Must Be Getting Old

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Halloween was last night, as if you didn’t notice. I don’t know how it is where you live, but in my part of the city of Topeka, Halloween is slowly dying and becoming a non-event. There is an area of Topeka called Potwin, and I’ve ridden over there on Halloween night and they estimate that most of the houses get around 1500 trick-or-treaters. That is almost as extreme as the meager 20 or so we got last night.

The first couple kids walking by our house came by right after I got back from riding to Lawrence. It was around 6:30 and just getting dark. They looked like they were going to walk on by, but I told them to go on up, there was pretty good candy inside. Anyway, I was putting my bike into the Isuzu to take it to the car wash to spray it off (it was super dusty today riding). Anyway, I sat there for a minute and realized that there was a car, with a woman in it, smoking a cigarette, following the kids, a house back. Man, what is going on now. These kids weren’t that young, maybe 11-13 I guess. And, if the parent is so worried, why not just follow on foot. What kind of example does this send our children? And how much fun could it be for them going out, knowing that their mom was watching ever move? I kind of understand why there weren’t that many kids, if this is the norm.
I was riding through town earlier and couldn’t believe, once again, how many people have put of plastic trash bags full of leaves for the trashmen. I was thinking how it got to be that each house has these lawns that we have to mow and upkeep.

I think it must of been back over 100 years ago when only the very rich could afford lawns. Then, when the regular guy could afford a house, and the invention of a push mower, some people decided that they would like to be perceived as wealthy and planted a yard. Pretty soon, the combustion engine was mounted on a wheeled mechanism and there was a power mower, which made lawn care that much easier. Now, many Americans pay other people to cut their grass. We have matured and became wealthy enough that we hire others to tend to our grass. It seems so silly and valueless in many respects. It seems to me that if you want to take pride in your yard, you should be putting some personal effort and sweat equity into it. That only seems right.

But, we seem to be migrating away from things like these above. No real Halloween. No kids mowing lawns. Lots of the things that I cherish from childhood have become nearly extinct in just over a generation. I guess that is progression and aging. I’ll have to mull it over for a while to try to figure it out some more.

My friend, Jim Thiele’s dog, Moots, getting ready to go out on Halloween night. And yes, all the clothing was originally mine I believe.

Riding back from Lawrence on Halloween day. This is Brian, Bill, Catherine, Joseph and Matt. Not necessarily in that order.

This is sunset when I got back to my driveway at dusk. Pretty great.

And finally, a Halloween night dinner. Quiche, reheated mixed, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

The start of the modern lawn?

16 thoughts on “Must Be Getting Old

  1. devin

    It is hard to watch the difference in the way children, are now a days.. Every morning on my commute to work I pass at least two schools and have to deal with all the parents dropping their kids off at the front door.. More traffic and making the kids softer,,, this was not the case when I was a kid in school.. The world could learn a lot from the seat of a bike.

  2. doubleuc

    I had the same feelings…what I remembered was trying to deal with a costume while riding a bike with a pillow case full of candy…now days the kids just go around the same block and change costumes to make them look “new”…and maybe its just me but some of these kids where just f@k!n% rude…didn’t get enough and tried to take a handful of candy from bowl…you are right..its not the same!

  3. Doug Long

    Steve, don’t dwell on it too long or it will simply make you depressed! Take me back to the 60’s and 70’s. Technology continues to contribute to a lazy American society. And yes, I say that as I sit 150 miles from Topeka typing this comment on my computer. At least I didn’t climb in my car this morning and drive 5 miles to the YMCA just so I could exercise. I live on an acre and still don’t own a riding mover. We had zero trick of treaters last night. Last year we had one. Of course, I feel asleep in my chair at 8:00 so I guess it doesn’t matter!

  4. Rad Renner

    I agree, Halloween, like many holidays, seems to illustrate just how much things have changed in America. Of course, my own mother told me how they used to go trick-or-treating in the 40’s & 50’s, too. She said that people would ask you to perform a little before giving you candy. Maybe a song, a joke, or little dance. People would give out mostly homemade treats, nuts, pencils, or pennies. Can you imagine home-made treats being eaten today? That fact alone makes me very sad. Children collected money for UNICEF, which we still did in the 70’s, but now you never see that. I even dressed up as a UNICEF box one Halloween. No parents following you around (“Mom, I’m in 1st grade and I can walk by myself!”), certainly none driving cars, few, if any, store-bought costumes, and everything right in your neighborhood. So different from today, and so much better, I think. I, too, feel sad for kids today.

  5. tms

    I can be sad on the one hand, it IS different for the kids now.

