June 18, 2015

Home Before Dark

By Daisy Luther| As found at | The Organic Prepper

Raise your hand if you survived a childhood in the 60s, 70s, and 80s that included one or more of the following, frowned-upon activities (raise both hands if you bear a scar proving your daredevil participation in these dare-devilish events):

  1. Riding in the back of an open pick-up truck with a bunch of other kids

  2. Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on, at which point, you raced home, ASAP so you didn’t get in trouble

  3. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the school cafeteria

  4. Riding your bike without a helmet

  5. Riding your bike with a buddy on the handlebars, and neither of you wearing helmets

  6. Drinking water from the hose in the yard

  7. Swimming in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (or what they now call *cough* “wild swimming“)

  8. Climbing trees (One park cut the lower branches from a tree on the playground in case some stalwart child dared to climb them)

  9. Having snowball fights (and accidentally hitting someone you shouldn’t)

  10. Sledding without enough protective equipment to play a game in the NFL

  11. Carrying a pocket knife to school (or having a fishing tackle box with sharp things on school property)

  12. Camping

  13. Throwing rocks at snakes in the river

  14. Playing politically incorrect games like Cowboys and Indians

  15. Playing Cops and Robbers with *gasp* toy guns

  16. Pretending to shoot each other with sticks we imagined were guns

  17. Shooting an actual gun or a bow (with *gasp* sharp arrows) at a can on a log, accompanied by our parents who gave us pointers to improve our aim. Heck, there was even a marksmanship club at my high school

  18. Saying the words “gun” or “bang” or “pow pow” (there actually a freakin’ CODE about “playing with invisible guns”)

  19. Working for your pocket money well before your teen years

  20. Taking that money to the store and buying as much penny candy as you could afford, then eating it in one sitting

  21. Eating pop rocks candy and drinking soda, just to prove we were exempt from that urban legend that said our stomachs would explode

  22. Getting so dirty that your mom washed you off with the hose in the yard before letting you come into the house to have a shower

  23. Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper

  24. Playing “dangerous” games like dodgeball, kickball, tag, whiffle ball, and red rover (The Health Department of New York issued a warning about the “significant risk of injury” from these games)

  25. Walking to school alone

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 18, 2015 12:04 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Did all 25, and wouldn't trade the experiences of my youth for all the video-games in the world.

Posted by: Skorpion at June 18, 2015 12:29 PM

Also did all 25, each one numerous times, and survived happy and well-adjusted. Have never played a video game and most likely never will, even though I helped build the Internet backbone.

Posted by: Jake at June 18, 2015 12:36 PM

I did all but the snow ones. We did, however, waterski behind a truck in irrigation canals. Well, until the sheriff came and shooed home.

Posted by: Leslie at June 18, 2015 1:05 PM

I did all but writing lines for being a jerk at school. It's on my bucket list.

Posted by: Dave at June 18, 2015 1:23 PM

Parachuting off the garage roof, with an umbrella.

Getting the swing as far forward and as high as it would get, and then jumping off. A good way to knock out your front teeth.

Winding yourself up in a tire swing and then unwinding so fast that you threw up.

Playing badminton with birdies loaded with a rock.

Playing war with sling shots and crab apples. "Wow, you really CAN put someone's eye out. Oh, well. That's what happens in war."

Shooting rats in the creek, with a pellet gun. "Hey, let's go shoot your brother now."

Exploring buildings under construction; crawling through the duct work; finding treasure, such as zinc slugs.

"Hey, you kids. Get the hell out of here!"... "YOU get the hell out of here!"

Exploring the sewer system. "We're all gonna die down here."

Jumping off the garage roof, wearing a Superman cape. Getting pissed off that we didn't fly. "Hey, we've been sold a bill of goods."

Blowing hub caps off with a cherry bomb. "Man, look at 'er go!"

Posted by: Lance de Boyle at June 18, 2015 1:34 PM

I did them all in the mid '30s- early '40s. My six kids collectively did them all in the late '50s- early '70s. As far as I could tell, the grand kids not so much.

