Musing With Cecil Buffington

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Back To The 60s

How Did this baby boomer reach the age of 65?

First, I survived being born to a mother who worked right up to a few days before my birth while she carried me. She took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, my baby crib was covered with bright colored lead-based paint. My mother had picked it up at a local yard sale.

There were no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets. When I rode my bike, I had no helmet, not to mention, the risks I took hitchhiking as a pre-teen up and down the Porterville to Jefferson highway. As a child, I would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

I drank water from the garden hose and straight from a bottle. Didn’t know what a straw was until my teen years. Sometimes, I shared one soft drink with four friends, all drinking from the one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

I ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but I was never overweight because......


During the summer, I would leave home in the morning and play all day. It was perfectly acceptable to my parents as long as I made it back home by nightfall. No one was able to reach me all day. I was always O.K. I would spend hours building a motorless go-cart out of scraps found in various trash-piles around Porterville and then ride it down steep hills just below my house. The only brake was to put my foot on a front wheel to slow it down. Often it would stop after I ran into some bushes or even a tree.

My friends and I did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........


Everyone in the neighborhood knew each other and we looked out for each other. Like the time Jimmy Pruitt pulled me out of Crow’s lake by my hair after I had went down for the second time. I couldn’t swim a lick but I often went out on an inner-tube and went into water over my head. I always managed to somehow survive.

I fell out of trees, got cut or scratched up, sprained ankles and saw my friends break bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits by our parents from these accidents. I ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, smoked rabbit tobacco and played football in Mr. Brooks’ corn field. The worms did not live in us forever and I never received an injury from a cornstalk when being tackled in that cornfield. By our 10th birthdays, all my friends had BB guns and we actually had battles where we would fire them at each other. We never lost an eye or had a major injury from this reckless conduct. I guess the Lord looks after those that are too stupid to look after themselves.

My friends and I also made up games with sticks and tennis balls, played tackle football, threw baseball’s at each other as hard as we could and although we were told it would happen, we never had a great deal of concern about a serious injury occurring.


I rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door, yelled for them or just walked into the house! There weren’t many doorbells back then and nobody locked their doors during the day. Not many even locked them at night.

Early in the summer little league baseball had tryouts and everyone made the team. It was just a game. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! In the sixth grade when Principle Edwards gave me two paddle licks for fighting and sent a letter home to my grandmother that required her signature, she gave me a stinging switching.

The question is not how could I make it to 65 with the crazy and somewhat goofy things I did as I grew up just outside Jefferson? The real question is how did I make it to through elementary school and a full three months out of school each summer? In looking back, I was an accident looking for a place to happen!


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