I was talking to a retired pediatrician the other day and the conversation rolled around to allergies. I said that so many of our allergies today could be blamed on the elimination of the screen door, the installation of air conditioning and the purchase of a video gaming device.
It was about this time each year that we began a season of non-stop playing outside. We weren’t allergic to fresh cut grass, we rolled in it. Later in the year, it was piles of leaves where we played. No tree pollen sneezing here.
I thought about this the other day when I was flying on an airliner. I was thinking about how sardines would have felt had they still been alive when placed in a sardine tin. My elbows were impacted into my ribs as the airline attempted to see how many people it could compact into a flying metal tube.
That wasn’t what made me think about seasonal allergies. It was when the flight attendant handed me a tiny bag of pretzels.
A few short years ago, that bag would have contained peanuts, most likely Georgia peanuts. We grow lots of peanuts here. We do not grow pretzels here.
OK, I fully realize that there are people who will develop all kinds of reactions to peanuts. They are legitimate allergies and if you suffer from them, please seek immediate treatment.
My doctor friend and I were discussing how they are now suggesting feeding babies a spoonful of peanut butter early on to eliminate peanut allergies in the future. It makes sense.
I would not have been able to play outside from dawn to dusk without the benefit of a peanut butter sandwich. I like them plain or with jelly or with a banana. It is a great source of protein.
Our days were spent playing in the dirt, climbing trees and spending time both on the creek bank and in the water. We ingested some of that water and it was not oxidized or whatever they do to bottled water to make it worth two bucks (three at the airport).
We handled worms and June bugs and lightning bugs. We probably went many whole days without washing our hands. Hand sanitizer was not invented at that time.
Staying inside on a sunny day was not an option. Today, if a child gives resistance to going outside, we don’t want to rock that boat. Give him a game controller and let the video hypnosis begin.
We also didn’t have a cell phone. But we had lots of eyes watching us. Sometimes the grapevine that extended from the hardware store to the beauty parlor to my next-door neighbor provided my mama with a glimpse of my day. If I bought BBs at the hardware store, mama knew. She also knew that we would be careful with our weaponry.
We carried a pocketknife and could use a hatchet. No one was ever injured.
The crowning achievement was that I never had to take an allergy pill until I moved into an air-conditioned apartment.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been called skinny. But I burned off a lot of fat in those days spent outside.
Spring is here, let your young’uns go outside and enjoy it. Go with them.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose column publishes on Sundays.