The following Back in the Day column was originally published in the Fairfield Daily Republic on Aug. 5, 2016
By Tony Wade
Please note: Before reading today’s column, you must download, print, sign and email/fax back to me the extensive release of liability form that my lawyers, Dewey, Cheatum & Howe, prepared. The form can be found at the following URL: www.thisisafakeURL.com. Thank you. Now proceed.
Today’s generation is sometimes viewed by previous generations as overprotected. We who are ol . . . uh, more classic . . . did all kinds of crazy stuff that parents would never let their kids do today.
Now, there’s some truth to the overprotective claim, but the flip side is that I personally know people who got hurt (sometimes seriously) back in the day also.
I had many bikes growing up, but never wore a helmet or knew anyone that did. I was more concerned with protecting another part of my anatomy. What sadist decided boys’ bikes would have that metal bar right at crotch level as opposed to girls’ bikes?
Evel Knievel was a superstar in the 1970s and we’d emulate his daredevil motorcycle jumps using our bikes. Instead of jumping fountains or buses, we had other kids lie down on the ground near our makeshift ramps and jumped over them.
Other crazy stuff I participated in includes (but is not limited to):
Jumping off the metal merry-go-round at Tabor Park when it was spinning super-fast.
Playing tackle football at Bransford Elementary School’s field on Sunday nights sans pads or helmets.
Swinging as high as I could then jumping off the swing-set at the apex.
Sitting on my dad’s lap and steering his 1964 Chevy Impala while he was driving – when I was 8 years old.
Sliding down skin-frying metal slides in the summer.
Walking miles away from home with my brothers to play in a junk yard.
Playing on monkey bars with black asphalt underneath – not that spongy stuff they have now.
Drinking (gasp!) from the garden hose.
Other locals shared crazy stuff they did yet survived:
Chris Digiorgio: I’ll start with the ill-advised thrill-seeking adventure of riding my Stingray across the Airbase Parkway overpass to slide down Woodard Hill on a piece of cardboard. What could go wrong? To make it even more thrilling, I decided to ride my bike down the hill. Fortunately the 4-foot ditch stopped me before I crossed the frontage road onto Interstate 80. My parents were not happy. I reminded them they said it was OK.
Thomas Iverson: We played in the “fog” created by the mosquito abatement trucks spraying insecticide in the neighborhood.
Tami Welton Allred: In 1968, we walked on the railroad tracks to K.I. Jones Elementary. Before JC Penney was built, we climbed down into the sewer pipes and walked as far as we could in the dark.
Dave Takeuchi: During the early 198os at Armijo High School, we’d meet at 10 p.m. or later and then each of us would buy a block of ice from Raley’s. We’d sneak into Green Valley Golf Course, lug the ice up a steep hill, place a towel or shirt on it, sit on it and let gravity take over as we raced down. It was cheap fun for trespassers.
Grace Cote: On Christmas Day 1958, my sisters and I and our best friend got new bikes. We went riding them at 4:30 a.m. in Suisun. It was foggy as heck and we got stopped by the police. It was the best time ever.
Kim Staton: We sneaked into the Crystal Elementary School pool at night. When the cops came with spotlights, we just held our breath underwater until they passed.
Mary McPeek Gordon: Me and my friend Robin would put our pet rats in our bicycle baskets and ride to David Weir School and hang out on the empty school field on weekends. There was a mucky creek behind the field (on the side facing where Trader Joe’s is now) where we’d catch polliwogs then wade up and down that icky, mucky creek. Down on one end was an old broken-down stall with a very long-dead horse in it.
Today I wouldn’t let my kids explore mucky creeks with dead horses in them or play on school grounds when there was no one there.
And I’d make them leave their pet rats at home.