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Monday Manifest: Things I did as a kid that are now illegal

Face it folks, times have changed. Things that were common and accepted when I was a kid are completely illegal now. If a kid was caught doing many of the things I did everyday, his folks would be arrested faster than Speedy Gonzales could steel a hunk of cheese. So, here’s the list:

  1. Fireworks. Not just firecrackers, but bottle rockets, roman candles, and bags of black powder wrapped in duct tape. Boom. (BTW: a 5 pound keg of black powder detonated all at once will make a small mushroom cloud. Just in case you wanted to know.)
  2. No safety devices. Riding in a convertible with the top down, and no glasses, seat belts or airbags. Skateboarding, surfing, bicycling, and rollerskating without helmets, pads, or other random safety items. On concrete and blacktop. In the street. Stitches, skinned knees and broken bones were expected.
  3. Walking to school (starting in the 1st grade) alone. Or at most with siblings. Later (when we lived in a more rural area) waiting at the bus stop alone. Getting off the bus without and adult present. Actually having to walk to the bus stop instead of having the bus stop at every child’s door (uphill both ways through 10 feet of snow….). Of course, we also threw snowballs at every truck or bus that passed by….
  4. Toys with small parts, moving parts, parts that shot out/off or were designed to hit or otherwise inflict (or mimic) damage. Boxing gloves were considered toys, as were BB Guns. Full access to tools so that I could build things that might kill or maim me. Learning about structures by building a treehouse (and dealing with the lack of structural knowledge by falling through the floor). Choking hazard my fuzzy little butt. Those toys had real potential to allow Darwin to do his job.
  5. Getting off the school bus and (after a snack) heading out to play somewhere in the general area of home with the other kids. The “general area” of home could have been anywhere within about 1/2 mile. Did I mention BB guns, liquid fuel rockets, and black powder?
  6. Guns. Real ones. I started shooting when I was 6. I wore them as part of a halloween costume (I was a cowboy), I took them to school for show and tell, and later (when I was in High school) keeping them in the gun rack in the back of my car, even while I was at school as did most of my friends. If some whack job had gone postal at my high school, he’d have been lucky to get more than 2 or 3 rounds off before he was wasted.
  7. Rockets (Why yes Timmy, I am a Rocket Scientist). Liquid fuel rockets that often exceeded 1,500 feet of altitude, and were 6-8 feet tall. Today, the normal launch fireball would probably result in a S.W.A.T. team showing up a the door. Not to mention how the Patriot Act folks would react to “missiles” like that being launched from the backyard. Guantanamo here I come….
  8. Chemicals. (Not drugs – they could get you arrested then too). Carbon tetrachloride (for removing stamps, and stains), Red dye #7, chemistry kits that could really make something that would explode, erupt, get Really Hot, give off noxious and toxic fumes, or otherwise create a truly hazardous situation (for those of us that could figure it out, this one relates strongly to “Fireworks” above).
  9. Senior Pranks (High school). Trivial things like taking apart the gym teachers VW bug, and re-assembling it in the hallway of the school. Then leaving it running. Of course, it wouldn’t fit back out through the doors….. Or the time we filled the principles office with popcorn – but only about 4 feet deep. Or dropping 50 pounds of birdshot (really tiny BBs) at the top of the ramp in the hallway. Sheesh. School officials have no sense of humor anymore.
  10. Discipline. Like spanking, or any of the old punishments that would now be considered child abuse. Send you kid to bed without dinner? Get ready for a visit from Social services or child protection.

So there you have it kiddies. The time they are a changin’.


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