard. I ended up shooting a bunch to eat. Yes sir, nothing like wild meat. Goose, deer, bear, moose, squirrel, rabbit, duck, grouse, porcupine, all of it. Great. I think that living this way is the only way for me. My grandmother says she thinks I was a hillbilly in Appalachia in a different life haha. When I have kids, this is how I’m raising them. Teach them to get their own food, defend themselves, and have good times when not playing a video game or something.

  • I did all of those things, but the thing that I did growing up that would most likely result in a child neglect investigation was living alone at the lakes all summer long when I was 13 & 14 years old.

    I baled hay all day for pocket money and went fishing at night to feed myself. It seems to me there were more fish in those lakes before the state started to “manage” them, but either way I never went to bed without eating supper.

    My mom dropped me off in May and picked me back up in August. It isn’t like I never saw her. She stopped by once in awhile and I’d make dinner for her and my sisters or I rode my bike into town.

    I worked six days a week and went water skiing with my boss’ family on Sundays. He had a very nice boat and two very pretty daughters so it wasn’t as awful for me as it may sound.

    On a different note, I have a lot of bike crash and sledding accident stories to tell whenever I can find someone that actually remembers how to have a conversation. Yes, some were spectacular and I have scars to prove most of them.

  • I tried to ride a ‘wild’ horse when I was a kid… well it was a pony I guess, but it may as well have been a dinosaur. it didn’t appreciate my attempts to jump up on it’s back as I slid down its side. I got a hoof in the crotch for my efforts and had to half run half crawl across the field and scramble under the barbed wire fence while my mates were rolling around on the floor laughing!

    I got a bollocking, for riding my bike with my new shoes on while I was on my way back home and ran in to my Mum. She only found about what happened not 10 minutes earlier 10 years later 🙂

    I survived… plenty of scars and stories and maybe some memory loss due to the amount of times I had concussion as a child, but I survived!

    I blame the media. I remember school reports at assembly of stranger danger and suspicious characters hanging around the school which simply meant we walked home in groups. Nowadays, everyone gets picked up from school in their parents car or get on a bus right outside the school with a tribe of teachers watching them…

    Is it it worse today than yesteryear, or are we just saturated with so much media and bad news / fear mongering that we all start to believe the world has gone to shit?

  • “2 Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on”

    One time I skipped school altogether. I went to the railway station to watch the trains. I got talking to a train driver and I told him, lied to him rather, that “I was going to London”. Coindcidently, that is where his train was going. So he let me ride in the driver’s cab with him.

    Ticket inspectors never go into the driver’s cab and it’s not the driver’s job to check passangers tickets, which is lucky because I never had one.

    By the time we were about halfway through the 90-minute train ride, the driver had taught me the rudiments of how to drive a train and allowed me, under his guidance, to stop the train at a major station.

    How many other kids ever get to skip school and drive a train instead? On their own initiative?

  • As teens my friends and I had “bottle rocket wars” in which we shot bottle rockets at each other from PVC pipes strapped to a hand grip. It stung if you got hit, but it was hardly life-threatening.

  • How about shooting each other with a BB gun? Yes, we did that. Probably not the smartest thing.

    How about using a pea shooter to scare the shit out of drivers (by blasting their windshield), then running like hell when they chased after us to beat the shit out of us?

    How about knocking down hornet’s nests and then running like hell, even knowing the hornets would still catch us?

    How about playing on the railroad tracks, flattening pennies, etc.?

    I guess my mother should be in prison.

    I have to disagree slightly with your premise though. I know plenty of boomers who are just as fearful as younger folks are. Some people are not happy unless they have something to fear.

    Anyway people are inventive. If they get into a situation, they can still figure how to get out of it. I do wish my son was more physically fit though. Wife spoils him far too much. I think when every family had 6 kids, the kids were left to their own devices a lot more than now. Only children are too protected for their own good.

  • Play a store bought game where two people stand 50 feet apart with a circle on the ground at their feet and then throw a large weighted projectile at the circle. The game was designed so you got points for getting the “jart” into the circle. Of course it was modified as well that if the other guy moved, you got a point for him being a ninny. These Jarts were basically a heavy weighted spike with fins on the tail and a handle.

    Rolling a towel up and flicking it with your wrist and listening to the “snap!”. And then hunting the house to satisfy your curiosity by finding someone who would volunteer to tell you if it hurt or not.

    Holding onto the bumper of a car while it dragged you through the snow.

    Making a tree fort with nothing but rotten wood and old rope

    Intentionally using the trampoline as a launch to make it to another destination (typically the “other destination” had to be well though out and engineered and built by hand

    organizing a hockey game where one of the goal posts was the “thin ice sign” and knowing how to identify what ice was safe and what was not by your own judgement, and playing with kids at the corner pond that frankly – were older, and mean.

    Hopping rail car trains

    making your own wrist rockets and determining the value of the engineering by just how destructive it could be with the right rock.

    Tennis ball cannons. How could you know how far it would launch a tennis ball until you loaded it with so much fuel it blew up? How about light the tennis ball on fire and then launch it – curious minds had to know.

    Don’t put fire crackers in a confined space. Gotta try that. Starts with a coffee can.

    Make your own stilts – the kind you have to get on from the top step of the porch. If you can do it – the foot holds are too low – move them up and try again – find a wall or something.

    If it’s dangerous – “you go first” is always a sure fire way to make it safe

  • I was out and about on my own from the mid 50’s/60’s. Things were very different then. Most mothers were home when you walked home from school. Mom would tell you to change your school clothes into play clothes and, “Go outside to play.” My favorite outdoor activity was riding my bike without a helmet downhill as fast as possible. I had many many accidents and ruined clothing by landing/sliding in a gooey hot tar patches in the summer, but I made it.

    We lived on a hill, and most of the neighborhood kids would sled down this hill when covered with snow. Salt was not used at this time. Cars still needed to go up and down the road, usually with snow chains. What did my mother say? “Stay out of the way of the cars.” I was expected to have common sense and safety was my responsibility. There were younger kids sledding as well, and all of the older kids made sure the younger kids were safe, your sibling or not. No one got hurt.

    I did ride in the bed of a pick up on a highway. And we were not stopped by a cop, either.

    While all time periods have an ugly underbelly, I was glad to have come of age in time and place that turned out to be the end of an era.

    My daughters told me the same thing as yours concerning self sufficiency. They could not believe how unskilled/clueless their college peers were. I introduced all the kids to the washing machine and dryer/iron at an appropriate age;/ At that point they were expected to take care of their own clothes, boy or girl. My one son has more domestic skills than his wife. This is not a MIL comment. She is rather proud of it.

  • Hey DL,

    My response to urban idiots is exposure to nature. The parent-idiots and their kidiots seem to sense that salvation as well as meaningful danger lays in the beauty, bounty, and brutality of nature.

    So I show them how to self-train themselves in a logical and safe manner to put their fat asses into nature.

    Check it out:

    (and .org)

    I’ve given lots of parents the tools and info to get the kids and themselves out on the trail, which seem to create observation, analysis, and engagement skills where before there were none.

    It’s a Natural Miracle!

    Happy Trails,


  • Great article and so true. I did nearly all of the things you list. I walked several blocks to and from kindergarten every day on my own with no supervision and survived. My brother and I both had pocket knives and would play “chicken” with the open blades by throwing them between each others feet. We lived across the street from the American River and we would go and play there unsupervised for hours on end. We were very young. We used to catch snakes and lizards and bring them home. We would ride our Radio Flyer wagon down the sides of the levee and occasionally would crash and burn. Once the wagon hit a rock and I went over the tongue and did a face plant into the ground. We also lived near the train tracks. We would crawl into the open box cars and also go between the couplers. We would put pennies on the tracks and then sit by the tracks until the train came so we couple collect our crushed pennies. We would build forts and have dirt clod fights in the vacant lot down the street. We would get pummeled with clods and come home filthy but what fun we had. I rode horses at my cousins ranch without a helmet and with no bridle or saddle. We would race as fast as we could around the county fair race track. No one died! I could go on and on. But my stories are nothing compared to what my mom survived while living on the Kansas plains. Every generation gets softer and softer. Thanks for the great article!

  • 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25,
    26 Ran with scissors, knives, etc and threw them at each other
    27 Nearly amputated fingers or other body parts when using axe to chop wood
    28 Nearly amputated fingers or other body parts when using power tools
    29 Nearly put holes in fingers or other body parts when using drills
    30 Fell through ceiling by not knowing to only walk on beams
    31 Causing various injuries to others because egging houses is for wimps
    32 Learnt about steering and brakes from go-carts
    33 Learnt the art of moving without showing pain from just doing ……… 😉
    34 Suffered numerous stab wounds whist earning to sew
    35 Suffered numerous burns & cuts learning to cook
    36 Going down snow covered slopes on a low tech sled (plastic bag)
    37 Going down a grass covered slope on the same low tech sled

  • The most fun I ever had was getting to ride a sled that was tied to the back of a car which was slowly driven over icey streets! It felt like I was flying! Yes, I fell off, just as my mother feared I would and was dragged down the road until someone jumped off another sled and ran up to the car and told the driver to stop. I had a huge bruise and would do it again today at 63! Other fun things — sitting in a cardboard box and sliding down the stairs, sliding down the laundry shute onto a pile of dirty clothes, swinging from the barn loft door, rolling down a grassy hill, and twirling on the front lawn with arms outstretched and head tilted back looking at the stars — broken arm, mom puked when she saw it — so cool! One more thing — croquet as a blood sport — anyone game?

  • Our babysitter sat me on the hood of her ’57 Chevy, showed me where to hook my fingers, and drove up and down our neighborhood street. I’m sure it wasn’t very fast, but it was awesome. We rode in the back of pick-up trucks, and bicycles without helmets (I ended up with a concussion and all the teeth loosened on one side of my face behind that one). We played in the woods and touch football in the street. Sometimes we got in fistfights and no one went to jail or needed a therapist. We practiced archery in the back yard, and my dad taught me how to shoot (granted, at a range, but a real rifle), and gun safety. One of my favorite treats was a ‘pocketbook sandwich’….white bread, liberally buttered, and sprinkled with white sugar, folded in half…and no one was fat! We were outside unless it was pouring down rain or a blizzard. I learned how to roll cardboard, put it in a tuna can, pour in melted wax, and use it to cook on a coffee can(hazards galore!)…in 5th grade in a public school. I learned to cook(hot stoves and knives!) and sew(needles and scissors!) and take care of babies and how to garden and put-up food…things my grandchildren call ‘the old ways'(which I find sad)…but they come to grandmas’ house to do those things. Hopefully, they will remember and be better for it.

  • I did all those things. I also built a “fort” in the woods behind my house out of lumber and scraps purloined from local housing construction sites. I made my own bow and arrows from scratch, and they actually fired with some accuracy. I learned how to handle, shoot and respect guns from an early age. And sometimes we just rode bikes all day, looking for adventure and whatever came our way. Good times.

  • I haven’t done everything on the list but several bring back memories. I also miss the days when everyone was NOT a winner. When you actually got cut from a sport if you couldn’t play. When losing a game was just plain losing. When you didn’t get participation ribbons for every little thing. I’m so afraid our future generations will have no drive to succeed at anything because they have been told for too long that just showing up is good enough. They won’t take risks or help themselves because they’ve never had to and are often encouraged NOT to. They are no longer taught that what you put into something is what you get out of it. I learned to do household chores before I started school and could scale a fish too (didn’t learn to filet them for a few more years). I helped cut and stack would every winter (and a wood stove was how we kept warm all winter long so we did it a lot!).
    A friend and I used to do flips out of the hay loft into a mound of hay on the cement barn floor a story below. Of course our parents didn’t know and probably would have spanked us if they found out (yes…i also lived thru those too!), but we both lived to tell our own kids about it. I don’t let my boys do everything I used to do (like ride my bike 10 country miles alone to meet my friend halfway to her house) simply because there are too many creeps in the world now but they hunt,fish,shoot guns,have their own knives, start fires to roast marshmallows or to boil crawdads they just dug out of the creek or cook up some frogs they just snagged from the pond… They also cook (enough to survive anyway), clean, do laundry, now the grass, help with household projects, etc.. AND… They do these things without an allowance! That requires extra work. Some people think they are “running wild” to which i say “of, thank goodness!”. My youngest son has had 4 ER trips in the last 6 years but he’s learned from each one and can set his own limits now. I’m not afraid to let my kids go (or grow). Most of the reason for me is because of my faith but just as important is the knowledge that we have raised them to get out and do things that push their limits and get them out of theircomfort zones and help them be independent. I hope when they have kids off their own they will still be able to do the same. I’m so thankful to my parents for letting me” be a kid” and I hope my boys feel the same.
    Oh… And I still love to drink from the cold garden hose on hot summer day!

