I have lived in Dickinson for nearly 3-1/2 years now, and I have never seen children playing in the street. When I was a kid, I spent about 25% of my time playing in the street. I would try to do tricks on my bicycle, I could ride my bike backwards very well. I could only ever do wheelies for about ten feet. I could hardly ever do front wheel stands. We would build bigger and better ramps in the street, and measure how far everybody jumped. If there was somebody dumb enough to do it, we would stand garbage cans upright for someone to jump over, which meant they were going to land on them.
If there happened to be a grocery store shopping cart in the neighborhood, we would take a hacksaw and cut the basket off the top of it, and make a chariot out of the lower part. We would get a rope, tie one end to the seat of a bicycle, the other end to the front bar of the grocery cart chariot. The bicycle would ride down the middle of the street, the chariot rider would swing out to the curb.
About 25% of the time we would spend on “forts”. Some of the time was spent inhabiting and maintaining existing “forts”, part of the time was spent prospecting and building new forts. This seemed only natural to do. I had a good tree fort in my yard, which I sometimes spent the night in. I ran an extension cord out to my tree fort and had a TV in it. However, there was a need for additional “forts” elsewhere. We constructed a pretty good tree fort about half a block away in somebody else’s yard, without them knowing about it, which is the best way to do it. We salvaged lumber from people’s trash piles, or obtained lumber from other people’s yards. We had another tree fort about one block away over a storm drainage canal, it was very picturesque.
I never see kids in Dickinson playing in the street, I never see them building tree forts. I have not seen one tree fort in Dickinson. I have written several blog posts about how the culture in Dickinson is different than from where I am from. For instance, I have mentioned in past blog posts that there is just about nothing an out-of-state person can say that they have, without someone in Dickinson not liking it and having resentment. If you said that you had an aquarium, a trampoline, a pool table, or a swimming pool, people in Dickinson would not like it, they would think or say,”We don’t need any of that shit around here!” I explained in previous blog posts, that after visiting the museum in Medora, and having talked to long-time residents in Dickinson, conditions in North Dakota had been very difficult and poor up until the late 1970s when there was an oil boom.
I have only ever met two people from western North Dakota that know how to play. One of them was Miss North Dakota, who I wrote about meeting in a previous blog post. Miss North Dakota’s family members have all commented, that while they were all trying to get work done, she was always playing. When she was in school, instead of participating in sports, she was off playing. She plays with cats and other animals. She just wants to play, she is still playing, and she doesn’t want to get married until she is in her forties she says. The other person that I know, is the same age as Miss North Dakota, and she plays with her cats and dogs too. I am not talking about go fetch this ball, I am talking about,”Here is your house, and here is your hat, and here is your jacket, put this on.”
The other unusual thing about Miss North Dakota and the other young lady, is that they don’t have a kid yet. Many other young women in western North Dakota get pregnant right away. For them, it’s not like, let’s play doctor, or let’s play house, it’s “I’m pregnant. No, I’m serious, I’m pregnant.”
What I have noticed in Dickinson, is that there is not a wide range of thought, it is kind of narrow. I have written several blog posts titled “Advice to Women in Dickinson”, where I wrote that young women should not think of moving in with a guy right out of high school and getting pregnant, as the only thing there is to do.
At this point, this post is probably upsetting and hurtful to people from Dickinson. I am not trying to be mean in this post, other posts I might be, but not in this one. I want to point out, that people from out-of-state like myself, come to Dickinson, and experience some culture shock. In the South, where it is warm, people play. People surf, sail, swim, canoe, jet ski, water ski, ride horses, play tennis, play golf, roller blade, skateboard, mountain bike, play volleyball, have paint ball battles. Here in Dickinson, kids don’t even play.