WPD Program Uncovered (A Confession)

ptui_3.jpgVery few were readily available on the open market. The embargo in effect by our parents made their import quite difficult. On occasion, the inspector (my mother) would act on suspicions and and swoop in. We weren't left with much choice. We had to institute our own secret Weapons of Personal Destruction (WPD) program.

WPD were fairly common back then. Just about every kid on the block had or used them at one time or another. The goal was simple � inflict pain and suffering on the other guy while he/she was trying to do the same to you. This was a common aspect of our play activities. If the super-power (parents) wouldn't let you have an open program of acquisition, you had to develop your own.

Our program consisted of three lines of weapons:

Dirt Bombs � Crude, but effective. A clod of dirt about the size of a walnut, hopefully pretty dry to enhance the smoke effect when it struck a person or the ground near them. The mobile launch system was your own arm, a rather crafty solution as it masqueraded as a normal limb during non-aggression periods. Thrown with the proper accuracy, it would strike the opponent and cause a modicum of pain and a very satisfying puff of faux explosive smoke. A secondary result was a nice dirt stain on their clothing.

Pea Shooters � Perhaps the original �you'll take your eye out with that thing� WPD. The ammunition was dried peas. They either came with your store-bought (�No Mom, I spent my allowance on candy!.. really!�) shooter or by the bag from the supermarket. The delivery system was a large diameter straw. This was not easily acquired in those days as plastic straws for thick shakes were not the norm. Most straws were made of paper and of small bore, but a commercially acquired shooter could last several years if hidden properly. All you has to do was put a handful of dried peas in your mouth and shoot one (or if you were really good � two) peas at your opponent. At close range these things really stung. They were easily capable of temporarily blinding a person in one eye and inducing real cries and tears (as I found out from painful experience).


Rubberband Guns � Sophisticated but poor accuracy. The ammunition was a piece of cardboard about 3/4� x 1/4�. The delivery system was wooden gun with a rubberband attached at the front. (see illustration) Stretch the rubberband to the back of the gun and loop it over the notch at the rear. Slip the cardboard bullet between the two strands of the rubberband. Use your thumb to push the band off its notch, propelling the cardboard bullet at your opponent. This was a tricky WPD. The cardboard bullet had a tendency to slice off to the right or left like Frisbee and was very susceptible to wind. This was primarily an indoor WPD. Modern versions of this WPD have dropped the cardboard and simply shoot rubberbands.

I have to make another confession here. I never made one of these things. My supplier was a traitor to the superpower cause (no he wasn't French..). He was my father. While building the upstairs bedrooms and adding the downstairs den, he rewarded our ineffective help with these clandestine weapons. We swore ourselves to secrecy. Now that he is safe from prosecution, the truth can come out.


Grandpa built the upstairs bedrooms?

Yes, a contractor raised the roof and he did all the wiring, interior walls, sheetrock, spackle, etc. That's how I learned how to do a lot of that stuff, even though I was pretty young.

He'd come home and put in a few hours after work each night, trying to avoid making loud power saw noises, though they hardly ever bothered the infant Mark.

Yes, before the upstairs was finished Vickie and I shared the den and Bob and Chris had the basement.

And our father wasn't French, but he was a member of the current superpower traitor class - a Spaniard.

I like your illustrations, Dad. One day, when you have the time, could you draw an updated version of the family portrait you once made, circa something like 1975? Granted, you'd need a huge roll of paper to fit in all of the cousins (and Muriel's tail)...but it would be really neat. You know how much I always loved that picture.

Pea shooters. I forgot about those. Although looking back I can't understand how I forgot. Being the youngest at the time I was frequently on the receiving end of a pea ambush (usually compliments of Chris). I would occasionally find his pea shooter hiding place and exact my revenge.

By the way Corie, I beleive that that illustration you referred to is still down Grandma's basement. I saw it there about a year ago. The faces and arms have faded away making us all look like the invisible man/woman. However I'm sure it can be restored.

Ah, the memories of WPD action on the homefront.
I was wondering if water balloons would fit into this catagory. True, it would be very difficult to put your eye out with one used in the traditional manner.
I remember dear Dad encouraging little Bob and Chris to drop the above mentioned weapons from the second floor window onto Larry Irrizarry's head when he came to call.
No wonder my dates were few and far between (at least the ones from our house).
Hey, at least we still all have both eyes intact.

Yes Corie I do have that aforementioned picture
drawn by your Father and yes Mark is right most of the legs have disappeared. I'll try to copy it but I can't promise anything. Love


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This page contains a single entry by published on March 31, 2004 10:40 AM.

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