Old people talk about the “Good old days”. They weren’t.

There was a post on my newsfeed recently with the usual bullshit from people about my age (I’m 77) bemoaning young people nowadays and talking about how much fun they had in the playgrounds when they were young. I’m not doubting that they did have fun. But, from my experience it was pretty limited and there were lots of downsides and lots of boredom in the 1940s and 1950s.

They posted lots of pictures of the playgrounds from the 1940s and 1950s some of which I remembered well.

The idea was big kids would get this moving at a speed that would send small kids flying off
This was standard equipment in most New Zealand schools and the source of many broken bones

The child hanging off the end of the swing falls off and on the return carry, the swing smashes her face

We had one of these in our backyard when our kids were growing up. One of the kids down the road got his leg very badly broken by one of the foot rests when the swing was travelling at speed.

Any failure to hold on tightly would have disastrous consequences.

All of the comments on the photos (made by the 70 year olds) bemoaned the fact that nowadays children didn’t know how to have fun like they did wayback when. Playgrounds nowadays had been ruined by the Occupational Health & Safety people.

Yet, with almost every photograph was a story of someone who had broken an arm or a leg or cracked their skull using this equipment or who had been thrown off the roundabout and been caught underneath it. No stories of the lasting damage done to young bodies.

One child had drunk water out out of a disused hose at the playground and was dead within15 minutes.

There is no doubt that great friendships were built during these times and that children can have fun in whatever environment they find themselves in.

But the modern playground is an immense improvement on what we had in the 1950s, a richer and more stimulating environment.

And they are safer

So what else was good about the old days?

They were a time when medical science had not yet developed vaccines for many of the diseases which killed many young children.

My grandchildren has now been inoculated against the diseases that I had as a child.

I remember having whooping cough, chickenpox, mumps, measles, diphtheria and influenza. All of which were very unpleasant experiences

Fortunately I didn’t get polio.

Winton knows much more than did at his age. He is fortunate. I didn’t have grandparents like his. His grandparents are a product of the wonderful education revolution of the 1960s when education was free.

Like most seven year olds, my grandson knows a lot about dinosaurs and what caused their extinction. He understands asteroids, the nature of black holes in the cosmos. He is an independent reader and is becoming increasingly adept at manipulating the Internet.

For all the problems of these times, I am glad that he doesn’t live in the good old days.

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