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Inspired Contributor
deaver
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

[ Edited ]

Hello again!

 

Empty house status is what I and my brothers and sister had when we were in high school.  A place to hang out with no adult supervision! 

 

Message Edited by rkubie on 02-16-2009 06:56 PM
Wordsmith
kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Empty-House Status

I have learned that applying today's standards to a story that was written in a different time just doesn't work.  I also have the experience of growing up in a small rural community during the 60's where kids were out on their own all day or at someone else's house.  Many times there were aunts/uncles around and the community looked after the kids.  It seems that Benjie and Reggie's parents felt the boys were safe in Sag Harbor and that their intent was to join the boys on the weekends.  I haven't finished the book yet, so am not sure if there was a reason for their absence.

 

The parents lack of concern regarding food and electricity as others have pointed out, seems out of character, when you get the sense that this is a close family in other ways and that these parents try to be involved in their boys' lives during the rest of the year.

 

Perhaps this was a way that the author was able to develop his story, that couldn't be done with the parents there all of the time.  When we have Mr. Whitehead with us, hopefully he can shed some light on this.

 

Kathy 

Contributor
mchwest
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎08-15-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status

I'm looking at the empty house status two ways, for the more affluent, staying alone was not so abnormal for the children in summer communities. Also in a true summer camp community there are so many mothers keeping track you could leave the kids for a day without worrying... so this didn't disturb me at all. Look at the popular teen shows on today, Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill,(my daughters favorites), there are not many parents in the shows plot at all!
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bookworm_gp
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status

At first I was upset at the "empty house" status. I never left my kids alone, not would they leave their kids alone. But after thinking about it, I realize that was a different time and place. Parents and kids knew each other well and looked out for each other. I live in the city where homicides are so common, last year there was a running tally in the newspaper. Too bad we can't go back to a more innocent time. I think our kids miss out on having that extended family.
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Distinguished Wordsmith
aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status

The thought of empty house status sounds like fun for awhile. Being alone would be great, but I think it would get old fast. Having to clean up all at once at the end of the week (with maggots living in the pots!) would be a huge chore! Not something I would want to do every Friday. Also, I think it would be a little scary being only fifteen and alone at night. I live in a safe neighborhood and there are some nights I get the daylights scared out of myself by some noise outside my house!

I understand why the author chose not to have the parents stay with the kids all week. The story is much more exciting from Benji's point of view without the parents there. If they were present I'm sure the electricity would have stayed on, there'd always be food in the house and hopefully no maggots in the dirty pots!

April
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c1937r
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-01-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

Teenagers need responsible adults who will be models for them.  Maybe it was physically safe to leave Benji and Reggie alone during the week at that period in time and in Sag Harbor  but I don't think it was psychologically safe.  The boys had each other but at a very vulnerable age, they had no one to help them make mature judgment calls.  Wise decisions about food, power supply, peer interaction, etc. are issues that teenagers aren't necessarily equipped to respond to.
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Sassy398
Posts: 56
Registered: ‎11-03-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status

Having Empty-House Status shows a great trust, but unfortunately it really could not

aply to this day and age. With todays strict laws for minors,a parent wouldn't dare leave

a teen home alone.

Inspired Contributor
lg4154
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎02-06-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

I wish I would have had the empty house. They must have had a high degree of trust to be left alone. In this day and age, you have to be more cautious in this regard.
Distinguished Correspondent
biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status


aprilh wrote:

The thought of empty house status sounds like fun for awhile. Being alone would be great, but I think it would get old fast. Having to clean up all at once at the end of the week (with maggots living in the pots!) would be a huge chore! Not something I would want to do every Friday.


I enjoyed reading about the whole processw of selecting wich frozen dinners would be consumed for the week. Some of the brand mentions I have not thought of since the 80's myself. Other than canned soup I don't thing that were were many dirty pots to worry about. They seem to live off frozen dinners including the Chicken Cutlet Medley from Wieght Watchers in the "pink" box. I enjoyed the line "...the sight of pink box sliding across the scanner rousing mysundtymanhood issues,..."

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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luv2readPG
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎02-05-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

"Empty-HouseStatus" in the late seventies my parents left us 3 teenagers for weekends, it was just different then. We loved it and had great parties, luckily no real disasters, though there could have been. We were girls so we shopped and cooked as necessary, but I can imagine that for boys, who women normally take care, the novelity could wear of quickly when you soon realize that no one is going do the disnes, clean the toilet for make your next meal! And will you be in trouble for the mess later.
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Re76
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎11-18-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status


dhaupt wrote:

Coming from a complete Midwestern upbringing, I found the empty house status rather disturbing. I mean it's great to trust your kids enough to leave them alone for an evening or while your at work during the day, but for an entire week? And it's not my thought that these kids would get into trouble while being left alone, but what if an injury would occur or what if the house burned down while they were fixing their tv dinners? These kids are about 10 years older than my kids, but even when I was a kid my parents wouldn't have thought to leave us alone for so long.

But as far as the brothers thought, it didn't seem that they thought it out of the ordinary, their only concern was finding a job to supplement the credit at the local grocery store. 


 

I also grew up in the Midwest and came from a large family. I would have done almost anything for an empty house status. Both of our parents worked ( which was not the normal in our neighborhood). So when Mom went to work, the seven of us were left alone for about 2 hours before Dad came home. But we had Mrs. H. on the left and Mrs. Z. on the right. If anything out of the ordinary was occurring, believe me, they were calling us, or updating our parents as soon as they drove in the driveway. Nothing got past either of the neighbors, they watched us like hawks. I wonder if the Sag Harbor was more of this type of neighborhood. Where adult neighbors were more family and kept close watch over the kids. Although from a teen's mind, they were on their own.

