Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

River City Jules: Nostalgia for those less-safe ‘70s

May 16, 2011


Mom had just finished telling us about the time she rode the Scrambler at Worlds of Fun seven months pregnant with my twin brothers. Granted, she did not know they were twins at the time, but she certainly knew she was pregnant. And so did the Worlds of Fun employee, who was unable to securely clamp the safety arm shut for my mom, my sister and me due to Mom’s enormous belly, but who did manage to latch the back-up lock. For three whole minutes we were thrust from end to end with nothing holding us in but a 4-inch bolt on the end of a short chain and centripetal force.

And nothing bad happened. (To us. We still wonder about my twin brothers.)

“I miss the seventies,” I sighed. My sixth-grader looked at me quizzically. “People were so much more laid-back then,” I explained. “Our parents didn’t worry about us roaming the neighborhood, we roller-skated without wrist guards or kneepads, doctors never performed routine sonograms, and twins went undetected all the time!”

Amelia’s eyes grew wide with awe at her mother’s reckless past as my mom chuckled and nodded in agreement.

I thought of another story from my youth that illustrated the wild abandon of precautionary measures from the 1970s.

“Aunt Mary used to drive us around in the back of her station wagon,” I started, beaming with joy at the memory I was about to share. “She would put all the back seats down, leaving just a sheet of solid metal in the back two-thirds of the car.”

“Ah, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” my dad recalled of his sister’s pumpkin-colored Volvo.

“And Aunt Mary would give each of us cousins towels to sit on in the back on the metal,” I continued, growing more and more giddy about the good old days with every word, “and she would take off really quickly so we would all slide to the back of the car, then take a sharp turn so we would all slide to the side and then stop at the last second so we would all slide to the front…”

As I delighted in one of my favorite memories with my cousins, I noticed my mom was not laughing along. In fact, her face was rather pale, her eyebrow was wrinkled, and her mouth was open.

I stopped the story and turned to my mom.

“I had no idea —” she stammered, trying to manage a half a smile.

I tried to assure her that Aunt Mary only did this on near-vacant side streets, that no one was injured in any way at any time, but there was little I could say.

Clearly this was not the time to segue into stories from Spring Break ’92 in Panama City Beach, so I kept my mouth shut and decided I would let Mom (who has asked me to clarify that Worlds of Fun posted no warning signs for pregnant women in 1978) do all the story-telling from now on.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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