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Common Sense: Keeping both hands on the wheel across generations

March 20, 2013

By Brent Davis, editor. bdavis@bentoncourier.com

One topic that inevitable arises when baby boomers gather is how things were different when we were younger. Peppered throughout the conversation are the words "You can't let kids do that anymore." When my generation was younger, we played outside until it was way beyond dark. We came home from school and rode our bikes everywhere. We walked to town to buy candy at the Sterlings Store downtown. Every generation looks back. It's natural.
It's also a natural progression of society, unfortunately so.
We had a greater sense of freedom, even though our freedoms are no different today than decades ago. We still have the option of letting our children play until dark, but the circumstances of our society make us wary to do so. We hear reports of kidnappings and killings. We know all too well that the old comfort of knowing "it couldn't happen here" has gone the way of party-line telephones and typewriters.
This constriction of comfort is a wise progression. Parental instinct to protect our children is a good thing. When the fear of the unknown interferes with the enjoyment of life, harm is caused despite our best intentions.
I was looking through a book of photos from the history of Saline County. On the pages were images of buildings being erected, children in Halloween costumes and people long gone from this earth.
One photograph in particular caught my attention. It was from the Saline County Fair parade. Traveling in line behind a flat bed pickup truck was a farm tractor, an appropriate entry for such a parade. What made the photo interesting was the driver of the tractor. Perched in the seat, both hands on the steering wheel is David Bragg. People lined the parade route, appearing to enjoy the event in front of them. They didn't seem fearful at all, despite the fact that David was a mere 6-year-old at the helm of a large farm implement. The date was September 15, 1948.
I wondered about conversations David may have had as he grew older and became a parent. Did he the same kind of commentary about the kids of the time?
Did he say, "When I was a kid, I drove a tractor in the fair parade. You can't let kids do that anymore."
I guess it just goes to show you that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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