  • Anyone remember lawn jarts? By calling them “jarts” instead of “darts”, parents somehow felt more comfortable buying a set for family fun back in the 70’s. We would even sharpen ours so they would stick better – we didn’t count the throw if the ‘jart’ wasn’t vertical in the ground. The obvious hazards with the game played out, but without hospitalization, and we went back to all the other things on the list that no one had been seriously hurt doing….yet!

  • Grew up as a kid in the 70’s in Denver, Co. Did most of the stuff on this list. Wintertime meant holding onto the back bumper of a car/truck and being dragged up and down the snowy street, hoping your friend’s dad didn’t jam on the brakes! Also down at the sledding hill we would see how many kids we could pile on those giant tractor inner tubes somebody always seemed to have. I remember one afternoon we got 15 kids on one by stacking ourselves 3 on each row. A mound of kids going down the hill, and most of them fall off and getting run over by said innertube!

    We would capture grasshoppers, and tape them to pop bottle rockets and try to put a grasshopper into orbit. It was funny until the space shuttle exploded in 1986.

    Never wore a bike helmet until my Air Force days when I was required to wear one on base. Said the heck with that and stopped ridding a bike on base. My kids don’t have helmets for their bikes, and they zip up and down the street. The other kids just stare at them because they don’t have all the padding all over their bodies. Yes we’re those crazy homeschoolers.

    When I took over for my boys Cub Scout pack a few years ago I stopped the “Participation ribbons/trophies” at the Pinewood Derby. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall winners got a small trophy, everybody else got the collectors patch. Had some parents upset that their kid didn’t get a “trophy”, and especially were upset when I told them they didn’t win. Thankfully those parents realized I wasn’t handing out awards like candy like previous leaders and left the pack.

    In a bit of good news, Cub Scouts revamped their program summer of 2015, and now includes camping requirements for the boys ages 8 and up.Pleased with that. Also has a lot more outdoor activities. Hopefully it’s not too little, too late.

    I think my generation is the last one that didn’t have their entire childhood recorded. All the crazy stuff we did as teenagers now only exists in my memories. No pictures or videos exist. A Saturday on the town with the guys, with a couple of bucks for gas (gas was 70 cents a gallon, so $3-4 bucks we could cruise all night). I see the kids these day either document everything themselves, or get “tagged” by their parents. So that record exists, and can’t be deleted. So the stupid stuff they wind up doing as teenagers will live forever.

  • You forgot getting the swing way up in the air and jumping out to see how far you would go. I did almost all of that stuff. Camped on a creek bank in Texas, and held the lantern for my stepdad in the boat running the trot lines, and watching for water moccasins. I was walking a mile to and from school by myself when I went to kindergarten. Jumping off the roof just because it was there to do. Spent a lot of time in trees.

    • A couple of years ago I showed one of the neighbourhood children, a little girl of 7, how to jump off a swing. She thought it was a lot of fun, putting a little stick where she landed, to see if she could beat her record. Naturally, she taught this to other children in school, so lots of kids are doing it now.
      I’m busy putting a little fun (spelled danger) into children’s lives, and they love it.

  • We just returned from Florida where we stayed at a magical resort and I was appalled to see lots parents pushing their older kids in strollers! I mean these kids were 8-9 years old! Lots of double strollers with siblings riding while their parents pushed the precious snowflakes around. Some of these kids were so big they couldn’t extend the sun canopy because it wouldn’t go over the kids heads! What are parents thinking?? At that age our kids were doing archery and had a cool go cart. They water skied and did competitive swimming so they could walk all day at an amusement park without ever complaining. Sorry kid, if you want to go have fun, you can walk like the rest of us!

    • That’s crazy! Wow. Imagine a war in another decade when these kids are the pool of people to defend the country.

      • We’re safe as long as we have kids growing up in rural areas. The values we in flyover country impart to our children will win out. Rural has always been the backbone of the nation.

  • NAILED IT! Everything on that list I did as kid. Loved it all. Sometimes after playing all day in the woods were a lot of swampy area was – I go home stinking covered head to toe in filth – I’d have to undress outside – tip toe to the shower – and more than once mother made me shower a second time because I still smelled like swamp! Consider that I was also a girl playing with the boys in the woods and river. Something not on the list is sling shots. We all had them and there wasn’t a street sign anywhere that wasn’t dinged, dented, and beat up from flying stones. A lot of street lights were OUT too! Kids today are crybaby PUSSIES! On my 10th birthday – my grandfather gave me a brand new CASE pocket knife that had a tiger-stripe yellow and black grip, with a four inch blade. WHY? So I could play Mumblety-Peg at school! I was good at it. This was in the mid 1950’s! I still have the knife – although it really beat up.

    • Yes, Mumblety-Peg–that was a great game–although I didn’t ever use my *good* knife for that. Never cut myself playing it, either.
      At a fairly early age I was careering around the woods on one or another pony (one of whom was stone blind, I was his eyes–and yes, he could gallop and jump). The other one–I taught him to pull me, skijoring (used a helmet when riding, but not for the skijoring!) Much of the time rode bareback. I remember jumping over a side-delivery hay-rake one time, when another kid sneered at my mare and I showed them what she could do…
      And the chores on a farm–learning to use tools, eventually being allowed to use them unsupervised. Falling off a hay-wagon while tramping loose hay. Running across the barn on a beam because you needed to get to the other side and didn’t want to go down the stairs or ladder…

  • Daisy, I did all those things growing up in CA…S.F. Bay Area. My best friend and I use to play army in his backyard, riding our bicycles all day, some times going 5 to 6 cities away riding around. Half my childhood was spent in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains where my dad built a 2 story cabin up in the 6000 ft level of the mountains…..when we went camping, my mother use to tell us to go outside and play, go find something to do….we did, often times, going 3 miles back and 5 mile up to the next mountain ridge….spending all day up there, and in total awe of the beauty that makes your hair stand on end.

    We as children then, were left to our own devices and imaginations for entertainment, unlike today. My dad taught me carpentry (by observation and some times being able to hand him the nails when he needed them), he taught me electrical, dry-walling (again, through observation and some times being able to somewhat help), I learn mechanics from my brother, watching him tear apart his VW almost every other weekend. I learned to cook by (again observing my mom in the kitchen), and 2 years of cooking in HS (better know as Home Ecc). Yes, today’s society and environment, tends to leave people squishy, wimpy and docile, which is what this govt wants…..people really need to learn to stand up for themselves and their rights, to do things for themselves (self-sufficiency)…

  • Yep. We used to buy M-80’s (quarter stick of dynamite in power) and blow up parts of the rock quarry. We were 8.

  • At the age of three I had the free range of one hundred acres of woodland and field as well as two lakes of two acres each and my mother would pack me up a bag which I would tie on a stick and put over my shoulder and go on an adventure. I did get into trouble once for taking a fourteen foot punt out on the front lake on my own at the age of five.
    But I can remember there were places I would not go because I did not feel safe.
    Later on at the age of seven my friends and I would roam all round our town of Watton in Norfolk and along the country roads investigating all woods, fields and ponds.
    This of course was in the fifties, kind of “Darling Buds Of May” time.
    Now the ponds have been filled in and the trees I used to climb have been felled, the birds are not so plentiful and my bones creak. I was lucky. Phil

  • Depends when you were born, I guess, which determines which team games you play. We kids played included Civil War (I guess we were too late to play revolution or war or 1812 although because of Fess Parker we knew about the Alamo), and listening to stories from young veterans who’d been there and supplemented with information provided by countless movies, we played WWII; then cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians. What did we know about Indians? Not living in Oklahoma or Idaho, not a damned thing except what we were told by movies and TV. We followed the script. Most kids had a BB gun. No eyes shot out I can recall. When I was 9-yrs-old the YMCA taught us to shoot rifles. Real rifles with.22 short ammo. In gym class we had to prove our fitness by climbing a rope to the ceiling. I suppose nowadays they’d worry you would fall. We’d swing like Tarzan from vines we found growing in the woods but they were almost always wild grape and pulled free from the tree. At Halloween we went trick or treating AFTER dark. We investigated caves and abandoned mines (adults didn’t have enough to keep kids out of forbidden dangerous places) where we left our names on the walls with the carbon of a carbide lamp.

  • I enjoy your articles and, with the exception of the use of the word(s) Rebel, rebellious, ect., agree with your views.
    “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”
    you may want to consider the difference between rebellion and revolution.
    Rebellion is against lawful authority.

  • Ditto to doing all of those things and survived!
    My kids grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and got to do many of the “forbidden things”. They were brought up to be independent and self sufficient by college age. They thought they were being used as “slave labor” but knew how to manage life on their own.
    Growing up in a rural area, I got to do a lot more than my city raised children like driving at age 13.
    Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was the best!!

  • 26. Told crude jokes without state permission.
    27. Broke wind in class and lied about it.
    28. Wrote book reports on Science-Fiction classics such as “When Worlds Collide” instead of dumb stuff like “Silas Marner” (a truly dreadful book).
    29. (worst of all) Was horribly bored in school.
    30. Hell, I even set off packs of firecrackers without having a SWAT army descend.

  • When I was 9, my dad taught me to drive. Not just out in the field behind the house, but on the road. He sat me on a phone book, put blocks on the clutch and the brake. Didn’t even think about buckling a seat belt, but he did explain the way to shift the 3 on the column. By the time I had made several rounds on the roads ’round the house, I was driving pretty well for a 9 year old girl. I always said Daddy wanted a boy, I was probably the only girl in the area who could change the oil in his pickup truck by the time I was 10. Fishin’ at night on the river with the cousins, with no adult supervision. We fried up some egg sandwiches, grabbed a lantern and a thermos of water and headed for the floating dock my uncle kept on the river. Only thing they said to me and several cousins was “don’t do something stupid and drown.” Older kids were expected to keep an eye on the younger kids and it was always appreciated if we brought back dinner, cleaned and filleted of course, (with real sharp knives) when we drug ourselves back home in the morning. There was no leaving the house when the sun came up unless all the chores were completed and even then, he seemed to be able to find something else for me to do to help him with whatever else he had going on that day. While other kids were off riding their bikes and doing whatever kids did when they left the house all day, I was probably mucking out barn stalls, making sure the cow was milked and then fed, feeding the chickens and collecting eggs. After all that was done, if Mom had anything inside that needed attention, I helped her with that too. My parents had the idea that work never hurt anybody and they intended to prove it with me. In my free time, I was probably out riding my mini-bike or the tractor he build for me, or swimming at the creek with some of the neighbor kids. That was ok, I loved my childhood and wouldn’t trade it for all the so called structured lives kids live now for anything.

  • How bout sliding down a steep hill sitting on a piece cardboard with a rope to ‘steer with’
    Ha ha. We did all those crazy things too and survived quite nicely! Never needed a helmet either….

  • When I was a kid, we took our rifles (ones we got for Christmas) to school for “show and tell.” We also climbed atop the swing bars and unhooked a swing when someone was swinging in it. We played all those dangerous games (NOT) listed above, and the teacher did NOT want to hear any snitches. On weekends, we left in the morning, usually on horseback, took a lunch, swam in creeks, and didn’t return until nightfall, . Those were indeed the “good ole’ days.”

  • I did all those things and more. I worked at my grandpa’s dairy farm, here in north Texas, from around age 6 to 18. In the summers, we’d work from can see to can’t see. It was wonderful! Great memories.
    Daisy, I’ll say it again, you are OMG amazing! What a woman you are! I love reading you. I read your “about Daisy” article…You went through quite a trial, but you’ve really stalwartly survived like a true champion.
    I, like you, are an introvert. I’m not comfortable around big crowds and am a bit of a misanthrope.
    I write you this here, because I don’t know how else to contact you. I don’t do twitter or fb, but I am on Pinterest and Gab and I follow you there. Thanks for sharing your story and your knowledge…And can’t wait for your new book!
    I’m having some coffee too and reading more of you. You are going to be even more famous than you already are, I know it!


  • Not all of these things are mischievous acts, but almost ALL of them would be frowned upon today.
    Each “thing” is separated by the commas…this was the only way to keep this from being 20 pages long (I got a little carried away… this is ALL TRUE though!)

