AS the first of May approaches, I'm reminded of what the date meant to my neighborhood gang on the West Side of Charleston in the 1950s and 60s.
With only three channels on TV and no air conditioning in most of our houses, playing outside was our best fair-weather option.
Children of today should be jealous.
On my block there was never any shortage of playmates for hide 'n' seek, Mother May I or one of the many variations of tag.
We had a grand time.
And it got even better on May 1, the date when most of our mothers permitted us to go barefoot.
Wiggling my toes in soft green grass can brighten my mood to this day.
Going barefoot was fun in itself, but we also realized it would be the first in a series of great days. On Memorial Day the pools would open. A few days later school would be out.
We lived by the rituals -- and rules -- that we absorbed right along with learning to tell time and read the calendar.
Come Labor Day, the pools would close and the shoes were back on our feet.
Rules change over time and rightfully so. I also recall the bees I stepped on, the scorching sidewalks and the occasional rusty nail or piece of glass.
These days most parents can afford to keep their children in shoes year-round. That's probably for the best.
Sometimes it's best to give up on rules we no longer need.
But do we have to discard them all?
Why is it necessary, for example, for police officers to station themselves at intersections across the city and watch for drivers running red lights?
A co-worker once commented that right-turn-on-red-after-stop was the beginning of the breakdown of civilization. I was struck by the thought.
When the law was first passed, people carefully came to complete stops before turning on red. Then this began to seem like a waste of time, so they came to rolling stops.