2/24/2005

Outside?

What is outside? I hear this question a lot from younger people. Outside is the place between you and the car, you and the bus or you and the school. It is not just for walking through. There are fascinating things to be found or done outside.

Why would we be outside? Wasn't it cold and dirty? Where was the Internet, the Nintendo 64, X-Box, Game Boy, Play Station and the T.V., VCR and DVD?

There was no public internet at that time, not even dial-up. Our telephone was black, square and had a dial on it you had to spin to dial a number. Our phone number was 318. Yes, only 3 digits. Our ring was two short and a long. It was a party line. That meant that up to 5 families used the same phone line. They all had a different ring. You had to pick up the handset and listen for a dial tone. If you heard a voice talking you hung up and waited till later to make your call. If it was an emergency you could ask them to hang up so you could call the doctor or the police. They would know if you lied because most of them lived on the same street as you did. You can forget a dial up net connection!

Forget about satelite or cable connections through the T.V. The large, wooden case for the T.V. had a small screen in it because larger ones were harder to make. The screen was a big vacuume tube. You had to walk over to it and turn it on then turn a knob to the correct channel. No remotes. "It's her turn to change it!" was a common whine back then.

When you got it turned on, without blowing a tube or a fuse, you had to wait for the inside vacuume tubes to warm up. A little blue dot would show in the center of the huge picture tube to let you know it was on. You could count to ten or fifteen before it would suddenly expand into a large, white, snowy screen that would begin to have voices on it before it showed a picture.

rabbit eared antenna
Once you could see the picture you turned the rabbit ear antenna to get a better picture. There were THREE channels to choose from, even though the knob had more numbers on it, and they all had to be tuned in differently. So no Internet through the T.V.. There was hardly any T.V. through the thing! It would not run any game systems, either.

Electronics was a new field for science. As for all the fun toys you have, they weren't invented yet when I was little so we went outside to play.

Outside in town and outside at the farm were two different places with completely different rules that had to be followed at all times.

In town you had to:
Never talk to strangers.
Never get into a stranger's car.
Stay away from the street.
Stop, look and listen before crossing the street.
Never run into or across the street.
Never throw a ball toward the street.
Never throw anything toward a house.
The last two limited throwing games severely.

If a toy went into another yard you had to walk over, using the sidewalk, go to the front door, knock, and wait till they decided it was safe to open the door. You then said "Hello Mrs. Neighbor Lady. May I please get "your toy here" out of your yard?" If they said yes you could walk in their yard around to where the offending item landed and pick it up. You had to go back out to the front walk, say good bye if they were standing there and use the sidewalk to go home. This was called "respecting your elders and respecting other people's property". They were free to say no or ask you to send your parent over if there was a serious problem with repeat offenses. You did NOT want that to happen!

Outside at the farm was a whole different ballgame. You couldn't cross the road, really, there were only fields over there. You did have to stay on the right to walk or ride down to the Great Grama's house. The "strangers rules" and "throwing anything at houses" were the same here but there were different ones that were more important.
Never chase the cows.
Don't scare the chickens.
Stay out of the pig's pen, the tool shed, the strawberry patch.
Walk between the rows in the fields.
Don't play with the tractor.
Never get in the field with the bull.
Watch out for poison ivy, oak and sumac (pronounced shoe mac).
Ask before getting Uncle's toys out.

In addition to remembering all that I could not let the little kids break any of these rules. I was the oldest. I'll cover that more, later.

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