    I Survived Growing-Up In The ‘70s

    I survived… lead paint, wooden spoons, dart guns, dodge-ball, Saturday morning cartoon violence, Cap’n Crunch, not wearing a bike helmet, M-80’s and Silver Salutes (REAL ones that would blow a hole in the yard the size of a Frisbee!), jack knives, snowball fights at school, 5¢ candy bars, terror/horror/monster/ghost comic books, the neighborhood bullies, cap guns, eating peanut butter, broken bones, Jimmy Carter, Happy Meals, drinking from the water hose, playing by myself outside, sitting on Dad’s lap while he was driving, BB-gun wars with the neighbor kids( can you even IMAGINE 5-10 kids running through a suburban neighborhood all carrying BB guns and shooting at each other TODAY?…they would call out the S.W.A.T. Team!), home chemistry sets with bomb-making chemicals, toys like Thing Makers that got hot enough to melt plastic into bugs and monsters, asbestos everywhere, Mom and Dad drinking while driving, suntan lotion with NO spf protection whatsoever, swing sets and jungle gyms with no such thing as safety equipment, pop with REAL sugar in it, riding in the back of pick-up trucks, Lawn Darts, sitting “in the middle” of the front seat of the car, leaving the house unlocked, “dirt clod” wars held at new home construction sites…throwing hard clumps of clay and mud usually embedded with rocks at each other, lying in the back window of the car while driving, Mom dropping us off at the beach/movies/roller skating rink/ice skating rink and picking us up hours later, riding sleds and toboggans at 60 mph down 100 foot sand dunes nowhere near any adults or civilization, shooting my bow and arrow straight-up clean outta sight and then dodging the steel-tipped arrow as it came back down (one of my favorite games!), Mumblety-peg (look it up if you don’t know, we really “played” this), “Evel Knievel” sidewalk bike ramps, T.V. dinners, model rockets that put out enough burning thrust to fly 2000’ high, “bumper sledding” with a rope tied to the back of a car in the winter, Red Rover at school, popping “wheelies” at full speed and then jumping off the back of the bike so it would fly down the road/sidewalk/driveway into whatever, Roman Candle wars, waiting in the car by yourself in you “acted-up” in the store or restaurant,
    sliding down the moss covered spillway of the river dam at 40 mph and praying there was no glass/nails/sharp sticks hiding in the dirty water, throwing rocks at the train cars as they flew by and then looking innocent and waving at the guy in the caboose, picking and eating berries/wild apples/grapes/whatever we found growing in the woods, intentionally “ditching” Mom at K-Mart so I could go play with the toys, going “exploring” outside of your own neighborhood as long as you were home “by the time the street lights come on”…more-or-less, going barefoot all day long even into the store with Mom, eating Halloween cookies and candy made by “the neighbor lady down the block”, “bumper surfing” by grabbing the back of the school bus in the winter, sneaking into the drive-in theater by hiding in the trunk, fishing on the pier in Lake Michigan with Grampa when he called the 6 foot waves “a little choppy”, carrying tuna fish sandwiches with Miracle Whip to school in a metal Six Million Dollar Man lunch box that sat un-refrigerated on a shelf in the classroom 4-5 hours until lunchtime, REALLY poisonous household chemicals, Klick-Klaks, bacon/butter/sugary cereal/sugary gum/hotdogs/white bread/gluten (was gluten even “invented” then?)/gramma cooking with lard, Wrist Rocket wars, school lunches (pizza, pizza burgers, fish sticks, chili-mac, sloppy joe’s, tater-tots, goulash, “maggots and mud” (rice and gravy), “bikinis and weenies” (beans and franks), “grapes and guts” (a type of mushy fruit cocktail), “cat suey” (chop suey), “Chicken a la Crap” (Chicken a la King), soy-bean hamburgers), smear-the-queer, falling off the roof/out of the tree/off the jungle gym, too many bike wrecks to remember, underground cave-ins at the fort we dug out in the field, lighting firecrackers in our hands and throwing them (hopefully) before they exploded, going rabbit/bird/gopher/coon hunting with a real shotgun by myself (9 or 10 years old), playing King of The Mountain on a huge pile of ice and snow by the parking lot at school, learning to throw a hatchet like Daniel Boon on T.V., swinging out over a 50 foot deep ravine on an old rope swing, “body surfing” in big waves on Lake Michigan, smashing an entire roll of caps with a hammer and thinking the ringing in your ears was “Cool!”, making “flame throwers” with a lighter and the can of Lysol or WD-40, crashing my mini-bike several times, sharing a baloney sammich with my dog (I take a bite, he takes a bite, I take a bite, he takes a bite…), pop bottle rocket wars, taking a stick of incense or a punk weaving it though the fuses on a pack of firecrackers lighting it and leaving it on somebodys window air-conditioner and walking back home a block or two away…15 minutes later “BLAMITY-BLAM-BLAM!!!”…good times!, lifting the den mother’s skirt because someone DARED me to…got kicked out of Cub Scouts…today would be a sex crime!, hitting grape to walnut sized rocks up into the air with an old tennis racket they REALLY FLEW halfway across the neighboorhood…and landed SOMEWHERE, taping an Estes “C” or “D” engine to a welding rod putting in a pipe like a mortor and firing into a tree or the hatefull old mans house across the field, playing “Tender Vittles” with the older girls in the campgrounds swimming pool (I’ll leave the rest to your imagination), thinking it was a GOOD idea to use and old metal bathtub as a boat in the river…about halfway out to the island it sank!..swam the rest of the way… had no choice, putting the neighbors cat in the mailbox and banging on it with a stick…mailman got a nasty surprise a couple hours later, the “Dead Baby Trick”…we put a small t-shirt on a wooden Tiki god my parents brought back from Jamaica…placed it and a smashed-up old tricycle in the middle of the street and smeared a smashed catalope about 10 feet down the road… we hid in the dark porch and laughed our asses off when drivers would jump out of their cars FREAKING-OUT!…good fun ‘till a cop showed-up… he didn’t catch us but we didn’t move for half an hour, walking down the rail road tracks because it was the easiest or fastest way to get somewhere, having squirt-gun wars every spring in elementary, middle AND high school, going hill climbing in the sand dunes along Lake Michigan in Jeeps with some people from Chicago that my dad “kinda knew”…we would ROAR up 45° angle dunes while I stood up in the back of the Jeep hanging on to the roll bars for dear life!…and then go smelt dippin’ until 3 am…they cooked them IN OIL right there on the beach, taking my dads Suzuki 550 motorcycle “out fo a spin” whenever the parents went away (I knew where he kept the spare key…I was about 15), going camping in the sand dunes just me and my dog…I built a fire and put the open can of Chef Boy-R-Dee Ravioli right in the fire…a can of Vets or some Gainesburgers for my dog, making our own homemade Napalm out of styrofoam cups and gasoline…just like we saw on the Vietnam War we watched on T.V., “patroling” the neighborhood streets on my two seater go-cart…one guy kid driving…the other kid riding shotgun with a loaded BB Gun (I have a picture of this!), climbing a tree so high you couldn’t get down and actually HOPING the fire truck ladder squad would have to come get you (‘cause fire trucks are NEAT!), throwing our plums up against the white ceiling tile of the café-gym-a-tarium whenever the school was stupid enough to serve them (the purple stains lasted forever), on the weekends pumping gas for customers at my dad’s Zephyr gas station and making change (10-13 years old)…I walked around with a wad of cash too big for my hands to hold and no one bothered me…dad usually gave me $5 and all the pop and candy bars I could handle for a few hours work, getting into fights in gym class…and then the teacher/coach would make us put on boxing gloves and finish the fight proper!
    … these are the things I can REMEMBER doing when I was a little kid growing-up in the 70’s (I’m now 53). Compared to what kids are today, we were little BADASSES!

    • Did we hang out together or what?! If not we sure as hell would’ve been best friends. I’m 60 and killed the list and yours then more. Jumped cars and even a bus once on a motorcycle. Thanks for the memories ;- }

  • When I was in high school, 1961-65, we had a session each year where we spend several weeks learning how to use a bow and arrow, with real pointed arrows. I never really cared for it and would shoot the arrows so far down the path, near the entrance way to the school, so the gym teacher got to where she would make me sit it out. I always claimed it was accidental, but we all knew better.
    And my brother and I had BB guns from the time we were pre-teens. We would shoot targets in the back yard. I got in trouble once when we were shooting paper bags and the BB went through the paper bag and through a window on the other side of the paper bag. I learned to consider what might be on the other side of the target we were shooting at. I remember my brothers when they got older playing with their BB guns out on the streets with other boys actually shooting at each other with the BB guns. No one ever got really hurt. And no one called the cops on the boys. Mother did kinda bitch them out about it not being safe.
    A couple of kids in the neighborhood had pretty much homemade go-carts which they would ride on the streets, and give other kids rides. No one thought a thing about it, except perhaps envy at the building skills of the kids who had made them.
    When one of my brothers had picked up a baby snake and brought it in the house, and mother thought it might be a poisonous snake, and it was, she didn’t call the police for help, she had my brother hold on to it and send one of us for the boy scout next door, who IDd the snake and then shot its head off with his pellet gun in the back yard while my six year old brother was still holding it. No panic, no screaming, and no calling for the authorities. Just the 12 year old boy next door. It was a baby copperhead snake that my brother thought was a “cute worm.”
    We would go out to play after we did our homework after school, and we didn’t have to tell mother where we were going, but when she would go out back and call us in, all the kids knew it was time for them to go home as well. And you could hear mother calling us from at least a block away. And we got our butts home quick cause one thing you did not do was cross Mother. She would spank the boys with a belt and at times slapped us girls, and it was not considered child abuse, it was called discipline and it did turn out four adults with pretty good manners and respect for rules and a desire not to get into more trouble than you wished to deal with.

  • It’s a wonder we survived childhood. We floated down the creek in an old refrigerator when none of us could swim. We walked across the creek on fallen trees with snakes slithering off the other end into the water. We slid down the banister of our two story house and walked around the upstairs rail
    16 feet above the downstairs floor. We picked blackberries around the mother skunk and her babies. We climbed trees and built tree houses and swung from tree limbs. We baited our own hooks, fished without our parents and cleaned the fish when we got home. It was a wonderful childhood. And believe it or not, we survived!

  • My pocketknife went all through school with me–all the teachers knew I had it because they’d ask to borrow it! (Same when I was teaching–the principals and other teachers knew I had tools in my desk… Of course the day finally came, when I had retired and was substituting, that I was told my jackknife was forbidden!)

    And with jackknives–did anyone else play mumbly-peg? Terrible dangerous game, of course…

  • I grew up on what would now be called a small organic farm in WI. For my 4th birthday my dad gave me a Daisy BB gun, took me out to the orchard, and taught me how to use it. When I was 6 bapa taught me how to use the old rider, and I wound my way around dozens of apple trees and vegetable gardens, and did it barefoot too. I collected dandelion heads and started helping nana make wine that same summer. We had slingshots, plated lawn darts, and put the slip and slide on a hill so steep we flattened out the grass another 50ft past it. Nights were spent on top of the smokehouse, surrounded by old growth lilac bushes we had to climb to get up there. I’m a mom of three, allowed my kids a lot of the same experiences growing up, and depending on the day was considered a bad, lazy, hippy parent, with wild kids. At times I could see their point. It took a good year before the boys stopped peeing off the rock wall into the pond, something frowned upon in the burbs, and admittedly, my kids were the only ones dangling off basketball hoops, shimmying up lamp posts, and laying on the garage roof. When I was younger those disapproving looks hurt, and caused some problems in the cul-de-sac, but I’m grateful I was a selfish parent too. And it was pure selfishness. I was having so much fun with my kids, when weighed out, I was unwilling to conform to the suburbs. Over the years we’ve all suffered, and screwed up, more than a young mother could ever have imagined. It’s only because of their childhood I’m confident all three would not only survive, but thrive and contribute. I get a great deal of comfort from that. It’s how I know I didn’t completely screw them up.

  • BEST POST & COMMENTS EVER!!! Tears in my eyes from laughing & fond memories. Did almost all of above, plus: jumping out of haylofts onto an old mattress, playing on icy ponds, and baking cakes & bread from scratch at age 10–thank you 4H. I am now the cool grandma who likes to catch bugs, get dirty, and make slime. Having a blast showing the youngsters that living life is way more fun than any video game.

  • 25 Things We Did as Kids That Would Get Someone Arrested Today
    So sad but true.
    We live in a different country than the one I grew up in.
    We would walk down the street with our BB guns and no one gave us a second look.
    Pocket knives at school? No one cared.

  • How about driving a tractor with implements (rake, plow and gasp a mower) by myself out to the fields and working all day. This included hooking up the equipment and filling the tractor with fuel. I was 13 years old. The first time I drove a tractor I was 6 and couldn’t reach the clutch or brake from the seat and had to stand the whole time (their was an adult walking along side). Also milking cows and feeding calves (could have been killed), I was little and Holstein cows are big. Didn’t get paid for it, you just did it. I also remember going to the movies Saturday morning with my little sister by ourselves and watching the cartoons and matinee. I was 5 she was 3. I was born in 1955.

