“Once Upon a Time” …A Boy Could Ride His Bike To …
My friend was sad. He felt badly for his one-year old grandson. His grandson wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedom of his childhood that his grandfather experienced. Not everything was Good in the “Good-Old-Days”, but some things were Good: Freedom, Creativity, Honesty, Common Courtesy.
Margaret Mead did a Social Study of Samoans in the 1950’s. A Samoan was working on a boat on the beach near the shoreline. Mead asked the Samoan if he would “Steal” that better boat nearby, if nobody was watching. The Samoan responded, “Why would I do That? That boat doesn’t belong to me.“ Margaret Mead learned that the Samoan language doesn’t even have a word for “Steal”. Samoans had NO concept of theft in the 50’s.
Grade School ended at 3:30. My friend would walk 2 blocks home from school, change clothes, then ride his bike to the playground. (He never locked his bike. None of his friends locked their bikes.) There he met about a dozen other boys from school. The number of boys determined what sport that they would play that day: Soft Ball. Tag Football, or, Basketball.
Two Captains were selected, depending on the sport chosen. The captains then chose their teams, one by one, calling out each selection of the boys standing in front of them, by name. No “feelings” were hurt. No one’s “Self-Esteem” was crushed. Each boy honestly knew which of the boys were better at a sport, than the other boys.
Some were better than others at softball. A different ranking of boys occurred when they played football. A third ranking for basketball. All the boys knew which boys were better than others at different sports. They also knew who were better students than others. Honesty Reigned. Some boys were better than others at different things. And every day, some won, and some lost. There were no “Participation” medals. Boys learned “To treat Triumph & Disaster, just the same. Boys learned how to become Men.
The Above YouTube Music Video Lyrics Tell the Story about Freedom. Creativity. Honesty
More importantly, no parents were involved. The boys relied on their own Creativity to decide what sport to play, what rules applied (Right Field Out, or Pitcher’s Hands Out), if there weren’t enough for a full softball team. Every day was different. Every day was fun. They didn’t need parental organization. They didn’t need Adult supervision to resolve disputes. Even though sometimes it meant a bloody lip (a badge of honor.)
But most important, it was Freedom. Freedom to ride his bike to the playground 6 blocks away, or to the Park 9 blocks away (But with grass fields, instead of asphalt). Or, maybe just go to his friend, Timmy’s home. All that mattered was that he came home at 6pm. If he was late, he learned that he lost his privilege of Freedom, for a day. A “Loss” that only took a few days to learn: “Never be Late”.
Fortunately, this was back in a day when screen doors weren’t locked. When neighbors looked out for each other’s children. When there were only a few dangerous gangs and drugs & guns.
Sadly today, a young girl skipping rope in a playground is killed by a hail of random bullets of during a “Drug War”. Or the girl sitting on the porch, listening to her grandpa’s stories, is gunned down by stray bullets from a “Drive-By” shooting. Or a girl sitting on the couch watching TV, is killed by a rando gunshot,, through the House wall, from two men arguing outside.
Random death is the Reality for some children after school, today. They have no choice. They have no defense. There is no Freedom. They will Never enjoy the “Swings of Pleiades” or the “Reddening of a “Rose”. How sad.
Perhaps, Some Day, Those Young Girls Can Sing the Lyrics to the Above YouTube Music Video
Once upon a Time, a boy could ride his bike to the playground and…