I Was A Free Range Child

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Photo from the collection of Crystal-Ann de la Mare . Frances Scott was her great aunt and lived next door to her until the day she died. This article by Frances was in the Townships Sun 1995. Don’t forget to get a subscription!!

 

In March of 2015 Maryland parents were investigated for letting their young children walk home by themselves from a park. They were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety. I believe authorities called the kids ‘free range children.’

I am proud to say I was also a free-range child and I think the experience of walking back and forth to school was a good lesson to me. Traffic speeds, congestion, fears for personal safety are all now deterring walking to school and it is becoming a thing from the past.

“We lived  on a dairy farm 4 miles out of town. My sisters and brothers drove a buggy to school. There were 8 of us going to school at one time.” -Frances Scott

Your mothers, father and grandparents all walked to school unaccompanied, often long distances. But the world has changed. Parents are in a hurry, have work to go to and expect to drive everywhere. Roads are busier and children are less independent.

Some of my friends walked 2 miles unaccompanied to our rural school but we did it in small groups. I remember waiting every single day in front of my home on Albert Street in Cowansville for my friend Sheila Wallet Needham to walk with me to school. I can’t remember if we complained about the cold or the snow, but I don’t think we did.  All I remember is great friendship, conversation and now memories.

” We were always willing and ready to go to school and very seldom late over the years”—-Frances Scott

I don’t think I was ever late for school- but there were always reminders not to be. Three notorious young brothers were constantly late and at least once a week were lined up in the principal’s office to get the dreaded strap. That wailing sound alone was a reminder to us all not to dilly dally to school.

Biking to my nearby elementary school on a regular basis throughout the good weather was the norm for most. Back in the 50s and 60s a  good percentage of all students walked or rode bikes to school, went up and down hills and dodged traffic. But today some schools go as far as to prohibit children from walking and bicycling to school in regard to their safety.

“We also picked up a passenger on a corner who had to walk a mile to come meet us”–Frances Scott

As kids, we were all over our neighbourhood streets.  We played outside regularly, and of course there were the daily trips to the local stores to buy candy. It wasn’t necessarily a safer time–but there was something in our heads back then that made it okay for all of us to be out and owning the sidewalks and streets of  Cowansville, Quebec.

Memories of wearing just knee socks and some old trench coat in minus winter weather now have me shaking my head. It took Sheila and I 25 minutes to complete the journey to Heroe’s Memorial, and to expect a child today to endure this experience twice a day for nine months would be unimaginable. Is nostalgia considered a disease because I am reliving it now? I hope not- but all I know is thankfully we didn’t need an app to walk home from school.

Thanks to Crystal-Ann de la Mare  for sending me the memories of her great-aunt Frances Scott

historicalnotes

 

The leather strap was particularly prevalent in Canada, applied to the student’s hand, until abolished in 2004, but in recent times it was generally made of canvas/rubber rather than leather.

Free-range parentingread all about it here

 

Pour Some Sugar on Me! The Demise of the Penny Candy

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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