Back in the Day . . .

walking, back in the day, Tom's shoesBack in the day, we didn’t take buses or drive in a car.
We walked.
Back in the day didn’t matter if our school was a distance far
We walked
Back in the day whether rain or shine, snow or sleet
We walked
Back in the day we depended on one thing only, our feet
We walked.

I tell my tales from eons ago when what did we do?
We walked
As the school years went by and my legs grew
We walked
Before the time of backpacks and SUVs
We walked.
Even when we were chased by a hive of bees
We walked.

walking, exercise, save the airGrandkids stare unbelieving when I claim that always
We walked
With headaches and stomachaches still we obeyed
We walked
How ‘bout if school was a mile away? They ask
We walked
How ‘bout if the road was hilly and long? they gasp.
We walked.

But how did you have fun back in your day?
We walked
How’d everyone know if you were okay?
We talked.
Did you hitchhike or whine for a ride?
We walked
Why do you say that with such pride?
Because we walked.

walking, back in the day, school daysWe walked to get there. We walked to get away.
We walked for our sanity, we walked ‘cause that was the way.
We walked in the fresh air and heard the birds play.
We walked and stayed slender; our moods always okay.

Nowadays we’re told walking is good for you, heaven’s above.
Back in my day walking was like a hand in a glove.

129 thoughts on “Back in the Day . . .

  1. Pam, how true! When did ‘walking’ become a ‘thing’, instead of just being an integral part of day! This resonates so much with me; I’m fondly remembering the long walks up and down the hill each day to school, my explorations of the moors … not realising that ‘We walked for our sanity’! Here’s to walking … hugs xx

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    • I remember when I visited England the first time, about 35 years ago ;-0 , and outside of London I noticed how everyone in the villages and towns and farms WALKED. And those wonderful trails through sheep and cow farms for miles and miles, until a pub is spotted for a cup of tea and some shepherd’s pie. From that experience, I’ve always thought that the English are big walkers. I hope that’s still true. But as you say, now walking is a ‘thing’ and people actually pay for “walking tours”!!!

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  2. I suppose walking is a natural part of people’s lives depending on where they live. When I was a child in Dallas, my mom or someone else drove us to school and picked us up–so, I don’t think the “back in the day” necessarily applies. Then when we moved back to PA, I walked to school. My daughter who has lived in Boston for many years walked to work, but now that they’ve moved out to western Mass, they’ve bought a car. But yes I think walking has become “a thing” because it has to be when many people live otherwise sedentary lives. It’s part of our world now–like me driving to the gym. 😉 But I do try to get lots of walking in, too.

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    • Great thoughts and comment here, Merril. I grew up in a small town, so yes, we walked everywhere. Over two miles to school, 1 1/2 miles to downtown to buy a small treat at “Woolworths,” a different directional 2 miles to the summer pool. I didn’t complain or think about it, because it’s just the way it was. Living in a city is similar if it’s a walkable city like San Francisco and Boston- I’ve trekked miles there (and my calf muscles got amazing with the SF hills). Dallas would be a different experience – the city is so spread out. Western Mass is so gorgeous I imagine your daughter gets lots of walking in there, if not to work. Laughed about driving to the gym – I’m guilty of that also.

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    • I walked so much more as an adult when our dog(s) were still with us. I grumbled when it was rainy or snowy or super cold, but by gosh, it was good for the soul to get out there and walk. Yay for Dot. She’s a treasure in so many ways.

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  3. Great post, Pam. Yes, we walked too. Never even thought about it either. Just did it. Yesterday when hubby and I were going out shopping, I remarked on the scores of cars all lined up down the road and around the corner from the school. How times have changed and not for the better.

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    • Don’t get me started on the line of cars spread for quarter of a mile to pick up kids from school. Yikes. And how about the people who drive their cars AS CLOSE TO a store’s front door as they can get? I (and many of my friends) do the opposite – we park as far away from a grocery store/department store so we “walk the distance.”

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  4. Hooray, someone with sense. Yes, we walked. In fact, I walked 5 miles the day my youngest was born. My kids walked too. What to do on a balmy Sunday afternoon. Walk. Neighbourhood kids used to ask to come with us. And still I walk, though the longer distance, say 5 miles plus, are treated as more of a treat.

