Speaking of our school sock hops (November 22 blog) and entering through the outside door by the boy’s locker room, the windows in that door had safety glass with imbedded chicken wire thanks to me. Please, no applause. Early in our freshman year, I put my hand through the plate glass that had been there.
I was engaging in horseplay. (Horseplay comes up often in the many discussions I’ve had over the years on swimming pool safety. I have never seen horses at play, so I can only assume they push each other in water, do cannonballs, and spit water in each other’s faces.)
I still have a three-inch scar on my wrist as proof. It was stupid for the school to put plate glass in an entrance door, but why was I horsing around? Everyone, including me—especially me—thought I was the stupid one for pushing on the glass when the bar was right there.
In third grade, I was the catcher in a recess baseball game and learned the hard way not to stand up while the batter was swinging, especially if the batter was Freddy Collela. (Fred Weinstein recently reminded me of that.) No school nurse took care of me. After a short time in the classroom, my teacher simply sent me home where I spent the next two weeks flat on my back with a severe concussion. Even as a third-grader, it was clearly my fault, not the school’s.
Those were the days when we took responsibility for ourselves. We did not expect traffic to stop in all directions as we got off a bus. We did not expect our school or government to protect us.
On the other hand, come to think of it, we sure got banged up. Most boys I knew had already broken a bone sometime in their young lives. Trick knees were a common life-long problem. I picked up three concussions and a broken arm, all tolled. My wife even had a fractured skull.
Maybe kids are better off today. They can always read a book on responsibility. (As if.)