A Texas voice
Our mothers quite likely smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, popped aspirin and/or introduced whoknows what-all into our little pre-birth bodies. They didn't know better; there were no surgeon general warnings printed on every bottle they picked up.
In spite of all that, most of us struggled to full term and emerged kicking and screaming in what might well have been a far-from-sterile environment. We probably ate too much infant formula, and polio, smallpox, measles and mumps infested our world.
Our trip home, like every automobile ride of our childhood, was in a car without air bags or seat belts, much less a child's safety seat. As we grew older, we climbed all over the car, front to back, providing every bit as much distraction to the driver as a cell phone conversation does today. If Mom or Dad slammed on the brakes, only her or his outstretched right arm came between the windshield and us. If the family owned a pickup truck, we were as likely as not to ride in the bed. As we grew (remarkably), we would stand behind the cab with the wind blowing in our faces or would sit on the sidewall, confident our grip on the railing would keep us aboard.
Delivered to our homes as newborns, we were ushered into our neat and clean bedrooms, freshly decorated with brightly colored lead-based paints. We slept on baby mattresses that were not flame-retardant and wore cute little outfits that would melt into our skin at the slightest spark. As we grew into the grabbing-and-sticking-everything-inour mouths stage, we chose from numerous adorable playthings made of intricate choking hazards. Nobody around us knew CPR and first aid was merely a recollection of what a person's mother had done to treat injuries and illnesses.
Soft drinks took the place of water for many of us, which might not have been such a bad thing considering the trash-filled lakes and rivers we played in. We ate tons of white bread, butter, sodium and animal fat. The convenience of store-bought foods introduced all kinds of additives and preservatives into our systems. Come to think of it, maybe we have preservatives to thank.
Just as we learned that soft drinks tasted yummy, we had to learn that furniture polish did not, a lesson made much easier to obtain because no bottles had childproof caps and cabinets did not have child restraints. Electrical outlets did not have safety caps, but that was seldom a threat since our under-wired homes sprouted extension cords that ran along every wall with multiple devices plugged into each. Luckily, the electricity demand was not further burdened by smoke detectors.
As we moved our entertainment outside, we received BB guns and bows and arrows as toys. We could race around on our bicycles, shooting at each other in a cowboys and Indians re-enactment. Bicycles were longawaited rewards that we worked toward as soon as we got our first pedal car or tricycle. Yes, we were encouraged early to play in the traffic. Bicycle helmets? Even if they existed, none of us was sissy enough to wear them.
When we made bad decisions, we might get a paddling at school; we certainly got one at home. Coaches from youth leagues on had not yet learned the dangers of running practice sessions in hot and humid weather with few or no water breaks.
Yet we survived. Somehow. Our kids might take note. It's possible that we'll be hanging around for a long time.
Steve Martaindale is a self-syndicated columnist. Write him at penmanmailsteve@ yahoo.com.