Thursday, June 19, 2008

Christopher Golden on summer

Little Willow has been running a series of interviews with Christopher Golden, this bit of a recent one has really stayed with me:

When you think of the summers you spent as a kid, what comes to mind?

Freedom, of course. We spent a ton of time at friends' houses, or walking in the woods, building tree forts. It was the late 1970s, and though horrible things happened to children then, people didn't know about it the way we do now, and didn't talk about it when they did. Child abduction and that sort of thing seems far more common now, but maybe that's an illusion, I don't know. All I do know is that we were NEVER home. We rode our bikes, had adventures in the woods, found gullies that seemed otherworldly to us, stole bags full of corn from a local cornfield and cooked it up at home. And we walked. Boy, did we walk. The movie theatre was six miles away, and by 7th or 8th grade, we would walk there and back if we couldn't get a ride. We walked to McDonald's, or to get pizza, or wherever we felt like going. We roamed. Honestly, it was glorious.


Alex Bledsoe said...

That's exactly the kind of summer day I remember. The whole community policed the kids, so you knew you'd get in trouble twice if you messed up: once with your friends' parents, and once with your own. As a result, you were able to have grand adventures within very few strictures (be home at this time, stay out of that yard, don't shoot the cows with your BB guns, etc.). At the risk of generalizing, I'd have to say the reason for this was that parents were parents, not simply older buddies to their kids. They weren't afraid of our disapproval.

david elzey said...

Golden and I must be close in age, he's described my childhood summers as well.

Every other Tuesday a posse of us from the neighborhood would gather what funds we had (mostly from returning bottles for their deposits) and hike 3 miles each direction to buy new comics or issues of Mad magazine at our "local" 7-11, drink monster-sized Slurpees (now called "medium") on the way home, and lounge in the shade reading. I think we asked our parents at the beginning of the summer if we could do that and assumed it was permission for the next three months - we never asked again.

Communities have changed in that they have given themselves more to fear based on the media. Two summers ago my daughter (then 10) wanted to catch some night insects. She researched how to do it, gathered materials, asked for help for special things (like a killing jar) and then we planned a night to go to a park that is practically in our backyard (it's that close) to see what we could find. We were setting up a sheet to bounce light on it when the police drove into the park because one of my "neighbors" reported a man dragging a child into the bushes. My daughter hyperventilated herself into a near faint while I calmly (for her sake) explained what we were doing and waited while they called my wife to verify that I was her father and she was aware of what we were doing. Needless to say, we caught nothing and my daughter gave up on collecting bugs immediately afterward.

The kicker: when I was finally able to get a copy of the police report on the incident, the desk sergent had recommended I be brought in to the station "for questioning" (the duty officer ignored that) and the address given by the "neighbor" who cslled it in was fake, no such number on that street. Nice neighbor. They better hope I never find out it was them, they'll get an earful.

It's so hard to talk about my experiences growing up as a kid because my daughters think I'm making it all up, no one has summers like that.

Colleen said...

I grew up on a fairly busy street so there wasn't a lot of playing outside. What we did every summer though was live at the beach. My father always had his blanket set up near the lifeguard tower (he went to that same beach for 20+ years and was known as the Mayor - the spot where he parked his stuff was his Office), and we roamed all over and just checked in with him for water and sunscreen.

I used to body surf and build sandcastles (and dig holes) for 6-8 hours a day. It was glorious. I could do without the skin cancer now, but back then we just didn't know how careful we had to be. Regardless though, we caught all kinds of cool creatures, saw sharks and dolphins and whales -

It was a kind of awesome that I still look back on with great joy.

Little Willow said...

Thank you so much for posting a snip of the interview! :) We're going to keep doing the serial interview every Monday for at least the next month or two. Having a blast.