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Posts tagged: Childhood

How some boys honed their swearing

They built model airplanes.

You see, a lot can go wrong in that process.

Propeller blades can snap.

Landing gear can come out of the box inexplicably malformed.

An errant drop of glue can turn the plane's supposedly clear canopy into a gooey blob.

I'm sure some boys suffered these setbacks in silence.

Others, however, gave voice to their frustration with choice selections from some recently acquired vocabulary.

No need to name names.

Spotting troubled kids: Then vs. now

If, back in the day, setting fire to toy soldiers would have been viewed as alarming, how many of us would have gotten hauled off to see a therapist?

When you stayed home sick as a kid

Were you usually faking?

Were you allowed to watch TV?

What did you watch?

If you watched soap operas, how did it influence the way you viewed adults?

Recalling playtime anachronisms

No, you weren't the only kid who occasionally spiced up a battle involving toy soldiers by introducing plastic dinosaurs to the fray. 

What was “normal” in childhood?

Ever hit golf balls with a baseball bat? (In the middle of a residential neighborhood?)

Ever sidearm-hurl record albums in flying-disc fashion?

Ever determine that your parents' car could go way faster than they ever drove it?

Ever use garbage cans as construction molds when building an impregnable snow fort?

Ever watch ants for about 10 hours? 

Way-back machine

Ever looked carefully at a map of a place where you lived as a kid and realized the area had several interesting natural and historical attractions — all of which were not on your radar when you were a child?   

Not saying condoms are laughing matter

I assume everyone has heard stories about boys who stashed a condom in their wallets about half an hour after the onset of puberty.

These fantasy-addled lads would make a big show of their not-so secret preparedness for carnal adventure. They did this even though, in 99.99% of cases, there were zero actual prospects on the horizon.

You already know all about that, I'm sure.

But did you know that, at least once upon a time, it was not unusual for boys several years younger to imitate those older kids and also pack a prophylactic? (They were not difficult to obtain. If there were none to be swiped from a poorly hidden supply at home, there was usually a handy vending machine in a nearby gas station restroom.)

This practice of prepubescent boys proudly possessing rubbers might qualify as the single most ridiculous act in modern history.

I wish I had transcripts of 11-year-old boys discussing condoms long ago. Kids today probably have all the answers. But I suspect much of the information exchanged years ago was more folkloric than factual.

Boomer boys as sound-effects artists

Some boys excelled at making “the crowd goes wild” sounds while tossing a football to themselves in the backyard.

Others specialized in simulating the noise made by screeching tires while playing with toy cars and executing impossibly sharp turns on the carpet.

But a few lads took pride in their ability to vocalize airplane sounds. Some could do just about anything from a World War I biplane — “ehnnnnnnnn” — to a modern military jet — “shhhhhhhhhh.” At least they imagined that they could.

This playtime fantasy could be complicated by reality, though. Say, if you ever actually heard the sound produced by the engines of a certain aircraft.

That was never more true than in the case of the huge B-36. It was astonishingly loud, as Spokane residents of a certain age could attest. And any kid who had heard one overhead knew it posed a serious sound-effects challenge.

Still, it wasn't impossible to do a decent droning hum/roar. You just had to remember to breathe now and then.


When little kids run away from home now

Do they send a text message? Fire off an angry email?

Or do disgruntled youths still take pencil in hand to list their grievances on a sheet of paper? 

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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