Nothing to do but eat ice cream

By By Steve Swogetinsky
June 27, 2001
Growing up in Laurel, I used to spend my summer days cutting grass, going fishing and sitting on the back porch, watching an occasional weather front come through. We didn't have MTV, ESPN or video games back in the late 1960s. As we got older, we got summer jobs at the grocery store.
Fewer jobs
For some reason, probably the economy, there seems to be fewer summer jobs available for students this year. The kids tell me when they go to ask about a job, often they are told by the manager that the business would likely be cutting back on employees before long.
Wouldn't it be nice if the city or county governments could put some of these kids to work, cutting grass along the sidewalks, streets and roads. Just pay them minimum wage, give them a Weedeater and let them go for 20 to 30 hours per week.
There is no way for city and county crews to keep up with cutting all the grass during the summer, and often the tall weeds really make things look bad. Recruiting an army of young grass cutters would be a good way to keep the grass cut on almost a weekly basis, and probably wouldn't cost that much. It would give them a little spending money, take up some of their "nothing to do time," burn off some energy, and maybe teach a little community pride.
I'm sure it isn't as easy as that or somebody would have already thought of it.
Over the years, I've heard parents of teenagers complain about there being nowhere for young people to go, and nothing for them to do. Now that my Steven and Stephanie are that age, I understand what they are talking about.
Penalties severe
You worry about the kids getting into trouble. The laws are different now and the penalties can become a lot more serious. For example, if a group of kids want to go swimming at a nearby creek, they could be arrested for trespassing.
If a teenager drinks a beer and gets stopped by the police, he will likely have a DUI on his record from now on. If that same kid had become involved in an accident and someone is killed, he could be charged with murder.
Please don't get me wrong. We have strong anti-drinking laws in this state for a good reason, and I support them. Because of the rise in violence and youth crime in recent years, the laws have gotten a lot tougher. An incident that might have been handled with a talk to the family a generation ago can now result in fines and jail time.
There is a lot of restless energy that gets bottled up in kids. Then friends start showing up or calling, and they get more restless. You are always hearing about the results of rash decisions made by young people. They go out, looking for something to do. The next thing you know, they've done something stupid and they are in serious trouble.
But what to do? First, you have to define what "something to do" means. Today's kid wants to be entertained by something he/she finds interesting. That can be either a video game(s), a movie, or a place to just sit around and talk. And it helps if you have something for them to eat and plenty of it.
Such havens need to be safe but not confining. And no matter what you do, don't expect them to like it for very long.
At times, I have asked a friend of mine who has four grown children if things get any better. She laughs and tells me that I'm just getting started.
Ice cream recipes
The Fourth of July is fast approaching.
Growing up, Independence Day was celebrated on the same level of Thanksgiving or Christmas at my house. Along with the fireworks and barbecue, I always looked forward to my Dad's chocolate homemade ice cream, which is the best-tasting thing you'll ever put in your mouth.
He'll be making it again this year. Being a diabetic, I can't touch it now. But I can always dream and remember.
There must be hundreds of these kinds of recipes floating around in the East Mississippi/West Alabama area. Wouldn't it be neat if we could share some of them?
If you have such a recipe, how about sharing it with us. Send it to me at The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, Ms., 39355, and we'll share it with the rest of our readership. I'll try to get a copy of my dad's recipe, too.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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