Safety First

We were traveling to see the family last weekend and listening to the Comedy Channel on the radio.  Admittedly, I rarely find the featured entertainers in the least bit amusing.  Misogyny and sexual crudities rarely elicit smiles from me.  But once in a while my husband and I discover a comedian that cracks us both up and he becomes a favorite.  Our most recent is Don Friesen.

If you’ve never heard him before, you can listen to him here:

In this clip he talks about the lack of safety standards in his (and my!) childhood.  His  recital of four kids riding in the back of a pick up–with tailgate down–is hilarious.  We shared it with our parents and kids at Easter and it started a discussion of the ways we used to travel, and how safety laws have changed since then.

John’s family (five kids) used to ride to church in a Volkswagen with John and his brother stuffed in the compartment behind the back seat.  The three oldest siblings sat in the back seat and parents up front.  I recalled riding in the family’s old sedan riding comfortably in the back window while my four older siblings shared the back seat.  My baby sister was, of course, carried up front in my mother’s arms <wince>.

It wasn’t until our youngest three were born that safety standards had been implemented and car seats were made mandatory.  My oldest two started out in flimsy child carriers seat belted in and graduated–when they could stand up–to riding next to me  on the front seat.  To this day when I come to a sudden stop I fling my right arm across the front, to save my long-grown kids from flying through the windshield.

When I was in sixth grade my family took a vacation.  We drove across country from Iowa to Oregon in a station wagon with neither luggage rack nor air conditioner.  There were nine of us <g>.  My sister, cousin and I rode with the luggage in the back, knees up and tucked beneath our chin.

Then there were bicycles.  Stingrays were the cool rides of the day, and I commonly rode double with a friend on the handlebars.  Wearing a bicycle helmet, had they existed, would have been an open invitation for ridicule once we hit the school playground.  In a testament to how times have changed I recently suggested to my son that my grandsons be required to wear helmets on their scooters.  (This after I’d cleaned up blood and tears three times in an hour.)  I was over ruled.

Not long ago there was a news story about a woman who had her children taken away from her because she punished them by putting them in a clothes dryer.  I agreed whole-heartedly with that consequence, even while I have fond memories of my older brothers giving my sister and me rides in the dryer when they were babysitting.  At that time the door could stay open and they just had to press a button inside it to make it go.  In my brothers’ defense, they always put us on air fluff <g>.

For the most part increased safety regulations have been positive.  But do you have any fond memories of fun things you did in your childhood that would be considered crazy dangerous these days?

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25 Responses to Safety First

  1. Cindy Gerard says:

    Ahhh the memories. I used to love to ride in the back (in the box) of the pick up truck – just like a dog. Oh the freedom. I always felt like I was flying. And I know it wasn’t safe but I loved traveling with Kyle in my arms when he was a baby. There was just something soothing about it. Now I’d be considered a bad mommy …

  2. Linda says:

    Growing up on a farm we always rode in the back of the pickup truck (weather permitting). We also helped with baling hay and rode on top of the hay when it was being taken from the field to the barn- GASP. And when we rode horses- sometimes bareback- there were no helmets, if you fell off it meant you did not know how to ride well enough and got schooled by Grandpa. And there were no helmets when we rode out bikes up and down the country road, sometimes even with no shoes. I agree that there need to be safety measures and try to keep kids (and adults) safe, but sometimes kids really just need to be kids. Falling down and getting a few scrapes help us learn.

  3. TrishJ says:

    LOL. I do the arm out to save the kid when I have to stop fast too. Used to drive with them tucked behind by right arm. I even remember taking a winter vacation when I was a child and sleeping on the little ledge behind the back seat. It was so warm with the sun beaming down on the window. Do the even make cars with that any more??

    • Kylie Brant says:

      I don’t think so Trish but I have fond memories of riding on that ledge scrunched under the window! I felt so comfy and thought I was lucky not to be squished in the back seat with the sibs!

  4. Patricia Davis says:

    In 1976, I bought my first car, a 1968 Chevi Impala for a whopping $10. It looked like a bomb had been dropped on it as there was not a spot that didn’t have a dent. It was a natural rust color and I mean it was rusted out, hence its rust color. I had to use two wire clothes hangers to twist between the front and back door windows on both sides of the car to keep the front doors from flying open when driving. To get out of the front seat, you rolled down the windows and climbed out through the windows. In the back on the floor, that’s where your feet go, there was one massive hole on eact floor so that when I drove, those in the backseat got to see the cement moving below. The most fantastic feature this car had and it’s the reason I spent the whopping $10 was for its 8-Track stereo. Okay now, the summer I owned this car, it was pretty hot and so I invited all of my friends to go to the beach. On the way to the beach, we blasted Bat Out of Hell (the popular band Meatloaf for those who aren’t familiar with that time frame). About a half hour after driving on the highway, I get pulled over by the RCMP. I was scared shitless. I knew that I wasn’t speeding but I’m guessing the reason for being pulled over is due to how many people were in the car. The constable comes over and walks around the car, then looks inside. He then asks me to get out of the car. I told him that he had to move back so that I could. I rolled down the window, and climbed out. Oh and there were no seatbelts also. All he said was to wait and then he returned back to his cruiser. A while later a second cruiser showed up. Both RCMP officers started asking me questions about my car. One asked if I had enough people in the car. I said yes, that there were 4 in the front, 4 in the back on the seat, two on the foor (one on each side). I covered the holes with wood to accomodate them and 3 in the trunk. They asked me to open the trunk and the look on their faces seeing the 3 people laying there was hilarious. There was no way they’d suffocate due to the ventalation this car provided.and we rigged up a speaker for them to listen to the music. We had no drugs, no alcohol. We just wanted to go to the beach. Both constables kept asking me if I felt the car was safe to drive. I told him that it was because we’d done this before and no one got hurt. The long and short of it was that we had an escort to the beach because I think that the constables wanted to actually see if the car would fall apart plus, the three people in the trunk got to drive in a police cruiser to the beach. Recently I found a picture of my car and thought that kids today don’t have these kinds of memories, which is sad. I laughed myself silly remembering this car. Today, I would never allow my daughter to get into a car that looked war torn that was a piece of junk and could fall apart at any time. That’s me being protective. Yet I’m alive sharing

