If you were born in the mid 60s and then old enough to be a fan of the Brady Bunch in the early 70s, chances are this song was one of your favs! It just sort of screams summer fun, long days playing outside, riding bikes, not a care in the world. Summers of the early 70s....bliss.
I started thinking about this song because of an ongoing conversation on my online board. One friend needed ideas for outside games to play when her family of nieces and nephews come to visit. We were all throwing ideas out and she already had a few of her own. Then, as most of our conversations go on that board, it turned silly and someone brought up the old game of the 60s and 70s called, Yard Darts or Jarts. This brought on a lot of laughter and comments and it made me think back to those carefree summer days of the early 70s and the dangerous toys we were armed with. In my ever changing moods, this brings back so many funny memories and so many thoughts of...what were our parents thinking????
Back then, there was no sign of what we now call, Helicopter Parents. It was more like, Out To Lunch Parents. But, it was the 60s and 70s and that is how parenting was done. No babying, coddling, covering you in helmets and padding just to ride a tricycle. We were a rough and tumble generation. And, let's face it, if you could successfully dodge a Jart, well, you were destined to survive whatever came your way.
Which brings me to my rambling thought of the day...the toys our parents gave us to play with, totally unsupervised and totally potentially dangerous.
I can only speak for the toys that my brother and I had. I often wonder how we didn't burn the house down with the combo of the Shrinky Dinks that you baked on metal cookie sheets in a real oven, no adult present. I am not talking the safer version with the actual safety machine to bake them in. Two kids, hot oven, metal trays, standing on chairs to remove hot metal trays out of hot oven. One time I nicked a friend's forehead with the corner of the hot metal tray. No worries, we just moved on to a safer toy. Hey, the McDonald's cooking griddle...for kids!!!! No parental help needed to heat that baby up and throw some sort of meat on the HOT griddle and let it sizzle....who needed a parent for the hot grease splattering all over? Not us. And, when you were tired of the inside toys that were all made of metal with sharp corners, you could move outside.
Outside, in the neighborhood, in the summer, with no parents. Where WERE our parents?? I mean, in the summer, you woke up, had a breakfast of Cheerios or Freakies cereal, a glass of Tang and you were out the door by 9am. On your bike. Free as a bird. In elementary school. You took off on your bike with no helmet and often times there were a lot of spills on your bike. Bloody knees and elbows? Hey, there would always be a kid to run in and grab a Band-Aid or two and you were back on your way. The assorted games that adults left us with were, Jarts, those heavey iron horseshoes, REAL archery sets with really pointy arrows. I took an arrow to the head, once, and let me tell you...a helmet would have been greatly appreciated. Jarts became a game of near death. We would all start out playing a nice game but then one wise guy would always decide that the nice game was over and start winging Jarts all over the place. Running and hiding was the best tactic until you could safely get to your bike and pedal off.
You would go home for lunch. A lunch of peanut butter and jelly and a glass of chocolate milk. Back then, you just ate the basics...no jazzed up, snazzy pre-packaged lunches. Once you were properly nourished, you got back on your bike for more neighborhood fun.
At this point of the day, our moms were emersed in soap operas, coffee, Lambrusco, Merv Griffin, gossiping on the telephone, making dinner. Who had the time to worry over what we all were out doing?
If we got bored with toys, we would do stunts with our bikes. We would always need to build ramps for this so kids would start hauling pieces of wood, nails, hammers...again, I have to ask, did our moms NOT see us all running out of our garages with these items?? We would build our own ramps. No waiting for a dad to come home from work to supervise. There would always be some accident when the hammering would start. One kid would always get hurt and cry. We would dare him NOT to go home and tell on what we were doing. Just wrap a shirt around the wound and take care of it, later.
Those were the days of carefree and dangerous fun. What were a few stitches and injuries? We could handle it. We were the tough kids of the 60s and 70s. You eased the burn on your hands, tended to the Jart wounds, bandaged your skinned knees and if you were lucky enough to get stitches, you would come back to the neighborhood with great stories of the injury and the hospital! We were a tough group of kids who survived without the constant watch of parents, the dangerous toys and the activities that led to a possible hospital run. It was definitely, always, a sunshine day.