Posted by: BillH at June 18, 2015 1:45 PM

24 of 25. Never had to do the extra writing. But here are a few others: playing pickup ice hockey with no gear except skates and stick; playing 3-on-3 baseball with a real baseball, no helmet, and wooden bat, with one of our dads pitching; playing tackle football with no gear; trying to get the proportions right for charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter, all of which were available at the local hobby shop; cap guns; Estes rockets; catching bees & wasps in mason jars (and never getting stung).

Posted by: waltj at June 18, 2015 2:15 PM

All of those things have been largely banned from society today resulting in a populace that is *fearful* of it's own shadow and begging the politicians to protect them.

Remember when we were kids and teens and the local foot cop was a "man" and if he grabbed you by the scruff of the neck you knew authority was in control? He had a gun but never used it, his brain and his brawn could deal with most all circumstances.

The cops of today are babyized, scared little power control freaks that pull their inexperienced guns on children and everybody else and if you haven't been arrested by the age of 12 it's because the gov't-media have rendered you completely braindead.

America today isn't even a shadow of what it was just 30 years ago and those of us that lived through it know it. The sad part is that the only people that care have 1 foot on a banana peel and the other in a grave. The rest aren't worth saving.

Posted by: ghostsniper at June 18, 2015 2:39 PM

All the boys had pocket knives at school and the nuns knew it and said nothing.

Posted by: Jimmy at June 18, 2015 3:03 PM

After I retired I was a sub teacher for a few years. Kid asked "what sport did u do in HS". Replied my sport is now a felony in California. I was Capt. of the school rifle team,State Champions too.

Posted by: P. Possum at June 18, 2015 3:30 PM

My list would include most of the twenty-five but would be more like ninety-nine in number. Number ninety-nine got me sent to Bangkok by my mother and the International School there. My dad was living in Bangkok while flying a twin engined WW-II Lockheed over Laos.

What was number 99? Too stupid to divulge. But damned fun!

Posted by: Terry at June 18, 2015 3:45 PM

A few from my (Navy brat) childhood (born in '53):

-- age 5 (Imperial Beach, CA): jumping off the roof of the abandoned horse stable across the street (I _loved_ jumping off roofs and balconies as a kid)

-- age 5: playing in the large puddles of water caused by a heave downpour, but first taking off, neatly folding, and setting aside all my clothes because as I went out the door, my mom said, "I don't want you playing in those mud puddles in your clean clothes."

-- age 5-7 (Subic Bay, PI): wandering through the jungle outside the Naval housing area; playing on abandoned Japanese pillboxes left over from WW2; throwing dirt clods at flying fruit bats; running (with other kids) through the dense DDT fog sprayed by a moving truck up and down the streets each night

-- age 7-8 (Astoria, OR): wandering through the dense forest that started about 50' behind our Naval housing duplex; catching tons of snakes and bringing quite a few home; picking and eating several types of berries

-- age 8-11 (La Mesa, CA): wandering all through the storm drain system of town; wandering all over La Mesa itself; playing with a chemistry set, mostly hoping to make something burn or explode; getting an air pistol (age 10, I think) that shot BBs, pellets, and metal-tipped darts; (age 11+) riding my bike 10 miles to the San Diego Zoo, wandering around for several hours, riding my bike home; riding over to Lake Murray and fishing for bluegill; etc., etc.

Posted by: bfwebster at June 18, 2015 3:50 PM

Playing politically incorrect war games (reenacting WWII) in the 1950s and bringing along my dad's souvenirs (a Wehrmacht helmet and belt that some fleeing Jerry had abandoned in May 1945)-- I was one of the most popular kids in the neighborhood because all the kids wanted a chance to wear that Stahlhelm. And yes, the girls wanted to "play soldier" too. We were remarkably gender-neutral. Same was true of the sandlot baseball games-- anybody who showed up could play, you didn't have to be a star athlete, just someone who enjoyed the game. It was not only a good time to be a "free range" kid, it was a good time for kids who were just average when it came to sports. They weren't shut out by the "jocks."

Posted by: PA Cat at June 18, 2015 5:02 PM

I did EVERY SINGLE ONE. Greatest childhood ever.

We played a game called "ambulance" wherein you road your bike as fast as you could down one hill and then up the next hill (obviously to gain speed) to see how much air time you could get…without a helmet.

