It Was Kids' Play

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A couple weeks back I documented some of the dangers of being a kid before helicopter parents were invented. Factologist Sean McVeigh could not believe there were such things as glass shampoo bottles. But I was proven right as his research showed Prell shampoo to be the iPhone of its time. Tell ya, if I traveled back in time I’d open an Urgent Care center or maybe a Stitches R Us. 

It was such a big deal when shampoo was finally put in plastic bottles, they made TV commercials about this new revolution. Somebody would be all lathered up in the shower and someone else would poke their head into the bathroom to ask something like, honey, where are the keys?  But then they’d see all that soapy lather and say, don’t waste all the shampoo.  The person in the shower would say something like there’s plenty left and toss the bottle, which would fall to the floor. The fully-clothed person would exclaim, it didn’t break! Amazing.

Of course, things have changed. Now plastic bottles are the dangerous things. And water comes in boxes. 

Dan Edwards remembers those dangerous times. He wrote in to say that everyone in the neighborhood had to be home for dinner. But sometimes that was just impossible – like the time he and his boyhood pal, Gary Carroll, got into a scuffle. The scuffle turned into a neighborhood event as the crowd grew to cheer on the battling boys. This was Brooklyn so, no doubt, someone started taking bets.

The brawl continued but the crowds suddenly disappeared because it was dinner time.

For everyone else, any way. After dinner, the crowd came back and the two brawlers still had each other in a headlock.

Update: the two combatants are still good friends. The talk now is of a rematch at next year’s Thrilla at Camilla. It will be scheduled for after dinnertime. And maybe there will be fireworks.

Speaking of which. In those dangerous days, kids played with fireworks. The only recommended safeguard was using an eight-inch punk (That’s a lighting device, youngsters), instead of a match to set off the explosives. Eight year olds would be setting ash cans and cherry bombs.

Those were the days when toothaches were common. And it was just as common for you to be handed a shot glass with whiskey. You were told to swish it around in your mouth and then spit it out. Nice.

And since it’s the season, it’s worth noting that parents did not, ever, chaperone kids to go trick or treating. It was perfectly sane to go door to door as far as your feet could take you. You’d sometimes fill up your brown paper bag with candy, lug it home, and then head out to fill another. You’d log miles hauling the loot.

The big safety advisory in those days? Don’t eat Halloween apples you got trick or treating. Somebody might have slipped a razor blade inside. That was the extent of be careful out there.

I don’t know how we’re here. Most of us still have burn scars from going down scorching sliding ponds. The sliding pond was basically a griddle on a hot, sunny day.

If you survived the sliding pond you went to the monkey bars and climbed to the top which was 10 or 12 feet off the concrete. You didn’t have to worry about hitting the concrete straight. You’d first bounce off bars on the way down. They called it play. 

Oh, and play also included running in the fog behind mosquito - DDT trucks which came around to spray the neighborhoods once in a while. 

Hmm….maybe that’s why we’re so screwed up.

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