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How Did We Survive Childhood
Washngton Times | December 29, 2003 | Wesley Pruden

Posted on 12/30/2003 9:11:44 AM PST by catonsville

Here's what my Internet correspondent reminded me of (and if you see it on the Internet, it must be so):

"According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s probably shouldn't have survived. Our mothers put us in cribs covered with bright-colored lead-based paint.

"There were no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bicycles into traffic (bike paths were unheard of), we had no helmets. If we didn't feel like pumping a bike up the hills, we could always hitch a ride with strangers. There were no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was particularly special.

"We drank water from an old garden hose, not from a bottle. One bottle of bellywash could be shared with up to four friends, drinking from the bottle, and no one died. "We gorged on cakes, pies, candy, bread and butter, and anything we could find with lots of sugar in and on it, and we were never overweight because we were always running through the 'hood.

"We never heard of 'play dates,' and left home in the morning and played all day, and the only rule was to get home before the streetlights flickered on. No one could reach us because nobody had a cell phone. "We spent hours building go-carts from lumber and nails scrounged from neighbors' garages and raced them down the hill to discover only at the bottom of the intersection that we forgot the brakes. Running into the bushes was good enough.

"We fell out of trees, played with BB guns until we got a .22 rifle on our 12th birthday, fought "war" with dirt clods, broke bones, lost teeth, stepped on nails and caught fishhooks in noses. Nobody's daddy had a lawyer. "We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms, and most eyes survived intact (the worms didn't).

"We walked into our friends' houses whenever we felt like it. We chose up sides for ballgames, and if somebody didn't make the team, he learned to deal with it. There was nobody to counsel the losers (who would have felt insulted if there had been). "The generations that suffered these deprivations made the best of it, producing the explosion of innovation and ideas that transformed the world.

"Kind of makes you want to run through the house with a pair of scissors, doesn't it?"         


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: 1970s; childhood; dangersbureaucrats; ohgreatinternetemail; regulations; rememberwhen; wesleypruden
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I love Wesley Pruden, the successor to Menken. This was part of his column today.

We have become a society that no longer lets kids be kids. We are robbing them of a childhood

1 posted on 12/30/2003 9:11:45 AM PST by catonsville
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To: catonsville
Eat dirt.

It was a well known fact that, as a child, if you consumed your weight in eating dirt, you'd live a long, healthy life.

lol
2 posted on 12/30/2003 9:16:18 AM PST by TomGuy
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To: catonsville
I think it is due more to the fact that this is not the same world as then, things have changed. That is why we could do all those things relatively safely.
3 posted on 12/30/2003 9:18:45 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: catonsville
We listened to Honky Cat by Elton John not Kill the Honky by Grandthugfizzlerapcrapass.

We played Coleco Football with the magentized playing field, not Dues Ex on X-Box where we can take the corpses and toss them in a burning barrel so as to watch them crackle and burn.

Technology and advancement of all things multicultural hasn't helped today's kid one iota. It just makes their minds lazy and their attitudes harsh.
4 posted on 12/30/2003 9:18:48 AM PST by kinghorse
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To: catonsville
I first became acquainted with "play dates" when I moved my family into a somewhat tony suburb to save them from growing up in the city (as I did). I'll never forget my wife telling me that my 5-year-old son had a "play date" scheduled for the following day. "A PLAY WHAT?" I thundered. I never heard of such a ridiculous thing until that day. What a sissified society we have become.
5 posted on 12/30/2003 9:18:57 AM PST by SamAdams76 (Happy New Year!)
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To: catonsville
My brothers and I would routinely crawl under trains on the way to the cliffs and caves outside of town, where we stayed until dark.

What I know about boyhood I will never tell my son's mother.

6 posted on 12/30/2003 9:19:34 AM PST by Taliesan
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To: TomGuy
Dirt is an excellent prophalaxiz for earache. Just look at the kids who have earaches all the time. The momma's won't let them eat dirt!
7 posted on 12/30/2003 9:19:48 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: catonsville
This story reminds me of all the Legos my younger brother ate ... only to find them later in his diaper :-(
8 posted on 12/30/2003 9:20:10 AM PST by Buell_X1-1200 (Today Saddam is in jail ... and the Democrats are sad.)
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To: catonsville
My childhood was alot happier than what kids have today. There were no pretentious "play dates". We "socialized" with whom we played with in our neighborhood. We didn't need health clubs since we had pools and played games like army and had tree houses. Oh, I could go on and on but I'll end it with. I feel sorry for kids today.
9 posted on 12/30/2003 9:22:41 AM PST by nmh
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To: SamAdams76
My older cousin taught me how to climb down the well after the cat.

