Do you remember the old neighborhood growing up? Everyone knew each other. There were block parties and summer picnics. We played kickball and hide and go seek. If you acted up, someone would tell your parents. There was accountability for one’s actions that included consequences. When a neighbor was in trouble, everyone pitched in to help. There was a strong sense of community on a single block.
Whatever happened to that?
I firmly believe we grew up in a better time than our children and grandchildren. We didn’t have video games and electronics. We had only our imaginations and each other. I believe we were more connected than our offspring even though they have cell phones and personal computers.
We lived our childhoods face to face with a lot of interaction. We had sleepovers, plastic army men, dolls, and board games. We watched Andy Griffith and Captain Kangaroo. There was a lot to be learned from both.
Seems every metropolitan area had a Sheriff John or some other children’s programming host on local Metromedia (now Fox) stations. In Washington, D.C., we had WTTG Metromedia 5 with Ranger Hal and Captain Tugg followed by the Three Stooges, Popeye, or cartoons.
It was a great time to be alive.
In winter, we had sleds and ice skates. We learned how to endure the bitter cold and warm up inside to ready ourselves for another trek into the great outdoors. In summer, we learned to sweat, play in the sun, and live without air conditioning. And who can forget the terrific toys and other playthings we had. Every fall after Halloween, there were the teaser toy commercials from Hasbro, Marx, and Mattel. We had to work out a strategy for letting Santa know what we wanted.
Millennials have become sick and tired of hearing about boomer childhoods. However, we had a better time growing up with less creature comforts and entertainment than they have. We were more connected to each other. We addressed our friends’ parents as Mr. and Mrs. We spoke respectfully to them or got our chops busted by our parents. It was about proper breeding or the unfortunate absence of it, which seems to be the core problem today.
If I can offer young people any advice, it would be about exercising mutual respect and keeping insulting, offensive comments to yourself. Social Media has groomed a society of ill-mannered creatures who appear to have more courage at a keyboard than in face-to-face interaction.
The best thing we can impart to our young is to spend less time on a cell phone or personal computer and more time getting to know your neighbors.
10 thoughts on “Remembering Traditional Neighborhoods”
I think most people are too involved with their own little “technology bubble”. The smart phones, tablets, wireless music, and endless streaming media entertainment have too big a place in people’s lives. It’s even somewhat true for kids. All that was unavailable for us growing up,so we socialized a lot more. Great reading, thanks.
Awe Thank You – so much distraction today in electronic devices to where you wonder if you’re even noticed.
I think, judging by my grandkids, that being invisible is part of their life. Crazy. Summer mornings our Moms would hold the door open and imply “shoo” which meant bikes and neighbors and army men and cap guns, any sort of ball and the likelihood of a whorehouse, human trafficker or fentanyl dealer two doors down was unthinkable. These days FedEx drivers kidnap 7 year old girls playing in their front yard. Maybe it’s good they have fenced and indoor distractions.
My wife would agree with that. Are things really that much more dangerous for kids than they were in the 1960s??? She wants our son inside.
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Yeah, they are. Behaviors that were encapsulated and repressed, not condoned or encouraged, before we became a borderless refugee camp and there were three TV stations, before every aberrant behavior known was glorified, excused or agendized and streamed into kids’ phones and laptops. I remember when violent cartoons were a mouse hitting a cat on the head with a hammer, or a coyote going off the cliff with his ankle tied to a safe and those were bad for us, but we aren’t the ones shooting each other over being cut off in traffic, or killing a woman in her driveway in the burbs just because we want to drive her car, or setting up a human trafficking operation in a renthouse in a nice neighborhood because who’d look there? My granddaughter want to want a block and half from school to home… I agree, only to the point that I curb crawl and keep her in sight. We were at a Half Price Books in a nice subdivision when a woman offered my grandson a $20 bill to go to the restroom with her thinking he was alone and unobserved. It’s a crazy world.
As for me taking off on my Stibgray for a two mile ride to a park was nothing. Getting up at 5:30 at the age of 12 and throwing papers by myself, in the dark, no big deal. These days?
I trust there is some realistic middle ground today between the very safe idyllic suburban 1960’s and FedEx Drivers grabbing kids playing in their own yard. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but for most people in the USA that’s the extreme. Obviously it’s a much more dangerous world now than it was when we grew up. Many people do take prudent precautions and still raise their kids in a healthy manner.
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The news isn’t all bad. Kids have to be aware of the dangers much we always were. My mother cautioned us about strangers. I had a couple of experiences in public restrooms with seedy characters – managed to escape. We’ve cautioned our 14 year old son.
Indeed, but it’s all so much more regulated. Junior doesn’t wander off unsupervised to the concession stand by him/herself. I’d say it was a major metro issue but 12 year old soccer players out for a run in a rural county vanish just like they do in Dallas or Denver or Savannah. Doesn’t mean bubble your kids, but it does mean make sensible choices. The Norman Rockwell America is gone, just like Mom, I’m going to the park by myself.
Exactly Phil….making safe common sense choices.