I was reminiscing today about the miniature golf lot I used to play at when I was a kid, on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna, Georgia. I’m thinking early seventies because my parents were okay with dropping me and a friend off on a Saturday with enough cash for their all-you-can-play deal on two separate 18-hole courses. I had to be at least ten at the time, maybe eleven or twelve. This may sound like child abandonment in the modern culture, but in those days it was much safer. And fun.
We generally got bored after a few rounds, but we didn’t have to worry about running out of games, or money. All we needed was a golf club, golf ball, and a drink or two. The drink machine was a treat. Every third or fourth Coke would pop out with a stamp on the top, which meant a free drink next time. I’m thinking they were cans, but it could have been glass bottles. This was back in the era when kids had imaginations we could lazily play along, talking and cutting up (a little bit) while we enjoyed the hot summer that seemed to last forever.
I don’t like getting on the “back in our day” bandwagon. It makes today’s kids roll their eyes. But back before cell phones, video games, and all the electronic gadgets that have taken over the time and thinking of the modern generation we just had time, very little money, and imaginations that would confound kids today. Kept us busy from sunup to sundown.
I rode a bike everywhere. There is no telling how many miles I logged, just around our neighborhood. Families knew each other in those days, more so I think than now. No cell phones to call the kids. Just expect them home before dark. When we hit home runs from the front yard that landed across the street on the neighbor’s roof it was okay. We jumped our big wheels over handmade ramps, and set up Hot Wheels tracks in the front yard, running downhill from the edge of the street. We hung out at the tennis courts at the park near our house. My point is we rarely stayed indoors unless it rained all day.
We weren’t entirely safe in those days and I suppose we were a bit naive in some ways. But compare it to now. Do I see the danger more sharply now that I’m a parent? Probably, but I didn’t see the kind of hate and disregard for others in those days. Not in my circle, anyway. Some would say we are more open in our dialogue now, hashing through ages-old problems that were there, but suppressed when I grew up. I agree. But people have changed since the generation of my parents, and we live in a much more dangerous time.
It’s easy to look back on your childhood with rose colored glasses because we remember only our little world, not the upheavals and pain that adults were going through. Or people we didn’t hang around. But at times when I reminisce, as I sit here on a laptop, checking e-mail and social media, and getting ready to upload a blog…..the simpler times can be appealing, if only it could bring back those days of thinking with childlike wonder and understanding that anything was possible. And time was on our side.