Most of us adults should have been dead long ago. Not necessarily because of our ages, but because we grew up around a collection of games and toys that should have surely done us in.

Big Wheel/Ryn Gargulinski

Big Wheel/Ryn Gargulinski

With all the hoopla about safety these days – and toys that are recalled because they have an extra 0.001 part per million of lead – it’s a wonder any child born before the turn of the century is not bleeding somewhere in a ditch.

Some moms may have been on to something, banning certain toys from the household and making me grow up without the thrill of being shot in the head with a BB gun.

But others let their kids play on or with the most hazardous of playthings – although the toys were certainly not considered hazardous at the time, but rather all in fun.

Like Slip ’n Slide. This product basically consists of slick piece of plastic that is made wet and even slicker by hooking it up to an outdoor hose. Kids then run full force at the thing, hurling all their weight in its general direction. If mixing slick plastic with high speeds and reckless children is not asking for trouble, we don’t know what is.

Trampolines are right up there with Slip ’n Slide for their ingenious way of putting young children at risk. Our neighbors kept theirs right on top of their cement patio.

Big Wheels could mean big trouble. This chunky little plastic tram-like thing looked innocent enough. It was short enough for some tiny tots, had a set of pedals that sweetly propelled the thing like a Flintstone car, and a fine hand brake on one of the rear wheels. It was also just the right size to fit behind a blind spot of a back bumper of a car pulling out of the driveway. Bye, bye Big Wheel. Oh, and the brakes sucked.

Yoyo/Ryn Gargulinski

Yoyo/Ryn Gargulinski

Yoyos were a big no-no in our house, thanks to my uncle who somehow managed to knock out one or more of his teeth while playing with one as a kid. If we think about it, a yoyo is akin to a large rock tied to a very long string that is meant to come back and smash you in the face. Why you’d be holding a yoyo up to your face is another wonder altogether. I had a green one with little flashing lights that lit up every time it unfurled.

Yoyos are, well, child’s play for injuries when compared to the Clacker. The Clacker is not a toy with which you may possibly hurt yourself – it is a toy with which you are guaranteed to hurt yourself.

I never played with the things, or even heard of them, until a friend of mine described how it consisted of two large marbles tied together with string. Kids were supposed clack the marbles back and forth while they swung wildly out of control and inevitably knocked in someone’s skull.

Speaking of skull fractures, we cannot forget those plastic platform sandals that, with the flick of a switch, turned into plastic platform roller skates. These faux shoes were hazardous even without the little wheels engaged.

These contraptions were kind of like tying a kid’s feet to a pair of plastic blocks with wheels on the bottom and telling them to stand up straight. Actually, it was exactly like tying a kid’s feet to a pair of plastic blocks with wheels on the bottom and telling them to stand up straight.

The sandal skates would be a great accessory to wear while riding the Big Wheel or hurling yourself down the Slip ’n Slide.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who got her first blood blister from stepping on a little metal car that had a devil’s horn on the hood. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at E-mail

logoWhat do you think?

Did you have any toys as a child that would be unheard of today? What?

Were you ever injured by one of your playthings? Do tell.