Summer Things I Miss

by Peter Wallace, © 2007

There are all things we miss from our childhoods, and I’m sure we romanticize those times using selective recollection. But, despite the benefits of maturing as people, and the benefits of advancing technology, some things were just better then.

First on my list is lawn darts, or “Jarts” as they were called. If you don’t remember, the game consisted of two circles of plastic which were placed 30 feet apart or so on the lawn. Then, you took the lawn darts… made of plastic and steel… and flung them into the air, hoping to get them in the circles.

I really liked that game, and while, in retrospect, I realize that lawn darts were lethal weapons if used incautiously, we had a great time playing with them. It was too bad about “Fluffy,” though. Just kidding.

Another thing I really liked about summer was playing Wiffle Ball, baseball, softball, baseball with a tennis ball with a strikezone drawn on a brick wall with chalk, and many other versions of America’s pastime.

Our garage was actually an old stable – even though we lived in town. It was two stories high, so I spent about 10% of my childhood bouncing a tennis ball against that garage and catching it in my baseball glove, simulating actual big-league ball games, except that real ball games don’t generally involve the occasional broken window.

I also liked swimming at the beaches in Oshkosh that probably wouldn’t pass a bacteria test today, riding my bike all around town without a helmet, and eating as much candy and drinking as much pop as I could get my hands on.

I also loved the smell of fresh asphalt, and to this day, I slow down more than necessary when I pass a road crew.

Looking back, most of what I enjoyed wasn’t good for me, and would be frowned on by parents these days. Even playing baseball with friends, and no parental supervision, doesn’t happen much anymore.

I wonder what kids will look back on from this era. Will they think back fondly of playing a baseball-like game on their X-box, or the practices for their organized baseball league games… which I’m sure are fun, but in a different way. Now that windows cost $1,000 each, bouncing a ball off a wall can’t be condoned.

Every generation thinks the succeeding generations are missing out on something, and that’s probably true. And, all the steps taken to protect children are well intentioned, and mostly good. I guess I miss the times when we weren’t always so afraid of everything, and just lived our little kid lives – scrapes and all.


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