Growing up in small town America in the late 1940s afforded opportunities to live and roam without barriers.

Thus, we were able to wander about exploring back alleys, and neighbors’ detached garages, play ball in vacant lots, and climb cherry trees for an afternoon treat.

We always had a dog, at least one, and honestly I don’t remember if they slept inside or out, but they too were left to freely investigate new sites without a leash or supervision.

We had all types of canines, usually strays, and usually named Poochie. They would follow us around whether we were walking or riding our bikes, and often were killed in traffic, the hazard of unrestricted control.

Sometime in the 1950s, or perhaps the 1960s, fences began to appear…tall wood structures, that blocked entrance, both visually and physically. Privacy seemed to become important, for a reason I’m not clear about.

Admittedly, those barriers didn’t stop our roaming, but they did slow us down. By the late 50s and early 60s, my days of finding new adventures in other people’s backyards had lost its glamour. My interest moved to more ‘worldly’ adventures—Boys.

This shift in attraction led to attempting to find isolated spots not known or visited by anyone else. We discovered the reasons for privacy: smoking, drinking, and necking. If you don’t know about necking, you probably aren’t old enough to even be interested in this column, so ask your grandparents.

When visiting the small Oklahoma town where my grandparents lived, I find I can still meander around town, walking alleys and streets with clear views of front and backyards at will. There may be fences, but they are chain link, and not the most secure. However, they keep chickens and most dogs in, and remind me of those childhood strolls around town where we ran and played with total abandonment.

Today, I appreciate the feeling of privacy and security we have come to expect, but I wonder where do kids play and where do their imaginations get challenged without open neighborhoods and the freedom of rambling.


14 thoughts on “Fences

  1. Oh, what memories are stirred by this Margo. I grew up in the country so had miles of space to roam. Woods, fields, valleys, streams. Making dens, climbing trees, collecting frogspawn, lighting fires, skating on frozen ponds. All things that are nowadays either not allowed, or are deemed too dangerous. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter, I must ask what are frogspawn? I know about crawdads, but frogspawn is a new one. We did have a level of freedom not found with today’s youth, it seems. I’m sorry these youngsters have lost that opportunity, but of course, we didn’t have the Internet!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know what frogspawn is called in America. Frogs Roe/eggs maybe? anyway – the eggs of a frog, which are surrounded by transparent jelly. We used to scoop up a handful and take it home in a jam jar to see how many frogs we could hatch. Normally NONE!

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  2. I’m glad I grew up in a time where we could roam the woods and climb trees and muck around near streams. All the places I played are now subdivisions. I wonder where kids play too. I think they are mostly in structured programs that parents drive them to…way less freedom than we enjoyed.


    1. We just didn’t have the close supervision kids have now. My folks had no idea where we were every minute of the day. I’m amazed at the oversight parents exercise over their kids today. Just not something I experienced. Good thing I didn’t have children. They would be wild beingsd, just like we were.


      1. You sound just like me. My mom told me, when I was an adult of 30 something, that she felt she had been a terrible mother because she had no clue where her kids were most days. But she knew the 4 of us were together, so if something happened, one of us was sure to survive and get home to tell her.


  3. I remember those days of roaming – riding bikes on dirt roads to nowhere, roaming hills with my dog, getting home by dinner time, which was the requirement. I think kids now don’t play outside very much, and if they do, they stick close to home. We really did have the good times in our time.


  4. I’m so glad we live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, so the children still have a place to gather easily and safely and have a feel of meandering, even in an urban environment.


    1. I wish I saw more kids walking in neighborhoods when I’m in the states. In Mexico, the sidewalks are filled with people all the time, young, old, in-betweens, but lots of children with parents or grandparents. Amazing to see.


  5. Lovely post, Margo.
    My experience was very much like yours, though looking back, I’m very surprised we survived the river, falling from trees and the train tracks!


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