  • We used to tip cattle, climb up onto chicken houses and hop off, build booby traps. We played tag, hide and go destroy, swam in rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans, swimming pools. We also grew up helping granddads mend fences, geld steers, draw cattle in for milking, helped shear sheep, fished, hunted, split firewood. We were wild and rough Appalachian country boys.

    I recall during high school guys had rifles in their pick up back windows. Nobody got shot up and none of the boys got expelled, or even so much as a principle saying boo to them. Nobody thought of people getting shot up, it just wasn’t done. Fathers, grandfather’s, uncles all would have laid down whoop butt if a boy got out of line, and the boys knew that. Boys respected discipline, honor, respect. It was taught as much as instilled.

    Ah, but we need more laws. *smh*


    need i say more? kid of the 70’s…..clackers? m-80’s?

    i survived and thought myself a dumb-ass compared to that older generation of men who could do everything. i still thought this into my 30’s. but what i didn’t realize was that i was becoming one of them. and now i’m more “do everything” than they were.

    point is, that there will always be those that get it. it just might take a bit longer for some of them to reach that point…..(some of my kids are on their way……)

  • When my cousins and I would go to my grandfather’s farm we would try to fine the best trees to bow. Bowing a tree was when you climbed to the top and bent it over and rode it to the ground. If two of you would climb together to the top and bow the tree to the ground, then one would let go and the other would have the ride of their life. That was real excitement.

    You soon learned the hickory was one of the best. You also began to identify trees by their leaves and how they moved in the wind.

  • First time commenter, long time reader;

    So I want to say I have my hand so far in the air I hit a could, how in the ‘help’ did I live to be 65 years old????
    OMG I just shake my head at the “new world” we now live in…
    BTW, I also did the Sheet off the roof thing, boy-ohhhhhh-boy was Mom mad at me for getting the sheet dirty… HAHAHAHA

    PS, great article and FANTASTIC Site Daisy, thank you for the work you do here.

  • OMG! I am loving the stories here! I did plenty of crazy kid stuff too as I am half a century old now! lol
    I would love to have real conversations with a bunch of you! Oh the stories.

  • I might mention a few memories not otherwise listed above:

    At age 4 I learned how to walk the family’s gentle milk cow in from the pasture every evening for milking, and how not to follow too closely behind one day when she got a bad case of diarrhea … and Mom had to hose me down before letting me into the bathtub to finish my cleanup.

    I once grabbed the .410 shotgun when a roving skunk threatened Mom’s chickens. My aim wasn’t perfect and the wounded skunk crawled under our house and died there. It takes about six weeks for the stink to wear away. The school kids never did figure out who the guilty stink-bringer was.

    In Cub Scouts I hand carved a wooden hand grenade replica to be a neckerchief slide. Memories of WWII were still fresh in the 1950s and nobody really paid any attention to my handiwork.

    In the hometown rodeo, I joyfully participated in the kid’s calf riding event, before the city fathers feared an insurance or litigation nightmare, and ended that event for future shows.

    I also got some practice training one family horse how to improve her time for the rodeo’s barrel racing competition.

    On our farm’s workshop I began learning how to use hand tools, beginning a couple of years before starting grade school. This included using hand saws, brace and drill bits, files, rasps, hammers, a bench vise, tin snips, and all the pieces of scrap wood and metal I could find from the family’s junk pile (that every farm had in those days).

    1950s TV featured Robin Hood (starring Richard Greene), so I was inspired to make swords, spears, bows and arrows, and even knives. I figured out how to grind down a worn-out metal file to make a superb camping knife. Making Y-shaped slingshots from a tree branch and strips of old inner tubes was easy. So was making a biblical sling (ala David & Goliath) powerful enough to put serious dents in grown tree trunks.

    My Dad took an old door and a couple of 2 x 6“ planks to make an impromptu snow sled. It was great fun to ride that over the snow while being rope-pulled by Dad on his horse.

    At about age 10 I learned to drive a tractor to pull a plow, and how to avoid having the tractor tip over backwards and squash me flat if the plow were to get stuck going through a centuries old depression in the field (called a buffalo wallow).

    It was a school tradition for the 7th grade to put on a Halloween fright event for the 8th grade (about 30 kids per class in that small school). So we rigged a haunted house, and using a hand-cranked telephone magneto (salvaged from a wooden wall phone that had just been replaced by a new dial phone at home), I hot-wired the fortune teller’s table so that she could hold the clueless victim’s hands over two iron hinges in the center of that table as she told their fortune — that they were destined to have a “shocking” experience, which was the signal for a hidden helper to crank that magneto and give the victim a mild electrical shock.

    It was also a school tradition on Halloween evening for the town kids to pile all the junk they could haul into town (especially old farm outhouses) and stack in the street in front of the high school. The only reason I couldn’t participate was that I didn’t have transportation — there were still two by-then-unused outhouses on our farm.

  • Going the rooftop of a six story brownstone tenement during the summer months to get hot asphalt, there were always pigeons embedded in the tar, to fire from our homemade sling board, a flat wooden board with a tire tube strip and trigger, to wake up anyone foolish enough to drink beer from a paper bag on the front stoop in the hot summer heat, while kids on the next building used mirrors to signal to people on the pavement and street, bedsheets bellowing in the sunlight on clotheslines, pairs of sneakers hanging from telephone lines, kids chasing the new French kid on the block, ‘Girl’, all female, gangs headed through the park on their way to a rumble, with six inch hat pins and baseball bats, a tree burning from someone swinging a Brillo pad on fire, while other kids digging a huge hole to be filled-in with mud and covered with newspapers, then challenging someone walking by to see how far they can jump across the papers, kids inside cardboard boxes rolling along as tanks, kids putting tacks, head down, on park benches, M-80s tossed in public bathrooms with tiled walls and floors, guaranteed nosebleed, sticking wire line up Chicklets gum machines or stuffing toilet paper up the coin return chutes in public telephones, using wire clothes hangers to help someone locked out of their car, going to the landfill dump to strip copper wire out of abandoned cars, hint: while at the racetrack never scream out loud that you made a killing on your horse, watching a station wagon pull up in the dump and letting out three geese, then drive away quickly while an army of rats comes out of the ground and form a pile over the birds, then watching as it reduces in size in a matter of seconds until there is only web feet and beaks left, later at night piling old Christmas trees to make a bonfire that would make the German American Bund envious …

    … ahhh, good times, good times

    • Almost forgot my favorite childhood memory of spending a hot muggy afternoon during summer school, it’s called remedial education now, transforming every F*ck Y*u written in the school’s library collection to BOOK YOU!, or was it my first confessional, going into the booth and reciting to the priest “Forgive me father for I have ..” only realize I was kneeling on a urine soaked bench from the last kid in the booth.

  • We would drag dead carp along the shore to stink the place up, then fix them in place with a stick in the sand, while we climbed out on a dead tree in the water. This way, we were shooting safely into the bank when the rats came out to eat the dead, stinking carp. (And oh, we had .22 rifles with which we shot the rats. My friends had single bolt action, but my dad worked for Winchester so I had a nice pump model with a pigeon grade stock–still have it, of course)

  • Around the time I was 9 or so (1959) I bugged my Dad for a new bicycle. Dad loaded me up in the car and we went to OTASCO (Oklahoma Tire and Supply). As soon as I crossed the thresh hold I raced over to the bikes. Dad got me by the collar and took me to the gas powered push lawn mowers and said “pick out which one you want. If I remember right the only safety device on it was a sticker “Keep hands and feet from under the mower. I was rather crestfallen but from that day on I had my own money. I wore out that mower and the next one I bought. From that day forward I’ve made my own way and I still have all my fingers and toes… Thanks Dad…I miss you…

  • I think I have a check box next to every one of those listed . . . and I claim it PROUDLY!!!!
    Along with a few others that got me in trouble.

    I nearly feel sorry for kids nowadays.
    Things we used to do must seem like near fiction or YD, teen, whatever they call it, fiction.

  • Lol, add “home rodeos” in an olive orchard – yep, scars to prove it. “Bull riding”, bronc riding”, etc…no pick up men, just the ground to hit when time was up. God what fun we had!

    Climbed trees, made tree houses, made forts and had “wars”, “parachuted” from the roof… but had some old cushions from a couch below in case it did not work. Still hurt though. Rode the horses to the local horse show in the morning, and home again that night when it was all over. Sometimes if the show ran really late, mom would come and follow behind us in the car so that we were lit up for other drivers to see. Those were great days. In Kansas we would throw cherry bombs in the creek to chase out the snakes so we could swim. Ate watermelon, cantaloupes, whatever we felt like straight from the field. Harvest, haying, etc was a time we all helped each others ranches/farms or if they could afford it, actually got paid for the job(s).

    Hauled and stacked hay for money during haying season, too small to stack it but could reach the pedals of one of the vehicles being used became the driver. Chores were a requirement of duties done before and after school at home, extra stuff for money or to trade for something one wanted was done on others farms, ranches. Those without DL’s rode everywhere, and either left a note where we would be, or if working elsewhere helping another, or a few, ranches/farms a list so that could be found if necessary. We washed our own clothes, primed the pump for the well when needed, chopped and stacked wood, etc.

    Cleaned stalls, barns, chicken coops, cooked for the family and hand washed the dishes. Made our own butter from the cream off of our milk by shaking it in a glass – experimenting with “new” things like honey butter, etc.

    Made campfires and made hot chocolate from scratch, and real coffee (percolated on the fire). Hunting season everyone took their rifles, etc in a rack on the back window of the cab of the pick-up in California, and would leave to hunt piled in the back with the gear (those who did not have the licenses yet. At home if the parents had an outside job, the kids (us) did ALL the chores, and made the meals. Got ourselves to school, etc.

  • I grew up in a farm and ranch community in west Texas. I used to take my .22 rifle to school on the school bus (left it by the bus driver), then took it to the principal’s office. At the end of the school day, I retrieved my “gun” (that word makes liberals go insane) and walked home through the fields and shoot rabbits. Now for you PETA types, jackrabbits were everywhere by the thousands and ate the farmers crops, so thinning them out was helping to protect your food supply.

  • I could add pulling pranks to the list. tricked a guy in high school into throwing his own pencil out the window. I could list any number of jokes/pranks I played on people and were played on me. A lot of which would get you in big trouble today.

  • Almost all of those and a few more 🙂 Riding bikes, carts, and running down mountains. Swinging from cables from a bridge over railroad tracks, exploring flood control tunnels (Los Angeles area), finding lizards, snakes, insects etc. and bringing them home, BB guns, riding our bikes 26 miles through SoCal cities to our friends house (cause he moved) – and then riding back, same day. Parents used to drop us off at the local reservoir to go fishing and sleep under the stars – for the weekend – when I was like 5 and my brothers were 9. No phones – whatsoever – “see you Sunday night!”. Ah, the good old days. Even my scars have scars. But we all lived. Now you can’t do any of that, it’s too dangerous, but you can get 38 vaccinations and be a medical basket case for life though. What changed?

  • I did all 25 and then some. We loved wearing jeans, Navy pea jackets, goggles, and in the snow, shot at each other with our Daisy Red Ryder BB guns. No one ever got hurt, even slightly. Talk about dangerous: being pulled by a car on sleds! Not smart. Had a paper route well before my teens..300 papers. Fun

  • Another one for your list:
    When we did a family road trip we’d do rock/paper/scissors to decide which of us 3 kids got to lay on the back window ledge.

  • we would go down to the creek and shoot our bb guns. then after we turned 12 we would go down to the creek with our 22s.

  • Ah, the innocence of a child. I, personally, was rather stifled and shy. I still managed to do half the stuff on the lift. I spent summers on Grandpa’s farm and my farm cousins helped the city girls expand some horizons.
    But, my husband #1 and husband #2 were not so stifled. Husband #1 lived above the bluffs of the Mississippi River. He, his brother, and their friends would go caving – exploring the Sandstone caves next to the river. His mother warned them to stay away, because cave-ins happened on a regular basis and it was dangerous. Rightly so. To prevent getting caught, they took a swim in the Mississippi River before going home.

    Current Hubby, #2, would wander for hours in the woods, alone, never getting lost. He also had a friend who was curious and always experimenting. In the 40s they dug a pit in his backyard and exploded pipe bombs. In the city! Windows broke. No one called the police. Oh, it is the doctors’ kids again. The friend also ordered chemicals and mixed them up just for fun, or fireworks.

    My guy explored the forests in South America, frequently alone but knowing the Shining Path Guerrilla Group was nearby. He also spent time in New Guinea and dealt with cannibals as part of his research biology career. His friend eventually became the head of a prominent L.A.S.E.R. lab.

    If children do not play, how will they know their limits? How will they know the limits of nature, science, or whatever is interesting at the time. Who will be the new explorers?