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    • Five miles the day your youngest was born? IMPRESSIVE (see acflory above, who walked far during her pregnancy also). I love the idea of the neighborhood kids asking to come along with you and your kids. You were like the Pied Piper of Walks. Walking five miles IS a treat these days – who has the time? My guy and I took our granddaughter early this morning into Boston for a 4.5 mile walk around the city. She LOVED it.

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    • I grew up in a small town with no buses also, Barbara. Walking was THE way to get anywhere. With more congested towns/cities/streets these days, a huge positive thing is the walking/biking trails/paths that are being created for everyone. Those trails are happily used in our New England area here, as well as in the SF Bay area where our son/friends live.

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  5. Back in the day, I walked everywhere when I was a kid and accepted it because that’s just the way it was. I remember trudging to school long distances in frigid conditions when I lived in the Midwest. It took a major snowstorm to get school cancelled.

    I’m not one of those people who is anti-technology, but back in the day people used to communicate face-to-face instead of staring at their phones.

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    • You make another good point, Pete. When we walked “back in the day” we watched where we were going (for miles, and toward school/stores/friends’ homes) and paid attention to the cars/sky/clouds/birds/nature. These days, I cannot tell you how many times people have WALKED INTO me as they look down at their phone and move their feet. Laughable but also sad.

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    • That must have been some pack of gum, Diana! But my mom didn’t believe in candy bars (being the non-sweet lover that she was) so I’d walk 2 miles one way to Woolworths (remember them?) for a candy bar, and eat it on the 2-mile walk back home, wiping the chocolate off my face. 🙂
      Yes, writing and walking simultaneously would be a feat of inspiration and exercise, but I’m sure you agree with me that walking can help us as we create stories in our head. Have you ever read Brenda Ueland on writing? She was a forerunner about creative writing in the ’50s and ’60s and claimed going for a walk before writing was the BEST thing a writer could do.

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    • Haha. We didn’t believe our parents about their “walking to school in two-feet of snow” stories, and my grandkids don’t believe me now when I tell them how far I walked to school But we did, we did!

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  6. I love how you wrote this. Things have certainly changed. Not necessarily for the better. I think the rain has let up a bit and maybe I can get another walk in today. I do it to keep breathing. Thanks for the reminder. My kids walked too. Not anymore though. ;(

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  7. I remember fondly the days of living in Manhattan when my eldest child was a baby. We used to go on walks that went for miles–it was nice having sidewalks everywhere, and we tried never to take the same route twice. Now I live where there are no sidewalks, so it’s not as safe to walk (especially with a bar 1/4 mile down the road), but I do get a walk in every day. There were so many other things that we used to do that we never thought about–going for a bike ride was one of them. And staying outside until the street lights came on, and drinking water from the garden hose…

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    • What a great memory of walking your baby all around NYC. Such a walkable city (as is Boston, and Philly, and San Francisco, and many others). Sidewalks are helpful and in some towns non-existent; thank goodness communities are beginning to put in more walking/biking paths. They encourage us all to WALK and enjoy the outdoors. (Ahh, you brought back my memories of catching lightning bugs and long bike rides and – I had forgotten about that tangy taste of drinking water from a garden hose….)

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  8. This was great Pam! Yes, walking everywhere was so normal and it gave me time to think and wonder. I still love walking and find it a good way to come back to reality after writing.

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  9. I still walk but that is for my knees
    I walk even when we’re playing – ‘catch’
    ‘Grandma, run fast,’ I smile at the pleas.
    We walk to the little park, holding hands
    The warmth permeates through hearts
    Binding us to each other.

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  10. So true. I might add, when it was a little too far, we rode our bikes…at least as kids. My parents, who were raised in the city, didn’t even have cars. They either walked or took city transit. But now we’re talking a really long time ago. 😉

    Have a nice weekend.

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  11. I grew up on a farm so there was definitely a lot of walking and I cycled to town which was 2 1/2 miles away. however come the frigid Canadian winter there was not as much walking to be honest. One of those survival things. 🙂
    I really enjoyed this Pam. I could feel the rhythm of walking as I read.

