REMCO Replay

Freya’s day, and once more to be drug about town by FD SCP. Back in the days when we both worked for the Yankee army five days a week, more at no pay when they wanted it, this happened on Saturn’s day (Ayeh, mythology shift here!)

The process is that I wait around most of the morning, at least to what is the mid point of the day for me, and then we decamp into a motorcar to dash about Greater Metropolitan Arab buying stuffs. So while I am waiting – this is also a day that FD SCP sleeps in – I have opportunity to cogitate and consider.

One of the tabs in my browser is for REMCO Science KIts. [Link] To properly make this connection, I need to be a bit garrulous, which is to be expected of an Old Retired Flatulence. I mentioned a few weeks ago that FD SCP and I had motored up to Oakville to see mounds. I should correct myself to say that we motored up to Oakville for me to see mounds and then to motor to Hartselle for FD SCP to see antiques. So I had to trade my scant minutes walking ground for an interminable number of hours spent going through antique shops.

This is not as bad as it seems since I get to look for stuff I am interested in such as old books and magazines, old fountain pens and pencils, and what not in and around FD SCP looking for the stuff she looks for. I lack the diligence and perseverence she has so a store that takes me ten minutes to scan takes her at least thirty. So I have learned to take my fold up camping stool with me. It serves two functions: it gives me somewhere to sit in the interval between when I get through looking and FD SCP gets through looking; and it really torques obnoxious storekeepers.

Anyway, in one of these stores I ran across a couple of REMCO science kits. Both were used and missing vital parts and the price was way out of range (yes, it was one of those antique shops where the proprietor wants to make sure he/she never has to worry about restocking,) but a flood of memories was unleashed that were quite strong since they had been buried since the event.

I have blogged a couple of times on the American Basic Science Club, and will inflict nothing further on that subject now except to say that the REMCO kits immediately preceded the ABSC experience. The REMCO kits were widely available and were put on the shelves just before Christmas so that parents of nerd children could be enticed to fix their difficulty of what do bog parents get nerd children for Christmas. My parents had already learned that bicycles and BB guns were acceptable but not suitable gifts for an occasion as serious as the gift holy day.

Anyway, I recall getting three (maybe four) of the kits as Christmas presents; I think they were from Saint Nick but I had reached the age where I knew better but kept my mind deluded so as not to screw things up for my younger brother, one of the great unknown and hence unappreciated things that olders do for youngers in complete oblivion.

The kits came in cardboard cans,

with aluminimum end pieces. The upper one was removable; the lower not. Of the three kits one was a dud, the one depicted in the picture which is of a simple balloon impelled projectile project. It may have been science but it was trivial stuff to a kid raised in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill where everyone knew how rockets worked. Well, every kid except the terminal bogs who were destined to be jocks or cheerleaders in high shul.  Only the nerd and geek adults understood, which in retrospect is why I think my parents chose this kit. It was a mystery (in the mystical sense) to them.

I don;t recall what the third kit was right now, but the second was an electric motor and it was a delight. It came with a few metal or plastic parts and a whole lot of varnished copper wire. I spent two days winding armatures before I could assemble the motor – a half hour – and test it with a filched flashlight battery. (In those days, people evidently only bought batteries on demand. When you needed one for a new device or to replace an exhausted one, you put it on grocery list and got it on errands day. No wonder all the propaganda about checking batteries in flashlights and air warning devices.) The thrill when the motor actually worked, with a bit of rotational coaxing to get past the starting resistance, was one of the greatest thrills of my life, much stronger than my first reproductive encounter. (Which may also be a distinction between bog and not bog?)

Anyway, since the shul desessioning at christmas was two weeks and approximately evenly divided, the REMCO kits kept me distracted in full during that last week. And probably taught me a lot more than I learned in shul that year.

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