Someone recently related another one of those stories about the government investigating parents for allowing a child of 12 to be alone everyday for 45 minutes. It got me to thinking of when I was 12. My parents would have been put in jail by now, I’d guess.
We were living on the NATO base in Keflavik, Iceland, and I had a bike and went anywhere I wanted on that base all by myself and no one ever stopped me or questioned me. It was normal back then. I used to go to the junkyard with a sling shot and shoot at bottles and an occasional seagull (never hit one, but not for lack of trying).
I also had a habit of taking my camera to take pictures of the F-4’s and and P-3’s taking off to intercept Russian Bears and Russian submarines. I would tell my dad, “I’m off to take pictures of the planes, dad.” He’d tell me that technically I shouldn’t be doing that but he doubted anyone would arrest a 12-year-old for spying. His advice was mostly, “If anyone stops you, just say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’ and come back home.”
I don’t think he knew I was riding to the end of the runway and low crawling all the way to where the concrete ended. I was among all the landing lights and taking pictures with my Kodak Instamatic X-15 camera as the jets roared a few dozen feet over my head. If I could convert slides into pictures, I’d have a lot of pictures of the bellies of those planes. Probably blurry, of course.
I suppose if there were a problem on take off, the accident investigators would wonder where the extra body parts came from.
But back then kids were allowed to explore. All the parents left their kids unattended outside the commissary because kids weren’t allowed inside, even at the stateside commissaries. Can you imagine that being allowed today? No one thought anything wrong back then.
Life was more exciting back then.
Addendum: I lived in Keflavik from August 0f 1975 to August of 1977.