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.

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  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

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    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
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    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014


Who do you favor for the U.S. Senate seat that Tom Coburn is giving up?

State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond
State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso
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