  • 1. Received a 12 gauge double barreled shotgun for Christmas when I was 13.
    2. My cousin and I spent the entire day in the woods hunting every Saturday after the shotgun was received.
    3. Fishing on a river alone in a paddled river boat.
    4. Using M-80’s to destroy ant hills. An M-80 for the uninitiated…M80 Fireworks. M80 fireworks are a type of big firecracker that is quite notorious in the world of pyrotechnics. Sometimes called “salutes,” these large firecrackers were originally made in the early 1900s by the US Military to simulate battlefield noises and conditions for soldiers in training.
    5. Building ramps to leap over ditches while on your bicycle

    Daisy, the list can go on forever….and you are right about the new generations growing up as weenies, especially the boys. If you can even call them such anymore.

  • Floated around a lake on a block of ice during the Spring thaw. Made a ramp with a brick and a board and jumped over 4 people on my bike… no helmets. Stood beside the road and pumped our arms up and down to make the truckers blow their horn. Carried my rifle to school for safety training. Jumped off a roof with an umbrella to see if I could fly. Rode my bike 5 miles to school and back…about 3 miles each way doing a wheely.

  • Doctors killed my mother when I was not yet 4. As a consequence, my father often tied a tag on my shirt, stuck me on a train, and my grandmother met me 50 miles away. We then walked to her house, several miles from the train station, where she lived a few houses from the ocean. On nice mornings, she’d chase me out in a bathing suit, reminding me to come back for lunch, and telling me to have fun. End of lecture. No lifeguards, no signs warning that you can drown in water, no hyper-protective fear.
    Even at home I could bike to the nearby ocean beach (somehow rivers and lakes, also close, never appealed to me. I had learned to bike while my mother was till alive on a fan-belt driven two-wheeled miniature bike. So by the time I was seven or eight I had already graduated to a fancy Raleigh which was way to big for me, but a practical present which I treasured and managed to enjoy as I grew into it. It was a gift from my uncle, whom I also was shipped to by baggage tag once a year, a couple of hundred miles away.
    The beach at the ocean was special. I could cruise the sand and in just a few minutes collect five soda bottles. In those days, each bottle deposit was worth two cents. Five bottles netted me a double-scoop ice cream when I redeemed them! What luxury. And no income tax on my obscene profits!
    There was a social dimension to this freedom: neighbors kept an eye on kids running around, helped when called for, butted in occasionally when we were unduly childish. And we weren’t constantly reminded to live in constant fear of strangers. Nor did we suffer fences all over keeping us from running through neighbors’ yards, though I had one neighbor who made it clear that he hated kids. I avoided his place, though other kids tormented him when they thought they could get away with it. Pins in doorbells, etc. Kids also had more power to be jerks with our unrestrained independence.
    I could go on. But that was a different time. Certainly a different mentality. Now we don’t let kids do anything except waste their minds on high tech gadgets, while the growth that arises from somewhat risky but self-directed adventure is no longer permissible. The risks for kids now are quite different, less physical, for sure. I doubt that the benefit is worth the overall loss of self-sufficient growth which devolves from all this hyper-protective control.

  • built a fort in empty lot in the 1940s,devised indoor plumping,using a funnel and a length of hosed drilled a hole in the wall, ok for us boys.

  • We would swing across the my Memaw’s creek on vines and it was pretty deep. If we fell, we swam to the side and climbed out. Stayed out until the vapor lights came on (I grew up in the country). Played with wild animals: I had a wild raccoon, rabbit and a goose as pets. My dad called me Ellie Mae. Rode in the back of trucks and bicycles without helmets and I would walk out in the pasture, put a bridle on my horse, lead him to a gate or fence and get on his back for a day of bareback riding. Other than a few scars, I am fine.

  • We played mumble peg with pocket knives in the first grade. Walked to and from school alone. Took a nap on the floor with our rug. Went shooting frogs with .22s at age 12. Had a 12 ga shotgun at 12. Always had shotguns, etc. in car in high school. Got 50 Miler scout award on one of our 10-day backpacking adventures. Did all the other stuff you mentioned. Born in 1942.

  • Right on, Daisy. The thing that sums everything up for me best are “participation trophies.” That makes me completely nuts… they are the embodiment of almost everything that’s an issue for kids today. I have one 2nd place ribbon from a swim team relay when I was 10, and I earned it… and I treasure it. My almost-25-year-old athlete daughter has an entire box of trophies (some earned, many not) that she couldn’t care less about.

  • I grew up in rural Louisiana in the early 80’s. I did most of the things listed. I also started fishing at age 4, rode in my father’s lap while he would let me steer the vehicle, and made “mud pies” (around the same age). My mom encouraged me to play outside and get filthy, as long as I was wearing my “play clothes” instead of my good clothes. I was encouraged to explore the outdoors, climb trees, wade in creeks, and play by the lake in the back yard, all by myself. When I was around 7-8 years old, my Dad taught me how to shoot guns (he’d put bullets in my ears as hearing protection), drive his Big-Red 3-wheeler (I was allowed to drive it, unsupervised, around the yard, even though I had to stand up to shift the gears), and was given a slingshot, my first pocket knife, and a cap gun right around the same time. It snowed once, and my dad hooked my kid waterski boating sled to the back of his 3-wheeler and pulled me around our neighborhood. He almost slung me off the side of the levee at one point. As a teenager, all of the guys that had vehicles also had gun racks with loaded rifles in the school parking lot (they all hunted wild game), and we would have bonfires on the levee on weekends, shoot guns, and hang out with no supervision. As a girl, I always felt safe, as I knew the guys would protect all of us girls with their lives if need be. It was a great era to just be a kid!!!

  • Yeah my kids fall down and deep inside I’m glad they learned something – they won’t die if they fall and get back up! Ha, did all those things except the cold weather stuff cos I’m from Houston and my kids are being raised the same way on purpose. I didn’t play video games or spend time on a computer and neither do mine.

    • Born 1952 in PHX, so I did most of same except no snow. More important, reading and laughing and a little bit of wet eye, remembering those times brings a warmth that is extremely rare now.

  • Wow I am sorry you all live where these activities are only past memories. Maybe the midwest is “behind” or maybe we have a few things right. My kids did all these things (except for candy and pop)…and they all now have advanced degrees, live successfully and independently. My girls never had mac and cheese before college, as we raised them to cook real food from scratch. My youngest taught her floormates to cook like a boss! They have traveled all over, and are amazed at how non-midwestern people seem so limited in experiences. They were raised in a city, but had Girl Scout experiences, sports teams, school events, and NO video games, Very limited TV time. And many many miles on bicycles, without adults, with a helmet, because that is the law. We have crime here, to be sure, but stay out of sketchy places, have situational awareness and walk with confidence. I am really sorry kids in other areas can’t enjoy life the way kids do here.

  • Both hands up for the whole entire list, and even some you hadn’t thought of or mentioned….like playing with fire crackers, cheery bombs, M80’s, bottle rockets, jumping off the roof playing rip-cord, throwing rocks at trains, throwing snails out into the freeway, while one of your friends, sits on a fence and spots the cars coming….switching back and forth taking turns, hitching a ride on a moving freight train into down town S.F.

    You’re right though, kids of today are wimps, because of the education they get in the public government re-education camps, and mostly the parents not taking control like they’re suppose to….absolutely no discipline whatsoever, and letting government do the work they as parents are suppose to be doing.

  • Here’s my short list:
    throwing knives
    throwing hatchets
    staying out all night during the summer at 13
    yard darts
    launching arrows up..
    riding my bmx off things for fun
    late at light letting the hometown cop see us after curfew anr getting him to chase us.
    stealing beer outta the local drunks garage, drinking beer
    riding my bike all over at night with no light.
    walking through town, through yards late at night
    climbing the corn silo’s in town, sliding pennies and rocks off to hear them hit
    whatever was on that side.
    cutting hands to do the blood brother thing.
    Attempting to make fireworks with gunpowder.
    Annoying town dogs to make them bark late at night.
    Punching stop signs at night to make noise.
    Using hardwood 2×2’s and wacking the crap out of each other sword fighting.
    drinking/driving with friends.
    Spin the bottle..
    Riding my bicycle from town to town, alone.
    Sneaking around with my girlfriend late at night.
    Starting a huge fight at school for fun, pretending we were mad at each other-
    my best friend and I.
    Going through rundown buildings owned or not looking for anything interesting.
    Getting into fights.
    Carrying large pocket knives.
    Playing with large pocket knives.
    Skipping school
    cutting class.

    Lots more but some are things snowflakes can’t deal with.

  • When I was about 11 or 12 I got a little hand-held maze puzzle with a large blob of mercury in it. I separated the top from the bottom just far enough to tip the mercury out. I was amazed at how the mercury ran between my fingers, even though they were close together. When I finished playing with it I put the blob back into the puzzle. I did this numerous times.
    Other things I did (and lived to tell the tale):
    Ate bacon-fat sandwiches.
    Baked potatoes on a stick over an open fire until they were completely charred (but nice on the inside).
    Climbed every tree in the neighbourhood, by the time I was 9 yrs old.
    Played Follow-the Leader, walking along the top of 12′ high walls etc. (around 7-8 yrs old)
    Bought my own fireworks (from about 12 yrs old).
    I climbed up on the roof (around 7-8 yrs old).
    Outran a bull across a field on my uncle’s farm (10 yrs old).
    And yes, we were all free range, our gang going out right after breakfast, coming home after tea-time (around 8-10 hours later). I think back on this and realize that this is really amazing that no one was in the least bit worried.
    I’m now retired, living in a little village (pop<600) in Alberta, Canada. Most of the children here appear to be free range up to a point. Yes they do climb trees and the boys ride their bicycles at full speed down the grass-covered hills around the village, every once in a while one crashes and breaks an arm, or ends up with a few cuts and bruises.
    I wonder if they realize how lucky they are?

  • We used to walk down to the creek in winter to “skate” on the ice in our boots. Great fun! Although it wasn’t too fun when the ice broke and I walked home with icy water in my boot. No scar though. Another time my brother and I went fishing. His line got stuck in the trees and when he pulled it off the weight hit me right between the eyes. What a bleeder. Yes, a small scar.

  • YES! When did kids become such wimps? I have two kids and they are what my dad would have called a “candy ass”. If my kids fall down and skin their knee, you would think their leg was amputated by the way they scream. Heck, in my day you didn’t even bother your parents until it was infected and covered in green slime! I don’t know what to do about my kids.
    I’m 45 and grew up in the country, knee deep in cow manure, in the field with the cows. My husband is 8 years younger than me and a city boy. He is the overprotective, coddling parent, and he thinks I’m negligent when I’m not.
    I think between when I grew up and when he did is where this all started and I think country kids were a lot more free range. Also the attitudes towards guns is, to this day, completely different in the country. I go home to where I grew up, everybody owns guns and most people hunt. I was taught to shoot both guns and bows at a young age, by parents, who also shot guns and bows. To illustrate the difference in attitude and time frame, does anyone remember when pick up trucks had gun racks in the back window of the cab? When I went to high school there were pick up trucks in the school parking lot with guns in the gun racks, both student and faculty vehicles. Imagine if someone did that today. Heck, I don’t even know if they make those racks anymore.
    As for the stupid stuff we did as kids… jumping off the railroad bridge 30+ feet into the creek, as the train is coming, bumper surfing on ice covered roads, jumping from the top of the hay loft, accidentally bouncing off electric fences, hitting rocks with a sledge hammer just to see what is inside with no eye protection of course, building forts, setting fires, getting lost in the woods on purpose just to find our way back home you name it we did it. We did it without sunscreen, hand sanitizer, or antibiotic ointment and without adults and we lived.
    But, I will say things were different when and where I grew up. We knew all our neighbors, heck most of us were related somehow. We were taught to do things by our parents and then left to do them. We stacked wood, pulled weeds, picked up sticks and raked leaves. At 12 years old you were old enough to mow lawn and get a hunting license and you were proud of it too. Most kids were taught to drive tractors and farm trucks well before they turned 16. We were valuable parts of the family because we were working right along side our parents.
    As I write this I think I just answered my own question in regards to my kids. They need to feel confident and valuable, they need responsibility and space to make mistakes. I think it might be time to let them use a real knife, make them help with cooking and cleaning and yard work and most of all get them to the country as much as possible because if I do this in the suburbs child protective services is gonna be banging on my door.

  • know them all well plus some. standing up against the school bullies who pushed my friends sister in the mud. and I was smaller and a girl and left him breathless with a stomach punch.

