Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, August 3, 2009

No fear

If you read my niece's (Lori's) post about her father, you'll read that when he was growing up he had a group of friends -- 8 or 9 -- who all lived within a couple of blocks of each other, and they played together all the time.

I, too, had several friends within a block of our home, and we played "mommy" or "brides" day in and day out. And neither we children, nor our parents worried about anything like being kidnapped.

A young family in our church recent told their oldest child (who I think is 4 or maybe just 5) that she was never, ever to talk to someone she didn't know, and she was never, ever to get into a car with anyone, or get near a car that had someone in it that she didn't know. She was to run like crazy back to her house if anything like that happened. Well, it did, and the child did as she had been told and ran up the front walk to her front porch. God was good, because this was a topic that had not been discussed with this child but two days before she was approached.

I got to thinking about that. I can't imagine what it is like for parents and children today. I can't imagine the constant fear they must live with -- the fear that someone might steal or molest their child, the fear for the child that someone might steal them.

This just wasn't a topic that we ever thought about. We would run out the front door, tell mom we were heading up the street, and we'd be back for lunch or she would get on the front porch and yell our names and we'd come running. We were never out of range of one of mom's yells! Sort of like the dinner bell on a ranch, I guess.

I do recall a time I did NOT tell my mom that I was going to visit one of my friends, and she called, and I was out of range and didn't hear her. When I waltzed into the house, I could tell I was in trouble. My mom was crying. Dad was upset, and I just knew it had to do with me. What had I done? It never occurred to me that I couldn't visit one of my friends who lived just two houses beyond mom's yell range. But I did. But I never did again. At least not unless I told my mom exactly where I was going.

I was punished by not being able to go out and play with any of my friends for one whole week. I could go outside and play, but it had to be with either my sister, or alone. No friends were permitted to visit me, either. They and their parents understood about punishment and honored my mom's and dad's wishes.

After the week was over and I was once again permitted to play with my friends, believe me I had learned that lesson. Always tell my mother where I was going to be. Never again did I just, on my own, decide to visit a friend.

Lesson learned. But the point is -- there was no fear other than the fear of punishment from my parents.

I am so glad I grew up in the years in which I grew -- the late 40s and 50s. Such a wonderful time it was. Would that it were like that again.

Oh, I'm certain there were bad things happening but it wasn't in our face, day in and day out. And never, ever were we coached in school what to do if someone tried to pick us up. We were too busy worrying about getting into bomb shelters in time before the big bang (which never came).


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