We would catch lizards and take turns holding them up by the tail while the other boys shot at it with a BB gun.

We rode the ponies bareback down to the pond, where we swam in reed-infested water.

sigh.

10 posted on 12/30/2003 9:22:41 AM PST by Taliesan
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To: catonsville
Children then had families, homes and full time moms. That was of course before feminism.

It is the American mother that we have lost, and the American father soon followed.
11 posted on 12/30/2003 9:23:32 AM PST by Search4Truth (When a man lies he murders some part of the world.)
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To: catonsville
Great post!

I remember playing kickball with all the neighborhood kids until it got dark out. We had all kinds of crazy rules. What a blast that was though!

12 posted on 12/30/2003 9:25:15 AM PST by MotleyGirl70
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To: catonsville
Not every raises their kids like bubble-boys these days. Here's our 4 year-old daughter riding with Mom on our neighbor's Harley:


13 posted on 12/30/2003 9:28:47 AM PST by mikegi
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To: Search4Truth
Children then had families, homes and full time moms. That was of course before feminism.

It is the American mother that we have lost, and the American father soon followed.

Bingo. To expand on that, the American neighborhood has lost its full-time moms. It was OK to run around the hood all day because someone's mom was withing eyesight and earshot to keep an eye on things. They were the neighborhood cops back then.

14 posted on 12/30/2003 9:28:53 AM PST by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: catonsville
"I love Wesley Pruden, the successor to Menken. This was part of his column today.
We have become a society that no longer lets kids be kids. We are robbing them of a childhood"

Well, we survived, it's true, or we wouldn't be writing here on FR. However, lots and lots of kids didn't survive those years. Lead-bearing paint killed thousands of kids. Kids died from head injuries on their bikes. A good friend of mine died when his head went through the windshield of a car...before seat belts. So many folks died in motorcycle accidents from head injuries.

We survived, but it's worth thinking about all the ones that didn't, too.
15 posted on 12/30/2003 9:29:05 AM PST by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: stuartcr
The people may have changed, the world is patient.
16 posted on 12/30/2003 9:29:20 AM PST by Old Professer
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To: SamAdams76
We live in a part of Orange county that still has not emerged from the 50s. There are tons of kids all over the place riding their bikes, screwing around, etc - all by themselves.

We have a kid next door who is 7; he's got two friends (boy/girl twins) that ride their bikes/skateboards over whenever they feel like it.

The only problem is money - you gotta pay the freight to live by the coast and be in the right school district. However, at least the property taxes are a write-off - saves on private school.

17 posted on 12/30/2003 9:30:17 AM PST by Snerfling
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To: Search4Truth
Children then had families, homes and full time moms.

So true. My mom was a full-time mom. She was always around for us no matter what. She knew where we were, what we were doing and was always involved in our lives. I'm fortunate enough to say to this day I have the best parents in the world.

18 posted on 12/30/2003 9:30:18 AM PST by MotleyGirl70
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To: kinghorse
We played dodge ball and no one needed counseling for their "feelings" when they were hit.

When a bully would pick on us, we would screw up our courage and fight back. If we got a black eye, it was usually worth it because the bully got a fat lip and would seek easier prey.

We didn't have Ritalin because we got rid of all our energy outside.

We didn't have air conditioning and were perfectly happy to sleep out on the back porch in the summer.

We had four TV channels, only two of which were clear enough to see well and Saturday morning was the only time you could watch cartoons.

We dammed up a creek to deepen our swimming hole and the EPA didn't care or even exist.
19 posted on 12/30/2003 9:32:18 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: catonsville
It is my one most dear prayer that upon their deaths every legislator who has ever voted to mandate car seats be placed in a car seat in hell for all eternity.
20 posted on 12/30/2003 9:32:40 AM PST by azcap
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To: mikegi
(sarcasm on)

Aiegh! You let your wife and child ride on a motorcycle without helmets? You're evil!

