Free-range childhood

Free-range childhood

1. Did you know parents didn’t worry about you then?  We were never told to be home from school at a certain time.  We would meander a different way home from school all the time.  We knew every way. And we went outside to play.  We knew to be home for supper, we better be there for suppertime.

2. We did the same thing.  I lived on a farm and we just played.  We went out in the woods, we walked for miles, we’d go through the brush and down the gullies and in the ditches and climb over the rocks.  There were rattlesnakes and there were all kinds of stuff, and they didn’t worry about us.

We were told not to go to the creek.

We went to the river, swimming, you know. But they didn’t care.  They weren’t watchful over us all the time.  We were just free to do stuff.

There was snakes in the creek, so we were supposed to stay away from there.

1. Our snakes were rattlesnakes.

2. So were ours! Rattlesnakes and water moccasins.

1. We had a certain time we were supposed to be back, you know.  I remember when we were younger, we had boundaries of how far we could go.  I was 10 years old and I walked uptown here, and it was the night they had the riots back in the ‘60s.  Well it would have been 1971, they had the riots uptown.  You know, they were just peace-loving hippies smashing windows out and stuff.  They weren’t going to hurt a little kid like me.  I’m walking around, just walking through it all, it wasn’t any big deal.  Riots that go on today would probably be completely different.  I got home and something was mentioned about the riots uptown and I told my mom “Yeah, I was up there, I’ve seen it!” My parents totally freaked out.

2. I wasn’t in the riots but I was here in college at that time.

[Was that the year they closed it down?]


There were the shootings in Ohio in ’71 and they closed down.  They left early.  We didn’t have to have grades, we didn’t have to have finals.  They just let us go.

For our younger members here, this was anti-Vietnam War.

So I was in college when you were 10 years old.

[I’m just sort of chuckling because you talked about a pretty, maybe, unsettling time for most as sort of happy and funny for you. Just like from a child’s viewpoint walking through that.]

3. We were living in Virginia when they said they would have to serve the negroes.  A mall had just opened up across from where we lived and they said, “Well, we’ll serve them, but no one said it had to be cooked.”

[Oh, that’s awful.]

That was the times.

[It’s the letter of the law, not the spirit, right?]

That was the south.

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