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    • I did try to get the rhythmical walking feel in here, Sue – thanks for “hearing” it! In New Jersey, where I grew up, we walked in every season. We kids would celebrate if we finally got 2 inches of snow. In your neighborhood, walking would be less accessible in winter, for sure. 🙂

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  12. So true! I grew up on a hillside in Johannesburg, South Africa and walked with my siblings, down the hill, for 25 minutes every single day to get to school AND back! Sometimes after staying after school for extra curricular activities… To get to my best friend’s house, I walked. There and back.

    We also used public buses when necessary or had “car pools”… it was a rarity to see a parent and one child in a car to go ANYWHERE. If we did use the car, it was packed with four kids, always.

    Ah yes, the good ole days!

    You do such a good job of taking a simple subject and presenting it in an always interesting to read type of way. Well done.

    Peta

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    • I enjoyed visualizing you as a child in South Africa, walking for miles toward education and entertainment. And you’re right, car pools were the only way to go if we had to drive in a car. Gosh darn, why’d that change? Here’s to walking (and watching out for fresh concrete while doing so…) 🙂 🙂

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  13. Isn’t this the truth! I walked everywhere well into my adulthood. I still walk more than most of my younger family members. I think now it’s because I have the time. Interesting post! I hadn’t thought about the “younger me” walking patterns for quite some time! 🙂

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    • Good point about having more time than others for walking. Most people are so “busy” now that they don’t have time to walk – so much faster to get “there” in a car. World – SLOW DOWN!
      But a huge benefit of either working for ourselves or retiring is that we can go back to our ‘younger selves’ and return to the joy of walking.

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  14. I walked to school (though it wasn’t far) and we didn’t stay home when it snowed. We walked through it…
    My kids walked to school as well.
    Until high school. Then we had to take the bus because it was too far 😉

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  15. Oh my goodness, yes!! I walked too! Everywhere. And I was a slim pole bean. Two miles one way to school. There were times I had to get through snow drifts thigh high in order to get home, blinded by the raging blizzard. Frozen, miserable, and scared, I walked. And anywhere I wanted to go, I walked. Then as I got older, I biked. These kids today don’t get it. They are bused right to their driveway. Really? Loved this post, Pam!! Totally related!

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  16. So true Pam. School for us was about 1.5 miles – we walked there in the morning, back home for lunch, back to school again and back home at night, so we easily walked 6 miles a day then. My parents didn’t drive so we never had a car – I walked and cycled and caught buses. I don’t do as much walking now as I used to just to get to places and back, but I still enjoy walking.

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    • I always imagine you walking, Andrea, because of your gorgeous descriptive settings of nature in your posts. I think it’s from our earlier walking days as children that we learned early on an appreciation of all that’s out there – seen in our walks.

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    • Excellent point, Jacqui. I’ve had times when I slow down in my car to offer a ride to a neighbor when I see her/him walking home with groceries, and then I realize they are doing so by choice.
      A good choice, by the way.

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    • OH my gosh, so true, Marty. My parents never let me in the house during a nice day. One time I got stung by a bee while playing outside and yelled to come inside. My mom yelled back through the kitchen door, “It’s too early!” until she saw my arm swelling up from the sting. Haha. We raced, not walked, to the ER that day. 🙂

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  17. I walked to the bus stop, but took a school bus to school. Only kids who lived in close proximity to the school walked. I did ride my bike to school some times. Loved doing that!

    If we wanted something from the General Store after school, we walked or biked there. It was about a mile. And I often walked to the Bookmobile. The nearest library was 10 miles away but the Bookmobile came twice a month.

    We walked to friend’s houses. But we got rides to the movies because the nearest one was, you guessed it, 10 miles away. Same for the bowling alley. Both were rare treats.

    Our town had a General Store, a Gas Station, and a Post Office. Everything else was 5+ miles away. So we learned to amuse ourselves ~ Frisbee, Catch, Hop Scotch, Jump Rope, Jacks, Hoops, Pogo Sticks, Art, Reading, Singing, etc.

    Now I ride my bike in the hood and walk on the beach. Bliss!

