Saturday, October 4, 2008

Free-range Children

Recently,while watching the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference,  I saw those sweet little Primary children's choir sing, and I was reminded of when I had to take my little brother Robbie to sing at the Tabernacle.  It was probably a General Primary Conference and not General Conference back in those days.  We were living in Sandy, Utah and it was summertime, so I must have been 10 years old and Robbie was 7.

We caught the bus on State Street on about 8500 South and rode into Salt Lake.  I knew where to take him in the Tabernacle so he could be with his group to sing.  While they were gathering, I recall looking around in the rooms  under the choir seats and at everything behind the scenes.  I thought it was fascinating, as I don't recall being in the Tabernacle before.  And during the program, I sat hidden behind the door that were up at the top of the choir seats.  After the program was over, we probably looked around Temple Square, and then we caught the bus back to Sandy. Oh, to be sure, we did go into the old museum and look at the Indian mummies that used to be in there. 

I was only 10 years old!   But at age 10, I knew how to read the bus schedules, how much change we needed for the bus, where to get on and where to get off.  

The years before that when we were living in Orem, my friends and I walked all over the Northern End of Orem. Once, my friends and I walked all the way up 8th North to where a German prisoner of war camp was.  The prisoners were working behind a fence tending to the orchards there. We weren't afraid of them, but we were curious

Across the street on the South side was a canal that was deep, fast and lined with concrete. There was a fence around the canal as well but a child could find a way into it, if they so wanted to.  We were warned and warned again of the dangers of that canal, so we were careful to stay away from it.

We always walked to school which was about 5 blocks away south on State Street.  Our chapel was right across the street from Sharon Elementary, and most Primary days, I would cross State Street by myself both ways to get to and from Primary which was held after school in those days. Some of my friends from my neighborhood may have gone to Primary, but many of them were not LDS. I don't remember walking home with friends, so most of the kids attending must have lived in different areas. 

I suppose I told my mother I would be going to Primary, but what if I didn't go, and I disappeared!  It would have been hours before someone started to look for me.  We had no phone, and my mother had no car.  Parents just didn't worry as much about their children's where-abouts in those days.  There must have been terrible things happening in the world to children, much like today, but they were not publicized as much, or not at all.

And during those years that we lived in Orem...from my 1st grade through the 4th, I often walked to the Scera Theatre to a movie or to the swimming pool in the summer.  It was located on 8th South on State Street, so that was  about a mile and half each way.  During those times, I did walk with my friends.  And most likely it was when we were older.  

But, I suppose we were really "Free-range Children".  Free to run and play. Free to explore our neighborhood and the world beyond. The world was different then, but not without it's dangers.

One time I remember very well, was the early evening when I was late coming home from Primary.  By the time I reached the open field on State Street about a block from 8th North,  I started the short cut to my neighborhood. When I was almost through the field, a dog from the Washburn's  farmhouse came out barking at me and wouldn't let me continue to the street I had to reach to get to my house.

I tried to walk around him, but he would move and get in front of me, barking and bearing his teeth.  I don't know why he was so mean that night, because I had been around him before when my Mom and I went to the Washburn's to get milk.

It was getting dark and I knew that I could not walk back through the field to State Street and walk the three blocks to my house from there as it would be dark and I knew that my Mom would be worried by then.

So, I knelt down in the dirt and prayed to Heavenly Father to make that dog stop barking and go away. I told Him that I knew my Mother would be worried if I had to walk the long way home. And I told Him that I was afraid that the dog would bite me if I tried to get around him. 

Within the minute, the dog did stop barking and he trotted off to his house and left me alone to continue onto my house. 

I have always remembered that simple prayer that I spoke as a little girl who had  learned in Primary that my Heavenly Father would watch over me, and that if I needed help, I only needed to  pray to Him.

I hope all of my grandchildren will remember that Heavenly Father is always watching out for them and will answer their prayers if they ask for help.


Six-Pack Momma said...

I think my kids are as 'free range' as they get these days.

Gramma said...

They are lucky!

TumbleBee said...

Hey Gramma,
I'm so exicted that I can look at your blog! Now that I have your blog name I will be visiting a lot!!! I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH SEE YOU SOON!!!