In a large family each segment of the troop was actually raised in a different world than the others. I can testify that even within the time it took to rear our minor brood of three, my wife and I modified our parenting quite a bit. But my parents had 16 years between the births of oldest brother Tom and littlest sister Barbara. As the sixth born, I was definitely in the second half, but I wonder about Mary and Pat who were numbers four and five; do they constitute their own mid-section of the family? Or if we separate them into parts one and two, doesn't that create an overly imaginary breach between their otherwise shared experiences?
The answer? Yes, our inquiring minds do want to know. "What's a curfew?" Mom and Dad were extremely (re)lax(ed) when it came to controlling/ monitoring their kids, and we kids never did get around to objecting. On the south side of Chicago through the 50's and, in my case, the 60's; what could go wrong? We were warned about strangers with candy, yes, but still allowed to disappear into distant unknown environs for many hours at a time.
My young friends were not to cross any of the streets of our block, so I had to go alone if I wanted to see the world. Sometimes walking (8 block lengths is a mile BTW), or bike riding and sometimes on the bus or the El (elevated train). One time Pat and I went all the five miles to Midway airport and back on three wheels. Not a tricycle, but taking turns with one bike and a unicycle.
|These old farts are now too old to do anything but!|
The older guys have many stories to tell about bad influences, bad habits, bad guys and bad girls. And as far as I know, Mom and Dad never had much of a clue about what was going on. My own memories of being mugged, robbed, manhandled and punched, all before high school, never made it back home either. I can't speak for other's motivations, but I thought I should protect my folks from worrying about me. Not that they necessarily would have; after all, my apparent duty was to be 'growing wild'.