Things you remember from your childhood that would be ABSOLUTELY UNTHINKABLE today

This isn’t to say that they were a good idea then either- it could well be that the reason you don’t see them anymore is that they were rightly stopped- but what are some of the things you remember that today would probably be on CNN or have a protest if they happened? Examples:

Smoking: I’m 42- not that old as most would define the term- but I remember when there were ashtrays in grocery stores (at the end of every other row), doctor’s offices, hospital rooms (not that terribly long ago even- the 1990s), and if restaurants even had a non-smoking section it was much smaller than the smoking (or regular) section.

The Grease Bucket: this may be a southern thing but I’m sure somebody outside the south had it- when my mother fried bacon or chicken or pretty much anything else, the grease was poured into a bucket kept on the stove. Next time something was fried, the congealed grease was taken out and heated. This was pretty much a standard practice in every country house when I was growing up (though my aunt, more of a social climber and in the city, didn’t do it).
Unspayed animals: Growing up on a farm that was miles and miles from the nearest town we were always getting stray dogs (especially during hunting season) and cats (our rabbits never did breed much, but cats- OMG). There was no humane shelter in our county to take them too, and while spaying and neutering were available at vets we never had it done to the “welfare animals”- it was too expensive- so there were puppies and kittens every year. We were pretty successful at finding takers for all the pups (especially those who were part one of our breed dogs) but kittens you just can’t give away; most of them ended up leaving of their own accord (since unlike dogs most domesticated cats can survive in the woods), with only the mothers staying around.
I’ll also admit that our animals didn’t receive anywhere near the shots they should have: we’d have an old “animal doctor” (not a vet but worked as one) come around once a year or so and give the rabies vaccines to however many we could catch, but I doubt any of them ever had distemper shots or heartworm treatments or anything like, and again- on farms in the area, this is how it was done. (And I have to say that if you subtract the ones hit by cars, the dogs seemed to live just as long and be just as healthy as the completely maintained ones we’ve had since have.)

This is one that a lot of people can’t believe, but so help me it happened and my family wasn’t the only one: my mother was a science teacher and in summers she’d go back to college (the government would pay for it back in the '60s). Babysitting was often a problem, and so on nice summer days when no babysitter was available she would leave me, my brother and my sister (we were about 9,8, and 2.5) in the school parking lot, parked under trees in view of the window of her classroom, with a picnic lunch. We’d play on the quad and eat lunch and maybe go take a nap in the car if it was cool enough and were fine. This wasn’t seen as neglect because we’d actually often play with other kids whose parents did the exact same thing (often other science teacher’s kids since the '60s was big on CE for high school science teachers and many had the same deal as my mother). I was too little to remember much of this, but my sister and brother both swear that there was never any seeming “stranger danger”, and we were well behaved/sensible enough to not run in the street (and also knew that we weren’t to go off with another adult or anything), and my sister and brother were informed “if there’s any danger get in the car, lock the doors, and blow the horn”. All was well, it was what it was. Today, my parents would be incarcerated and so would other parents who did this (and again, there were several of them.)
So what are some things from your childhood or earlier years that you just never see anymore? (And again, not saying that this is a bad thing- a parent would be a fool to leave their kids in the parking lot today- but. it happened and nobody was the worse for it.)

After I went to kindergarten and one or two grades, my mother went back to work. So when I got out of school and walked home (I walked over a mile home from school – as early as kindergarten, when I was four. By myself. Nobody seemed at all worried about this.) to an empty house. I was what would today be called a “letchkey kid”, but so were many of my friends. No big deal. I’d come home, have a bowl of cereal, and read the latest magazine that came in, or watch TV, or go out and play. Today it’s considered neglect to let even out 11-year-old stay home alone.

Car seats? Who needed em?

All Vehicular
riding around without seatbelts
riding in the BACK of the pickup truck
riding in the camper and laying in the bed portion that goes over the TOP of the cab.

And seat belts- annoying damned things. I remember a car dealer actually giving the advice not to cut them out because it would hurt on trade-in or resale, but just buckle them and tuck them in the seat crack and that light won’t come on.

