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Tales of our Beginnings

Tales of our Beginnings Tales of our Beginnings

Cadott • Cornell • Lake Holcombe areas

What were we thinking?

For decades, toys and children’s furniture like high chairs, cribs, walkers, play pens and car seats, had serious safety flaws. Today, products children use are much safer.

There are helmets for riding bikes, skate boarding, roller blading, football, baseball, etc. Sharp corners are rounder, eyes on stuffed animals are non-removable, the paint used on toys does not contain lead and carseats are as safe as an astronaut’s flight deck. Toys are tested for safety and will not be on the market if deemed a threat.

For many years, jack knives and BB guns were rites of passage for young boys, and on July 4, blasts from firecrackers or cherry bombs could be heard throughout Cadott. Those are not allowed anymore and maybe that’s why young people have all 10 fingers and two eyes.

A perfect example of a dangerous, but fun, toy from the 1960s, was the Yard Dart. A yard dart was a fairly large, weighted metal dart with plastic wings like a jet. The object was to throw it up in the air and have it land in a plastic ring some yards away. It was essentially the same as corn hole, except it involved a heavy pointed dart falling from the sky instead of a beanbag.

It is likened the yard darts to an ancient Roman and Greek weapon called a plumbata, which was a weighted spike thrown from some distance, with the goal of injuring the enemy. In spite of this, toy companies thought yard darts were a good way for families to have fun on a Sunday afternoon.

The potential danger of Yard Darts was quickly seen and in 1970, the darts could no longer be marketed as toys, or sold in toy stores. The dart packages had to carry a warning label, stating they could not be used by children. The precautions did not end the series of injuries that followed and in 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned Yard Darts completely. Today versions of the darts can still be purchased, but they are lighter, softer and not lethal.

(Courtesy of the Cadott Area Historical Society)