Things that happened to you as a child that would be now considered scandalous

Something my mother mentioned at Thanksgiving shocked several people at the dinner table.

When I was 4 1/2, she would send me two blocks down the street to pick up our mail, pay bills at the bank, and even get milk or bread at the store.

I hadn’t realized how young I was when she started doing this, but in the late sixties this was not a big deal–she had four kids under the age of six at home.

I have some other things that happened when I was a kid and thought nothing of it, but I’m interested to hear things that you all experienced as children that was no big to do at the time, but if it happened today would be headline news.


My mother did try to get us to run errands at 6 and under, but it generally didn’t work out as we were too shy.

When I was 5, however, my family moved to Bangor, ME so my parents could finish their ministry degrees, which they had put on hold when my twin and I were born. My mother put no limits on where we were allowed to play, what streets we were allowed to cross, etc. This resulted in us spending a lot of time alone and unsupervised with some of their adult male classmates, who we would stop and talk to whenever we would come upon them (and I do mean alone, not as a pair of twins). One even asked me to come to dinner with him at the home of friends. I was five.

I didn’t think it was so shocking, but I was taking public transportation alone to school as early as middle school, and to a school that required me to change buses at a busy depot. I’ve had people tell me I was lucky I wasn’t kidnapped. Ooook.

I walked to school by myself or with classmates, from about age 5. I rarely see kids walking without an adult nowadays.

I walked alone for a mile to get home from kindergarten when I was 5. It was mostly uphill, too. :smiley: This was in Baltimore, MD in 1959. At about the same age, I routinely was sent to the stores on the main road near our house with money and a list of things we needed. The clerk would pick out the stuff for me and give me correct change.

I went to a high school run by Jesuit priests at which we were required to swim in the indoor pool in the nude.

When I was in nursery school, I was upset about not being allowed to play with something. The teacher dragged me by my arm across the room, across the hallway and threw me in a corner.

I also walked to and from school by myself starting at 5. Additionally, I started doing chores when I was 10 - my therapist acted like that was child abuse.

Starting from the 2nd grade (age 7) we were allowed to leave our elementary school for lunch with a parent’s permission slip that lasted for the whole year – and go anywhere we liked.

If we had some money we’d go to the pizza place across the street, or get a pint of wonton soup from the Chinese restaurant. otherwise we’d bring our lunches from home. One of my friends lived nearly across the street and sometimes we’d go there and eat our lunch and play in her backyard till we had to go back. (also unsupervised, both her parents worked, she had the keys).

No audible bells or anything, we were just expected to be back at a certain time. As far as I remember we pretty much always were.

Brooklyn, 1982.

Seems kind of crazy now that I think of it.

In sixth grade, someone from my class stole money from one of the aides’ purse. We were all called together and the teachers and principal tried to get the guilty party to confess. When the culprit didn’t come forward, we were taken to the locker rooms and strip searched – 60 kids! AFAIK, not one parent objected.

Most shocking now is the fact that our seventh grade teacher used to smoke in the classroom, even fairly shocking at the time. Lighting cigarettes for my Dad (a doctor) while he was driving, and we were almost certainly not wearing seat belts.

Otherwise, the usual: walking to school alone, taking public transport from primary school age, latchkey kids.

When I was about age ten or so, my dad used to regularly send me to the drugstore to buy him a couple packs of smokes. I’m not sure what’s more messed up - that my dad would send a ten year old kid to buy cigarettes for him, or that the drugstore would actually sell them to me!

I don’t remember my exact age, but I was probably 7-10 years old when my dad started teaching me how to properly handle and shoot guns. That early training included some graphic demonstrations of the power of firearms, in the form of shooting unopened tomato soup cans and seeing how that little bullet made the cans explode, as a way of reinforcing the idea that guns aren’t toys. My dad had a veritable arsenal, and the guns were never locked up, but there was never any temptation to take them out and “play” with them because I respected them for what they could do.

(I’m not a shooter as an adult, nor do I currently own a gun. I just kind of lost interest in my teens.)

:eek: Was this common? Am I being whooshed?

Not shocking. My middle school son (6th grade) takes the public bus to school daily, as do many of his classmates.

My 7th grade teacher taught us all how to make gunpowder. We then got to all go outside the school by the sports fields and set it off in buckets. I’m only 24.

It was actually very common until the 70s. My father learned to swim the same way at the way. Naturally these weren’t coed classes and no females were present.

This was common, but usually for boys only. (That is, this wasn’t a mixed-sex activity, and I don’t know if girls swam nude at all.)

My dad taught me to play draw poker when I was 5 or 6. I was never very good at stud.

Growing up in a small prairie town in the 70’s, in summer we’d head out of the house in the morning, be expected back for lunch and supper (unless we cleared a road trip with mom and packed a lunch for it), and that was about it for adult supervision of any of us.

Then there was the parental response when we hurt ourselves (usually doing something stupid) - “What did you do that for?” Also the parental expectation when we were visiting - children would be quiet and not bother the grown-ups. Ideally, children would get themselves the hell out of the house and leave the grown-ups alone.

Jim tells stories of travelling across Canada by airplane every summer to stay with his grandparents - he either went alone or was supervising his younger sister. This was from the time he was nine to into his teens, if I understand correctly. My niece will start to take the bus from school to home alone next year - at 15.

I took a Greyhound bus from Hastings NE to Rock Island IL, alone, when I was 8, in 1971.

We never informed our parents where we were going or whom we were playing with. “Home when the streetlights came on” was the only theme and all of the neighborhood kids and I would leave the houses in the morning, eat at someone’s house and then play. If we didn’t show up at dinner time, it was assumed we ate somewhere else (most parents ascribed to the “kitchen is not a restaurant, if you’re not here for dinner, make it yourself”). We would build large tree forts that definitely wouldn’t be up to code, go on bike rides many miles away.

(On preview, a lot like Cat Whisperer’s)

Same here, though not for my parents, who didn’t smoke. But just about all my friend’s parent’s smoked, and it was not at all uncommon for us to be sent to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes for them. This was when we were about age 7 on up. And yes, you can bet that once we hit 12 or 13, we were buying cigarettes for ourselves as well.