Good old days really were; they’re likely gone forever

  • Larry Simoneaux / Freelance Columnist
  • Sunday, July 16, 2006 9:00pm
  • Opinion

Summertime memories.

Seems I missed a few in last week’s column, but many of you took the time to fill in the things I’d forgotten.

Rich Permenter wrote that, “Summer seemed to last forever, and there was no sense of time until about two weeks before school started.”

And then he reminded me of something that lightened our parents’ load considerably.

“I also remember how much better summer got, and how much less my parents worried, once the Salk (polio) vaccine was out.That guy did more for kids having fun than any circus ride!”

I especially enjoyed another reader’s memory of watching lightning “dance across the sky” at night during local thunderstorms.

But the most telling note I received came from Cris Sherman of Mountlake Terrace. He grew up locally and took the time to wonder, “Is it possible for kids to have such experiences in our society today?”

I’ll let him explain.

“Things don’t seem to allow our children to grow up the way I did.Yards are literally smaller than the ones I experienced and there are no fields with horses or woods that have not been altered by human kind around here.Fewer people grow things like watermelon (I grow apples, plums, berries, etc., and the kids like to come over and have some).Kids nowadays go to ‘the mall’ to have fun in an extremely sterile environment where they are not allowed to use their imagination.

“I don’t think I would like to grow up as a kid these days and try to have a typical summer as I once did.I don’t think it even exists anymore.”

And I believe he has a point.

Even with my rose-colored glasses firmly in place, I still think it was a simpler time and a lot more fun back then.

My parents thought nothing of my shouting that I was on my way to the playground and letting me go for hours unattended.

If I didn’t make it home for lunch, they figured I was at Peter Ricca’s or Alden Banta’s house being stuffed full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Alternatively, we’d have bologna and mustard on white bread – a childhood delicacy in all parts of the country back then.

The rule was that I had to be home for dinner. That one I obeyed religiously because I knew if I showed up late, I’d spend the next day in the house doing some gawdawful chore or other.

Our parents didn’t worry as much in those days because they knew there was an entire neighborhood of eyes watching over us.

Admittedly, many of those eyes were making sure we weren’t about to do something like run through their flower beds to retrieve a ball, but the byproduct was a sense of safety that’s missing today. Those watchers also helped keep the perverts, pedophiles and the other assorted low-lifes around back then pretty much in check.

There were other things that contributed to our sense of security. All of the guns we had were toys and whenever we were “killed” in a “shootout,” we were back on our feet in minutes blazing away.

Any argument that came up usually peaked at shouting and was over very quickly. Those same eyes that watched us came packaged with loud voices capable (and fully willing) to tell us to break it up “or else.” An hour later, the whole situation had been forgotten.

Sex was a mystery and girls were something to be figured out later. Little did we know that, as regards figuring them out, there was no unit of time long enough to define “later.”

Other things:

Drugs were the awful tasting medicines the doctor prescribed when we were sick and music had printable lyrics.

Money wasn’t necessary. A Coke cost a nickel and a quarter would pretty much feed the whole gang. Clothes were selected strictly for comfort and fun. Wearing designer labels while riding a bike through a mud hole wasn’t a big priority for any of us.

Television programs were different too. No one was ever embarrassed by an episode of “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Superman,” or “The Lone Ranger.” That’s because such programs never provided you with: (a) an exhibition of the sexual gymnastics the human body was capable of, (b) new ways to arrange four letter words that would make a sailor blush, or (c) the idea that trashy and unrefined behavior was, somehow, cool.

It was simply a better time.

It is probably, as Cris Sherman notes, gone forever.

And I, for one, think we’re all the poorer for it.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Comments can be sent to

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