Monday, June 24, 2013

When Toys Were Dangerous

When I was little, just because something could kill you was no excuse not to play with it.  I used to sneak into my brother's closet and get his bow and arrow.  I would spend hours shooting the arrow straight up in the air and watching it come down.  Most people are familiar with the Longfellow poem The Arrow and The Song, or at least it's opening stanza, "I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to Earth I knew not where..."  Fortunately for me, it wasn't my head...or anyone else's.  Only slightly less dangerous was when I would do the same thing with Jarts.  Jarts, a contraction of Javelin Darts, was the brand name of lawn darts, a game similar to horsehoes involving metal-shafted projectiles you would launch at round target rings.  Brightly-colored plastic fins guided the darts to their mark.  Lawn Darts were offered by various companies in the 1960's through the 1980's.

I found a couple different sets in the past month at garage sales.  The graphics on this box bring back memories.

The business end of the Jart

This set is by Franklin.

Their darts featured a blunted tip

All metal-tipped lawn darts were banned from sale in the United States in 1988 due to use by dumb kids like me.  Granted, I'm sympathetic to the families of children who died as a result of the misuse of lawn darts, but it seems to me a strike in the head from a horse shoe, not to mention other childhood activities such as bicycling, football, climbing trees, handsprings, etc., could cause the same kind of damage with the same end result.

Lawn Darts are once again for sale in a non-lethal form featuring all plastic bodies and fat, rounded tips.

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