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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: Turned loose!

‘Old School’ column: Turned loose!

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In 1941, Norman Rockwell did a series of paintings on four basic freedoms: freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech and freedom of worship.

Sadly, freedom from fear seems gone for many of us, and I’m not so sure about freedom of speech, but that’s for another column.

I have fond memories of other kinds of freedom, like the exhilaration of cruising around town on my bike, able to go where I wanted without depending on my mom or my feet.

It was such fun to get up in the morning and decide where I’d go today: Indian Mound for a picnic, a cooling bike coast down St. Clair Hill or maybe a trip to McCool’s Grocery Store for ice cream or candy.

My horizons expanded when I aged into my recently mentioned jalopy, Smoke. Now I could pick up friends and cruise the A & W Root Beer parking lot, take in a movie, or go to a concert at the Gregg Park band shell.

And, of course, shopping downtown was always an option. We’d shop a while and then stop at Dusterberg’s Drug Store for a grilled ham-salad sandwich or go to “The Greeks” for a Coney Island with thin, tasty fries on the side.

College offered more freedoms, but they also required self-discipline. My dad’s stern lecture put the fear of God in me: “If you’re going to college to play, stay home and play. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper.”

As a young mom, my idea of freedom was a reliable babysitter, who’d actually consent to watch my kid/s so that I could have a dinner out without cutting meat in tiny pieces.

But there were restrictions there, too. I tearfully whined to my husband, “As a kid, I had to be in when my mother said. As an adult, I must be home when my BABYSITTER’S mother says!”

After my girls left for college, I missed them both like crazy, but there WAS a silver lining. Now I could meet my husband for an impromptu dinner after work without worry about homework or baths. I could shop all day if the mood and the wallet allowed. Such freedom!

Now my kids are grown and my husband and I can come and go as we please, answering to no one but each other. This Old School life has something to be said for it!

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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