What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The material you are about to read will be familiar to the regulars who visit this space.

I decided after a “Brody” weekend to repeat these words. Brody, of course, is my 20-month-old grandson. He’s all boy, meaning he loves the rough-and-tumble style of play, getting dirty outside, and picking up things that immediately heads towards his mouth, no matter where they came from.

While growing up 60 years apart from his grand dad will be a lot different for him, I hope he will get a chance to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures that follow:

For those of us born between 1925-1970 we magically survived. For starters, we were born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while we were in the womb. Our moms took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then, after that trauma of childbirth, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles; locks on doors or cabinets, and when we took off on an excursion on our bicycles, we did so either with or without a baseball cap. Helmets….we didn’t need no stinking helmets; someone would have called us sissies!

As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle purchased from a store. And there was only one flavor of water.

When we got lucky and convinced mom, dad or grandma to give us a dime, we would share one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar.

And we weren’t overweight. WHY? Because we were always outside playing…that’s why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights or the back porch light came on. There were no cell phones; thusly no one was able to reach us all day….and we were okay.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve that problem.

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games; no 150 channels on TV (for me, it was three channels – ABC, NBC and CBS); no video movies or DVD’s; no surround-sound or CDs; no cell phones, personal computers, internet or chat rooms.

But we still had plenty of friends. We didn’t “log on” to find them…we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees; got cut; broke bones and a few teeth; and there were no lawsuits filed due to these accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, dad’s belt, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.

We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live inside us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthday, .22 rifle for our 12th, and a 12-gauge shotgun by our 16th birthday.

We rode horses, made up fun games with nothing more than a stick and an old tennis ball that the dog had almost chewed up.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.

Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment, and then do their best to make it next season.

The idea of a parent bailing us out of jail if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

And yet those raised from 1925-1970 were some of the best problem solvers and inventors. The past 50 to 85 years have witnessed an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

And how did we succeed? We did it because we had the freedom to think on our own and we learned to deal with failure, success and responsibility.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207. 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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