Let the Children be Bored

July 3, 2002

by Dennis Lombard

I hope you all are letting your children be bored this summer.

Okay, explain yourself, Dennis! Yes, I will.

When I was a kid, back in the last millennium, there was a Big War going on, just like now. We got, oh I think it was almost three months summer vacation. It felt like forever, and it was over way too soon. We danced all the way home from the streetcar on 63rd Street in Chicago singing "School out! School out! Teacher let the monkeys out!" And all those bright happy days yawned before us with, oh my goodness, no structured activities!

Nowadays, we structure summer for kids. There’s Little League and Basketball Camp and Day Camp or if you’re rich (we weren’t) Going Away to Camp. There’s Summer School even when you didn’t flunk anything, just for (yuck) enrichment or advancement or fast track into Harvard.

Lemme tell you what we did back in the 1940s. We played war. We dug a foxhole in an empty lot behind our house and threw pebbles at each other, with minimal serious injuries. One time I stood up in the foxhole and yelled, "Geronimooooo...." just as some dumb kid picked up an oversized pebble (rock) and flung it and hit me square in the forehead. My big sister escorted me home and we walked into the kitchen with blood running down my face and shirt and my Mom screamed, "Oh my God...!"

I lived and I learned that stitches are no fun. One kid from the next block showed us how to make parachutes from hankies and string and a small stone. We flung them up in the air for hours and watched them flutter down until we got bored. Then this kid, the same dumb one who flung the big rock at me, decided he could make the best parachute in the neighborhood, one that fit a small to medium sized kid, and we tried it off the garage roof. It worked fairly well, only a turned ankle or two. Then the dumb kid got a really dumb idea, he said he was going to take his parachute over to the viaduct over the big railroad yard on Cicero Avenue and jump. "You’re stupid," we all told him, but off he went. A couple kids followed him over there, I was not allowed to go that far from home.

But those who went over with him related what happened. He tromped up to the highest point of the viaduct, looked down to be sure no trains were coming, climbed up on the railing and... a police car screeched to a stop, a cop jumped out and grabbed him and took him home to his Mom, who screamed "Oh my God....!"

He had proved his courage to all of us. Like I said, no serious injuries, just unstructured fun that we invented for ourselves and developed our creativity. Remember, we were the generation that invented jet airplanes, television and computers and put a man on the moon.

Like the time we built a boat. We scraped up building materials from all over the neighborhood and nailed them all together and toted the boat off to a drainage ditch along the railroad tracks. With a Coke bottle we christened it (the bottle wouldn’t break) and launched it into the water straight to the bottom of the ditch. I mean, it didn’t even hesitate to sink. It may still be there today. After that we played softball on the street corner, each curb serving as a base, and yelled as cars rolled by, "One, two, three, four, whaddya think the alley’s for? Tin cans like yours!"

We survived, without structured activities, though we gave our Moms a few gray hairs in the process. As far as I know nobody we played with on Kilpatrick Avenue ever went to jail. And each September we went back to classes and we all passed grade after grade, America won the war for freedom, just like we’ll win this one. And we all went on to high school and some of us to college. Some of us even became rich though none famous. So whaddya want from a bunch of kids left to their own devices?


© 2002 Home Times Family Newspaper

Dennis Lombard has been a community newspaper editor since 1972, and is currently editor and publisher of Home Times Family Newspaper, a traditional conservative monthly which he founded in 1990. He resides in Lake Worth, Florida with his wife, Mary, and they have seven children, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Home Times, soon going weekly, serves Palm Beach and Martin Counties in Florida and the nation by mail subscription, covering world, national, and local people and issues, home and family, arts and entertainment, and religion, all with a traditional conservative worldview. For a free copy call toll-free: 888-439-3509 or go to http://www.hometimes.org.

Send the author an E mail at Lombard@ConservativeTruth.org.

For more of Dennis' articles, visit his archives.

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