(/sarcasm off)

21 posted on 12/30/2003 9:33:24 AM PST by Maigrey (Democrats: Stinkin' up the place worse than Hillary! in a Taco Bell bathroom)
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To: Search4Truth
The American mother got lost because she had to go to work. I don't think feminism had as much to do with it as the economy. At least feminism helped make wages for the mothers better.
22 posted on 12/30/2003 9:33:57 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: Old Professer
True, my dog and my garden are pretty much today, as they would have been 50 yrs ago.
23 posted on 12/30/2003 9:36:25 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: MineralMan
True enough, but as P.J. O'Rourke so brilliantly wrote 10 years ago, we have become a society in thrall to the "safety Nazis." There's a big difference between putting seat belts in cars and removing all the diving boards from the swimming pools. I know teenagers who don't know how to dive because they have never been to a pool with a diving board! I was going off a high-dive when I was 7. We go to a pool on a military base in the summer, just so our kids can jump and dive off a real diving board. Our public pool has one, but kids under age 12 are not allowed on it. Ridiculous!
24 posted on 12/30/2003 9:36:26 AM PST by Dems_R_Losers (Except for the one who married me!!!)
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To: catonsville
Sure, very amusing. But the facts are that a lot of children have died or suffered from lead poisoning, poisonings at home, or from bike accidents where kids weren't wearing helmets. Geez, in the "good old days," people on the average died before reaching their 60s. Go ahead and ignore these precautions, use lead-based paint for your baby's cribs and let them go out bike riding in the street without a helmet, and encourage them to accept rides with strangers, but I don't want to hear any complaining when it's you or your kid that ends up suffering needlessly. (Generic "you," not you personally...)
25 posted on 12/30/2003 9:38:49 AM PST by Stone Mountain
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To: stuartcr
The American mother got lost because she had to go to work. I don't think feminism had as much to do with it as the economy.
Most mothers do not NEED to go to work. It's a choice. People now are much better off, materially, now than they were 50 years ago. The economy has not forced mothers to go to work.

At least feminism helped make wages for the mothers better.
Please explain how feminism has done this.

26 posted on 12/30/2003 9:39:01 AM PST by BMiles2112
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To: MotleyGirl70
I'm fortunate enough to say to this day I have the best parents in the world.

Nope, I did. Mine weren't constantly hovering over me like so many parents I see these days and I'm eternally grateful. Parents helping their kids with homework??? Not a chance. Here's the extent of school assistance I got from my parents: "you're smart enough to get good grades in school and we expect you to get good grades". That's a far cry from today where my sister calls up asking me for help on her son's homework.

27 posted on 12/30/2003 9:41:20 AM PST by mikegi
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To: catonsville
Do you have a link to the article?
28 posted on 12/30/2003 9:42:12 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: Dems_R_Losers
"True enough, but as P.J. O'Rourke so brilliantly wrote 10 years ago, we have become a society in thrall to the "safety Nazis." There's a big difference between putting seat belts in cars and removing all the diving boards from the swimming pools. I know teenagers who don't know how to dive because they have never been to a pool with a diving board! I was going off a high-dive when I was 7. We go to a pool on a military base in the summer, just so our kids can jump and dive off a real diving board. Our public pool has one, but kids under age 12 are not allowed on it. Ridiculous!"

There's no question that we have gone overboard in some ways. I'm just pointing out that all those nostalgic memories we all have should be tempered by thinking a moment about all those who weren't so lucky as we were, and who didn't survive.

As for diving boards, there's one at every public pool in my area, and the kids use them, too. The "cannonball" still survives. Motel pools don't usually have boards, but that's a liability issue with their insurance companies.

Yes, there's sometimes too much nannyism, but not every safety rule is bad. Someone posted a photo of three folks on a Harley, none with helmets. The photo included a mom holding a young child on the bike.

I'm an old motorcyclist and would never allow a passenger on my bike without a helmet. Never. I'd also never allow someone on the back holding a small child.

Sure, that's freedom, but it's also stupid as heck. Even for a ride around the block it's stupid. The worst bike accident I ever had happened at the corner nearest my house, when a Cadillac driven by an old man turned left up my street, cutting the corner, and ran smack dab into me.

Freedom's great! Stupidity isn't.
29 posted on 12/30/2003 9:43:18 AM PST by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: BMiles2112
I personally believe that most do need to work. One of the things that feminism brought to the forefront was that wages for females were proportionately lower than for men.
30 posted on 12/30/2003 9:43:26 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: catonsville
bump
31 posted on 12/30/2003 9:43:54 AM PST by VOA
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To: mikegi
"Not every raises their kids like bubble-boys these days. Here's our 4 year-old daughter riding with Mom on our neighbor's Harley: "

Great! Your kid has freedom. It's still stupid. That photo is about the dumbest thing I've seen for a long time.
32 posted on 12/30/2003 9:48:05 AM PST by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: TomGuy
Eat Dirt

Only if you are breast fed. Then as you are weaned from your mother's antibodies, you create your own. It's a fact that parents who raise their kids in ultra-clean environments are setting them up for all kinds of medical problems later...