Posted by: mare at June 18, 2015 5:03 PM

This list is an indictment on Obama; he probably never did anything like these activities growing up in Indonesia. Never played baseball, joined the Boy Scouts, went to Sunday School or confirmation, recited the Pledge of Allegiance before start of the school day etc. with other American kids. He does not have the American boyhood experience of his generation. Just the sweet sound of the call to the morning prayer.

Posted by: madtenntaxpayer at June 18, 2015 7:22 PM

I forgot to add that of the original list of 25, I know I did at least 22. I don't ever remember doing #5 (riding on bike handlebars), though it could have happened at some point. I never did #21 (pop rocks + soda), because I was already in college when Pop Rocks came out (1975), and I was pretty much past the age where trying a pop rocks + soda combo had any appeal. I don't remember ever having to 'write lines' at school (#23) -- I was far more an underachiever (bored, mostly) than a disruptor.

Posted by: bfwebster at June 18, 2015 7:45 PM

Did at least 23 of the 25 plus many not on the list. The best may have been tying a rope onto a tree limb high out over a ravine by our garage, then jumping off the garage roof hanging on that rope. Hell of a ride. Even my younger sister got in on that act. Climbed half way up a small town water tower. Played on railroad cars parked on the side tracks and jumped off of box cars into sand pits. Learned how to swim unsupervised in a very dirty cow pond. Did a lot of the two on one bicycle thing, usually carrying a couple of fishing poles, too. (The other guy is still alive as well.) Most of this was in the late 1950's and early 1960's in small towns in Kansas. There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in the 1950's.

Posted by: suds46 at June 18, 2015 8:02 PM

I could many to this list, but my favorite was having a Pee Chee folder artistically reinterpreted to show all of the characters involved in some act of mayhem or bloodshed. All of us did. I cannot remember even a murmur of disapproval from my parents or teachers.

Posted by: el baboso at June 18, 2015 8:40 PM

Haha!, all except for walking to school, we lived in a rural area, and it was too far. If I remember correctly, 13 was the age that you graduated from pellet guns to a .22 or .410 This was a big deal. Somewhere in the mud of the Mill Pond, there is a very large Snapping Turtle shell heavily pock-marked with our lead. Ok, there were a lot of things pock-marked...it was the late sixties and dirt bikes had come on to the scene. Nothing else mattered. Every free minute was "On Any Sunday". A while back I had business out of town, cruising along a country road, I heard it, then saw it, a boy, maybe twelve, on a small bore Suzuki. He tore out of a trail in the woods and paralleled the road for a bit, stopping to watch me go by. Serious, proud and unafraid, he blipped the throttle and roosted off, seemingly knowing somehow I approved. Seeing this, I was reminded that "it" still exists, I still exist, we still exist.

Posted by: Will at June 19, 2015 5:56 AM

Jumping over high-backed park benches in Keds sneakers, and running, running, running everywhere.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at June 19, 2015 7:45 AM

All 25. I did get a kick out of this, too:

"Getting the swing as far forward and as high as it would get, and then jumping off."

We had competitions-at school- to see who could leap forward the greatest distance when jumping off of the swings. I finished 2nd to one crazy classmate, who used to swing so so high that the chains would go slack because he had moved closer to the bar (i.e. above horizontal).

Posted by: physics geek at June 19, 2015 8:19 AM

Heck, I did most of those when I was a girl!

Posted by: Fausta at June 19, 2015 11:44 AM

Jumping off a swing at the peak of its arc is how I knocked the wind out of myself for the first time (the jump was great, the landing not so much). Didn't stop me from getting back on and trying again once I got my breath back.