    But still, the kid still into it went out with an adult and two other friends, hit all the good areas we knew about, visited all the neighbors who had the lights on, stopped by the scary ‘statue’ house, and we, yes, drove to the house on the corner with the line of kids waiting for face paint, or playing the games, or sitting on hay bales drinking hot chocolate. Had a blast, and was out 6:30-9. Not bad. Just took planning.

    And the other kid? Told me about the soft-serve ice cream they can get every day at school, wears shorts just about every day (we could, the last day of school), and has a cool smartphone which allowed him to buy a horse head mask while we were standing around at the cool corner house, drinking apple cider.

    Forget taking me back to the 60s or 70s. I did that. Make me 15 today, okay?

  6. Wildcat

    Sometimes when I’m on my way home from work I feel like throwing my phone out the window going 80.

  7. Bryan

    Have you ever noticed they don’t sell outfits to dress your cats up in? That’s for two reasons. First, no self-respecting cat would ever allow itself to be forced into any kind of silly outfit. Secondly, cat owners got tired of trips to the emergency room after trying to force the cat into the outfit.

  8. chuck martel

    Like so many other cultural oddities, blame lawns on the English. Just when they were revving up their economic motor back in the eighteenth century and trying to soak up some class by visiting the French whenever they could afford it, they noted the huge estates of the French aristocracy and came to the conclusion that they were a normal thing for civilized people. So the nouveau riche Brits, only a couple generations removed from mud huts, surrounded their new castles with acres of manicured sheep-free grass. The Puritans, astute businessmen with a sense of collective inferiority, brought the concept to their section of the New World, where it continues even today. You’ll note that in areas of North and South America that were once in the Spanish domain nobody cares much about lawns or grass, except as feed for livestock.

  9. Robert Ellis

    Had a total of 6 tricker treaters last night after buying all this candy. Little kids with moms, one smoker. No one on bikes. Came out this am and my daughters car window was smashed in. Next year I park the cars around back.

    Thats a good looking pie and quiche!

  10. Hedley

    I actually did a paper on obesity for school I had a pic. of this teen on a riding lawnmower drinking it looked to be a 2 liter bottle of coke and looked to be well in excess of 250 lbs. I said how kids could really lose weight if they were to use a push lawnmower. I have been mowing our 1 acre lawn for 2 yrs. now I use it as part of my workout routine I also wear a backpack with about 15 to 20lbs. in it. Great cross work-out!!!

  11. Terry

    Hope to see you in Thousand Oaks Saturday.
    Great cause, super weather scheduled. 80 miles, 10000 feet of climbing, finish in under 4 hours.

  12. nb

    First off – great looking food! Eating home-cooked food these days is a rarity for most (especially prepared by men).
    While I’m not old enough to have trick-or-treated in the decades referenced in other comments, I do come at it from a little different angle. I think every generation sees changes. I’m sure that 30 years from now, I will be quite fond of the 2010 decade compared to the current trends, attitudes, etc. But for now, I have two boys, ages six and four. While they’re not old enough to walk the neighborhoods or bike around town, I’m not sure I’d let them if they were. I live in a smallish Missouri town and feel like people of all ages are very careless. Perhaps this is what others, including you, are referring too, but I don’t feel like other people would look out for my kids when they’re on their own. Teenagers driving fast, cars all over the road (parents driving slow, lights off and can’t see what’s in front of them), etc. Our culture has become so selfish that I believe it might be dangerous for kids to be out walking around. And, not to paint a broad brush, but if you look at the list of registered sex offenders, they are everywhere. I’m simply not willing to trust strangers with the safety of my children. I don’t think this is an issue that was as prevalent in the 1960s/70s as it is today. At some point I will have no choice but to let them go on their own. But for now, I’m pedaling along with them.

  13. JPrummer

    For Halloween this year some local teenagers decided to steel a BMX bike from my local bike shop. They threw two bricks into the window and grab the bike. I was riding with the owner at 0500 this morning when the police called his cell phone (small town). Changes indeed in today’s youth.

  14. H Luce

    There’s an easy solution for leaves, get a mulching blade on your mower and mulch them right into the grass. Mow in a right-handed spiral – you’ll always make right turns, and only take half-width cuts. When you get done, go over the leaves you’ve missed – and then you have a leaf-free lawn, fertilized with leaf mulch. As for grass, use drought-resistant species like buffalo grass – I’m going to hit spots where I laid sod which got burned up in the drought with a rototiller, seed with buffalo grass, and water them like newly laid sod… The drought here shows no signs of ending soon.


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