Reading the stories, one common thread is apparent: most if not all revolve around rural upbringing. I’m guessing I’m around the same age as most of the story tellers, but I was raised a city boy. My friends and I did not have the opportunity to ride our bikes to tromp around in the woods exploring and hunting and fishing. We ran around the alleys trying to kill rats with sticks or slingshots, cause you’d get 2 buck for every dead rat turned into the sanitation department. But otherwise, most of the noted experiences were the same. I was raised by my mom, who at times worked two jobs to support us. We never had a car. When I was 14, I started working at the church, cleaning toilets, cutting grass, raking leaves, washing floors, etc. I graduated from that to working in an apartment complex after school and during the summers as the handyman’s helper, where I learned basic plumbing, electrical, and general how to fix stuff.
Through it all, I was always taught basic respect for your parents, teachers, police and others. The point here is that it’s not where you were brought up, but how you were brought up and the examples set by those guiding us. Society has degenerated into something that none of us really can relate to and unfortunately will probably never recover. It’s a new world. There’s plenty of good kids out there. Unfortunately, the bad ones that were left unchecked stain the entire fabric. Sometimes I can even question the maturity of some 21 year olds. Laws won’t fix stupid, but then I’m preaching to the choir.
I noticed that too. I grew up on the edge of a small town. My dad was a depression-era kid that grew up a farmer, then enlisted underage for WWII and got called back for the Korean War. He just had his 92nd birthday. He was an Army Ranger in the 101st, trained as a demolitions expert and could have done a career but got out after Korea. He was and is an amazing man that knew how to put the love in tough love and made sure we were tough. I feel blessed that he's still remarkably healthy and is sharp as a tack. I'm certain that the values of my parents shaped the way I view the world and because of that, my two sons are respectful young men that are not afraid to stand up for what they believe. They work hard and play hard and know how to find humor when times are tough.
I came from a temporarily broken home. When I was 5, Mom and Dad took a trial separation that lasted two years. During that, my two brothers (15 and 16) and I alternated living between my maternal family's home (grandparents 3 maiden aunts, 1 uncle), and my paternal family, (Grandmother and Aunt). Effectively, I became an only child. The Aunts doted, and had jobs with extraordinary fringe benefits (two were mid-level librarians at the NY Public Library Main Branch, and the other was private secretary to the Rockefeller Brothers). I was immersed in arts, science, and technology. Guggenheim, museum if the City of NY, American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, LaGuardia Airport observation deck, etc., etc. I was at one of them every Saturday. I met amazing people (Einstein, Teller, but not together...), a Bishop, a Cardinal, went to Yankees home games. I'd get a $1/wk allowance, and it always went for a plastic model airplane kit.
In 1953, I had my first experience with Scouting as a Cub Scout Bobcat at my Grade School NYC Public Schools. In 1958 we were all back together again and moved to Newark NJ, where I joined the local Scout Troop at our Parish school. In 1960 at age 14, I was required to leave Boy Scouts and transfer to the Explorers. We did fabulous things, fifty mile hikes, annual canoe trips, backpacking, training with Civil Defense Heavy Rescue, riding on Friday nights with the Newark Police Emergency Squad, a daylong tour of the local Ford assembly plant, bus trip to Annapolis, two weeks in the JROTC as semi-recruits at Fort Dix, etc. etc. ; our post advisor was a Captain in Army Intelligence based at Fort Dix, but also the older brother of my best friend.
I would shoot single shot 22 with the Newark Police Athletic League at the local Boys' Club starting in 7th grade, bring the rifle to school, hand the bolt and ammo to the nun, get them back at quitting time, and take the bus to the Boy's Club and then home.
I was drafted in early 1966 directly into the Marines. I married the girl next door in 1970, we had our Daughter in 1971, and are coming up on our 48th year together in July. During all this time, I managed, starting in 1953, and finally ending around 2006, to spend about 40 years as either
a Scout of some form, or as a Scouter. I met my last unit, a Venture Crew, when I ran a youth marksmanship program, and their leaders asked me to run one just for them emphasizing earning the rifle merit badge. This unit was enrolled in Scouting, but had no common activities with the local Council, and did things rather a lot more like back when I was an Explorer Scout of 14. Such days are gone, and sadly, I hear nothing anymore about such units; they were weeded out of the organization by Liberal PC hypocrisy.
Your post got me feeling nostalgic, since I grew up about the same way.
I had good loving parents, but got plenty of discipline from them, grandparents and the occasional neighbor growing up.
I was taught gun safety from the time I could walk by my dad, my uncle and my grandfather (a retired police sergeant), because they all kept guns in their homes and all of the handguns were loaded. I knew where they were all kept, but I would never think of touching one without permission.
Here are a few more fun facts from my childhood without repeating too many of yours:
I can remember us taking a couple of Florida vacations and my dad didn't bother to lock the front door while we were gone 10 - 14 days.
We never locked the doors at night, although dad kept a pair of S&W Model 10s loaded a ready to go in a drawer right by the bed.
On nice days I walked home from school (or to my grandparents' house in another neighborhood) by myself from age 8.
All the neighbors knew each other and talked to each other on a regular basis.
Kids in our neighborhood were pretty much the same, except they actually shot each other with BB guns. BB guns were off limits for me, but all play shooting was fine outside the house. Inside our house even toy guns were treated as "loaded" guns - not to be pointed at anyone.
At age eleven (11) I asked and got permission from my dad (an attorney) to carry one of his S&W Model 10s in our 6th grade play, along with my best friend at the time (his dad an FBI agent), who carried one of his dad's revolvers. Just imagine that at Grammar School today!
My first deer rifle at 15 was a 1917 U.S. Enfield bought at Sears for $20 (shooting the Enfield with surplus ammo was cheaper than buying ammo for the 7.7 Japanese Arisaka that dad brought home from the Pacific).
After working a couple of summers, I sold the Enfield for $40 and bought a .30-06 Remington at age 17 with my own money.
The .30-06 was my first "target" rifle and I started reloading for it with a Lee Loader and a used Lyman powder scale.
Now I shoot targets with a .260, a .243 and a bunch of .223s that each weigh about twice what the .30-06 weighed = no kick.
Later in college I bought my first pistol, a S&W Model 19, and my first Colt AR-15 - the AR for $198 over 12 monthly payments - and regularly carried these in the back of my car, so I could go to the range whenever I had some free time during the week.
As late as a few years ago, I routinely kept two or three long range customs in the car trunk along with an AR and a couple of pistols, but all the recent anti-gun sentiment has me re-thinking that now.
Luckily my wife of 32-years was raised much the same way, and we agree on the really important things in life.
She is also an excellent pistol shooter, and I'm working on her carbine and rifle skills.
Hope this hasn't rambled too much, but it amazes me how much things have changed in the way children are brought up.