Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

April 6, 2014

What happened to safety of childhood?

ASHLAND — In the years before air conditioning, we slept soundly and safely with the screen door often unlatched.

Our family home never had a working lock on an outside door until our parents died and it became a rental property.

We left our bikes on the creek bank with no identifying marks. Our gym lockers didn’t have locks.

A woman in our neighborhood left her car keys in the ignition every night so they wouldn’t get misplaced.

My grandparents and other folks regularly sent and received cash by mail.

My wife and her sister were elementary school age when they walked 30 blocks to and from swimming lessons without an adult companion.

Her sister walked a mile unescorted to and from kindergarten as a five-year-old.

As teenagers, my friends and I hitchhiked everywhere and we never hesitated to get into a stranger’s car. My brother did the same as a young sailor stationed on the Atlantic Coast.

My friend began babysitting by herself as a 10-year-old. She also walked a mile to and from a grocery store at that age.

As a boy growing up, my father-in-law often slept outside on his family’s lawn or front porch to escape the heat of summer nights.

A young bride and her husband drove across the country and camped in interstate highway rest areas without a tent.

We ate homemade Halloween popcorn balls and candied apples and peanut butter fudge and never thought of waiting for Mom to examine each trick-or-treat bag.

As kids, we happily rode around in the bed of our neighbor’s pickup truck and begged him to go faster.

Today, you would end up in jail or a court-ordered custody hearing for subjecting our loved ones to situations like those described above.

And we call this progress?

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News, Olive Hill Times and Grayson Journal-Enquirer. Reach him at kkappes@cnhi.com

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