Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summer in the '60S: When Kids Grew Up Simply on Their Own

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summer in the '60S: When Kids Grew Up Simply on Their Own

Article excerpt

In the 1960s, you got up early because it was too hot to sleep in.

Your breakfast was sugared cereal along with orange juice, with sugar added by both the manufacturer and by you.

You ran outside quickly, hoping to avoid the phrase, "If you don't have anything to do, I'll give you something to do!"

You met your friends at a designated spot: on the corner, by the mailbox, in the woods, etc.

If you were on the swim team you walked to the pool in the pre- dawn, sizzling heat and dove into the freezing cold water whether you wanted to or not.

The coaches were not interested in your comfort or self-esteem. A near-drowning might get you a three-minute reprieve. Your parents were not there -- enough said.

If your mom needed groceries for dinner you walked to the store, hoping not to lose the money she had given you (all change) as you cut through the woods, climbed a tree or played "chicken" -- running across the street with your eyes closed. If there was a dime left you could buy yourself a "cold pop," but that was not the usual scenario.

There was a "lunchtime" every day at noon when you would sit down at the kitchen table with your siblings and eat a sandwich made with Wonder Bread, lunch meat, mayonnaise and drink a glass of whole milk. If you missed it, you didn't eat again until dinner time.

You played military games the rest of the day in the woods -- boys and girls. Your fathers were all veterans, and it was the activity of choice. You brought your own toy gun or rifle, and if you didn't have one you used a stick -- or hit the littlest kid and took his.

If you were a girl, and it was suggested that you be a nurse, you'd shoot the boy who suggested it.

No one was sent out to play with BPA-free water bottles, and no one's mom provided Gatorade to replenish our electrolytes. (Not knowing you even had electrolytes was a plus.) We'd sneak into someone's backyard and drink from a garden hose, or we'd all drink from the tin canteen some lucky kid had gotten for Christmas and refilled with creek water.

If anyone was bleeding profusely, the kid was taken care of by the designated army nurse (the girl who didn't have the guts to shoot the kid who assigned her). …

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