Not a Care in the World

I found another photo while I was visiting Grandma which sent me strolling down memory lane again. As you will see, it’s blurry, but it is clear enough to see that it is someone (me) jumping on a trampoline. I pointed out to Jamie where it was located way back then. Now the area is filled with condos, IHOP, and the Shop Rite and Home Depot shopping center.

So much has changed since I was little. During the summer time, that area of Route 46 between Beverwyck Road and Bloomfield Avenue was filled with fun activities. There were trampolines, mini golf and pitch and putt,  a place called O’Dowd’s which served ice cream, a permanent kiddie carnival, and a flea market called “The Auction.”

It was a hopping place, and although I don’t think Grandma and Grandpa had the money to take all of us often, I do recall walking around The Auction, jumping on the trampolines, and later playing golf with Dad. (I think my friend Mitzie got clobbered with a golf ball there.)

When I was a kid, there were none of the safety rules like today. No one thought of the dangers with the trampolines, and no one had to sign any kind of waver before sending their kids off to bounce their cares away like you do today.

Seatbelts did not become mandatory in New Jersey until 1984. I recall sitting in the family car, which we affectionately called Eva because the plate was EVA-179, and my only protection was Grandma’s hand when she thrust it across my chest when Grandpa made a sudden stop.

I truly don’t know how we survived. I recall that the third section—the “way back”—is where some of my siblings sat. I think it was just an open space with no seats. It was fun, but clearly very dangerous.

What happened to us as babies? I think there was a car bed where we slept, but it was not secured. I believe that Grandma just held us in her arms when she came home from the hospital or took us on short trips. She probably just didn’t go far with us, or just threw us in the back, never thinking of what could happen.

We road our bikes without helmets, walked to school at an age that today would be considered child endangerment, probably stayed home unsupervised also at a very young age, lived in homes without smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, flew without a care in the world, and survived without cell phones to check in with our parents when we were away from home.

Now we have so many rules and safety features, and laws and gadgets to make our lives safer, yet we worry so much more than we ever did back in the day.


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