Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where Have All the Fields Gone?

There’s a lot of nostalgia for those good old days of the fifties. And for good reason. They were great days. Can you honestly think of a better time to be a kid than the 50’s? I can’t and I lived it.

I grew up in the town of Los Gatos in northern California. Nestle up against protective shield of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Los Gatos was small and friendly with what has been described as the best climate in the world. It’s a great place to live.

The railroad played a role in the development of the town and when I was a kid we used to run after the train and jump on a box car ladder for a wild ride to Santa Cruz and a day at the beach. We prayed that we’d be lucky enough to hop a train and get back before anyone missed us. And we also prayed that we wouldn’t get hurt when we jumped off as the train approached the station. We had to pick a soft spot to land.

Kids lived outdoors back then. There were orchards and fields, tree forts and foxholes to build and to be confined indoors was punishment. What a contrast to the poor kids today who are relegated to computer games and TV, because, unfortunately, the fields and orchards have been replaced by concrete and perverts.

I haven’t seen a fort in years and when a business man or woman is said to be “in the field” it doesn’t mean the kind of field I remember. I picture a guy in a three piece suit, holding his briefcase over his head while wading through a field of wheat. “Oh, Mr. Jones is out in the field today.” What field? I don’t see no stinkin’ field! It’s a different world with a new vocabulary now. “Gay” isn’t joyful, “high” has nothing to do with altitude, “in the field” means hiding from the office, and on it goes.

When kids get active now, they are no longer turned loose to invent adventures for themselves, but are wrapped in pads, helmets, facemasks, and athletic shoes with magic lights that make you look like you’re going fast when you’re standing still. The fact that they are so protected that they can’t move doesn’t seem to be a problem. They just waddle around like zombies in a horror movie until their team takes the field.

And they all have very cool uniforms. Have you ever seen a fetus in a uniform? I swear when I’ve watched my grandkids play baseball, the kids were so small in their uniforms that they almost looked like someone miniaturized the New York Yankees. You might think you’re watching a major league game on a small TV screen except for the fact that the batter runs the wrong way around the bases with a frantic coach trying to catch him, the center fielder is laying on his back eating M&M’s and the infielders are clumped up by third base looking at a dead gopher. Maybe the kids aren’t into this as much as their parents.

And the process for parents to get their kids involved must be a headache. These little dudes with all their protective gear appear to be ready for combat. They are all packed in an SUV for a trip to a death-defying soccer game while mom drives and talks excitedly on her cell phone while eating a deli sandwich with bean sprouts.

Pedestrians run for their lives and oncoming cars swerve off the road as the SUV careens toward the soccer field. A few bumps and bruises on the soccer field pale in comparison to the potential devastation left in the wake of a distracted driver in an SUV attempting to maintain the children’s activity schedule.
When I was a kid my folks just opened the front door and we were gone.

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