Baby Boomers are survivors! Everyone is familiar with the reality show, Survivors. Well, Baby Boomers were the original survivors. We had no car seats, no bike helmets, no baby monitors and definitely no GPS trackers. As babies, we didn’t even have soothers. If we got upset, we gnawed on our crib rails that were probably covered with lead paint, but we learned to spit it out and move on. Our parent’s idea of childproofing the house was to close the cellar door, but we usually took a tumble down the stairs at one time or another. We didn’t have vacations to Disney World. A vacation back then consisted of Mom and Dad loading a minimum of four kids into the backseat of the station wagon and going camping. There were no seatbelts; the only click you heard in that car was Dad sparking up his cigarette with his Bic lighter. We didn’t continually ask “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” There were no seatbelts! We spent the entire trip jumping all over the car and beating up our brothers and sisters in the backseat. We never got bored. There were no Pokémon back then. We didn’t stop halfway at McDonald’s for lunch and buy Happy Meals with a toy included. Heck, we didn’t even have McDonald’s yet. Our happy meals consisted of Mom opening the cooler and yelling, “Come and get your baloney sandwich and Kool Aid.” Remember Kool Aid? It came in that little paper pack, a powdered chemical you mixed with a jug of cold water and at least ten cups of sugar. It didn’t matter if your kids were spun on too much sugar because you didn’t watch your kids. There were too many of them. If your kids had too much sugar, you just put them on their bikes with no bike helmets, and said, “See ya! Be home before the streetlights come on.” You tore down that street in your sugar-infused craze, adrenaline pumping, to look for all the other kids who had Kool Aid for breakfast and were ready to kick some serious butt at dodge ball and red rover. If it were winter, we would have a good old-fashioned snowball fight. We might even lick a frozen bicycle bar or two if you double dared us. Hey, I wasn’t the first kid to be found hanging by my tongue from an icy bicycle bar. It happens! You better be home before the streetlights came on because if you weren’t, you were inflicted with a terrible punishment. That terrible punishment was one or more of your parents yelling, “Go to your room!” And believe me, that was punishment. For a kid today, it would be awesome to get sent to your room. You could play video games for hours. When we were kids, we didn’t have many toys. There are only so many positions you can bend Gumby and Pokey into before you get really, really bored. On the lazy dog days of summer, we went swimming, climbed trees and played with firecrackers. There were many hot summer days when our mothers shoved us outdoors with the understanding that we’d come home when we got hungry or one of our siblings fell off their bike and chipped a tooth, whichever came first. Sometimes we went to the neighbourhood park. Our mothers didn’t constantly bug us to wear sunblock when we went to the park. Sunblock? That’s when you hold your hand up in front of your face because the sun is too bright in your eyes, right? The swings at the neighbourhood park were made of wood and the slide was metal. It wasn’t uncommon to get a sliver in your bum or burn the backs of your legs on a hot slide on a sweltering day. You could run home anytime and Mom would always be there to put a Band-Aid on your boo-boo. Today, a kid would have to call the office and talk to three different people before they dragged Mom out of a meeting just to be told, “I’m busy right now, go next door and ask Billy’s babysitter if you can borrow a Band-Aid.” Our mothers were always there to kiss it better. Then there were lawn darts. Lawn darts looked like long steel missiles with brightly coloured plastic wings. No one ever read the rules; we just flung those darn things everywhere. We hurled them, and that long, pointed, deadly missile pierced the ground where it landed. If one happened to land on your foot and puncture it, well, you should have moved! The same goes for horseshoes. I don’t remember any of my friends ever being hurt by lawn darts or horseshoes, but my brother almost choked to death on a tiddlywink once and my sister swallowed a marble. And all of the other generations right now are saying, “What the heck is a tiddlywink?” If we got thirsty, we drank straight from the garden hose or shared a can of Dr. Pepper with all of our friends. We played in the mud, made mud pies and sometimes we ate them. We fell out of trees and broke bones, but we didn’t sue anyone. We played organized sports, but you had to win to get a medal. Our mothers pushed us out the door in the morning to walk to school with friends, and if it was a weekend, they pushed us out the door and said, “Go play.” And play we did. We played rough, we played hard, but we played in the great outdoors in all seasons and all weather. We Baby Boomers were independent, but most of all, we were survivors. Yes, we Baby Boomers were the original survivors and no one is voting us off the island just yet.
by Barb Day, November 2016