Sunday, September 20, 2009

Growing Up in the Sixties, Part II

 What kept you busy in the summer?

Reading comments from Friday's post has got me thinking. Is it true that everyone idealizes their own childhood? The sixties are iconic, but every generation has fond memories of growing up. I won't even address the unhappy memories that I'm sure everyone has to one degree or another. One thing at a time!

Summer living in the sixties: I think of freedom. We were left to our own devices quite often. A positive outcome of this is that it inspired creativity. We were invited to make up our own games and pastimes since no one was buying us xboxes or ipods! I don't know if there were less bad people in the world then or if bad things just were not publicized like they are today, but parents did not mind sending you off up the street on your bike to see who was home. We wandered the neighborhood for what seemed like all day doing whatever struck our fancy. Was my sense of time distorted back then? Maybe it was only a half hour or so, but I don't think so.

Here are some things that occupied our time:

Oooh this was one of the really fun things. It was also something we were not allowed to do, which of course is why it was fun! We lived in a newish housing development and this was the sixties, so they were clearing land like crazy for more new housing developments. We took endless pleasure in exploring the half-finished houses after the construction guys went home for the day. The scariest thing was if you had to walk across a plank to get to the front door or if the stairs to the second floor were half finished, we would dare each other to try to get to the upstairs. When I think of this, I can still smell wet concrete, which was everywhere!

Another thing that occupied endless time was The Creek. (Or if you lived in western Pennsylvania you called it the Crick.) A small stream ran right through our neighborhood. The developer neglected to determine what the long term results of this would be. (My girlfriend's basement flooded every time it rained.) What he did was carve this huge culvert underneath the neighborhood for the stream to flow through. The culvert started behind my girlfriend's house, ran under the street and came out behind some houses a couple of blocks up on the other side of the street. This culvert was like a tunnel which took a sharp right turn when it crossed under the street. So, if you got up the nerve to walk all the way through it, you were in the pitch dark until you made that turn about halfway through. Then you could see some light at the end of the tunnel! We scared ourselves silly thinking of what we would be running into on the journey through. There was really only a trickle of water running if there had been no rain, so you could keep to the side and stay dry, but we pictured snakes, salamanders, spiders, the bogeyman, bats, you name it. I will have to admit right now I don't think I ever went all the way through. No one really did except maybe some of the boys. Show offs!

So after we got tired of daring each other to traverse the tunnel, we would walk up the street (above ground!) and pick up the stream where it entered the culvert. This was the real fun. We would follow the creek behind the houses and into the woods where we would set off to find the "end" of the creek. Some of it was rough going because the woods were really overgrown. But alas, another failure, we never reached the end. We had hours and hours of fun trying though. I really do think this little pastime lasted for years. I moved away when I was fourteen, and I'm sure we moved on to other endeavors a while before that, but I know there were at least two or three summers that you could hear on a daily basis, when it was hot and we were bored and lazy, "Wanna follow the crick?" That cool water sure felt good on your bare feet!

So these are a few things that parents today would probably not feel comfortable letting their kids do. But here's the thing: Our parents had no idea we were doing these things!

Do you have summer memories from days gone by? Share them here!


  1. Great interview with the photogtafer is wonderful! You are so lucky! Love you shop, and BTW I am following you now :)

    Maria Farber (MARICHIK)


  2. PS... I was not born yet in the 60th...I was born in the 70th in USSR. Since the country was behind 10 -15 years, I might say that my childhood was almost exactly care free as yours. Except for the school life with its military upbringing. We were allowed to play by ourselves since age 5! The house had 366 apartments; each had at least 2 kids! Imagine how many kids were playing together! And suddenly the yard is completely empty. All mothers go crazy looking for their kids. Then someone would remember that some cartoon is on, so all the kids must have piled up into their friends apartments to watch. Cartoon is over the rug rats spill out to play again. Every day the same thing happened.

  3. Maria, thank you so much for your comments! What a treat to hear what childhood was like in the USSR in the 70's. Kids everywhere and of every generation love cartoons! I can't imagine what it would be like to have that many playmates!
    Maggie :)

  4. What a walk down memory lane! I grew up around the same time and share many of the same memories you do. Definitely another time and place!

  5. (im in the 70's also) I have fond memories of monkey trees, bottles of pop, running through the sprinkler, fishing, building forts out of blankets, climbing trees, the smell of burning leaves in the burning barrel at dusk and sucking the "honey" out of honeysuckles. Ahh... the simple life....

  6. Childhood is great! Talking about childhood, I 've posted a new blog entry about my kids' bubble bath. Have you seen it?

  7. Thanks for sharing, I have many fond memories too! The chair in the top picture really made me smile! We had one just like it. I remember sitting on my Dad's lap reading a book in that chair. ~Diane

  8. Maria, no I haven't! I've been away from the computer. I will go and read it now!

  9. Diane, I loved that butterfly chair! It was fun to sit in! That is my brother in the picture. I think my parents had it from the 50s. I even had it for a while when I grew up and left home. Just like so many things, don't know whatever happened to it...wish I had it now!


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