Eddy Amey wonders how we more mature members of society ever managed to grow up without blowing ourselves up.
He pondered this while reflecting on the toys and substances bought for and handled by children in the middle decades of the last century. It would give health and safety ‘a fit of the vapours’ today, he says.
Eddy, from Fareham, writes: ‘For boys there were carpentry sets (steel not plastic), chemistry sets and steam engines heated with methylated spirits.
‘My only carpenter’s set was a present when I was six. It was taken away after one day after sawing the arm off a fireside chair.’
Eddy adds: ‘Girls might have had cookers [pictured above] and irons which worked from the mains electrics.
‘I also remember that from chemists shops such as Timothy White’s or Boots and hardware stores anyone could purchase such things as sulphuric acid for topping up wireless battery accumulators. There used to be signs in buses warning ‘‘accumulators are not permitted’’ inside the bus’.
‘One could buy calcium carbide for acetylene gas lamps.
‘This was also great for dropping in classmates’ inkwells and creating a stink.
‘Saltpetre (an ingredient of gunpowder) was for food preserving or making fireworks, though most attempts with saltpetre, iron filings and magnesium tape to make fireworks were seldom successful but made spectacular smoke and flares. Happy to say that neither I nor anyone else I knew came to any harm and learned to recognise common risks.’