Posted by: waltj at June 19, 2015 11:51 AM

Didn't do the wasps in the mason jar (or in our case a skippy peanut butter jar) but we did shoot bbs at the nests...amazing how fast you can run with the proper incentive. Playing kick the can in the middle of our street until it was too dark to see the can. Catching fireflies (skippy jars again) . Teachers dishing out punishment as needed, when needed...and kids not (and or their parents) hiring a boat load of lawyers to "avenge their self-esteem". Knowing you did wrong and owning up to it....and moving on. Had an eighth-grade gym teacher Mr. Ryan, he used to grab us know-it-all young lads by our "sideburns"....got our immediate attention every time.
Dodgeball, "flag" football (with an amazingly high amount of "bodily contact"), fights after school which usually ended up with folks at least seeing eye to eye after all was said and done.
Walking everywhere, unless you had a bike, then riding it everywhere within at least a five-mile radius, on an almost daily basis. The only stipulation was letting mom know you were going out....and that you would be back (you had better be!!) for dinner. There may have been one or two pre-soccer moms out there, but they were a rare breed back in the fifties and sixties.
Using our whole block for games of war, cowboys and Indians, and who knows what else. Firing bottle rockets out the second story window...buying smokes well before the age of 18....getting beer for the parents (with a note).
And yes, the local cop at our HS...."Ralph", was pretty laid back....but if you seriously gave him grief....as big a boy as he was...you would be paying a pretty steap price. (And he did have a sidearm...but in four years, I don't think he ever had it out of the holster.) Sitting on a park bench with ones recruiter...in the early evening...having a couple of beers...with the cops telling us "it's after sundown...ya really can't do that here." No mention of underage drinking...most of us faced the very real possibility of heading off to South-east Asia in the very near future...we were cut a lot of slack.
And back then, if you were one of those who found themselves up in front of a judge...he was, more often than not, going to offer you a choice. "Either go with the fellas with the badges and sun glasses...to your new cell. OR go with the fellas in the other uniforms...off to the service who will have you." They don't do that anymore, either.

Posted by: Guy S at June 19, 2015 1:00 PM

Did them all, plus: stopped the bike of the hated bossy older sister by poking a broom handle in the front spokes of her bike.

Heavily punished but well worth it.

Posted by: Bill Jones at June 19, 2015 6:04 PM

Drank from water hose yesterday ... Without a second thought!

Momma was frequently appalled by our antics, but my dad said scarred knees were a sign of a well spent childhood.

Posted by: DeAnn at June 20, 2015 3:47 AM

My grade school had an NRA affiliated BB gun club. You could join in 5th grade and I did. Even the Nuns would come to the gym on Saturday to shoot with us.
I've since upgraded caliber and ballistics.

Posted by: MOTUS at June 20, 2015 4:56 AM

All of these activities, whether physical or behavioral, are being bred or conditioned out of us.
Back in the day children were exposed to flu, colds, other viruses, dodgy food, ordinary cuts, scrapes, bruises. The children survived quite well.
We were given vaccinations every year at school for diphtheria, polio, smallpox. That helped us build immunities and tolerances.
The boys played competitive games and contact sports. Tell a kid back then "There are no losers, everybody is a winner" and he'd look at you like you were crazy.
Of course there were winners and losers. This gave us motivation to succeed.
Playing mumblety peg with our pocket knives. Go down the dump and shoot rats with our 22s.
Most homes had a rifle or shotgun, take the kids out field hunting for rabbits and pheasants.
Note: make sure they skinned them so they would know how a firearm can destroy something.
Work on your first car in the driveway. Get under there and have the transmission sitting on your chest and try to slip it in with the throw-out bearing or clutch plates getting out of line.
Out for some beers and cruising, get stuck in a ditch and have to call dad. Sen Sen didn't hide the beer breath.
Have the town cop pull you over and he'd give you a whack on the ear and pour out the beer and you hoped he wouldn't tell dad but he would so get another whack on the ear.

All these activities and some behaviors would mold us into strong independent young men.
Lessons learned: if you gained enough points you won, the other guy lost;
if you did something wrong you got punished and never mind the bullshit excuses;
if you want money, get a job.

Posted by: chasmatic at June 20, 2015 2:31 PM

Posted by Fausta at June 19, 2015 11:44 AM

"Heck, I did most of those when I was a girl!"

So, what do you do now that you're a boy?

Posted by: Bill Jones at June 20, 2015 2:48 PM

Oh, I forgot, one of my younger sisters has a scar on her eyebrow where I tried to shoot an apple off her head with my bow and arrow.

Posted by: Bill Jones at June 20, 2015 3:34 PM

@Bill, one of my first memories is of plunking my uncle between the eyes with a suction-cup tipped arrow from one of those "toy" archery sets you used to be able to get at the supermarket. I don't think I was quite three years old yet. My mom took away the bow, but I got it back after my uncle left. A few years later, I learned to take the rubber tips off and sharpen the arrows in a pencil sharpener. By that time, I knew not to aim at anyone.

