Throwback Thursday: “YOU CAN FLOAT ON AIR!”

Here’s another bizarre relic of Boys’ Life magazine in the 1980’s — an ad for what was apparently a $4.95 do-it-yourself hovercraft.  (Kids needed to read that entire ad to understand that what this company was selling you was not the “AIR CAR” itself, or even its parts, but only “plans and photos.”)

A pal of mine in the Cub Scouts had his heart set on this, but  I wisely cautioned him that you couldn’t always trust advertisers.  (I’d learned my own lesson a couple of years prior from the duplicitous marketers of “Sea Monkeys.”)  You’ve gotta read the whole thing through, I told him.  Pretend that you’re dealing with the least trustworthy kid on the school bus.  It was one of those truly rare moments in my life when I counseled circumspection to others instead of vice versa.

He was pretty zealous in his desire for this thing.  For some reason, he really wanted to take it out over the Long Island Sound (to … Connecticut, presumably?)  I’m still not sure why he didn’t want a jet ski. We indeed had those in the 80’s.  Oh, well.  As dreams go, it wasn’t the worst that a kid could have.

He never wound up sending away for it.  I’m not sure if that’s because I talked him out of it or not.

But here’s the stunning O’Henry-style postscript — I’ve read a few Reddit and Twitter posts from men in their 40’s who also remember this Boys Life ad, and who actually sent away for the plans.  A couple of them claim that they successfully built this device, and that the damned thing actually worked.  (Cue the theme music for Christopher Nolan’s 2006 “The Prestige.”)  It certainly couldn’t hold 100 pounds, they qualified, but it technically still worked.

I guess if I ever run into my old friend from the Cub Scouts after 40 years, I owe him a hovercraft.

 

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Throwback Thursday: 80’s-era Scouting handbooks.

If you were a Scout in the 1980’s, then I’m sure you remember these.  Yes, I was a Scout for a while too, and I fully realize that will amuse a lot of people who know me.

I’m pretty sure I aced that whole Cub Scout gig, as its only real requirement was being polite to adults, along with maybe doing good deeds every now and then.  I did just fine at the “Webelos” stage too.  Being a Boy Scout, however, had many more requirements — they included, among other things, not dying of exposure.  And here was where the expectations of scouting at last exceeded my natural aptitudes.

So I wasn’t exactly John Rambo out there.  If the Boy Scouts had voted on superlative awards, then I’m pretty sure I would have won “Most Likely to Die in the Wilderness,” or maybe “Most Likely to Perish in a Fire He Inadvertently Started,” or maybe even “Most Likely to Arrive at a Girl Scout Meeting by Mistake.”

Oh, well. I had fun with it.

The painting on the Bot Scout Handbook below, by the way, is “Come and Get It” by Norman Rockwell.  Here’s some trivia for you — if you’re ever surprised by the sheer volume of the man’s paintings, that’s because he completed more than 4,000 in his lifetime.

[Update: I see that I misspelled “Boy Scout” as “Bot Scout” above, but I’m leaving it there because it’s funny.]

 

 

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Homeland Insecurity.

I was never anything resembling Eagle Scout material.  But I was a Cub Scout since I was old enough, and I was a Boy Scout for a year.

I never heard an adult connected with the organization even mention politics once.

I just can’t believe the extent to which Trump seems to constantly betray his own insecurities. Everything he says seems intended to show us that he is somehow better than Obama or Hillary. He’s like a child who repeatedly proclaims that he is smarter or tougher than the next kid. If Trump has so much confidence in his superiority, then why should he feel the need to endlessly remind the rest of us?

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe needful competition is even more sincere.