Mr. Rodman lived in a yellow house a few doors away from us. I would go to his backyard where he often sat and talk to him. Sometimes I knocked on his door. I don’t remember what we talked about it, except one conversation about keeping squirrels from his bird feeder. He made stilts for most of the children in the neighborhood as well as a few other wooden toys. He had a fancy workshop in his basement with all sorts of power equipment.
Did he ever be too close or make me uncomfortable? Once. He let me use his power sander, insisting I wear goggles. He stood right behind me, which seemed mildly odd at the time. I now know he was ready to keep me from hurting myself. That was literally the closest he ever came to me, and he never touched me.
It was a more innocent time. No one worried about sexual abuse. If he lived today, he would have been a lonely old man, because children wouldn’t have been allowed to visit.
I’m not saying we’ve come too far. It is better that we are aware of possible problems and protect children. But we’ve lost something as well. Today’s children will never know a Mr. Rodman, the man who loved children and had endless patience with them. I can regret the loss, without wishing for change.