I am very glad to have grown up when I did, in the years prior to and during World War II. Back then, boys were allowed to be boys and growing up was full of adventure, excitement, danger, and fun.
The stupid distractions of television and video games were not yet available. Schools were in our own neighborhoods, so we did not have to waste our youth on long mind-numbing rides while imprisoned in school buses. Walking to and from school was often harrowing, but it sure developed street smarts. Sports were played for fun, with no pesky adults to interfere, especially after the United States entered the war in December 1941. The draft removed so many men, ages 17 through 40, that a widely recognized manpower shortage ensued. Boys rushed in to fill many of the jobs vacated by men, as did girls and women.
We old guys can reminisce for hours about our “good old days.” In fact, I still do a lot of the things I did as a boy, wandering around exploring my piece of the universe. What struck me as amazing was that when George Zieno and I were discussing our youth, we did many of the same things. George is ten years older than I and we grew up separated by 700 miles. Yet, there were some great similarities. I grew up in Chicago and George grew up here in Norwich. Chicago was a motley patchwork of neighborhoods. My neighborhood was similar to George's, near the railroad yards, yet with ample open space, a river, and plenty of intriguing places to investigate.