An article in USA Today this morning tells the tale of a two year old Minnesota boy who rode his electric toy tractor to the county fair without his parents knowing he was going. Slacker… Back in my youth, I walked if I was going to make such an excursion…
From 1976 to 1978 my family lived in the now-gone Kent State University married student housing complex, called the Allerton Apartments. To be honest, I can only speculate that my 3-4 year old brain’s logic involved “I want ice cream. We don’t have ice cream. DQ always has ice cream. I’m going to go to DQ.” This all went down in the morning, apparently before my parents were awake. I grabbed some money, climbed out the front window and went walking. I don’t recall much about the actual trip other than I got to Dairy Queen and they were not open yet.
I walked almost a mile and must have been frustrated and must have decided to wait so I crossed Ohio SR 43 and walked down to University Plaza and I guess I ended up at some insurance company who realized that I probably should not be out wandering alone, gave me a hot cocoa and a chair, and called the police. I must have known where I lived because they gave me a ride home and the version in my head involves them knocking on the door, no one having realized that I left, and my folks being upset. I should ask my mother if that’s how it all ended up, she likes ice cream, too.
So yeah, in my day, when we wanted to toddle off on grand adventures, we walked. Kids these days have it easy.
Growing up, I always had a bike. Even as the “fat kid,” in retrospect, I was in amazingly good shape. I would ride for miles on beater bikes and I guess my dad decided I needed a nice one when he did a job wiring a commercial building in Ravenna that a bike shop was moving into. (It has since been a gym, grocery store, thrift shop and I believe it is a martial arts studio now. It’s in Blackhorse, near the buy here car lot.) as part of the payment for the job he got me a brand new bike. I had never had a really nice bike, let alone a brand new one, and the Huffy BMX Pro Thunder he got me was the most amazing bike to me. Bright yellow, blue tires (!!!) with proper pads in the proper places. It was this:
Many of the better off financially kids were quick to point out that it wasn’t a “proper” bmx bike like their Mongoose’s and other models, it had a coaster brake and no front brake and was too heavy for proper bmx riding. Did I mention that I was the fat kid? I had little interest in bmx, but absolutely loved the mobility and freedom my bikes afforded me. I would ride 5 miles around town or to Ravenna, or anywhere I wanted, often leaving in the morning and not returning until late in the day. No cell phone, no beeper, just told my parents where I was going, grabbed a couple of bucks for lunch and drinks and was on my way. Did you know that in the 80’s almost everywhere had a water fountain? That deputy sheriff’s would stop for a second to say hi and make sure your folks knew you were 10 miles from home and take your word that you were good on all counts? The freedom of the bicycle, and to be a free kid, was amazing. I never gave much thought to what that bike cost… In my 40’s now, I appreciate the cost of it to my father in having worked to get it… And though he’s gone some 7 years now, I hope he realized that he got his full value out of it as well as a huge return on his investment.