  • My parents, 2 younger brothers, & I moved to the west end of Toronto in 1954. One item we moved with us was my Dad’s hickory longbow which he had handcrafted in his last year of highschool. (Both my parent’s educations were cut short by Canada’s entry into WW2 as an ally of Great Britain.) One summer day i decided to launch an arrow straight up to see how long it would take to come back. As soon as i shot it i had my brothers flatten their backs against the brickwall of the house. It seemed an eternity, but finally we heard a very loud thud. The arrow had pierced the eavestrough above our heads. Dad didnt find out until the next time he cleaned the leaves out of the eavestrough, but he knew exactly what we had done. He wasnt angry, but a few pointed questions illustrated the error of our ways.

    Mom & Dad never discouraged our science experiments even when we filled the basement with acrid smoke. They were VERY proud when we became a scientist, veterinarian, and locomotive electrician. Dad passed in his 50s and Mom recently in her 90s & they were always proud of our pioneering spirits.

  • Fantastic article. When I was young I went everywhere on my bike, climbed trees and generally had my air pistol with me and always carried a knife. Kids these days are a pathetic shadow of what a kid should be!

  • Great article. We would go for a picnic three fields from home in the bush next to the swamp. As we headed out the door Mom would yell. “Be careful remember the neighbors saw a bear with cubs there last week.” And off we’d go, be home for supper.

  • I did every single thing on that list and much much more. I also became highly successful in my own businesses and now get to enjoy the perks of being old, rich and outspoken. I am also a 21 year concealed carry permit holder and have carefully prepared for the coming Civil War 2 with ammo, food and 5 very fertile acres of farmland. I can grow enough food to take care of my family and several more thanks to the excellent home canning course I took from the local county farm agency. I have put away enough food, firewood, ammo and fuel to live off the grid for 5-8 years.

  • Growing up on a ranch/farm my brother and I had fire arms at a very young age. Had horses and would be gone from the headquarters all day until dark (if we did not have chores to do) We had cows to milk, the stock to feed, chickens to tend and stables to clean. We would go camping by our selves as youngsters. (mercy, there were wild animals, coyotes, bears, deer and rattlesnakes and other things) Howe survived I have no idea. We started operating farm machinery before we were teenagers. My God most kids today cannot even change a tire and do not know how to change the oil in a engine.

  • How about ice skating on a frozen creek in the winter? Or, going camping for 3 days in the summer with my brothers on an island in a lake that my parents had no way of knowing where we were or how to find us? Or eating Blackberries right off the vine without washing them off? Same with Cherries, or grapes, or whatever else we could find. How about playing tackle football without pads, for hours? Or, fighting on the playground? {My friend and I actually did fake-fights where one of us would swing at the other, while the person being “hit” would slap their hands together and turn violently at the same time to make it look like the other had connected…then we’d switch.} 🙂

    What we did as kids on an everyday basis without giving it a second thought would be so far off the wall these days I’m sure they’d have drugged every one of us and called us ADHD kids today. It’s sad, really.

  • I’m “guilty” of 23 of the 25. I was born in 56. My worst scar, that I remember, is with friends in a shallow creek we were rolling a log to reveal where a snake had slithered to. The log rolled over pinning my pinky finger against a rock which tore off the finger nail. When I pulled away the nail was dangling by a thin thread of skin not much wider than a sewing thread.

    We had a terrific place to ride bikes. Old Baldy was a hill that had adjacent “cliffs” we’d jump our bikes. A dirt road that ran up one side and down the other had a foot-wide six-inch deep wash that ran diagonally down the road. Typically four to ten of us would race to the bottom. There was no road on the steep side which was a supper fast ride and great for sledding, with a drop off mid way that one couldn’t help but take air.

  • I grew up in the 70’s in Ontario, in Toronto suburbs called Scarborough. Its all urban sprawl now but there used to be farming and wild areas. I would walk to school 40 minutes there and back even in the winter. It took longer if the snow was deep. We used to play hide and seek in the neighbours yards till the lights came on, nobody minded. I trained a squirrel to climb up my leg and sit on my shoulder to eat peanuts ( or it trained me?).

    I walked dogs after school for cash (I didn’t get an allowance) when I was a preteen while people where at work. Climbed trees, rode a bike without a helmet, roller skated without helmet or pads, cross country skied, rock climbed without a rope and explored a cave once with other kids, that had a calf buried in the ice from falling down a chute.

    Made a tunnel system inside snow banks, slid down icy hills on pieces of cardboard or wicked fast on aluminum sleds all day. Caught snakes and weird bugs, and set them free after showing them off. When I got older and my friends could drive, we frequently went to go cliff diving into the deep water in a old quarry in the Elora gorge, mind the fridge that was dumped down there.

    Could stay all day with my friends at the river swimming. Swing off ropes into the river, float down river in tire tubes. Later we would snick some corn from a farmer, then net fish up smelts, make a fire and cook them. Could stay there all night as long as we were home for church on Sunday morning.

    Those places don’t even exist anymore, except in memory.

  • Born in 53, female. Went to the local rock quarry and slid down the 50 ft high gravel hills on inverted trash can lids or cardboard until we’d get shued out. Walked to the lake with siblings – 10, 8, and me 7, 1 mile away. We left at 9 and returns around 6, or when we got hungry enough. We swam, fished, horseplayed, and had to cross a 2-lane highway-ALL BY OURSELVES! And so much more…
    In the 80’s I allowed my boys to play in the local dry wash, probably football sized about 25 ft deep that bordered the nearby cemetery that used it to dump collected flowers. Some even used it to dump garbage. The neighborhood kids had a blast playing for hours-unsupervised! Yes, they came home often with bumps., cuts and bruises but back they went the next day. They had snail races-on their legs and chests, rode their hot wheels in the street and walked to the local 7-11 when they were 7 and 8 and survived! Now that’s growing up and having fun!
    And, yes, I did all the other things and more! My kids did most if not all as well and I hope to let my 16-month old granddaughters experience same, God willing!

  • “I had to show a bunch of them how to do laundry and they didn’t even know how to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,” she said. Apparently they were in awe of her ability to cook actual food that did not originate in a pouch or box…”

    What, K M&C doesn’t come in a box anymore?


    “Tell us what crazy stuff you did as a child.”

    On the first day of summer vacation, my (live-in) cousin and I would scour the waterfront for derelict rowboats that had come aground in the shallows. Usually they were missing sides, bottoms, or whatever, and covered with algae and muck, but the wood was still buoyant. Using muscle power, we would tow them out to the middle of the river (so named, but actually an inlet, as the current reversed depending on the tide), where we would ride the current slowly a mile or so to the opposite end of town. We referred to it as “hulking.” At the far end, we would beach the hulk, then wait a few days for the tide to be running the other way during some convenient daytime hour, when we would again tow the hulk out and ride back to the other end of town. Often, during one of these trips, the poor tortured hulk would disintegrate and leave us raftless, to swim ashore wherever it abandoned us. Needless to say, no lifejackets were involved.

  • I remember when the first skateboards came out. Both my brothers each had one and believe me they weren’t the “fancy -dancy” ones now a days. They were basically roller skates on a board. We used to run down the driveway into the street, no pads or helmets. No one had a fit if we took a spill, Mercurochrome aka “Jumping juice” because it stung so much and a band aid patched us up and off we’d go again.. My brothers and their friends used to talk the older brother of one into driving down the street towing them on the boards. That stopped when he got drafted but we sure had fun while it lasted.

  • Only 16 out of 25. Probably the worst was shooting arrows straight up in the air and then running like heck to get away. You forgot launching model rockets and blowing stuff up with firecrackers.

  • I jumped off the roof of the smokehouse with an umbrella, like Mary Poppins. I hit the ground with a thud and thought I did something wrong so I tried it again (I had to climb a pecan tree and shimmy out over the roof of the smokehouse, then free fall to the smokehouse roof first). It didnt work the 2nd time either and I didnt get any broken or sprained limbs, just laughter from my brother and sister.

  • How did I ever make it almost 66 years? I not only did everything on your list, I invented some more to keep the adrenaline rush going full tilt!.

    Besides “the raft” – which makes Huck’s and Jim’s ride south on the Mississippi look tame, Rinker Concrete had a huge cliff of dry red clay and sand abut 60 feet high they had carved out of higher ground. We would pedal furiously to the edge at the top on our bikes, and then “launch” for a 30 free fall, trying not to land on our bikes. Or the shortcut through the swamp, which I knew, and Dad did not, as he tried to track me down one afternoon after I had skipped school.

    If there had been “three strikes and you’re out” back then, I would have been incarcerated for life before I was 10.

    I was no better raising my two boys. The great “go-cart run” through the woods on the backside of the property, with a juiced-up go cart that went over 35mph on the thin path we had cleared among the gazillions of trees, almost caused their mother to leave me and join a nunnery.

    I could write a book on all of it, but I fear I might be tempted to go try few things again just because. Four broken fingers, a nose broken so often I can set the putty passing for bone myself in two shakes, a broken ankle, several hundred stitches and the Lord knows how many whuppings and groundings later, having let my sons grow up free range as well, and none of us are any worse for the wear.

    Kids are being raised to be wusses anymore.

  • I did every single one of those things on your list almost every day, except throwing rocks at snakes in the river. We shot our .22s at the water moccasins in the creek, as we took our guns with us almost everywhere, and we wanted to swim in that crystal clear creek without wrangling the vipers.

  • Did all those things except walk to school as it was too far away in the country. Don’t forget about walking about in the country. I would leave the house after breakfast and walk around all over the place if my friends were not home. Fields, woods, and abandoned buildings. You name it I was there, everything within a few miles of home. If I was not walking I was on my bike (no helmet of course). Back then “what, they have helmets for bicycles, WHY, because bicycles don’t go very fast. Not like a motorcycle”.

  • 25 out of 25 from the 1950s, though most of the time I messed up in school didn’t involve writing lines. My teachers had a different kind of board, applied to my backside.

    I earned my first spending money when I was 11, going out on ranches in the desert with my .22 and shooting ground hogs for the bounty, which takes care of several items. I was sad you didn’t mention hunting in your list.

    In the third grade, on a U.S. military base in Germany, our Cub Scout uniforms included our Scout pocket knives, and yes, we wore them to school.

    OTOH, I teach Texas Hunter Education, and most of my students are teens or tweens. There are also lots of 4-H kids in our rural area, and they’re learning.

  • I have to chuckle at what your daughter said, as my oldest has had to do the same with boys at his college! He may not be the dorm handyman, (but he might be the medic!), as I didn’t think to teach those skills as I did the basic cooking/cleaning stuff (we had a newer house that didn’t need many repairs while they were small). Each boy got shown how to check the oil (and told how to change it) and then walked through changing a tire. These were all things that my Dad showed me how to do! My boys were cooking and washing their own clothes as soon as they were tall enough to reach the buttons on the machines. I plan to get them one of the books that will walk them through basic home repairs and a small toolset for Christmas (I want mine in pink!)

  • My memories from childhoodstarting at around age 4, shooting my first woodchuck with a .22, my grandpa giving me a jacknife, learning to swim in the farm pond after chasing the cows out of the way and having your uncle pull you out to the middle and shake you off…swim or drown????, seaweed fights in same pond, bank of the hay wagon with bails of hay kicking out at ya ( using a hay hook to boot!), grandpa handing me his Sears and Roebuck 12 gauge double barrel shotgun and a box of shells at age 10…”you look bored, shoot some blackbirds”. Playing with my grandmas pet woodchuck and crow ( little crow “ebby” used to nip me in the ankles). Having “Zippy”, my uncles pet raccoon climb up on my shoulder and play with my hair. I can go on and on, but what a childhood!

  • Oh, forgot to mention, I’m now a well compensated professional with 30 years high end sales experience. Go figure????????????

  • Don’t forget yard darts and shooting arrows straight into the sky. Also we used to play boom a rang tag. BTW….love your articles.

  • Take out all the cold weather shenanigans and….been that..done that…and have the scars to prove it! [sigh] why do you think most kids are allergic to things and get their feelings hurt SO easy?! No dirt …no smack in the head and no “hey y’all watch this!” moments and if I may say so, not much desire to. Still what are ya gonna do…can’t shoot em and can’t give em away!…or can…nope..never mind. WWG1WGA

  • I grew up in the 60s and 70s. Grew up on a 700 acre place at the top of a canyon with streams, endless unbroken forest up and down the mountain. Fish ponds. Mountain lions, porcupines, grouse, rabbits, coyotes and probably some wolves too on the backside of the mountain. Deer galore.We ran all over that place. Hunting with a .22. And since we were at the top of the canyon, we had the BEST sled rides! We all had runner sleds and the road was loose gravel. So, even if the snow was patchy in places, we could still hurtle down the mountain on our sleds. EASILY hitting speeds well above 30 or 40 miles an hour on that steep road! We would be bonzai-ing down the hill on the gravel road at screaming speeds. No helmets. No goggles. And dodged vehicles as they labored up the hill. We went for MILES! One thing I didn’t do, was the hose thing. We got hosed down outside before going in to get cleaned up for dinner, sure. But back then we didn’t HAVE showers. We all got to take BATHS! I grew up shooting. We used to take our guns TO SCHOOL. For FUN, I used to go out and just ROUGH it with no food, just my tarp and a knife and a book of matches. I went out for a week or two and just foraged. It was a bit harder finding food in winter, but not terribly. Woven fish traps! And winter was definitely easier to stay warm in my snug snow cave. Now people buy all kinds of junk gear and safety survival stuff. I just did that stuff for shits and giggles. Things are VERY different now. Having your kid just take off for a week in the wilderness just does not fly in today’s culture. Well, MOST kids. MY kids will be doing it too!

