Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Reason for the Ticker

Guess you can't miss the fact that I've added an Amber Alert ticker to the blog. I started with a smaller version over to the left, but decided it was too easy to miss, so I moved it over here. I do know a woman who was abducted as a child - in her case, by her own father in a divorce case. It's a scarey thing. Of course, then, there was no such thing as Amber Alert. If it can help in a single case, I'm all for it. The ticker is a sad reminder to me that today's children can never feel as free and as safe as we did years ago.

When I was growing up, every street and vacant lot and patch of woods was our playground. Every mom and every dad in the neighborhood could be relied upon to look out for every kid who happened to fall out of a tree or off a front porch on their property, call their parents if necessary, or just patch up a skinned knee or bloody nose, with no concern about law suits. They offered a little iodine or a bandage, a pat on the head and a cookie.

I did fall out of my share of trees. And once I roller skated across and right off of a front porch onto the sidewalk. Ouch. At least I missed the barberry bushes. Each day was a new adventure. We played in the nearby woods a lot. It was neat! It not only offered trees, but an old, rotting bridge we could fall off of or through, into the creek. There were some small caves. These were sometimes inhabited by small animals - or by the occasional tramp (The 1930's version of a homeless person). A road ran through these woods, down a steep hill lined with a couple of rows of old wooden houses. In earlier years they had been the homes of mill workers. Now they were full of hillbilly squatters. These people didn't bother us if we didn't bother them, but they did chase us once when we happened on a still. We didn't know what it was at the time, but we learned to steer clear of it.

We sometimes hung around the riding stables. I don't know how I ever saved up twenty-five cents, but I did, and carried it to the owner of the stables. He asked if I knew how to ride. I said, "Sure," so he hoisted me up and I trotted off, full of confidence and happier than I had ever been. As soon as that horse and I were out of sight of the stables, he took off at a gallop and I went flying toward the ground. My luck held. No broken bones.

We explored the woods, the creek, the quarry, and any place else we happened upon, but I don't remember any terrible, tragic incident. I guess the prize for the most dangerous (and foolish) adventure goes to the storm drain. I used to play with the Baptist minister's kids. One of the boys, Eddie, was about my age. There were trolley tracks that ran in a long curve from Shadeland Avenue near my house, down past Garret Road near the church and rectory where Eddie lived. A storm drain pipe ran alongside the tracks, and was open at each intersection. I don't know how long a span this was, but it ran behind at least seven or eight properties, each of which must have been 100' across. Eddie and I squatted down at the Shadeland Avenue end, discussing whether the pipe was big enough for us to crawl through. It's hard to believe that even nine year old kids could be so stupid as to try it, but we decided we had to find out. I went home and got a couple of candles from the pantry shelf. Eddie supplied the matches, and in we went. No one in our world knew we were in there. If we had got stuck no one would have found us until the next big storm, when the water would back up and they went looking for the cause. I get claustrophobic today, just thinking about it. Eddie went first, being a gentleman, so I never saw anything but the soles of his sneakers. It was a long crawl. When we came out we were covered with muck and cobwebs and God-knows-what-else. But we made it!

Despite all of our escapades and sometimes extended absences, no adult ever once entertained the thought that we might have been abducted.

Have I mentioned that I was a tomboy?


Ralph said...

Here they place amber alerts on the signs over the highways. It makes me said ever time I see one. Growing up in the 50's we didn't worry about things like that either. It's sad we have to today.
As I was reading this I was thinking, "She sounds like she was tomboy."

Dianne said...

I grew up in Brooklyn and although it was congested and busy even back then we always felt safe. what a shame our children/grandchildren can't feel that same freedom.

I'm in central NJ now but yearn to live in northern CA. I picture myself as Ellen Burstyn living in wine country.

I saw your comment on Mahala's blog and had to come visit. I see we are also both fan's of kenju's blog.

Nice to meet you!

Lisa said...

I grew up in the 70s and it was still rather safe then. I so wish our children could have had some of the same freedoms we had... to just be kids. Then again, the trouble we got into, compared to their trouble, is quite different. As well, a cop will not escort a delinquent child home to his parents anymore. He or she gets a record these days.

Either way, it's different and I don't like the different. :( ...and i better go before this becomes another blog entry! lol

I hope you get to No Cal. Sitting, enjoying the view, sipping wine sounds like a fine idea to me!!!

Dianne said...

Just in case you don't re-vist the comment you made on my post.

Steal away - I am honored :)

and I'll be back.

Minnesotablue said...

I remember being able to sleep in a tent in our front yard right in the middle of the city. Never any fears. It is indeed sad that we even have to have amber alerts but thank goodness we do. We have had maybe five or six here and they have had positive results. I found you through Diannes blog. Love yours. TN said...

Your childhood sounds like mine. It's a thousand wonders we survived...but we never worried about being abducted. In fact I never heard of the word until I was grown. We used to sleep in the woods and in the barn loft full of good smelling hay. We never locked our doors and even slept with them open. If we played outside for the whole day it was O.K. Why can't it be that way today? I wish it were!