Kids are more likely to develop asthma in a clean home than a dirty one.

33 posted on 12/30/2003 9:48:37 AM PST by mfulstone
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To: catonsville
PCs and PC are two huge reasons it's not like back then. We could say and do what we wanted, could make fools of ourselves and were seen as human instead of a source of litigious income.

With three channels on the TV and no desktop computers we were outdoors all the time and parents never worried because everyone in the neighborhood, with no fear of being sued, looked out for each other.

Besides the PCs, we played with asbestos, ate things that were never meant to be eaten and exposed ourselves to every potential allergen on earth. And we are grateful. :)

34 posted on 12/30/2003 9:49:23 AM PST by Lady Jag (Googolplex Star Thinker of the Seventh Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity)
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To: BMiles2112
Actually, I would say that it's 2 things that have "forced" moms to go to work: 1) Our oppressive taxes that take out 50% of our family income and 2) Lack of respect for the job that SAHM's do.

As a SAH myself, and I can't tell you how many times women have told me, "Oh, I could never do what you do. I'd be so bored." et al...... I've even seen those type of comments given by men on FR. "Oh, your job is soooo easy."

If the SAHM's role in the family and society isn't given value, if it really is okay to have babies and toddlers go to daycare, then why should a mom SAH?

35 posted on 12/30/2003 9:51:42 AM PST by Aggie Mama
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To: MineralMan
I'm an old motorcyclist and would never allow a passenger on my bike without a helmet. Never. I'd also never allow someone on the back holding a small child. Sure, that's freedom, but it's also stupid as heck.

I completely agree. That picture is somewhat scary to me. And it's not like the child has an informed choice as to his safety options - the child has to rely on the parents to look out for him.

When I was riding a bike, I occasionally (rarely) rode without a helmet, but I never gave anyone a ride without one.
36 posted on 12/30/2003 9:52:21 AM PST by Stone Mountain
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To: stuartcr
History will remember feminism as that dark time when it was legal to massacre the unborn.
37 posted on 12/30/2003 9:53:22 AM PST by Search4Truth (When a man lies he murders some part of the world.)
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To: Search4Truth
Unfortunately, that massacre has been going on far longer than feminism has been around.
38 posted on 12/30/2003 9:55:07 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: stuartcr
I personally believe that most do need to work.
Why? Don't you agree that we are materially better off today than at any time in the past?

One of the things that feminism brought to the forefront was that wages for females were proportionately lower than for men.
But women still make significantly less than men for the same job, and I don't think it's changed much over the years, you just hear complaining about it more. Regardless, I don't see why this is a problem. A certain wage level is not owed to anyone. The wage an employee receives is an AGREEMENT between the employer and employee. No one is forced to take a job at a wage they deem insufficient. There are wage disparities between hundreds of different groups, and it's reality. It's not a problem that needs "fixing".

39 posted on 12/30/2003 9:55:34 AM PST by BMiles2112
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To: mikegi
We have much in common. : )
40 posted on 12/30/2003 9:56:24 AM PST by MotleyGirl70
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To: catonsville
Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was particularly special.

Perhaps, but it wasn't very special when I was used as a sandbag to get down a snow covered mountain.

41 posted on 12/30/2003 9:57:35 AM PST by flutters (God Bless The USA)
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To: Dems_R_Losers
Diving Boards, Tether Ball, Merry-Go Rounds = Endangered Species
Whatever happened to Merry-Go-Arounds? You know, the good old fashioned kind you run around and jump on til you get dizzy and or sick and fall off? Everyone I ever knew got hurt playing on the Merry-Go-Round and every one still went back for more. They were FUN. Where I live now in AZ there are no merry-go-rounds. The Merry-Go-Round at the tiny rural elementary school I attended in Indiana has long since been banished. By chance a few years back my wife and I discovered a Merry-Go-Round at an interstate rest-stop in Oklahoma. Upon seeing it in of all places a state-owned property I was shocked. I told my wife that there must not be any lawyers in Oklahoma? We now make a point to stop night or day (wake the kids up if we have to) at the rest park in Oklahoma. It is the only place in America my kids have ever seen the legendary beast called the Merry-Go-Round.

