Comments: Born in a Small Town

It's funny. I grew up in South St. Louis, but I had similar unsupervised permission, too. I started going to Cardinal games on the bus with my friends when I was in 5th grade, I think. Maybe the summer between 4th and 5th. I rode my bike to the Mississippi River just south of Jefferson Barracks when I was in 7th grade. Dan Psaris and I would walk to Tower Tee (about 6 miles) to hit in the batting cages twice a week. We went to baseball practice and games, basketball games, everywhere, without parental supervision.

Last week, my son who's 13 missed his bus and walked to school. Or tried to. We live in Wildwood, where the crime rate is actually negative--criminals are victims. Anyway, he got about 1/4 of the way to school when three police stopped him. They put him into a squad car and took him to his school. They refused to leave the school, or release him from the school, until they'd "had a talk" with me.

I asked them what the big deal was.

"Kids can't walk to school," was the answer.

"Is that a law?"

"I don't know. But it's not right."


Maybe, instead of hiding ourselves and our kids behind walls, we should take back the damn streets. I want my kids to walk to school and to Schnucks and to Mobil for a Slushee. I want to put them on a bus to go to a baseball game. It irks me that my neighborhood, which is the Cleavers' neighborhood compared to where I grew up, is considered too dangerous for a teenager to walk to school in broad daylight.

Posted by Bill Hennessy at November 13, 2004 10:39 PM