The Duncan Banner


January 12, 2014

Boys can still be boys

DUNCAN — You know, the past was seldom as blissful as viewing it through the eyewear of nostalgia makes us believe.

That said, though, I do believe being a young boy in the 1950s and ‘60s — and probably further back than that — was more fun than it is today.

What got me thinking about this is a book called The Dangerous Book for Boys, a 2007 best-seller I rediscovered while recently moving into a new office in Waurika. Years ago, I’d bought the devilish book by British brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden and was captivated.

“Recapture Sunday afternoons and long summer days,” says the book cover. “The perfect book for every boy from 8 to 80.”

And, indeed, it is an almost-perfect book. I call it “devilish,” because the Igguldens knew the way to a boy’s heart is through water bombs, homemade contraptions, disappearing ink and adventures that have a hint of danger.

The book carried me back to boyhood; when summers seemed to last forever and there was something to do virtually every day, because boys knew how to create fun for themselves, and rightly or wrongly, they were allowed to.

I wallowed in the joys of The Dangerous Book for Boys when it first came out. However, I also remember reading an essay on the book in Newsweek, which was entitled The Myth of Boyhood. The gist of the review seemed to be that The Dangerous Book conjures up a version of boyhood that never really existed; that such remembrances are nothing more than a figment of males’ nostalgic yearnings.

My reaction to the essay then and now is: Well, phooey! I’m fortunate to know such a time was very real. I lived it — and I’ll bet an overwhelming majority of males over 40 did as well.

Regardless what some modern sociologists may say, there really was a time in society when a parent’s entire daytime interaction with a child often consisted of two words: “Go play.”

It was an era when adults didn’t structure every move their child made, when “unsupervised play” wasn’t synonymous with “child abuse,” when there were no Amber alerts or youngsters who were video game drones.

Back then, parents chased kids out of the house and into the neighborhood, where we encountered the world — without an adult chaperone or bodyguard.

My brother and I grew up in a small rural Illinois community where we had the best of both worlds — town and country. We roamed with a gang of boys — and a couple female cousins and neighbors — who only needed a vacant lot, a pasture, a swimmin’ hole, a park or even the front steps of somebody’s house to have a venue for fun and creativity.

Give us a ball of any kind, and we could be satisfied from sun up to sun down. Give us a woods, and we could fill a day with adventures — building forts, poking under brush piles for turtles and snakes, digging caves, damming up creeks and seining minnows, playing army or cowboys and Indians, building treehouses, swinging on grapevines (smoking them as well).

Give us a bike and a wagon, and we could go on heroic journeys down streets and blacktops and gravel roads, where the treasures of the universe were to be found.

In those days, “stranger danger” had not yet paralyzed parents. They might not have laid eyes on us until supper time, but my parents usually knew where we could be found, even if we thought it was a secret. Parents in that era didn’t operate from worst-case scenarios, but rather from a basic belief that kids can entertain themselves — and be OK.

That’s the type of thinking The Dangerous Book for Boys is clearly meant to rekindle.

There are chapters on carpentry and woodworking, nature and exploring, hunting and fishing, science and experiments. There are stories of great inventors and daring explorers. And because the authors recognize that, secretly, boys do love to learn, there are chapters on grammar, Shakespeare and the solar system.

The Dangerous Book for Boys is a magical manual for helping boys learn to be boys. If you know a 21st century boy, give him this wonderful book — after you pry the video-game controller from his hands.

Text Only
  • Modern version of ‘Telephone’ hangs up on the truth

    Couple weeks ago, I stopped at a popular morning spot to get a caffeine infusion and encountered a meeting of a chapter of the Coffee Club Geniuses of America.

    July 20, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Zamperini, the Olympian and POW, was a hero because of his faith

    Louis Zamperini collected many accolades as an Olympic distance runner and brave bombardier who spent a month adrift at sea and two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But faith and forgiveness are what truly distinguished him.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff's helicopter could be put to good use in water crisis

    A story the other day in which Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney explained the advantages of having a helicopter gave me a chuckle.

    July 15, 2014

  • Technoman offers help on combating viruses

    Good day, Earthlings and others inhabiting the third rock from the Sun. Once again, 21st Century Technoman has dropped in to see what condition your condition is in. So, how are you surviving in cyberspace?

    July 15, 2014

  • Territory impressive as well

    For the next seven days, the world of golf will focus on Edmond, Oklahoma in general and Oak Tree National in particular as the revitalized club and course hosts the prestigious 2014 U.S. Senior Open.

    July 6, 2014

  • Our division is not as dire as some insist

    Am having an Independence Day hangover — and no, it’s not because of any libation I may have consumed during the holiday weekend.

    July 6, 2014

  • Election shared few surprises

    There were no significant surprises or huge upsets in last Tuesday’s election,  but there were some twists and turns of interest locally and statewide.

    June 29, 2014

  • Other voices talk about us and our nation

    It’s almost Independence Day and I could wind philosophic and poetic about this country I love and into which I was lucky to have been randomly spawned.

    June 29, 2014

  • Technoman is relishing art of daydreaming

    Friends and neighbors, greetings again from 21st Century Technoman, and please forgive me if it seems I’ve been ignoring those of you who need a little human contact in their otherwise techno-dependent lives.

    June 22, 2014

  • However dubious, Cooter is a famous American

    His name is indelibly etched in the American experience. For generations, his reputation has crossed political, social, ethnic and regional lines.

    June 15, 2014


Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

No. It's better in the summer cause kids are out of school.
Yes. More shoppers would come during nice fall weather.
Either time is fine.

     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.