This list has been making the rounds on the internets, re: dangers faced by children of the 1970s. Aside from the Jarts, yeah, this was pretty much my childhood. Except that goat would have been inside a VW bus (true story). And once my parents stuck me in the back of a VW bug with a burlap sack containing two full grown, and very angry, geese. Thus, one of my earliest memories is standing of the bag seat of that bug, pressed up against the window, screaming, while the geese thrashed and hissed at me. Also, my mom read an article in a ladies magazine about a family that died in a fiery car crash, all accept one small child who had not been belted in and was thrown free of the car landing safely in a field. Due to that article, we were strongly discouraged from wearing seatbelts.
My mom tells another story about a time when I was a baby and had a very bad cold. The doctor prescribed a cough medicine with codeine, so my mom drove with me to the pharmacy, left me in the car, and went to fill the prescription. But the pharmacist thought she looked like a drug-seeking hippie and refused to give her the medicine. My mom was furious that her character was being attacked, and she was correct that even though she and my dad looked like hippies they were really total straight arrows. So she spent so amount of time arguing and explaining that the medicine was for her SICK BABY WHO WAS WAITING IN THE CAR. In my mother's telling, the point of this story is that some people are judgmental jerks, and the baby alone in the car is a non-issue.
I thought about that story the other day as I was getting ready to take LB to daycare. I had her in the stroller on our front walk, strapped in and ready to go. Then she realized she didn't have her special blanket and it needed to be gotten before we left. I briefly considered leaving her there on the front walk. We live on a very quiet street that meets up with a very busy street, but LB can't undo the big clip on the stroller harness, so she wouldn't be going anywhere. And it would likely take me less than a minute to grab the blanket. But I didn't leave her. I unclipped her, and hoisted some close-to-30lbs, and brought her into the house, found the blanket, back out the door, and then she climbed slowly, slowly back into the stroller and slowly, slowly clipped herself in, and we left.
I didn't leave her partly because I live in a world of paranoia, where the 1 minute in which you leave your child outside one block from a busy street is the 1 minute in which she magically learns to unclip the sticky clip on the stroller harness, partly because years of urban living have taught me that ne're-do-wells probably won't harm your small child but they might steal your expensive stroller (which is not to say that city people steal more than rural or suburban people, but that city people are more aware that they may be stolen from), and largely because I didn't want to end up like this woman or this woman.
The 1970s, when I swam alone on empty beaches without life guards, I can't imagine that I will ever experience that again.