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    • Your neighborhood was much like mine, Nancy, except we didn’t have buses. But we played the same games, many times out in the street. If a car came, the kids yelled: “R C A!!” (As a kid, took me a while to figure they were spelling CAR backwards, and that many parents worked at the close by RCA plant). ;-0
      I’m jealous of your blissful beach walks now, that’s for sure. ❤

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  18. Pam,
    Walking…ah, I remember those days! I remember being in first grade and walking to and from school which was roughly two blocks away…gasp…BY MYSELF! No telephoning to alert Mom that I made it to school safely. But then again, I was a latchkey key; and as such, when Mom got home from work, I’d better be home as well. Because you know what? If I wasn’t, I could expect…(for those of you faint of heart, you should stop reading now)…a spanking. With.a.belt. Got a few of those, but I lived to tell the tale. So there’s that!
    I loved your walking poem, btw! It did take me back!
    Kids just don’t know how good they have it, eh? I wonder what they’ll tell their progeny in the future about what their lives were like? LOL. Mona

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    • Wow. I enjoyed hearing about your childhood walks (and reasons to behave!!). I’m hoping there will be a turnaround soon. Younger people are getting anxious about Mother Earth, and one of the ways to stop climate change is to get out of the car and … W A L K!

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  19. Oh boy just read this aloud to hubby Pam… We were only reminiscing the other day to our children that back in our day.. ‘We walked’ lol Hubby used to walk nearly five miles with his siblings from his small holding farm house to school when he was only Five years old.. In snow up to their thighs in winter… His Mother used to have to walk two miles from a bus stop with four bags of shopping she would tie together for easier carrying..
    My junior school was a mile away and I walked..
    We never had mobile phones.. So if your car broke down, you had to walk to the nearest phone box to call a garage or better still cars in those days you knew their inner working and could pop the hood and fathom what was wrong and mend it.. Unlike today’s electron cars that have keyless starting.
    mechanisms.
    We grew up, and both our parents didn’t own cars… Cars were for the rich!… lol… We would walk miles ..
    Even in our early years of marriage we fell on harder times so it was either pay the mortgage pull in our belts etc.. So when we couldnt afford money to spend on our ‘Ford Anglia’ lol… ( we would always be tinkering with engines and swapping engines out of one rust bucket to another Lol ) We Walked.. I remember pushing the pram two miles to visit my Gran with our new baby.. 🙂

    Brilliant reminders Pam…
    Walking never did anyone any harm…. 🙂 and I love to walk… ❤

    Enjoy your day ❤

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    • Thank you for reading my poem to your guy, Sue. What an enormous compliment. I laugh when I see the expressions of my young grandkids when I tell them we didn’t have CELL PHONES when we walked to school, or the store, or anywhere, and had to “punt” and figure out how to get out of an incident ourselves. Ah, to the ole days. 🙂

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  20. Yes, we sure did! I still remember my mother bundling us up for our half-mile walk to the bus stop for school. If the temperature was below zero we were carefully instructed to keep our scarves over our mouths so the bitterly cold air wouldn’t freeze our lungs! Give us a ride and wait for the bus in a warm and idling car? The thought never crossed her mind! 🙂

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    • Brrrr, you lived in a place much colder than mine in NJ. But we didn’t have buses or bus stops, so we wrapped those scarves around our face when the temps dipped to 30 and we walked the mile and a half to school (hey, to us that was COLD!). Now when I pass kids waiting in their parents’ cars until the bus comes – I just sigh and roll my eyes ;-0

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  21. I love your bright pop of beauty in the cover photo, Pam! A fun poem, yet filled with many truths. You remind me how our grandchildren (the “little” ones) actually like to hear our stories. I am not sure whether we get tuned out by the “older” ones. Your poem is also a good reminder on the ‘whys of walking.’ Thank you:)

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    • This time of year in New England the land (and homes) are decorated with pumpkins and mums. It’s rather fun.
      My granddaughter took these photos of her friends walking (except the first one, which is my feet). She thinks my poem is funny. 🙂

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  22. Walking is my favorite form of exercise and travel. I will always, always opt to visit a city/area that has lots of great walking opportunities (where I’m not forced to use buses or taxis to get from one place to the other). I wish I lived closer to the center of town, because I’d walk downtown every day. Currently I walk around the running trail that circumvents some soccer fields in town. It’s nice and quiet, no cars, no other people (when I go), and a great start to the day!

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    • That’s a great place to walk – the running trail around the soccer fields in town. I’ve done that at times also. A nearby town has a gorgeous running track in a park. However, I do tend to get dizzy, going around and around. 🙂 No matter, walking is “where it’s at.”

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