Posted by: waltj at June 21, 2015 12:05 AM

All and more: Jetex engines, fire crackers, wheelies on bikes and jumping curbs, setting fires, shooting anything with a bb gun, swimming in abandoned quarries, ( my mother was so worried because those quarries were hundreds of feet deep), lemonade stands, shoveling snow for profit, all sports with almost no equipment, lunch optional if you were having a really good time, tree climbing, storm sewer walking, rail road walking, hopping on the back of delivery trucks and riding to the corner, and tarzan swings. Oh I guess the list could go on and on, we did have so much unsupervised un organized fun. Oh and how about dispute resolution, " I was safe, no you are out, no I was safe.......".

Posted by: tripletap at June 21, 2015 10:46 AM

Did each one.

>23.Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper

The way they made us do it at my school; you had to hand copy a page out of the dictionary, the teacher compared your work to the page, then you could go home.

Posted by: Speller at June 22, 2015 1:51 AM

My babysitter in the 70s lived on a one acre working farm. Milk cow was brought in from grazing 10 feet from house right through swing set while we were swinging high and jumping off. Bee hives, giant garden spiders, rattlesnakes, walking half mile down dirt road to play on train tracks and climbing a giant sycamore (with a perfect horizontal branch 7 feet off the ground for gymnastics) are cherished memories. Oh forgot the rusted pedal car we played in day in and day out.
Striving to make my nursery as close to this as possible in increasingly politically liberal less weird Austin,Texas.

Posted by: Bellaleda at June 22, 2015 7:27 AM

Yes. All of the above. Born in 1957. Also: playing in houses under construction after hours. "Driving" the ranch truck at cousins' ranch - oldest on clutch/gas, another on stick, me on steering wheel - all of us preteen. Sleeping on the shelf behind the back seat on long car trips. So many more!

Posted by: DanielM at June 22, 2015 7:01 PM

Yup, all 25 plus

- my brother and I would go down to the creek in the park BY OURSELVES and catch crawdads.

- riding in a car that didn't have seat belts.

- lemonade and cool-looking-rocks stands.

- hookey-bobbing (Now who remembers that!)

Posted by: Ace O'Dale at June 22, 2015 8:28 PM

26. Being left in the car all alone while mom went shopping.
27. Shooting air rifles at traffic from the culverts.
28. Crawling through storm drain tunnels.
29. Walking 5 miles to the reservoir to go fishing along fire trails in the middle of nowhere.
30. Having BB gun wars without goggles (shoot low).
31. Doing a paper route at 5 AM in the morning, riding the bicycle, without a helmet.
32. Heading into town over the hills on the fire trails.
33. Peeing in the bushes.
34. Digging underground forts.

Man that was fun!

Posted by: Brendan at June 22, 2015 9:21 PM

I'll add one more: Building plastic models of planes and ships in the bedroom without ventilation. That means both glue and the little bottles of Tester's paint. We didn't huff the glue or paint for fun. Once completed, blowing up said model with firecrackers, sometimes adding lighter fluid to the model before exploding said fireworks, for realism of course.

The one thing in particular I remember doing as a latch key kid (before that term even existed) was being around 10-years-old and, after school, cleaning the .22 single shot bolt action rifle that was in my bedroom closet. My Mom later told me she came home from work one time and called my name. When I didn't answer, she went to my bedroom to see what trouble I was getting into. She saw me with the rifle broken down, and ramming the cleaning pad down the barrel. She told me she walked away without bothering me because I "was doing something constructive." Funny how I knew at the ripe old age of 10 (I was actually taught that lesson when I was 5 when I was taught to shoot a rifle for the first time) never to point a gun at someone, empty or not, nor did I ever want to shoot someone with it who pissed me off. Of course, merely having a rifle in a kid's bedroom today (with boxes of the appropriate caliber ammo on a shelf) would constitute a felony of the highest order, probably resulting in the kid being taken away by CPS.

We are raising a generation of special snowflake hothouse wallflowers. Sad. "Help! I've fallen down the rabbit hole and I can't get up!"