However, being a parent now...I wouldn't consider leaving my teens alone for a week even with close neighbors.

Renee

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GSB65
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎12-06-2008
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Re: Empty-House Status

"Empty-House Status" is when the parents are away at work for the week and the kids are home alone.  This is the house that the kids would gather for the day because there would be no parents hovering over them.

 

I personally didn't see anything wrong with it.  It seemed like they lived in an area where there were other adults around that could help if it came to it.  My parents were home every night, but I was left home all summer long to take care of my brother and sometimes neighbor kids when I was in my early, early teens.  Times have changed, it seems to be a more violent world and it is scarier to think of leaving your kids home alone, but in the same sense maybe the upcoming generations would have a better sense of responsibility and a harder work ethic if they were left to their own devices.

 

I think for this story it has been necessary to have no parents around.

New User
enumer
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎01-28-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

In the 70's, we were left alone (sort of, there were 6 of us) for most of the summer, just seeing parents occasionally.  Of course, the oldest was supposed to be in charge - but we weren't very respectful of the oldest, & didn't often do as told.  It was very stressful for all, not having clear boundaries.  But we did mature more quickly than peers that had more supervision.  Lots of bad things could have happened, but it was a very small community, as was Sag Harbor, where everyone knew everyone else.  Benji & Reggie were good kids, & handled the responsibility well.  This book brought back many memories, good & not so good, about that summer.
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nikki824
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎01-29-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

"Empty house status" is any kids dream but as you can see they are children and they need parental supervision. Dirty dishes, not enough to eat so they have to get jobs, maxing out store credit at the neighborhood store. All these things show that it may be fun to have freedon at 14 and 15 but it's not peaches and cream.
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Empty-House Status

I thought that "empty-house" status referred to the boy's position with their friends, as well as their independence. Now their house was the hang-out. They had the dubious honor of being the place that everyone would congregate, the place from which all plans would be made, the place where they felt free from parental pressure. I thought it elevated them somewhat in their group.

So far, they seem to be pretty well behaved, as well. I was surprised, though, that the parents stayed away for as long as they did. I have been to Sag harbor and it is a wonderful place. It was relatively safe in that time period, also. I don't remember anyone even locking a door. Days were filled with bikeriding, ballgames, sunbathing, shyly looking for the opposite sex, ice cream parlors, etc. I don't think the news was about sexual predators or child abuse. The times seemed more innocent, wholesome.

The boys were teenagers and seemed pretty independent, getting their own jobs, preparing minimal meals, shopping, etc. I can't imagine getting a babysitter for them. I had babysitters for my kids who were younger than the boys were, but I never left them overnight, just for a few hours, and I was close by. The length of time they were left alone troubled me but perhaps they had proven themselves to be very responsible young adults and their parents trusted them with good reason. It seems that today, the world is "bigger" scarier, fraught with danger and also it seems that everyone is always looking over everyone's shoulder. I don't remember Child Protective Services being a part of my life when I was young or when I raised my kids. I never even thought about them or their relationship to anything in my life.

twj

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reader76
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎02-05-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

I think that empty house status gave Benji and Reggi freedom and also gave them the honor of being the meeting post for Benji and the gang.  It did have drawbacks though as most people indicated.  They didn't have enough food in the house and Benji and his brother had to budget their money until their parents came out on the weekend, but sometimes they didn't come out at all.   

 

I do agree that back then leaving them alone at the beach house themselves was not unusual but nowdays that would not be a likely option for parents to do.  But I think if I was Benji with having the run of the house at the beach, it would certainly be a fantastic adventure!

Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Empty-House Status

I would imagine there was enough "credit" for the food that would be necessary if all of the friends of Benji and Reggie had not used the house as their meeting place. 

 

I grew up in the late 60s and my parents would no more leave us alone all night as fly to the moon (for good reason, I might add).  I can't imagine be left alone for over a week, although I'm sure there wasn't a lot of trouble they could get into on an island with no transportation besides old bikes. 

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dmt14
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Empty-House Status

When I think of Empty House, I think of it two ways. The first way I would have to put myself in that time period of a 14, 15 year old boy. What a great time I would have had. I would have actually ended up learning more from my mistakes and the lessons I would have learned would have been life lessons that I would have taken with me throughout my life. Got to get a job to eat. Each action brings with it a consequence.

 

Now when I think of leaving my boys ages 16 and 13 at a beach house all week alone in 2009 that's a different story. Sure if I asked them if they wanted to do that they would answer yes without hestiation. But, I could never because first they would kill each other and second times have changed and the kids today would never be able to exist without Mommy doing things for them.  To however think of it from my mom's point of view back in the 80's, I remember two weeks during the summer when I was 17 and my brother 15 my parents went to Hawaii and we stayed alone. I had a job my brother didn't. We basically got along but it was tough and yes I did learn some life lessons mainly nothing is as good as it appears to be.

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KCHaughawout
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎02-09-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

I enjoyed the talk of the food in the 80s too. It brought back memories of my dad and us fending for ourselves when mom worked 2nd shift. Those TV dinners were nasty but we ate them and were happy about it.
Karen


"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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KCHaughawout
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎02-09-2009
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Re: Empty-House Status

The empty house status didn't bother me. The book mentioned that other kids had the empty house status too so it wasn't uncommon at that time. In today's world it would be unacceptable. I think it was a good thing that the kids had to get jobs and fend for themselves. It probably added to their character later in life. It also kept them out of trouble. It wouldn't happen today because of safety etc but it wasn't unusual back them. I too was a latchkey kid in the 3rd grade. There were no after school programs available back then and both of my parents worked. We had a neighbor to go to if we had problems.
Karen


"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson