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11/22/2016 10:48 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2017

What Did You Do as a Child That You Hid From Your Parents?

What did you do as a child that you hid from your parents? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jay Bazzinotti, 4 patents, 3 books, 2 degrees, 24 countries, 46 states, on Quora:

We built all kinds of explosive devices and incendiaries for fun. We made match head bombs and all kinds of things.

We used to hang out by the tracks and go swimming in a pond right next to the tracks. One time I was sitting on the tracks and looked up, and there was a Budd Liner right there. The engineer must have been asleep or screwing with us. I dived off the tracks with less than a second to spare. My friends rolled out of the way. One sat frozen on the ties inches from the train as it passed. It was one of the scariest things ever.

We used to go into the swamps to look at the Playboy and Penthouse magazines the bigger boys left behind. This was long before the internet made porn readily available to everyone. Seeing a woman's breast in those magazines was a big deal in those days. I can still vividly remember the sense of excitement at looking at them and not knowing why. I can even remember the images and the cartoons.

We used to sneak out late at night in the summer time and walk around the neighborhood with no specific purpose. We weren't looking for trouble, but many people thought we were, and we had to run from the cops on more than one occasion.

There was an abandoned steel works and freight yard we would break into and play in called "Coleman Bros. Iron Works". I am still amazed we were never hurt or killed. It was a dumping ground for worn out equipment, massive granite blocks, cables, derricks and old train cars. Drunks and homeless people lived in the abandoned Pullman cars, passed out in the sleepers. They would chase us and throw empty bottles at us if we bothered them. They were mean.

We had innocent "gang wars" with the kids from neighboring streets where the worst thing that happened was a bloody nose. We thought were going into combat. It's hilarious to look back at it now.

In reality, our parents trusted us and gave us an almost endless rope with which to hang ourselves. We never betrayed that trust, and if we had, their heavy-handed ways would have knocked us right back into place. So most of what we did was innocent exploration and adventure. It would have been more fun had there been more girls in the neighborhood, but the boys outnumbered the girls by a large margin and the ones who were there avoided us for some reason so we did what all boys do -- made up tall stories and wondered "what it was like".

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