The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (Bill Bryson) - Broadway Books - 2005 - 270 pages

The 1950s were a great time for us boomer kids to live.  It was an age of innocence between the awful World War II and "our war" in Vietnam.  There were so many of us of the same age and we were curious about everything.  We ruled the neighborhoods while our fathers worked and our mothers maintained the households.  Author Bryson recounts stories, with ample amounts of exaggeration, about his formative years in Des Moines, Iowa.  But, many of his experiences were the same as those we had from California to New York City.  In those days before fast-food franchises and digital devices, every city had unique landmarks.  Sadly, those days have passed and only exist on the pages of books like this one.  Although Bryson's memory of the simpler time is excellent, I believe that most of us avoided the types of trouble that he and his friends encountered.  The following passage says it all for me:  [JAM 9/3/2021]

"They insisted on knowing strange things, which I found bewildering.  If you asked to go to the restroom, they wanted to know whether you intended to do Number 1 or Number 2, a curiosity that didn't strike me as entirely healthy. Besides, these were not terms used in our house.  In our house, you either went toity or had a BM (for bowel movement), but mostly you just 'went to the bathroom' and made no public declarations with regard to intent.  So I hadn't the faintest idea, the first time I requested permission to go, what the teacher meant when she asked me if I was going to do number one or number two.  'Well, I don't know,' I replied frankly in a clear voice.  'I need to do a big BM.  It could be as much as a three or a four.'"