Woodworking With The Curmudgeon As A Child

I grew up a generic unimportant resident of a strange distant place called America. I had an utterly nondescript, boring, upbringing; which is about the best thing that can happen to a kid. It was a different world than the one we inhabit now. This post proves it.

A few months ago I found a treasure among the discarded things of childhood. I present to you the physical reminder of a happy childhood arms race:

Exhibit One (fun shooty goodness!):

Rubber Band Gun, Model 01a.

Exhibit Two (smart kids know to double tap!):

Rubber Band Gun, Derringer Edition.

Exhibit Three (hold my beer and watch this!):

Rubber Band Gun, Four Shot, Zombie Apocalypse Model.

I can’t remember how old I was when I made these. Clearly well before the discovery of trucks and girls. The reason I stopped was my Dad’s cheap little bandsaw. It wasn’t holding up to my abuse so I chose to stop using it on scrap plywood. I did this before it could give up the ghost and get me (rightfully) blamed for the expense.

Here’s the funny part. I sold these things. I sold them in school. I brought them to school, fired them in school, and sold them to other kids at school. (They immediately fired them back at me, to everyone’s mutual amusement).

It was good clean fun. I don’t recall getting into trouble (about the rubber band guns at least). I remember selling at least one to a teacher. I doubt teachers or administrators were delighted with my antics but they were sensibly indulgent. Apparently they let it slide. (Or maybe they hated me with a white hot loathing but I somehow eluded punishment. One can never be sure of their own memory and I was a slippery little punk. Or maybe I was punished and forgot? Being on a teacher’s shit list wouldn’t have bothered my young self one bit so it’s both a possibility and a moot point.)

At any rate, I was a manufacturer and purveyor of illicit homemade unregistered rubber band guns. Good for me! I’d forgotten about it until I found these plywood concoctions.

Incidentally, I’ve tested them and they still work. They don’t appeal to my kids but I can load and shoot a rubber band faster than they can run. (I did it as an empirical test. It was for science! Also it’s good to be a dad.)

It boggles the mind. I wasn’t expelled, pumped full of Ritalin, or carted off to a re-education camp. There were no protests, the school wasn’t evacuated, and no administrator had a hysteric fit. Nobody put an eye out, fatalities were zero, and I wasn’t carted out of homeroom in handcuffs. How rational life must have seemed back then.

Most of my memories of school aren’t so delightful. I mostly remember drudgery; a bored slab of meat chained to a desk being talked at by dull apparatchiks. I must have learned something but I doubt it’s anything I couldn’t have handled in six weeks a year. Even so I have proof of some fun times. Fun? At school! Such a strange notion nowadays.

Rubber band guns… who knew? It’s like stumbling across an old raft and suddenly remembering you were Huck Finn.

About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.
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7 Responses to Woodworking With The Curmudgeon As A Child

  1. Mark Matis says:

    …shall not be infringed.

    That actually USED TO mean something.

  2. abnormalist says:

    Three or four decades ago, I used to sell home made blowguns at school.
    PVC pipe painted, handles made from leather and electrical tape. Darts from roofing nails, paper, masking tape, and hot glue.

    Incredibly dangerous, lethal to small animals. For demonstration purposes I would shoot a daert at a piece of pine, and could drive the nail 1/2″ in at 20 yards from a 2.5ft gun.

    Never even got told to stop, and sold to more than one teacher.

    Gotta make some of those with the kids….

  3. Educated Savage says:

    I’m only in my early 30’s and some of the stuff we did and talked about in school would probably get us suspended now.

  4. BruceB says:

    I was a Jr High chemistry nut, had two chemistry sets. Lots of colorful chemicals to make even more colorful and sometimes exploding chemicals. Aced HS chem w/o even cracking the book. They’d never sell them now.

    • Max Damage says:

      Remember those calendars the teachers used to have on their desk? You know, the 3’x2′ things with the local bank logo on them and advertisements from the local businesses around the edges? I used to make ammonium tri-iodide at home and paint certain days with them. Friday the 13th was a favorite, of course. Teacher would be at his desk, working on something, scratch scratch scratch (poof!). I thought it pretty good fun, and never killed anybody so I’ll just stand on my record here…

  5. Doug says:

    I remember bringing rifles to shop class so I could work on the stocks. Making pipes in shop class. Had a science teacher that was an EOD tech in Vietnam. He taught us how to make some real big boomers.. All in the name of science. Everyone carried a pocketknife or a Buck 110 on thier belt. Streakinf the Homecoming game got you detention, not arrested and put on the sex offender watch list. No bike helmets. got our asses spanked once in a while. And we had FUN!

    • Max Damage says:

      Grew up living outside of a small town on the farm, in grade school a few of us would grab shotguns and walk to school hunting pheasant, quail, doves, partridge, squirrel, and pretty much anything else our parents told us we could shoot. We’d hand the shotguns and shells to our teachers when we arrived, they’d stack them in the little wooden coat closet, we’d get them back and the end of day and load up again once we’d hit the railroad tracks to walk back home. Oh, and you had to clean any game prior to school and put it in a plastic bag or else they couldn’t put it in the fridge in the teachers lounge for you.

      By high school there would be deer rifles in the rifle racks of our pickups or trunks of our cars, parked in the parking lot, and over lunch we’d come out and admire the one taken that morning. Nobody cared. If you missed home-room the only valid excuse was you were field-dressing game and your excuse would be validated, often with a high-five from the teacher.

      A buck knife and a set of pliers in sheathes were the uniform of the day, we wore them everywhere but church. The smell of hog manure never left our boots, and we never seemed to get the grease and dirt from our fingernails even for prom.

      Harvest and planting time I’d go to school on Monday morning, get my assignments, and turn them in the following Friday. Nights spent doing my homework by the dome light in the tractor cab, and so long as assignments were turned in that was a day at school, not listed as tardy or absent. Tests we had to take in person, but they scheduled around us. Just like on Wednesday, a church night, no homework was given. There was a certain respect for community norms.

      This seems to no longer be the case.

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