Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Fecal Regatta

It’s probably a good thing that I have never had children and never will, because they would hate me. The reason they would hate me is because I wouldn’t get them all the cool things their friends have. No child of mine would have a cell phone. When I was a kid my mom gave me ten cents and said “If you have an emergency, call home from a pay phone”. There would be no television in the bedroom, no computer with internet in there either. I see the videos these kids make and post on You Tube, that can only happen behind closed bedroom doors. No kid is going to make a crazy video, with half their clothes off, in the living room with their parents watching.

I’m not so sure about the video games either. This newest one called Wii does at least get them up off their asses and make them move. When I was a kid there also was a game system by that name, except it was spelled ‘We’, meaning us. ‘We’ made up games and played them outside in the fresh air. One of our favorite games in the fall, was to make a dummy up from old clothes stuffed with leaves and drop it out of a tree in front of oncoming cars. For some reason adults didn’t think it was very funny. To us it was the height of excitement and it gave us some exercise, with the climbing up the tree, then the running from the irate motorist.

My favorite summer game was the ’Fecal Regatta’, that was held in the creek that ran through Tinley Park. My brother and his friends would build small boats out of two by fours and other wood scraps, then launch them in the creek near the middle of town. I was on my brothers team and my duty was to run ahead and make sure the boat kept flowing freely with the current. Sometimes this involved stepping into the creek and nudging the boat free from what it had been snagged on.

Back in the nineteen fifties, Tinley Park had no sewage treatment facilities, no separate sewer line for storm runoff and no separate sewer line for household sewage. Every time you flushed a toilet, your turds went directly to the creek that flowed through town. Directly to the creek that we played in. Those ‘snags’ our toy boats got caught on, sometimes were not fallen branches. There was also the occasional ‘balloon’ floating along with our boats, which at the time I thought some kid had lost. Kids today, protected by all the anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners would probably die if they were plunged into that situation. For us, it just built up our immunity to diseases, and got us some sick days from school, oh yes and probably dysentery.


  1. Yes, but the rest of Tinley Park flushed directly to the creek which was actually Midlothian Creek. Tinley Creek didn't even run through Tinley Park, it ran through the forest preserves a little north of town. Don't try to screw up my premise for a story with some facts.

  2. I remember being told "Oh, those are balloons, but don't play with them!". Yes, there were some pretty interesting debris in the Vogt's woods trench. What government agency would be on that case today? I remember the creek too. Great nostalgia, Alan! Thanks.

  3. Interesting story, Alan. I especially like the responses by your family. Sounds like their recollection is sometimes a bit different, but that keeps the conversation going. Even better.

  4. yeah, that's what we folk here like to call "livin on a septic".

    Tereg is really witty.