What kids did before we had electronics
The question has often come up in our conversations about what kids did before they had video games to play or cell phones to stare at continuously. In one of my recent articles, I recounted how we used to play outside with our neighborhood kids, doing things like playing baseball, sandlot basketball and the like. Nowadays you seldom see kids outdoors doing any of those things.
One of the most memorable experiences of my childhood was my infamous bicycle ride with my older brother. It was a hot summer day in July and we were bored. My brother, Larry, who was 11, suggested that he and I ride our bikes to Tiber Dam and do some fishing. I thought that was a fantastic idea! I was probably even a little flattered that he asked me instead of our older brother.
I was an innocent age 7, who trusted my big brother completely. Our parents were at work and the other kids were likely reading a book or doing something similar as we had no TV in those days. So Larry and I found our fishing poles and tied them to the fender and handlebars of our bikes with some string. Between the two of us, I think we had a piece of cold chicken, an apple, a candy bar and not much else. Off we started at about 11 a.m., not bothering to mention to anyone what our plan was.
I don’t think the road to Tiber Dam was paved as far then as it is today (it would have been 1959), as I remember riding over a lot of very rough gravel roads. Our fishing poles bounced around so much that most of the screws fell out of the reels and we lost some of the key components. The hot sun pierced our skin. Larry kept encouraging me to ride on. We found it felt cooler if we kept riding rather than stop and let the sun heat us up. On and on we rode. Sometimes we sang some songs to take our minds off of our monotony.
What I recall most vividly is riding down the steep hill to the spillway about 4 in the afternoon. I remember wanting to jump into the water as soon as I could to cool off and to get a huge drink of cool water. (That’s right, we had taken no water with us.) We couldn’t get there soon enough! Instead of taking the round-about way down the winding road through campground, we just took our bikes right down the steep embankment to the shore to get to the water sooner. We were tuckered out!
After resting about 20 minutes and drinking about a gallon of lake water, Larry said to me, “Well Sis, since it took us almost 5 hours to get here, I figure we should be heading back soon.” “What?!”, I said, “We just got here!!” I couldn’t believe my ears! Nevertheless, he convinced me that we needed to head for home. Well, the closest way to get up that winding road to the Tiber Grade was due north. So that’s what we did. I remember the struggle of trying to push my bike almost straight up. I’d push a few feet, then stop and rest. Panting, I’m already thirsty again. Larry was way ahead of me, but he never gave up on me. He kept calling after me, encouraging me and sometimes he’d come and grab on to my bike and help me a little. I bet that part took about an hour, but we eventually made it.
Now the 20 mile trek back to Chester! Starting the long journey home, the sun was still blazing hot! Cars and trucks would pass us and take a second look. We kept riding on. Not many words were exchanged between us and by now I had figured out that I had been wamboozled! I was not happy! But on we peddled.
We were hungry, hot, thirsty and tired. What choice did we have? On we peddled.
A few hours later, when we reached the farm residence of Harold Shepherd, about 6 miles south of Chester, it was starting to get dark. Larry lay down in the ditch beside the road and went to sleep. By then I was so upset, I was crying uncontrollably. But on I pedaled alone. I knew that just over that hill, I could see Chester.
When I reached the top of the hill by the Staudacher granaries, I met my folks in the car out looking for us. They had no idea where to start looking, so it was lucky that they headed that direction first. I was never so happy to see them in my entire life! They were MAD, but they were also so happy to see me that they never scolded me. I told them where Larry was and we proceeded to gather him in.
I remember when we got home, my parents first took us to the Grand Café and bought us supper. We were so tired, however, that we could hardly lift a fork to our mouths. We didn’t eat much. When we got home, I soaked in a hot tub of water and fell into bed!
Those of you who know me well, have heard this story a few times. Some may think I am embellishing it, but honestly, it is the truth.
When Larry retired from his practice of medicine a few years ago, he invited me to join him on a coast-to-coast bicycle ride he was doing to benefit diabetes. He said we should commemorate our infamous bike ride. I turned him down. I trusted you once, Brother, but I’m not going to be led astray twice.
That’s the adventure that stands out most in the memory of a childhood without electronics. Maybe kids today are better off. They won’t have an adventure like mine to tell people about. Even though they are probably not getting enough exercise, at least their parents know where to find them!
Karla Kulpas, RN
Public Health nursePosted: by OverlieP