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The Grown-Ups Wanted Us Dead

The grown-ups wanted us dead. I have proof. Winton Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was built on the edge of a cliff. There was a 35-foot embankment not ten yards from the back door where I lined up every morning before fourth grade.

There was no fence. There was no barbed wire. There were no patrol dogs. THERE WERE NO CONCERNED PARENTS.

We were told to stay away from the cliff, the grownups of my childhood thought that was sufficient. If some child wandered too close and fell off, the general response was: “Damn idiot kid. He was told to stay away from there. Don’t know what his problem is. When that back-brace comes off I’m tanning his stupid hide.”

The cliff wasn’t all though — there was also the playground equipment; that we weren’t told to stay away from. In fact, if a day at school didn’t sufficiently maim enough kids, our parents would send us back after school. “Get out from under my feet! Go play on the playground. I’ll call you for dinner.”

I don’t know why we never figured out that the grownups were trying to kill us. They’d paint us in Mercurochrome, paste band-aids on us, or brace us with splints, and push us right back out the door.

We went willingly — and called it fun.

More stories like this posted on my blog: The Grown-Ups Wanted Us Dead, where an observant person might even discover why my sister, Jackie, calls me CB. The latest story, posted just today, is: The Hole.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Yep……..ain’t it the truth…..if the cliff don’t get you the playground will, and if that doesn’t do it…….well thre is always all those hours after school when your parents make you stay outside. Shoot we were even ALLOWED to come in till dark……

    I distinctly remembering someone telling me to go and play in the middle of the street, too.

  2. Hi Quilly,
    It is so true Quilly, I remember the playground was very dangerous. The phrase I remember only it was only a nickel! LOL

  3. “Go outside and play!” It’s a phrase I heard all through childhood. And one I always said to my own kids. We got skinned knees, scrapes and scratches, stitches but the words were still the same even before the bandages lost their nifty appeal, “Go outside and play!”

  4. Ahh, CB, it wasn’t ALL bad…I still remember riding someone’s bike off that cliff, sliding face down until knocked out, and then with an inner lower lip sewn full of gravel, eating milkshakes because all I could use was a straw! xoxoxox

  5. Jackie, I loved that cliff. The last time I was home I saw that they filled all the gullies in. I was sad. The park behind the school is lovely, but it can’t be as much fun to play there as it was when it was wild and wooly. We were blessed.

  6. Life was fun with risk before the lawyers got hold of everything. Nobody dare do anything now. They are stupid and greedy people, those lawyers. And bureaucrats.

  7. HA! It’s so true! So when did grown-ups stop wanting kids dead and started wanting them alive? Do you think you can pin-point the year? I’m guessing sometime in the mid-to-late 90s.

  8. It’s true! I still remember being told to “go outside and play” and climbing trees was a given, playing at the creek, etc etc. You can’t tear kids away from their video games long enough to play outside anymore. Too bad. So much fun back in the day.
    Enjoyed your blog. Will visit again.

  9. LOL! Bill Cosby tells a similar tale of his childhood — revolves around soap box racers and merry go rounds! They DID want us dead!

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