Ladies, remember taking the stem of an apple and twisting it around as you recited the alphabet, to try to find out the first initial of your next boyfriend's name?

If you already had a boy in mind, you would pull just a bit harder when you got to his initial. That was fun, but of course, it wasn't any better at giving you a real answer than the Magic Eight Ball did. I've tried it a few times now as an adult and it still doesn't work, but it was fun.

On "America's Funniest Home Videos" they've shown a multitude of ways that parents use to remove a child's loose tooth. I remember my Mom trying to pull a loose tooth of mine out with a string and I wouldn't have anything to do with it. The baby tooth would be hanging on just one small piece of my gum and yet it was trauma city whenever she approached me with the dang butcher string in her hand.

I have no idea why I was so determined to keep that tooth in my mouth, but for some reason, it was very important to me. Even being reminded of the "Good Tooth Fairy" and her gift of money for the tooth, gave me no wish to let it be pulled out.

Back then, the money left in exchange for the tooth was usually a nickel, and that could buy a lot of candy at the corner store. I've heard now that dollars are left, I guess I should have hung on to those baby teeth longer than I did. I have no idea who came up with the "Good Tooth Fairy" story, but they sure had a great way to make losing a tooth easier for children.

I really only had two fears as a child: my mother's whipping with a willow switch if I did something wrong and the air raid drills during World War II. I was terrified that someone who didn't even know me would drop a bomb on my house to kill me.

Starting at age 6 until I was 8, I traveled from Sioux Falls, S.D., to St. Paul, Minn., all by myself on a Greyhound Bus. Mom would use the butcher string to make a long necklace for me. On it would be a card with my name and home address and on the other side would be Grandma Davidson's address.

I would just show the card to the bus driver and they would make sure I got on the correct bus. Then there was always some nice older lady on the bus that would sort of take charge of me, taking me to the bathroom and lunch counter when the bus made its rest stops. They also made sure that I got back on the right bus when it got ready to leave.

I felt so grown up to be able to travel by myself and was especially pleased when I found out that others my age were afraid to go anywhere by themselves. I could put a lot of money on a bet that parents wouldn't let their young children do that nowadays.

It's really a shame that there's so much fear now and many children are overly protected. They never get to experience the fun of being on their own and running free around the neighborhood with their friends like we did.

Maybe in some small towns in other areas they still get to do that.

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.