Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 10, 2013

SINGER: The decline of outdoors?

Niagara Gazette — Young (and even not so young) America used to be a more outdoors contingent than today.

Ballplayers of the “Golden Era” (1950s, ‘60s, early ‘70s) invariably recall their childhoods as ones where parents couldn’t pry them off local diamonds or fields for constant pick-up games. Youthful tennis players who became Connors or Everts vied for once-jammed courts. In brilliant falls, many of us baby boomers recall throwing and catching spirals on the streets or at parks, imitating Johnny U. and other heroes.

Now indoors is more appetizing — air conditioning grown routine, and “flipper TV” permitting one to remain on the couch, rather than being forced to get up and adjust sensitive “horizontal” or “vertical” holds for the few channels we got back then.

Not to mention today’s routinization of computers (with Twitter, Facebook, and much else findable there); plus ever more sophisticated smart phones, etc. As well as snacking at all hours, since family meals aren’t as time-predictable as they used to be. And — to be fair — more current awareness of melanoma-inducing sunshine in warmer seasons, bits guaranteeing us beneficial Vitamin D; but too much potentially dangerous and formerly underestimated. Pale ballplayers like Al Kaline peeled plenty on the way up to the Tigers and so did many who never got close to the big time.

What about being outside in winters — generally real ones in these parts? Oh, it’s too “COLD,” you often hear, partly due to today’s dire, dramatic, and frequent weather casts. So when flakes billow, people remain inside more these days. Back in a ‘50s or ‘60s youth during winter, there was much outdoor shinny (it could be hockey sticks and tennis balls), sledding, snowball-flinging, and the rest; then a return home to providential hot chocolate, or dinner featuring homemade soup.

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