The Herald Bulletin

September 7, 2013

Jim Bailey: All this happened to us, but we managed to survive

Jim Baikley
The Herald Bulletin

---- — One of those recent reports again told us that some of the conventional wisdom about what to expect when you’re expecting are overblown. Go ahead, drink coffee, expectant mothers are told. And have a glass of wine as well.

Maybe it isn’t conventional wisdom at all. Maybe it’s the voice of experience.

After all, we were born to mothers who took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and who didn’t get tested for diabetes.

And when we were born, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered by bright-colored lead-based paints.

There were no child-proof lids on medicine bottles in those days. Locks for doors or cabinets hadn’t been invented. We rode our bikes without wearing helmets. One time I wrecked on my bike and hit my head hard on the pavement; my parents watched me closely but didn’t have me tested for a concussion or anything. By the next day I was back to normal.

I never rode in a child car seat. There wasn’t any such thing. When our kids were born, my wife cradled them in her arms as we drove home from the hospital. As infants they rode in a lightweight infant seat, and when they got older there were makeshift child seats more or less held in place by a seat belt, but there was no padding anywhere. One lucky kid at a time got to ride in the Stroll-O-Chair high chair seat, which was state of the art at the time but barely buckled in place by a seat belt. We didn’t worry about kids riding in the front bench seats either, because there were no air bags. A close substitute in case of a panic stop was Mom’s extended arm.

We didn’t drink water from a plastic bottle; there was no such thing. The water was more apt to come from the garden hose. Friends shared soft drinks from the same bottle, and nobody got sick or died. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-Aid made with sugar. But we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth. But nobody sued anybody.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell. Or sometimes we just walked in.

The idea of our parents bailing us out if we got in trouble was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! When we did something we weren’t supposed to do or got in trouble, we got spanked, either by a hand, a hairbrush or a belt, or even got our legs switched. And we never called Social Services on our parents.

And you know what? Our generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at