  • The only one on that list that never happened to me was getting hosed off in the yard before coming in the house. Did pickup bed riding all the time. In fact, I kissed my first girl in the back of a pickup bed while my dad was driving us someplace. Of course, she and I were both only 5 years old. Her name was Gail and she was a cute little redhead. Maybe that’s why I have a weakness for redheads to this very day.
    WE also rode on the running boards of the old pickups. My dad had a yellow and black Dodge pickup with running boards. God, that was fun.
    Walked to school and rode my bike to school alone. Latch key kid here. Both parents worked, so I was on my own for 3 hours or so after school.
    We played war, cowboys and Indians, and all sorts of “politically incorrect” games. In high school there wasn’t a single pickup in the school parking lot that didn’t have a rifle rack, with at least one rifle, in the back window.
    We played dodgeball, kickball, and tetherball. My mom or dad would leave me alone in the car while they went in the store. Funny, I was never kidnapped nor suffered from heat prostration.
    When did swimming in streams, lakes, etc become “dangerous” We still do it, as well as my kids and grandkids.
    I stepped on nails, glass, and been torn up on barbed wire. If I got hurt, mom would clean it, put a bandaid on it, and send me back out to play.

    If that offends you or upsets you – tough, you bunch of snow flake namby-pamby.
    90 percent of the parents of today and the politicians, are a bunch of whinny, crybaby, sissies.
    They should ALL be ashamed of themselves. But they haven’t got enough sense to even realize just how pathetic they are.
    Sorry, didn’t mean to digress from the subject.

    According to the “experts” today, I shouldn’t be alive.

  • Jarts! Or lawn darts as they are called today. I don’t think you purchase them in any brick-and-mortar or online retail store (eBay excluded).
    Caps – hit them with rocks or light a role with a match. Readily available for purchase at the small, family owned grocery store.
    Pixie sticks – tubes of artificially colored & flavored (not real) sugar. Guaranteed to stain tongue,teeth, lips, hands, clothing.
    Captains in gym class alternately choosing team members. Red rover, red rover was played often as was dodge ball.
    While my mom never did this, I knew some kids whose moms bleached their feet before school started.

  • I did everything on that list except two: throw rocks at the snakes in a river…. I was too busy trying to catch the snake and I could skip a rock 6 times across a pond. I once put a little green snake in a teacher’s drawer. She opened the drawer, closed it quickly and left the classroom. We never saw her again. Junior high kids were, are and always will be jerks. I’m a terrible shot with a gun, but an excellent marksman with a bow and arrow. Instead of a gun, I’d rather have a compound bow. The only other thing I didn’t ever do was “accidentally hit the wrong person with a snowball”. I grew up on 5 acres of land and the rare times it snowed, we had out snowball fights at our place. Lots of places to hide and attack from. Only kids who wanted to play were there.

    My siblings and I did actual dangerous stuff that we shouldn’t have and I’m glad my kids didn’t do any of these: play chicken with a train; ride our bikes through waste water from a parking lot that had glass in it; sneak into someone’s pasture and ride their horse bareback, purposefully turn over canoes with people we knew could not swim well. And other really stupid things. We were lucky not to get killed.

    I sometimes overprotect my children from things that have happened to people I know. For example, my friend was thrown over the handle bars of his bike and died from the head injury. My family all wears bike helmets because of my paranoia. I’m OK with that. My kids grew up camping and can start a fire, use a knife. Because we’ve not been in a place where it’s been easy to learn to use a bow and arrow, my kids have not learned. My son took marksman ship at scout camp and it seems he is as bad a shot as I am with a gun. He did better with his archery class. I like the Boy Scout way with knives. A scout has to show how to safely use a knife before they are allowed to use one without an adult present. My son and all his scout friends all were able to pass the knife safety test to carry and use pocket knives before they were 10.

    With the exception of riding in a pickup truck and the stupid writing lines in hopes it will change any behavior, I would let my kids do all of the activities and have encouraged them to do many of them. Well, maybe not throw rocks at snakes or turtles, ‘cuz that’s mean. (I am a former park naturalist and believe unless we are in a position where we need to kill an animal to eat that we should be respectful to all living things.)

    I work with high school seniors. I have a very different bunch this year, almost all of them have done laundry, cooked a meal and held down a job. Most have changed a baby’s diaper (babysitting or younger siblings), been responsible for a pet, and had multiple chores around the house. These are city kids so most have not grown a garden and would have no idea how to start. The program I work with brings in kids in 9th grade and I typically find out then who has not done any of the above and try to have them do most of them before they are high school seniors

  • “Come on, be honest. Tell us what crazy stuff you did as a child.”
    I am officially a Legend among my colleagues because of this one. I was of primary-school age back in the day when most families had only one car. Obviously, Dad drive that to work every morning so we were kinda stuck. In First Grade it was on me to walk to and from school every day (recently measured it – slightly over a mile in each direction); the girl next door was also a First Grader at the same school so it became The Thing for us to go together. After about a month, we were getting kinda tired of it so I came up with a brilliant idea (it seemed) — let’s hitchhike! Just about every time, a nice lady would be driving past and pick us up — we were smart enough to get let off around the corner so as not to get caught. Until — Mr Johnson from up the street saw us and pulled over to give us a ride. He did NOT let us out around the corner — instead he drove us home and told our Moms why he was dropping us off…

  • sixteen items on that list that I can still remember- NO ONE wore bicycle helmets in the sixties and seventies. I don’t know if anyone made them. My first University had a rifle, pistol and shotgun sports team setup. I participated in all three disciplines. Boy Scout camp- rifle shooting and archery. Always had a pocketknife handy.

  • I didn’t walk to school alone, but walked home from school alone. The rest, I pretty much did. And my ex-husband gave our 5 yo son a BB gun one year. This was in 1974. No, he didn’t teach him gun safety. Not sure he knew gun safety! Grr. He left a 22 rifle, loaded with one shell, in the living room. Said son shot it at the wall/ceiling just as his baby sister and I were walking in there.

  • -We would climb a tree them jump out and grab a limb to ride it to the ground, if you grabbed the wrong size limb you either didn’t make to the ground OR as I did you found the ground much quicker than intended. Broke 2 bones in my leg.
    -We had figure 8 races on our bikes, we decided on our own to wear football helmets when one guy hit the handle bars and split his head open and had have stiches.
    We had BB gun fights, but the rule was you only shoot each other in the legs. We still have both eyes

  • I think I did them all except throwing rocks at snakes in the river, don’t remember snakes.
    All those dangerous games like dodge ball, kickball, etc were part of our regular recess activities with teacher present or not. I’m 73 and I only have one scar, on my arm from a protruding nail that I was told to be careful of. I have others but those are from medical procedures. My boys are ages 46, 43 and 38 and they all did those things too and apart from stupidity caused auto accidents grew up just fine.

  • When I was in elementary school, we had a pine cone fight every Friday at a huge pine tree in the woods where all the kids in the neighborhood played. All week long the girls would find and take the pine cones up into the branches while the boys would hoard theirs in piles on the ground. It was an unspoken rule that you didn’t take each other’s pine cones. Then at an unspecified time (no one had watches, right?), the girls would scramble into the tree branches and begin hurling pine cones down onto the bodies of the boys. The green ones were heavier and did more damage, and went further when thrown, but I don’t think anyone was ever really hurt. The fight was over when we ran out of pine cones, so as soon as the fight was over, we started new piles for the next week. Boy that was really living!

  • Ha, awesome article. In the 1980s I would go across town by myself on a bike to a friend’s house when I was just eight years old. At nine years old I’d climb 100-foot trees in the neighborhood, to the very top. Starting at age 13 I’d go into the hills alone, exploring. There were rattlesnakes, ticks, poison oak, skunks, etc. We played with firecrackers all the time. Playground used to be better, and were mostly wood and metal, not these lame “safer” plastic playgrounds that are almost the same at every park. I never got hurt once doing anything I’m listing here. We used to be able to play baseball, rollerblade, ride bikes, etc at the public schools after school. No security guards, no rules against it. Now they’re all closed and gated with security guards. We were outside as much of the time as possible. Parents never had any rules, never had to tell them where I was going, never had to be back by a certain time. Kids nowadays are actually afraid of freedom, of even walking down the street, etc. It’s so sad. Everyone turned paranoid about safety and now kids sit inside and look at screens and get fat and don’t know how to do anything that doesn’t involve their devices.

  • Yep, did all of those.

    Also played Jarts in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. We didn’t think anything about it being unsafe (none of us got hurt) but nowadays you won’t find any store selling this game for “safety” reasons.

    I had a school friend of mine set up a homemade zipline in his backyard from a large cottonwood tree on one end of the yard to a fence on the opposite end. We rigged an old army canteen belt so we could hook it to the line and jump out of the tree like Superman, “fly” across his yard and usually (not always) get our feet down in the grass to stop before we hit the fence. Admittedly not the the safest or smartest thing to do but it was super fun nonetheless.

    The kid across the street used to come over with a toy set that was an actual plastics factory for kids. You melted the plastic and poured it into molds. OK so this was actually somewhat dangerous as we found out molten plastic easily starts fires and can burn you but we created some pretty cool plastic toys and even “plasticized” some bugs to see what would happen. Just stupid kid stuff.

    Also caught wild snakes (had one for a pet for awhile), crayfish, fish, tadpoles and frogs. Played with firecrackers and shot them at each other. Sure, we would get bumps, cuts, bruises, burns or scrapes but no one ever got seriously hurt. Parents back then would just tell you to put some Bactine and a bandage on your wound and you were back outside a few minutes later playing until sundown. I really miss those days sometimes.

  • I loved to jump off my back porch. I learned how to roll on the grass without hurting myself like a stuntman when I hit the ground. The roof was at least 10 or 15 feet high. I climbed up there by our TV antenna that had a pole attached to the porch, I also jumped off of the garage roof a couple of times but got scared when I kept rolling out into the alley. It was about 20 feet high with lots of grass around it too. I used the dog house and the fence to get up there. They were near the garage.

  • I just thought of some things I didn’t mention a couple of years ago. It was my Mom who taught me how to climb a rope by using one foot on top of the other as an as-needed clamp on the rope so you could then reach up for a higher hand grip, let the rope slide through your two feet so you could get a higher foot grip. Rinse and repeat. Late I never met anyone in the military who knew of that rural farmer’s method.

    Some things other people did that I knew about. I had a school buddy who has lost about 2-1/2 fingers on one hand that got caught in an old fashion clothes washing machine’s ringer. That never stopped him from going hand fishing (by feeling in the dark) with the other good hand into holes along creek beds for catfish. (For people who don’t know, catfish can stiffen those long whiskers and poke you until it really hurts.)

    I had a cousin who as a kid was walking the railroad when a train came roaring his way. He tried to get out of the way in time, but was still hanging on the rail with one arm when the train cut it off at his elbow. That never stopped him in later years from becoming an effective rodeo competitor.

    A final story comes from Ross Perot’s autobiography. As a youth in the early 1940s, his Dad would take him in summertime to the Texas/Arkansas border, hand him a wad of cash, and turn him loose to hitchhike his way through as much of Texas as he wanted, or until he ran out of cash. Times and the culture were vastly different back then.


    • You made me remember of a guy i met when i was 8 years old, he was 16 i think, just so you know, he didn’t had 1/3 of his right arm, that wouldn’t stop him from play Killer Instinct with us, or do crazy thing, like walk on the border of tall buildings.

  • Yep list completed. LOL you cant even have peanut butter NEAR schools because of Peanut allergies. Maybe thats whats wrong with the world today!! “Wild swimming” I recently drove by places I used to swim and see warning hazard and contaminated signs and thought No wonder, cant believe I ever swam in water so brown….

    I love your posts. Stay safe!