Posted by: RickZ at June 22, 2015 11:38 PM

23 out of 25: I didn't much care for pop rocks, and I never had to write lines as punishment.

*But*: I did get suspended from school for three days once, and (top this, I dares ya!) there was a time, at age 14, that I was working at the high school one Saturday afternoon. I had rode my sister's Honda Trail 70 minibike there. For some odd reason, I wanted to see what it would be like to ride the minibike down the halls of the school (the main hallway was shorter and there were two long hallways off to one side, near and far). The only people at the school were me and the principal - and when I asked him if I could do this, he said yes.

Have you ever rode a minibike down a terracotta floored school hallway at 30MPH as a kid? I have.

Can you imagine how much trouble I'd be in if I had done that today, rather than in 1980?

Posted by: Wanderlust at June 23, 2015 3:08 AM

I laughed at them all, but I particularly laughed at the last one.

I started kindergarten in 1960. The first time, my mom walked me across the street, then I was on my own. Little five year old me. I don't remember her ever walking me across the street again! It wasn't far, but I can't imagine that anyone would do that in this day and age.

Posted by: RobertM at June 23, 2015 3:38 AM

Yep, all 25. Grew up in the country so it was easy to check off the list! We'd frequently leave home in the morning, and my mom would literally just call us home by yelling out the door (usually at dark or just after).

The last one! Man, Red Rover. I don't think there was a time I ever played when someone didn't almost die.

Posted by: Adlib at June 23, 2015 12:11 PM

Oh Hell Ya! Did all those and MANY More! Grew up in the 70's, Life was great, and pretty much unsupervised. How'd we ever survive without "BIG BROTHER" This Country is doomed, run by pusscakes, with no sense of humor, and no realization of dangerous fun!

Posted by: marine43 at June 23, 2015 3:20 PM

Didn't ANYONE ELSE play with gasoline in the 60's - a lot? Never any out of control fires either (well not seriously out of control). Building rocket motors and fuel - from scratch. Even a primitive mortar once that launched lit cherry bombs - successfully. Making chlorine gas too! Probably all would result in federal terrorism charges today, but never any intent to hurt anyone and no one ever seriously hurt.

Posted by: Ulysses at June 23, 2015 8:27 PM

Did some of them, not all. My father was a construction dude who was the company so I got early access to trucks, backhoes, bulldozers.... I learned that no matter how wet the stump pile was, it was possible to get it burning with enough small branches, an old tire, some newspaper, and some diesel fuel.

Let's see, walked almost a mile to the school bus stop as a first grader in 1946. As the area built up, my walk to the bus got shorter and shorter until it was about 300 feet in high school. In fourth grade we went to an old schoolhouse about two miles from home; walked home by myself on numerous nice days.

Posted by: pfsm at June 23, 2015 9:50 PM

One kid on the handlebars? We one time did 4: one on the handlebars, one on the crossbar, one peddling, and one riding the package shelf on the back of the Schwinn. Lots of fun until the bottom of the hill, when the wheels dropped into the streetcar tracks. In total, probably 5 sq ft of road rash.

Quick draw mano a mano contests with BB pistols - one pump would sting like hell, but wouldn't bleed.

Exploring the underside of bridges - it's amazing how small kids can get through openings. There's an inspection bridge on the underside of what was then the highest concrete arch bridge in the country that we used to walk around on. Long way down, but that was the thrill.

Didn't walk - it was about 1.5 miles- but rode the streetcar to school (alone) from kindergarten through 2nd grade.

Got a real nice 3rd degree burn playing with gasoline.

All of those "dangerous" activities are the ones I remember, fondly. Even with the scars. :-)

Posted by: bud at June 24, 2015 11:00 AM

The second biggest single rite of passage is coming to an end:

My 14 year old boy belongs to the last generation that will learn to drive.


Posted by: Bill Jones at June 24, 2015 5:40 PM

I just re-read no. 24. Whiffle ball a "dangerous game"? Are you f***in' kidding me? Whiffle ball is what our parents made us play when we were too close to picture windows or other costly items to use a regular baseball. But, man, you could put a curve on it. Great way to learn how to hit breaking stuff.

Posted by: waltj at June 25, 2015 12:23 PM