The 70s Were Dangerous Business

69

CAUTION: Read at your own risk! No activity mentioned in this article should be duplicated, replicated, or copycatted for fear of injury or death … seriously!

My uncle Gary called me “Boomer” as a kid. I never knew why until recently. Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, following World War II. GIs came home from the war, married and had children. Many Children. There are a lot of us.

Wrist Rocket slingshots, cap guns and coon skin
caps are how we rolled back then.

Cause & Effect

Since so many kids flooded the school systems across the country, certain teaching styles were implemented to get through daily lessons. We were usually divided into groups, or teams, condensing the daily plans. Along with accomplishing given goals with everyone participating to complete the mission. What was implemented out of necessity turned out to be a great life lesson — knowing how to work as a team.

This explains why “Boomers” are more social and generally enjoy working in groups or playing on teams. Since families were larger, parents seemed more relaxed with boundaries. If you were home by dark, no one minded where or what you did during the day. Riding bikes 5 miles or more from home wasn’t uncommon. We learned to be independent. We also learned about taking risks.

Let The Games Begin

Even the games we played involved risk. Christmas involved getting slingshots, BB guns, wood burning kits, and Easy-Bake ovens. Did we ever burn ourselves with these toys? You bet your blistered red fingers we did we did! Nothing a napkin and ice cube couldn’t cure. Did we play BB gun tag? Sure thing! Luckily, we never shot an eye out.

Revenge?

I remember my older brother picking on me to the point of tears. Step in Handy Andy Tool Kit with the miniature hammer. Since I wanted to be an Indian, the hammer made for a fitting tomahawk.

I remember it like yesterday. He was in the neighbor’s yard, and I was in our backyard. With a blood curdling Indian yell, I let loose with the hammer, “TOMAHAWK!!!,” as I released it. It caught him behind the ear and dropped him like a stone. I was amazed I hit him and scared I might have killed him, at the same time. He was fine, minus getting his head shaved for his stitches. Heck, I wasn’t planning on scalping him. I got a pretty good licking myself from dad. Funny thing is my brother stopped teasing me after that.

Just an innocuous pair of death clackers, or perhaps
more accurately called smackers.

Other Dangers

Sure, our parents supplied us with other weapons, too. We had lawn darts, which were nothing but large spikes with plastic fletching’s, to ensure the dart always flew spike first. Getting bored with the round hoops you were supposed to try and throw the darts in, we’d get more creative. We’d see how high we could throw the large darts with an underhanded toss — and scatter! Much like shooting an arrow straight up in the air, another dangerous practice. No one wants a dart to the head, or arrow, for that matter.

Then there were clackers! Or, as we called them, smackers. Made with two large plastic balls, attached with a tough cord, and a handle, you’d “bob” the handle like jigging for fish. The balls would “Clack” against each other, picking up momentum with each hit. Before you knew it, the balls were hitting each other top and bottom, as the arc increased in speed and force. The force generated was hard enough to make the plastic balls explode. Other times they’d get tangled in hair, strangulate fingers or be tossed as bolos, South American style. Ralph Nader had a field day with them.

The picture Tank’s mom took a split second before he pet the bear.
Moms were cooler back then.

Not Just Your Average Bear

As mentioned, I had deep desires to be an Indian. My mom indulged me, and we went to the Great Smokey Mountains for vacation when I was going into third grade. We visited the Cherokee Indian Reservation and met real Indians. I loved it! Along the way, we noticed cars pulled over on a winding mountain road.

It was a bear! People were feeding him, tossing him slices of bread and other scraps. I figured since I was almost full-blown Indian now, I’d pet this bear, taming him for a pet. Be the first kid on the block kind of deal, right? I never said I was the smartest kid, but I did it. The bear didn’t like it much either, standing on his hind legs and snarling at me.

Mom even got a picture of it, which, years later begs the question … why? Why didn’t she stop me? Did she want a picture of her youngest child getting mauled, or eaten by a bear? Of course not, I hope! That’s just how things were back then. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We did the best with what we had and thrived. We developed keen senses of imagination and ingenuity. Maybe too much. Either way, it was fun, we survived, and we developed a great sense of adventure along the way. That’s something an electronic gizmo will never accomplish.

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