    • It may sound stupid, but i only understood the peanut thing, after read your commentary lol, i know there are some allergies and diseases out there, but most of them seems to cure or at least reverse by the immune system, i had that thing called asthma when i was 2 or 3 years old, cured without fancy medicine, i smoke, i drink, my diet is meat mostly i do everything the woke trash say its bad for health, the funny thing is that for 20 years i don’t know what is being sick.

  • Growing up in western Kentucky, my best friend Johnny and I would walk into the woods 2-3 times a week with our .22 rifles. Our fathers, all of them WWII vets, taught us how to shoot safely. What would happen now if you saw a group of kids carrying rifles into the woods? Probably the SWAT Team would come after us. We knew how to live outside, build a shelter, start a fire (and NOT burn down the whole forest), and find our way around without a cell phone or GPS. Life has changed, and in many ways it has NOT improved.

  • I grew up in the 60-70. Our kids grew up in the 80-90. All four of us did these things and much more. At 3 years old our son climbed up a ladder to help his daddy build the barn. (2stories) He gave him a hammer and nails, but he did nail his diaper to the roof. This same child built a fort in the woods with his friends. He was always doing crazy things. Surprised he’s made it to 40.

  • I’ve talked to my kids repeatedly about the differences now versus when I was a kid in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s.

    On that list there are only a few I didn’t do. Now with my kids, it’s the opposite – there are only a few they’ve done. It’s really sad.

    This is simply more evidence that we’ve been taken over by totalitarians who believe in ruining everything for everyone. All fun, sports, TV shows, movies, etc must be infused with their bitter hateful belief system. They must force their beliefs on everyone else and cause as much misery as possible.

  • I started cutting grass at 10 for neighbors, had to do our yard for free. NO allowance. By the end of my first summer momma said I had to buy my own clothes. Every summer on Grandpas farm. Caught the orchard on fire playing pioneer. YUP we got it out before the trees burned. Walked to school on my own from Kindergarten. Still don’t wear a bike helmet. I like to feel the wind in my hair. Built a tree house over the rock garden with used rusty nails and used lumber. Started driving at 13 on back roads. Practiced from the time I could reach the peddles on the tractor in the orchard. Was told to work or I didn’t eat. NO Social services. I was happy to “help” out. Still am not very politically correct. Got in trouble the other day for saying Oriental rather than Asian. I have been the wrong color for jobs and didn’t call the ACLU. I have been the wrong gender for jobs and high school sports. Still didn’t call ACLU. Teach my kindergartners we are NOT all friends and if you don’t like what someone says tell them then don’t play with them.

  • I love this article. I walked to school while living in Philadelphia. Gasp. Imagine a first grader walking to school in a big city. ????????
    I drank from the hose because it a hot summer day and I was thirsty. I rode my bike without a helmet all the way to my friends house several miles away. We played tag, hide and seek, dodge ball and many other outside games in the fresh air and sunshine.
    I also stayed out with my friends until dark.
    My kids played outside and rode their bikes without helmets. They were allowed to have sleepovers and go to sleepovers. They went camping when they were in boy Scouts. Much more.

  • LOL
    I was the strange little girl in that I traded Monster Bubble Gum cards with the boys in the neighborhood, climbed trees (always well-dressed ’cause I liked looking good while playing rough ;>), drank from the garden hose (it sure was yucky on HOT days), engaged in Cowboys and Indians with same neighborhood boys (I was ALWAYS the lone Indian – and loved it), my knees were always scraped-up, hunted for cool bugs to collect, etc. etc. Those sure were the days!

    I don’t have any kids but was around a teen and pre-teen recently for about 2-1/2 years and I thought they were a hot-mess. Couldn’t stand ’em! Both the girl and boy were pansy-asses just like described.

    Great article. I Posted it on LinkedIn.

  • Mostof this was normal for me.I was born in 1970 and live in the UK.
    No firearms, but I am pretty good with an air rifle and a long bow.
    Dodgeball is called “Stingers” in the UK, cos it hurt a bit when you got hit with the ball!

  • – Running around in the woods, and then having poison oak on my face for days afterward. (Three years in a row; I never did learn to recognize the leaves.)
    – Burning our trash in an old 55-gallon drum. That wasn’t for fun; “playing with matches” was one of my CHORES.
    – Getting a nasty shock from my model trains, and then correctly figuring out how the rails got to be at 110 volts (without getting shocked again).
    – Learning the difference between the sharp side and dull side of a Swiss Army knife — the hard way. Fifty years later my fingerprint still bears evidence of that little episode.

  • When I was in high school in a small farm town in Ohio (early 70s), our Phys-Ed class would occasionally go skeet shooting. Of course our teacher had to inspect our shotguns. Imagine 15-20 kids today being required to carry their guns to the classroom through the crowded hallways during class change. No one then thought anything about it.

  • Standing on a banana seat holding butterfly handlebars going down a steep hill. Taking a bounding leap over a king snake in my path running home after school. Ummm, stopping in my tracks and looking back at what I’d just done.
    :-D))) Bought my Rambler Rogue at age 17 with my own money and used it for 25 years.

  • Lived in the country, never wore shoes, caught snakes (all kind), climbed trees, shot guns and arrows, dirt was our toys, dad wanted boys -got 6 girls- he taught us about cars, we built our house (I was 8 when that started) so I have building skills I still use today (I’m 68), grew and canned our own food, made our own maple syrup, raised and slaughtered animals, drank pond water and managed not to die falling into quicksand. We learned hard work (getting up at 5am to slop pigs and feed chickens before school) but was always rewarded Best childhood ever and I let my kids be as free as they wanted in the 80’s so they are as prepared as I.

  • I learned to not stand too close to passenger train tracks. That was before Amtrak installed bathroom holding tanks. Someone flushed as the train went past me.

  • Wow, most entertaining post and comments ever. LOTS of great stories.
    When I was five, I knew how to cross the street safely, and I was allowed to go out by myself to play with neighborhood friends. Just let Mom know where I was going. One day, one of my little buddies told me that in order to be a good person, I had to rob candy bars from the local Mom and Pop store. I forget the reason this was needed. Since I wanted to be a good person, I soon went over there and swiped a 5 cent Hershey bar when the proprietor wasn’t looking.
    I will never forget that Hershey bar. As I was enjoying it, I was pondering. I knew the store owner supported his wife and kids with the store. How can he do that, I wondered, if we steal the candy bars? I decided he couldn’t and that I would never steal anything again. I told the little boy that he was a bad influence on me and I never wanted to play with him again.
    We learned some important life lessons from our freedom.
    When my daughter was a High School Senior in 2005, we were at a choir concert and my daughter tripped on some stairs. I looked over there alertly to make sure it wasn’t serious, and she wasn’t hurt. Later, she told me her friends thought she had an uncaring mother not to have rushed over and fussed over the minor mishap. Today, my daughter is not the only one from her generation who can’t hold down a job, has no self-discipline and lets her emotions steamroll her.
    Nowadays, we see very hard times coming that will kill a lot of these entitled sissies. I hope and pray that hard times will toughen her up and give her the gumption she did not get as a youngster.
    The book, The Fourth Turning, says that tough generations like the commenters here are followed by overprotection, and after a crisis, the pendulum swings back again. So there is hope for the future.

  • That list is a bit big to reply but small in comparison to the things i done which i won’t say all but some memorable ones.
    I’m not from U.S and i born in 1992, when i reached the age of 4 i would spend the morning in the school and the afternoon alone in the apartment reading comics, because my adoptive mother just moved to that town, also with the age of 4 i got my first broken bone, my right arm, sadly i don’t remember the face of the kid that pushed me when i was sit in the wall, couldn’t have my revenge, that’s farther i can go with memories, also when i wen’t 5 since the school distance was no more than 2Km from the apartment in a straight only crossing a few streets, i would go back home alone.
    When i was 6 she managed to rent a house, i also gained a BMX that will make sense later, i would still go to school in morning and spend afternoon alone, but with more space and a bit more of intelligence and a lot more reckless, she had a pistol that she teach me to use but i shouldn’t play with it, only use if someone break in, here goes why i say that every kid should learn about guns and their uses from earlier in the life.
    When comes to firearms never had incidents, but when i was 5 or 6 i remember to get drunk for the first time, i drank a beer can that was on fridge, after that she would hide the beer but wouldn’t hide the gun lol. I also almost cut my finger while playing with a hatchet, good thing the blade was dull.
    It took me a while to master the bicycle because i couldn’t ride everyday, when i learned “properly”, she took me to a park, that park had a huge hill and some buildings around, i had the bright idea to go downhill, almost hit a building after the brakes fail, managed to keep going, but when i reached the end, the handlebars turned and i hit the ground once more.
    When i was 7 and started a new year in school and living in another location 5Kilometers more or less from school, but with a lot more turns, she decided i no longer needed transport and teach me the path so i could go back alone, now the school was afternoon time. She asked me if i understood, i lied saying yes the first day i wen’t 2 hours walking in circles until i found my way back home, she almost beat me for getting home after her. By that age on school we decided to start a war using sticks throwing on one another, i got hit in head, then i hit the guy that hit me he went mad and came after me, i thought we we’re still playing, but he punched me on face, i grabbed his arms and started kicking him in the ribs, then finally gave my first punch on someone else face.
    We went to principal office, and that day i learned to hate the so called authorities, even though i was hit first and only reacted to an unjust aggression, she looked to his face and said; “Look to his face and what you’ve done, how could this angel start any of this?”. Two years after the same bitc* would fuc* me again for another fight that i was involved, only because i hit the guy who provoked me and his brother that had nothing to do with it, only because was his brother, on the second fight she called my mother, i had the bright idea to flee, i went to a friend house and asked to stay there, by 10PM she found where i was hiding, i got beaten once again…
    By that age i was already ditching class alone, since no one had guts to accompany me, i stopped because was boring doing that alone.
    Ten years old now, year 2002, i used to like playing with alcohol and fire, that day there was still some alcohol left in my hand when i lit the small hole full of alcohol, as you can guess my hand was lit as well, if wasn’t for the close faucet would be worse.
    A few weeks later i was playing jackstraw alone, i think thats how you call in the U.S, i heard a noise, went to the window to look holding one of those plastic sticks in my mouth, sadly i hit the glass and the stick went like 2 centimeters in my jaw, i pulled out, bleed a lot, couldn’t eat well for a week, because i was unable to chew, also i learned to keep my disgrace to myself because most of times i would be beaten to learn that i shouldn’t do that again lmao, so i kept quiet about that as well.
    Eleven years old now, one day i decided to make caramelized popcorn, wouldn’t be the first time, that day lady luck was not at my side, when i was dropping the boiling syrup on popcorn, somehow i managed to make a mark on my finger that hasn’t disappeared until now, by this age i also got my second and last broken bone, it wasn’t so bad but took much more time until i could punch with full force once again, thats when i learned to use the left hand, i tried to kept as a secret but once my hand began to swell she took me to the doctor.
    By that age she no longer wanted me and gave in to her lesbian impulses and sent me to a place where poor kids used to be sent, she had decent resources, but she didn’t care anyway.
    To me that was good, i learned to use carpenter tools, learned the farming work and so on, what comes after i left 2 years after is not important, the last fun thing that worth and can be mentioned of my childhood, was driving a manual car for the first time in an interstate road and being fined because the so called authorities said.
    That haven’t stopped me, here you can only have a license after turn 18, for 4 years i kept driving most cars i could, oldschool style.
    Even though didn’t end perfectly, its good to think that i took maximum advantage of that time of my life, too bad kids nowadays don’t have this kind of experience anymore, makes me remember of an old comedy series called Our Gang, kids should be like them in my opinion. Thats what nature demands, not this artificial madness created by the system.
    Anyway i could write more about my adventures but i think its enough, i doubt anyone will read till the end anyway, or even understand what i wanted to tell at all, since this is not my main language, but if at least one person laugh with my story, it will be good enough.

  • Instead of cowboys and indians, which we played on occasion, we usually played “Rat Patrol,” because the TV series was popular at the time (1967 or so). You’d hear, “Gotcha that time, ya dirty kraut” or some kid sassing back with a bad German accent.

    In winter, my front yard had a big fir tree with a place underneath where we broke off the branches and made into our fort. We would make snowballs and throw them through the hole in the branches at passing cars. If we hit them and they stopped, we were well hidden.

  • – Riding my bike 5 miles to Basketball Practice at school in the dark (5am) without a parent and without lights and a helmet.
    – Building a skateboard ramp with 12 foot drop-in with scrap wood scrounged from neighborhood home construction sites and no parents helping build anything.
    Once constructed, nobody wore anything protective while playing on the ramp.
    – Riding in the back of the family Station Wagon without a seat belt.
    – Driving a home-made go-kart and mini bike with un-governed engines and no helmet or lights. Those things were fast and fun. Licensed?? Yeah right……

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