Seatbelts? Who needs ’em. Riding around in the back of a pickup truck (the ideal way to transport multiple children before the minivan).


Disciplining other people’s children when they misbehaved in public. (Not beating them, in my experience, but you were allowed to call them on inappropriate behavior.)

Feeding small children peanuts and shrimp and other potential allergens.

Bicycling / skateboarding without pads and helmets.

Helmets are a good idea. Pads are not. They restrict motion too much.

I always walked to school from K through 5th. Probably a half mile through the woods. Also, my mom smoked in the car. One after another. We (my two sisters and I) would always moan when she lit up. She’d crack the window if it wasn’t raining or too cold out. Of course we did all of our moaning not wearing any kind of seat belts.

I used to ride in cars, front seat or back, without seat belts or any other type of constraints! Now, all kids ride in car seats in the back.

I remember visiting a grammar school teacher, along with other students, in her home on weekends to help on errands. This type of out-of-school associations are not looked on the same way nowadays.

Smoking while pregnant. My mom smoked all the way through her six pregnancies. (Granted, it would take her three weeks to smoke a pack, but still… )

My friends dad worked in maintenance and would bring home the mercury when a gage broke. We would lay on the hardwood floor of his bedroom and flick around balls of mercury, playing “hockey”. When it got too dirty, we would pour it into a cloth and wind the loose ends around until the mercury woud be forced through the space between the threads. This stripped off the oxide layer.

A friend of mine, who is 50, recently mentioned that when she was 10 (so, 1969) her parents would sometimes drop her off at a minor-league baseball stadium by herself, and pick her up when the game was over.

In the 70s suburbs, children would trick-or-treat alone, even after dark. And go wherever their little feet would take them.

I used to sit in my father’s lap and pretend to drive his car. I learned that if I quickly switched the key off and on, a backfire would often result. Drove him wild but he always let me “drive.”

From the time we were about eight years old, my friends and I used to walk about a mile to the creek and fish all day; we also learned we could smoke grapevine.

When were around ten or eleven, my cousin and I were allowed ride our bicycles to an Uncle’s farm, where we would swim in his cattle tank. It was about a ten mile round trip.

My brother has two young daughters and recently rented a DVD of the first season of Sesame Street. One episode has Gordon inviting a lost child into his home, comforting him, and giving him something to drink. Because of that the DVD is labeled “Unsuitable for young children.” :slight_smile:

Cooking with lard (especially the older folks).

My brother- maybe 15- and me- maybe 10- taking .22 rifles and telling our parents “We’re gonna go shoot tin cans” and being told “Okay, be careful”. For that matter, loaded guns/a straight razor/whiskey/any number of knives all within easy access from the time we were elementary school age (and among the three of us not a single accident with any of them or ever using the gun as a toy).

Speaking of guns: cap guns that looked real (at least didn’t have the red plastic tip or whatever).

During summer vacation (around age 10-12) it was common pretty much every day to leave the house in the morning and not check back in till 6p.m. or so for dinner. Wandered around town with friends to various parks, playgrounds, stores, etc. miles from home.

We took a family trip from Milwaukee to New Jersey to visit realtives back in 81’. Drove non-stop a family of 6 in a pick-up truck with a cap on back.

Ever since Mr. Carlson tried to molest the Drummond kids on Diff’rent Strokes it’s been a no-no.:wink:

Speaking of Stranger Danger:

As soon as the last bite of supper was down my gullet, I was headed for the door to get into whatever shit my friends and I could find.

The last thing I’d hear as I went out the door was, “make sure you’re home when the streetlights come on”.

Not “where are you going, who are you going with”. No worries back then, just good times.

Mind you, I’m talkin’ the Fifties here.:eek:

There was a monster hill by my house, with a stream, and then a short piece of land that ended at a major highway with no wall of protection.

We use to take our sleds there after it snowed to try to get across the stream and still manage to stop before hitting the highway. With no adult supervision.

No parent in their right mind would allow that today.

There’s a picture of my mother, hugely pregnant with me, at a party holding a glass of wine.

I thimk I turned out OK.