The Last Free Childhood

12 Apr

Oh the freedom and joy of being a child in the 50’s.  We had our chores but then we were free. We rode our bikes without helmets, the wind flowing across our faces and through our hair. We rode with no hands and crashed. There were no government regulations to protect us. We learned that crashing hurts don’t do it.

We didn’t just play on our street, the neighborhood was our kingdom and we were free to roam from a pick up baseball game to hopscotch or just sit on a street corner and talk until dark.  My husband and his brothers would cross the railroad tracks in the morning and roam the woods until hunger drew them home. They swung from vines and built tree houses and forts. They even used machetes without  supervision. Did they get a cut or two?  Of course, but they learned to be careful.

Our parents didn’t worry. The neighbors kept an eye out and we each knew our mother’s bellowing yell and were smart enough to reply “COMING”, when she called. My parents didn’t worry about us being   kidnapped; we weren’t rich so why would anyone want us? My mother would say, ‘don’t worry, if anyone took you they would bring you back in an hour.” I was kind of offended. Surely they would keep me two.

My parents grew up on farms.  Even when they were small, everyday except Sunday was a workday. Neither went past the eighth grade. They were too valuable on the farm to waste time in school. When my siblings and I came along, we had a very different childhood.  We had a freedom I don’t think any generation has ever enjoyed or will enjoy in the future.

Growing up in Orlando, Lake Eola Park was where families spent Sunday afternoons. It was hard to get the three of us to sit still for very long.



5 Responses to “The Last Free Childhood”

  1. Linda Lewis May 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I love this post. It brought back so many wonderful memories. I think we shield our children way too much, If you play in a padded room, you PROBABLY won’t hurt yourself…. I’m particularly sad about the current Halloween kids have, with ‘approved’ safe costumes, mothers following along in cars, if the kids get to trick or treat at all, not eating anything until it’s been ‘checked,’ etc. Thanks for giving me some really great memories of turning the metal kids pool on its side, starting it rolling, then jumping on for the quick thrill, then jumping off before your head was bashed…:0)


  2. mick davidson (@mickdavidson) April 15, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    I can really relate to this. Although I’m British, I love stories about about small town America partly I think because of all the comics and books (and film possibly) read when growing up.
    I also had a lot of freedom because I lived in a boarding school and then in orphanages. Yes, there were bad times,but the world was our oyster and we lived without adult supervision or worry for so much of the time. I think we had a freedom that normal families never had and are better off for it.


  3. DiVoran April 13, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I love your Free Childhood piece. I felt free while I read it. A sweet little visit to your childhood. My was like it in a lot of ways. love,


    • oldthingsrnew April 15, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Mick, I appreciate your comment. There is a lot to be said for that kind of freedom. Today we protect children from every danger and in doing so they have missed out on the knowledge of consequences of actions.

      I am likewise interested in stories about small towns in England and the Uk, Two of my favorite authors are Miss Read and D.E. Stevenson.

      Thanks for stopping by, you are welcome anytime.


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