42 posted on 12/30/2003 10:03:26 AM PST by azcap
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To: Aggie Mama
Thanks for putting "forced" in quotes. I think you are correct that both things have encouraged mothers to find full-time work outside the home, especially the second. My wife stays home with our daughter with another in the womb, and she feels the pressure to go to work from others because of the lack respect for what she does. Jobs have become a source of fulfillment for many, replacing family. I see my job as a source of money, nothing more. Sure, I work in a field I'm interested in, and one that I'd like to think I'm fairly good at, but that's only to ease the pain of dragging my tail out of bed at 5 in the morning.
43 posted on 12/30/2003 10:05:44 AM PST by BMiles2112
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To: Aggie Mama
If the SAHM's role in the family and society isn't given value, if it really is okay to have babies and toddlers go to daycare, then why should a mom SAH?

Majority of my friends are SAHM's with 2+ small children and I give them sooooo much credit and respect on what they do day to day. When I visit them, I'm exhausted just watching how much work it is they do with 2+ toddlers demanding full attention.

I often wonder how my own mother did it.

44 posted on 12/30/2003 10:06:24 AM PST by MotleyGirl70
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To: BMiles2112
Experience and observation has shown me that the young families I know and observe, need two incomes. It's very difficult for someone to raise a family based on the average Americans' wage. Yes, I agree that we are better off materially, a big reason for that is because in order to be better off, we need more money. As you say, women still make less for the same job. What you call complaining, others call bringing to the forefront. I don't remember saying anything about a problem, or something needing fixing. It appears you would like to argue about something, try someone else.
45 posted on 12/30/2003 10:14:55 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: catonsville
I think that it's our perception of what is safe that has changed. I also went out and played for hours without my mother being concerned. Today we see child molesters, diseases, accidents, etc. behind every bush and tree. The world today is viewed as a dangerous place, and good parents have to be eternally vigilant in order to keep their children safe.

Part of this is the way the media tends to emphasize the negative parts of our society. Mad cow disease is a very scary disease; but from what I've read, it's extremely unlikely that anyone has gotten it from the infected cow. And part of this is the way that people use our fears to make money. We are made to feel that with the right equipment that we can live in a injury free world.
46 posted on 12/30/2003 10:18:16 AM PST by Essie
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To: Stone Mountain
If you do not expose a child to the moderate dangers of childhood, he will not know how to deal with the greater dangers he will face as an adult. I will not raise my kid to go through life being afraid of the world.

The ultimate goal of life is not merely to prolong it.
47 posted on 12/30/2003 10:22:08 AM PST by Texas Federalist
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To: BMiles2112
BMiles2112 is right. Even with higher taxes if people were willing to accept the level of material wealth they did 40 years ago most women would have no need to work. Middle class then meant having 1 TV with broadcast channels (not 3 or 4 with cable and dishes.) Kids played with baseballs and jump ropes, not Playstations and PCs. You had one car, not 2, 3, or more, and the luxury feature was an AM/FM radio not a DVD TV systems and surround sound. A family of 6 lived happily in a 1200 sq ft home. There were no "brand name" clothes that cost 6 times their value. A family vacation occurred once a year when you DROVE (your station wagon not a 737) to visit someone you knew and slept for free at their house. Hotels and amusement parks were a treat. You could count on one hand the number of times you ate a meal in a restaurant each month. Meals didn't come from boxes and cans but were instead made directly from produce in an amazing process called "cooking."

Our lifestyles today are phenomenally luxurious compared to then. Destroying the family is the price we have paid for that luxury. It is also a voluntary destruction as evidenced by the millions of Americans who have chosen not to participate.
48 posted on 12/30/2003 10:27:33 AM PST by azcap
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To: MotleyGirl70
My mother never knew where I was riding my bike or roller skating in the neighborhood but didn't worry. We roamed the woods, caught ground squirrels and tamed them, dug worms to go fishing in the creek. I never ate dirt, but I knew a girl who did. I practiced shooting my Daisy Air Rifle, went hunting w/my dad, worked in the family vegetable garden, fed my dog and the chickens and gathered their eggs. In the second grade, I was the fastest runner...beat the boys! I saved bread wrappers to send off for my G-Man ring. I climbed trees, fell out of one getting mistle toe, had a favorite limb to swing out over a ravine while yelling like Tarzan (or so we thought...LOL). I went to the town library and to the movies every week, listened to "Let's Pretend" and "The Shadow Knows" on the radio, had all the childhood diseases and survived whooping cough as well. And I was and am a girl!
49 posted on 12/30/2003 10:28:14 AM PST by Carolinamom
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To: MotleyGirl70
Please check your FreepMail.

EODGUY
50 posted on 12/30/2003 10:28:32 AM PST by EODGUY
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