“Bicycle Face” and Other Warnings About Having Too Much Fun

Young guy with stylish outlook and highway code on the background

I am on the 19th floor of my building, but I can still hear the Mr. Frosty ice cream truck pulling up with its inane but catchy jingle. Its Spring, and even with Coronavirus, people need their ice cream and ice cream means fun

There are, however, those in our society who would scold us for having fun. They don’t want us to laugh too loudly, dance too wildly, or play too aggressively.

They have always been with us. That’s why I was taken by an article in Lapham’s Quarterly entitled: “Kids These Days.”  The article provides some wonderful quotes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th-century periodicals upon the dangers that come from waltzing, bicycles, chess, and more. Here are some outtakes:



Chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements.”


“Young bicyclists, warned one medical doctor writing for London’s National Review in 1897, risked contracting symptoms such as chronic dysentery, dementia, and “bicycle face.”


“The indecent foreign dance called the waltz…”


“The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth,”


“How the towns and streets are filled with lewd, wicked children, and many children as they have played about the streets have been heard to curse and swear.”

Leave a Reply