Yesterdays Toys That Wouldn’t Survive Today’s Safety Standards
As my families designated #1 Funcle, I've longed for the day my niece and nephews put down the electronics and go outside to play IRL. It's definitely a generational thing, when the topic comes up around the lunch table just how awesome it was to grow up in the 80's and 90's. Toys weren't really safe, and the more questionable they were, the more fun it was to play with them. Did we get hurt? Of course we did... but you'd have your moment of pain, rub some dirt on it and go back to doing whatever the fun was. Remembering some of the brighter standout toys we had, it's amazing any of us made it through to adulthood.
I think the most famous "dangerous" toy in the world might be the legendary Lawn Dart. A foot long, steel tipped projectile you were supposed to lob across the yard to hit a target some measured distance away. There was always rumors and stories that started out like "I know a kid that knew a kid that took one of these in the face. He died." yet we still tossed them with gusto not really paying any attention to the actual point of the game. For obvious reasons, Lawn Darts went the way of those half parachute, neon retro pants we all had.
There were exactly five boys on my childhood block, and every single one of us had a BB gun. When you've exhausted your millionth round of bullseye and taken out every dragonfly in the drainage ditch, naturally you all decide you should play a rousing game of tag. After all, you don't need to be the fastest since you can reach out and touch people now. There was always an agreed upon "One Pump Rule." BB guns shoot a projectile with air pressure, and the more you pump, the faster and more fatal it becomes, so everyone would enter an accord to limit things to just one pump... but it was always the same story. One kid would get upset, he'd add a second or third pump in an act of revenge, and someone would end up crying. No safety glasses, no armor, real BB's... it's amazing nobody ever lost an eye.
I don't know about you, but the first playground I ever had at a school was built mostly with old power line poles, rope, and stainless steel slides and grab bars. When it was time for recess, we were turned loose to go burn off some energy. Yeah, you'd snag the occasional splinter, but some adult was always there to pluck it out. The heavily weathered ropes would fall apart in your hands, covering you in a dust of fine particles. It was itchy and catching it in the eye was the worst... but above all, that stupid slide was hot as lava baking in the Oklahoma sun. Why anybody thought it'd be a good idea to put a metal mirror on a playground to slide down, I don't know, but looking at school standards these days, I'm amazed a kid could get hurt. Plastic and cool-touch everything, soft and bouncy surfaces... Makes me remember what my sister used to tell me when I was nervous playing with my nephews. She said "Kids are resilient, you can roughhouse with them." Maybe the soft and safe space playgrounds are to blame for the idiotic generations of offended young people we have nowadays. They've never known the pain of sticks and stones.
We had fast motorcycles and discount sale bin helmets. We'd use shovels and buckets to build ramps. We'd fly off those ramps into a dust cloud of carnage, get up and do it again. If you had pegs on the front and back wheels of a bike, you could fit three balanced friends on one bike. Speaking of, we used to ride our bikes from one edge of town to the other, so long as we were home by dark, it was all good. What toys do you remember from your youth that you wouldn't find in the wild today?