You’d think that growing up in a small town would be boring, but as kids, we always found something to do. Free things, so we were out of our parents hair, meaning, probably most of the time, they were completely unaware of what we were doing, at least for some of the activities. I mean, my parents weren’t neglectful. It was a different time, a time when you’d wake up, eat and go play, come home for a quickly inhaled lunch, go back out to play, come home to scarf down dinner and come home when the curfew alarm sounded.
Wintertime brought sledding, skating and battles of “king of the mountain”, usually on huge snow banks next to the street. Probably not wise, considering I don’t really remember anyone paying too much attention to traffic.
I remember a neighbor boy falling through the ice in a very shallow pond in the woods behind my house. I helped him out, and lost my boot until spring. We were both okay, cold, but okay.
Summertime brought tree-climbing (and that same neighbor boy falling out of a tree and rupturing his spleen). When we were younger, we played in a fountain in the center of town, which was slimy and often had glass in it.
We also went swimming at a few nearby swimming holes… various spots along the same river. The first had a giant boulder in the center of the river, and we used to jump off the boulder all the time. The water was only 4-5 feet deep at the most. It was never a big deal though. Parents didn’t care about it. I remember jumping off the boulder into my Dad’s arms.
One of the other frequently visited swimming spots was further away. There was a railroad trestle crossing the river. It was a fair distance up, and the water below was shallow and rocky. We did jump off the trestle frequently, no one wanted to be a chicken (bock, bock, bock!), and I’ll admit to jumping off. There were kids who even climbed to the top of the trestle and jumped from there. I did climb to the top, but never once took the plunge, no pun intended. Yes, I climbed down to the sounds of chicken noises and gestures, but I was never one of the kids who jumped and broke an arm or split my head open.
(And because there’s a chance my kids will read this, there is nothing wrong with fear and safety. Kids did get hurt, and we were foolish. Never fall victim to peer pressure. I love you.)
I was reading a forum with topics about that small town I grew up in, and one of the topics was that second swimming area. It brought up a lot of memories. I was reading one post in the thread, by an older lady who talked about a guy who used to dive beautifully off the top. That guy… my uncle!
So I guess kids have always been doing crazy things, though that uncle probably would have screamed his head off at me for just jumping off the lower part. (And no, my children, that’s not an excuse for you to go out and do crazy things.)