Monday, March 31, 2008

Baby Boo-Boo

Does anyone else remember Baby Boo-Boo? I swear, I did not hallucinate this. At least, I'm pretty sure I didn't.

Most of you have probably seen those spam e-mails about how amazing it is that any of us children of the 1970's survived to adulthood. No seat-belt laws, no helmet laws, public smoking allowed everywhere, etc. In the park I frequented, on Eglinton just West of Yonge St., the high monkey bars on the jungle gym ran for around 12 feet at a height of 10 feet off the ground. I know of at least one kid who broke a wrist when he fell.

However, let us not accuse the adults in our lives of not taking an interest in our safety! The children of Canada had Elmer the Safety Elephant to give us tips on how to play without getting hurt. And once a year, Elmer would show up at my primary school with the Toronto Police, to give us a lesson on street safety.

These visits were always scheduled during warm weather, so we could all be called out into the main schoolyard, a huge enclosure that was entirely paved in asphalt. The police probably talked about things like not taking candy from strangers, but that's not the part that I remember. What I remember is Baby Boo-Boo.

Baby Boo-Boo had the thankless job of teaching us why we should look both ways before crossing the street.

She was a plastic doll, around 3 feet tall, with a cap of blond hair and big blue eyes. They didn't even bother to dress her. As several hundred primary school children looked on in fascinated horror, the police would sit Baby Boo-Boo on an orange traffic cone. Then one of the cops would get into the squad car, rev the engine, and deliberately run her over.

She had a cavity inside her hollow body which they would pre-fill with cherry Kool-Aid, so after the car cleared the scene, she'd be left lying on the asphalt, limbs splayed, in a puddle of red liquid.

And that, kids, is why you always have to be careful crossing the street! If you don't pay attention, you'll end up like Baby Boo-Boo.

Can you imagine the outcry from parents if this violent demonstration were used today? People would freak out. And think of the message we all got: during our few annual minutes of interaction with actual police officers, we saw them deliberately run over a naked, child-sized doll. Probably not the best way to build faith in our society's protectors.

They did succeed in making an impression on me. I remember few moments from my school years with this much clarity.

So, seriously. Does anyone else remember a Baby Boo-Boo?

18 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

LOL... I had no baby boo boo, but I wish I did. I bet the officers got in fights each year to see who would get to drive the car and run over little baby boo boo.

unsigned said...

Blinky... I remember Blinky...

jameil1922 said...

LMAO @ Baby Boo-Boo!! THAT IS HILARIOUS!!!! oh man i love that. in elementary school they would always trot out gus the bus. retired school bus that they brought back from the graveyard who talked and knew all our names. hilarity. we loooved gus the bus.

1218Blog said...

Baby Boo Boo!!! Never heard of her. And why was she naked?! And why did they have a naked doll sitting on top of a orange code. I can't even tell you the images I have in my head from this. LOL!!! And they to run her over. TRAUMA!!

Leighann said...

Wow, I'll never be able to drink red kool-aid again!!

Karen said...

Don't think this made it to the US. Sorry. We had McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog to teach about safety.

San said...

FABULOUS post, Red!

No Baby Boo Boo in my past. The closest would be when they showed movies to us when we came of driving age. Movies of people drinking, climbing behind the wheel, and promptly getting killed by a speeding truck. Then they showed us alcoholics' brains getting sliced up in a lab. Made me not want to drink, or even drive sober, let alone go to biology class where we had to dissect fetal pigs.

R.E.H. said...

No Baby Boo-Boo in my youth, but from reading this, I kinda wish I had! LOL!

I just think kids, and people in general, are being over-protected these days. Come on... we can take care of ourselves, can't we?

Dianne said...

somehow Baby Boo-Boo disturbs me. never heard of her but she disturbs me. I could just picture my son thinking it was cool to throw stuff in front of oncoming cars.

whatigotsofar said...

Reading this post, the name Elmer the Safety Elephant sounded pretty familiar, but I couldn't place the image. So I googled it. First picture and it all came back to me. I've got no clue on Baby Boo boo...

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I bet they did! I wonder what nickname they used for her when the kids weren't listening. Drunken Debbie? Priscilla the Prostitute?

Unsigned: Who's Blinky?

Jameil: A talking bus? Awesome! I love what adults dream up to get kids' attention.

1218blog: I'm guessing that she was naked because they didn't want to have to deal with a sticky, stained doll's dress after the demonstration. But really, it would have added a touch of civility to the proceedings to give the poor girl a frock to cover her tush.

Leighann: *Kool-aid Man bursts through the wall* OH YEAH! *and gives you the thumbs up.*

Karen: McGruff is a perfect name for a helpful dog. He could have been friends with Elmer the Elephant if he ever travelled to Canada.

San: Thank you!
There's no denying that Baby Boo-Boo made an impact. I'm always careful when I cross the street. There's something to be said for shock value.

R.E.H.: Yeah, I agree that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Kids in big cities rarely play outdoors at all anymore. I'm glad that we figured out the importance of carseats and bike helmets, but there's something to be said for taking a few risks in life and knowing that you can survive, even if you fall sometimes.

Dianne: Back in the 1970's, kids weren't exposed to so much violence-as-fun. I don't remember kids getting jazzed and thinking it was cool, like they might today, now that violent video games are so prevalent. Or maybe that's just me being overly nostalgic.

unsigned said...

Google Images for Blinky Metro Police car. It was a talking police car with a giant face on it. It would show up at school and talk about safety. Then it would whisper a "secret" to one kid who was sworn never to tell what Blinky said. They'd put their ear to the grille and listen. I never did find out Blinky's secret.

PixieVonAzia said...

lol what a funny post! Sorry no baby boo boo me. Actually I don't really remembered what they used to teach us not to cross the street naked and have blood pooling out of our organs if we got hit by a car :D

Those cops would have been so fired! And you would have seen the whole thing on Youtube.

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: Thanks for explaining. Blinky sounds pretty good.

Pixie Von Azia: When I cross the street naked, the cars all stop to let me pass, and they don't seem in a big hurry to get going again, either. Therefore, crossing the street naked is safer. ;-)

savia said...

Okay, that is seriously fucked. Are you sure that wasn't just a Toronto Police thing? Because we had Elmer the Safety Elephant (they even had a flag they ran up the flag pole to show we were a safe school) but we never had a Baby Boo-Boo.

Maybe that's because I was her? In kindergarten, I ran across the street in front of the school (after my friend) and got hit by a city bus. Fortunately, it only tapped me and I didn't have any real injuries, but I'm sure many a lesson was learned from my example.

Mostly: city bus routes shouldn't run in front of elementary schools.

Kelly said...

So, they tortured a naked baby doll child and made her ooze her own blood on the pavement? I'm sorry, what were they trying to teach you again? Other than, don't trust the po-po, because they are crazy. Seriously. That is the message I would have walked away with.

Sparkling Red said...

Savia: I think it may have been only in my division. Which is a good thing - only a few children were subjected to their strange shock tactics.

Kelly: The police are scary enough without associating themselves with violence during childhood's formative years. I used to be scared of police officers. (Although since then I've met a few really nice ones, so I'm not a police-hater now.)

Derek Rubinoff said...

I remember the Toronto Fire Department showing us nightmarish movies about cartoon people starting fires with matches and ending up with the devil. Bedford Park PS, mid-1970s....