Childhood memories

Some of you may remember playing with this as a child. It’s called a Jart, aka a lawn dart. It was a popular game in the 70’s. I had one thrust into my eyebrow as a kid. You gently underhand toss it (not actually the way we played it) across the lawn (or blindly sail it over a shed, in our version) in an attempt to get it into a round target hoop. It’s like playing horseshoes but with spears. A good family game.

Not many parents would let their kids play this game today. Even now I wonder what my parents were thinking. Families were much larger in the 70’s than they are now and I am sure this had something to do with the laxity in this regard. I have three kids and can basically only keep my eye on two at a time. I grew up with four brothers and one sister. We were considered decent kids but not by today’s standards. We roamed around town on our bikes, outside all day. We played hide and seek in the lumberyard. We had BB gun fights (no shots above the chest). My brother almost blew off his lip, pretending to smoke one of those fake cigarette-looking firecrackers. A pack of us nailed Santa with snowballs one year as he made his annual ride through town on the back of the fire truck. Ring and run and egging a house were occasional nighttime activities. It was all considered good clean fun back then.

There were more dangerous pranks as we got older. Drinking and driving after age 16 was for the most part just fine as long as you didn’t get caught. (If any of my kids read this, don’t even think about). My sister was caught at a big kegger and got an MIP. She remains the only sibling to spend a night in jail. My brother and his friends turned over the sheriff’s patrol car just for kicks. High school initiation rites were the worst. Freshmen could be taken several miles out of town, stripped to their underwear and forced to walk back to town. Seniors would thunk your head with their class rings dazing you well into the second period. I think some of these infractions would put you in Deer Lodge today.

Football was like bootcamp. We played on a dirt field outside the baseball park (watch out for the poles). We had drills like bull in a ring, the gauntlet, vicious hamburger drills, and the occasional ‘just run into that wall’ drill. If you got racked in practice the coach would have you sit on the ground then pick you up and drop you on your bottom a couple times to make sure your testes descended. You know you’ve been kicked hard there when they worry your nuts are too scared to come back out for more punishment. There was not much water at practice but you did get lots of salt tablets for some reason. (My kids on the other hand can’t seem to make it through Malcolm in the Middle without a Gatorade high energy drink). Showering after football practice was even worse. That’s when the fear really set in. The dank basement locker room was similar to being stuck in Hannibal’s cage. Seniors snapped at the underclassmen with towels like Zorro’s whip. The really unlucky ones were hung by their jockstraps. I can’t even discuss the issues with the toilet. My entire freshmen class should get reparations. Where were the coaches? We were dying down there.

Today, most of us tend to supervise our kids a little more and society views these actions much differently. When we hear about the high school athletes who may have vandalized and defecated in an opposing team’s gym we are astonished and horrified. Even by 1970’s standards this was impressive and gross on a grand scale. But kids are still kids; they do dumb, stupid, and dangerous stunts on occasion. (They were wrestlers after all. :) I could sicken you with tales of what my high schools wrestlers used to do to each other.) Fortunately no one got hurt in their prank. They (or their parents) absolutely need to pay for damages. There are way more consequences however for a kid today if they screw up. I liked growing up in the 70’s. Anyone for a game of Jart!


free thought said...

I like to think most of these things are signs of evolution. No need for more stupid stuff, just because the preceding generations survived it. But that reasoning applies more to car seats than jarts.

Kids will always have the means of doing harm with almost anything at hand without the proper guidance of adults--preferably their parents. I believe in how I was raised, that screwing up with a privilege means losing it. And, some dangerous things, like guns, are ok if they are properly supervised.

Unfortunately, the less time we have to be parents, the more we have to rely on sending our kids into a santized world. At least, santized to the extent we try to have control, like jarts, since we all worry about things outside of our control, like the kidnappers, molesters, drug pushers . . .

free thought said...

Oh, and whats up with the picture? The kid has the jart on one side, but blood on the other. And it soaked his jacket but missed his white shirt. I am somewhat suspicious that you are not using an authentic photo.

Hawkeye said...

A classic contrecoup injury pattern very typical of jart punctures. I will have my mom forward some more pics.