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The Feeling of Security

Updated on March 30, 2018

About Fifty Years Ago

Riding in the back of a pickup truck!

Man I thought that was so cool!

It was pretty common back then, you know?

So was hitchhiking. We used to hitchhike home from high school back in the 60’s. Never thought a thing about it. Our parents were just happy we didn’t have to walk the five miles . . . “find your own way home, Bill, we both have to work today” . . . those were words I heard from my parents quite often during my teen years. And so school would let out, we would walk down to Union Avenue, stick our thumbs out, and get a ride home from a complete stranger.

The feeling of security!

Not a care in the world in 1960
Not a care in the world in 1960 | Source

Bike Rides

I was probably around ten years old when my parents bought me an English Racer bicycle. Hot stuff, folks, I gotta tell ya, I felt pretty cool riding that bad boy around town and yes, I do mean around town. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, which at that time was a city of about 120,000 people. Good sized city, for sure, and it was quite common for me and my friends to put some snacks in a bag, put the bag in the bike saddle bags, and go for long rides around town, rides of ten, fifteen miles, gone several hours for sure, and we did this when we were not yet teens. Our only orders from our parents: be careful and be back before dark! We had no cell phones, no way to check in, no backup plan in case something went wrong . . . just be careful and be back before dark!

Those rides took us all over town, from our North End home to the B & I out on South 72nd, or out to Point Defiance Park, or down to the waterfront for some fishing, or downtown itself to check out window displays in the department stores . . . miles . . . hours . . .

The feeling of security!

Goodnight Folks!

We didn’t lock doors. I have no memory of ever locking a door at my childhood home. During the summers the door was left open with just the screen door to keep out bugs. Bedroom windows were open during the night. Us kids from around the neighborhood slept out on the front lawn under the stars, thirty feet from the street, twenty feet from the sidewalk, no fence to protect us.

The feeling of security!

My "secure" childhood home
My "secure" childhood home | Source

And More

No seatbelts while driving a car . . . no helmets while riding a bicycle or roller-skating (a sure way of getting your butt kicked as a sissy) . . . no lifeguards at the lake my family frequented.

And speaking of that lake . . . Lake Surprise . . . there was a diving tower at that lake with diving boards at ten feet, twenty feet, and fifty feet . . . think about that now, a fifty-foot diving board at a public swimming hole, no lifeguard, just a sign telling you to use caution.

The feeling of security!

The Weird Thing Was . . .

Did people die riding in the back of pickup trucks back then? I’m sure they did, and I’m sure kids had brain injuries because they weren’t wearing helmets or seatbelts, but that just seemed to be accepted as the price you paid for having fun, you know?

Oddly, I don’t remember anyone in our neighborhood ever experiencing a prowler or a robbery at night, even though every single house was basically open for business for burglars/prowlers. Isn’t that remarkable as seen from our eyes in 2018? That feeling of security seemed to be justified until . . .

The Night It All Changed

August 31, 1961, the day, the night, that the feeling of security disappeared forever in Tacoma, Washington.

An eight-year old girl by the name of Ann Marie Burr disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. She was tucked into bed, just like any other night, but sometime during that night a stranger opened a living room window, climbed in, walked upstairs to Ann’s room, and abducted her.

The night our innocence died!

The night security took on a whole different meaning.

In 1971 young women began disappearing in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1975 Ted Bundy, a resident of Tacoma, Washington, and an acquaintance of Ann Marie Burr, was first arrested.

Our paperboy, Ted Bundy!

The feeling of security!

In memory of a young girl
In memory of a young girl | Source

From My Perspective

It was also around that time that seat belts became mandatory, and laws were passed forbidding riding in the bed of a pickup truck. Helmets followed, first for motorcyclists and then bicyclists, the insurance companies pouring millions of dollars into the political arena in an attempt to cut down on injury claims.

Hitchhiking became illegal.

Doors and windows locked.

Gated communities multiplied rapidly.

The illusion of security!

The word “sociopath” became known to everyone with a pulse, as did psychopath. Those who fed on the suffering of others seemed to multiply in number rapidly. Eye contact was not made on the streets. All strangers were to be scrutinized and avoided. Weapons of self-defense were carried as an accepted practice. Everyone was a potential monster. No one was to be trusted.

The weapons got bigger.

The killing sprees continued.

The illusion of security!

My perspective? Perhaps I’ve lived too long. Perhaps I’m the human equivalent of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is my time to go, what was once true is no longer valid, dust to dust, and so it goes. But since this is my article, and my musings, I will toss out a few thoughts just for the hell of it.

Bigger weapons will not stop evil!

Living in fear is not living!

Hiding from reality is no reality I wish to partake in!

None of us, ever, anywhere, are ever secure and safe, not totally, never have been, never will be!

What Happened?

I don’t believe for a second that Evil was born that night in 1961. It has always been with us and always will be. Jack the Ripper plied his trade long before 1961.

So the question becomes this: what are we going to do about it?

I can’t answer for you. It’s a full-time job keeping myself on the track and avoiding derailment. But I do know there is something wrong with our society, something intrinsically wrong, and until we discover what that is, and take steps to rectify it, we will continue, as a society, to live a guarded life of fear, where every person we meet is looked at with veiled suspicion.

I refuse to live that way!

Thinking back, to when I was a child, I cannot remember anyone in our neighborhood owning a gun. That, to me, is almost unbelievable, ten years removed from World War 2, most of the fathers in that neighborhood veterans, and none owned a gun. It just wasn’t a thing, as though the vets had seen the worst that man could manufacture in warfare and they wanted none of it in civilian life.

Instead of warding off evil with weapons, they made their neighborhood a community where everyone looked out for each other. It was, to a real extent, one large extended family in our neighborhood, a place where people cared about one another, a place that felt . . . secure.

Whether it was, or was not, actually secure is not terribly important to me in 2018. All I know is I much preferred that neighborhood over the neighborhoods I see today.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


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