  5. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    My dad lives in rural Missouri, in the Ozarks, where country roads go up and down and around corners like a roller coaster. We had an old 60’s van, empty in the back but carpeted, and I would stand up back there and “surf,” trying to stay on my feet while the car did the Dukes of Hazzard thing over dips and turns going 70mph. I went airborne every few minutes, but usually landed on my feet. 🙂 Other than a few minor bumps and bruises, I was never hurt and I had a blast every time.

  6. I remember one of my aunts being so proud to tell us, when they were driving from Texas to Pennsylvania, that she would line the back seat with pillows so my baby cousin would be “safe” if there would be an accident! How did we survive?! Now that I’m past childbearing I think about my next dog and how I will get a seat harness for her. The last one regularly would fly off the front seat onto the floor (hitting the dashboard first) too many times to count. Keep your memories close but your seat belts closer.

  7. loisgreiman says:

    I require helmets for my students for horseback lessons, but I still can’t make myself wear one. Can’t even imagine wearing one when I was a kid. And on a bicycle? Biking was the safest thing we did….barefoot on the gravel riding on the handlebars on the back fender. Or bareback and barefoot riding double on some rank bronc we’d just chased down in the pasture. Ahhh…. Good times.

  8. Leanne says:

    It’s a wonder we’re I didn’t wear a seat belt until I got pregnant with my first child. My sisters and I shared the backseat of a volkswagon station wagon and put the dog against the window during one of our trips to the beach. Never. Ever. Wore a helmet while riding a bike. Loved flying down hills with the wind on my face. No hands sometimes.:) But I required my children to wear helmets. LOVED riding in the back of a pick-up truck the few times I had the opportunity. I would do it again today!:) I didn’t wash my hands nearly as much as I do these days. No Purell! One of my biggest anti-safety moves was no sunscreen because there was no sunscreen that really worked back in the day. I’m paying for that now, though.

  9. michelehauf says:

    Ah, the arm fling. Still do that to this day. And most kids nowadays have no idea what the heck that is.

    I have weird memories of my mom calling back to me and my brother in the backseat of the old Impala ‘tuck those heavy seatbelts between the seats and get them out of the way, otherwise your brother will clonk you with it’. Yeah, they were just ‘in the way’ back then. Can you believe we all survived? 😉

  10. Patricia Davis says:

    I grew up in Nova Scotia and it is known for the highest tides in the world. When the tides come in, the rivers swell up and when the tides were going out, the river was one massive current leading back to the ocean. Before the tides were in, you could wade into the river and it would be up to your shoulders. When the tide was fully in, it would be approximately 2 feet below a spanning bridge. Also, when the tide was fully in, it was pretty calm at that point, no current until it transitioned and began to flow back towards the ocean. It was at that point where a group of us kids used to take inflated tire tubes and wade into the river. We’d get on the tire tubes and let the current take us downriver. At first the current was slow and you could sit and just relax but then it would pick up speed. We timed everything with the current and it’s strength, the layout of the river and knew when it was time to get off the tube and swim ashore. We knew that we were strong swimmers and so we never perceived any dangers. We even attached a rope from one side of the river to the other to grab onto just in case. We never wore life jackets and we didn’t have them. Not one person drowned. How naive was that? Yet when my daughter was young and went into any pool,she wore a life jacket.

  11. Kylie Brant says:

    Yikes, Patricia!! It does sound fun as long as everyone was a good swimmer! We used to travel to Wisconsin as young adults once yearly to camp out and tube down a river up there. We’d tie on an extra inner tube to hold the cooler, LOL. The falls were usually pretty tame. But one year it had been raining for two weeks straight and the river was *wild*. We all flipped our tubes on the first set of rapids and were swept over the others with no tubes. The current was so fast it was very difficult to get to shore…it just kept sweeping us along. My hubby is not a strong swimmer. Luckily he got tangled in some branches near shore and could wait there to be rescued!

  12. Patricia Davis says:

    That was a big yikes!!!! You all must have been scared out of your minds especially your husband and thankfully he did get tangled in those branches. The river we tubed, we were all lifeguards in my group of tubers and worked on several beaches along the Atlantic Coast (Canada). The ocean is unpredictable and we were trained in every element. We grew up swimming with the tides and we were also familiar with with how the currents worked in this river. I canoed during a flash storm where I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it to shore. The canoe took in so much water. That was the scariest I’ve ever been on water. I haven’t canoed since. That time I was wearing a life jacket thankfully.

  13. Reading these posts has been a hoot. So right—we were so carefree back then. Though the ones who didn’t survive aren’t around to chime in! I rode my horse all over the country while barefoot, in shorts,no helmet–often with just a long leather boot lace for a single rein and a slipknot looped into her mouth. When our kids came along I remembered every single dangerous thing I did and was super protective. Probably too much. I’ve got film of Brian at the age of two, swinging on the swing set singing “roads are dangerwus, trees are dangerwus, cars are dangerwus….” his litany of dangers was soooo long. :/ It’s a wonder that everyone grew up to love high adventure sports, anyway!

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