When we were kids, one of the greatest dangers that we faced was that of blasting caps. They were EVERYWHERE! Why, you couldn’t sit in a back yard without some Eddie Haskell troublemaker type finding one in the grass and making plans to put it in your father’s barbecue grill and blowing up your sister!
We must have seen hundreds of public service ads on TV warning us of the dangers of blasting caps. What was frustrating to us boys was that despite the fact that the filmed spots advised us that you couldn’t walk across a vacant lot without stumbling across blasting caps of every conceivable type, we never found a one.
The message of the filmed spots was to make us afraid, VERY afraid. But unintentionally, they turned us into eager seekers of blasting caps. Imagine the sheer coolness of the lucky kid who actually located a genuine blasting cap. The leadership of the neighborhood gang would have been his!
But in my sleepy hometown of Miami, Oklahoma, the closest thing I ever found that resembled blasting caps were discarded electrical parts at my dad’s truck garage. They were close enough to scare the girls at school, though, which was a pretty significant accomplishment in itself.
This 1957 video runs about fifteen minutes. Odds are that if you remember JFK, you saw this in school. It certainly rang a bell with me.
It’s worth a watch for many reasons. Seeing dad roll up in his Lockheed Constellation (quite simply, the sexiest airplane ever built), hearing him talk about his WWII flying days, and the wise words of Mr. Barrow, who was likely old enough to have risked mustard gas and trench foot in the Great War, make it worth your time.
But there’s more. There is some seriously cool retro furniture on the back porch, where tragedy was narrowly averted by Tag, who stopped evil Chuck from blowing up his family. There’s Mr. Barrow’s sad description of a kid who handled a blasting cap and maimed his hand. “He’ll never play baseball again!”
Tell that to Jim Abbott.
Commercials about blasting caps aired on an almost-daily basis in the 60’s. While the adults in the ads were sorely concerned about the potential of the detonators falling into the hands of curious children, my dad would merely grunt if I asked him about them. I guess he knew that the biggest hazard that I faced in my NE Oklahoma hometown was getting popped in the head by a foul ball at the Babe Ruth league that we watched my older brother play in.
But obviously, the danger was out there somewhere. Otherwise, why would none other than Willie Mays be telling us about how much better it was for all concerned if we kids played with baseball bats and gloves instead of those ominous-looking little metallic cylinders with those threatening wires attached?
Blasting caps public-service ads aired all through my childhood, then disappeared from view when I was a teenager in the late 70’s. The IME (Institute of the Makers of Explosives) continue to offer educational materials just like they did in the 50’s and 60’s, but TV stations no longer feel the need to broadcast them on a daily basis.
Indeed, nowadays, we parents and grandparents worry more about things like pedophiles, drug dealers who have no qualms about selling to kids, and psychopathic students who show up at school with anger and loaded weapons.
What would wise old Mr. Barrow have to say about that?