Monday, August 30, 2021

Roller-Scooter truck assemblies

[From the Johnson Smith & Co. 1938 catalog. Click for a larger view.]

The pitch begins:

What boy doesn’t want a snappy scooter – ’specially if the toughest work is all ready done for him and he knows that when he’s finished he’ll have the smoothest running, fastest shooting scooter any kid could help to build!
And only 65¢!

Well, sort of. What’s for sale here is not a scooter but “truck assemblies.” Truck? I had to look it up: “a small wheel.” What your 65¢ is buying: roller-skate wheels. That’s all, folks.

Lose the tie and sweater and knickers, add a t-shirt and dungarees, and the kid in the advertisement could have stepped from the pages of my youth. In the early 1960s the big kids on my block in Brooklyn rode scooters like this one. The front was a milk crate or produce crate, with a piece of wood nailed across the top for handlebars. The kids rode in the street, which was narrow and one-way, with cars parked on both sides. I remember that they were somehow engaging in games of combat — taking swings at one another, or crashing into one another, or something. I watched from the sidewalk.

Here’s a page with some history about these scooters. Here are some Life photos of scooters. And here’s a post with a cartoon scooter, a real-world scooter, and previous reverie.

Also from this catalog
Comical motto rings

[Every post right now is a retreat from all forms of news.]

comments: 5

Anonymous said...

I think the definition at truck used here is definition 2b, a swiveling carriage consisting of a frame with one or more pairs of wheels and springs to carry and guide one end (as of a railroad car) in turning sharp curves. That is, it's not just a wheel, it's a pair of wheels and an axle and the frame that supports it.

Michael Leddy said...

That’d be a lot of technology for 65¢. : ) The ad refers to “standard roller skate construction,” which I think just means roller-skate wheels.

Michael Leddy said...

And of course the wheels are fixed on metal plates for attaching to a plank.

Anonymous said...

Inflation calculator says 65 cents in 1938 is $12.50 today. That's a smoking deal for a pair of roller skates. If you read the small print in the ad, and the drawing, I think what the buyer received was complete halves of roller skates - with the cunning rubber arrangement that steers the wheels when you lean to one side or the other.

Michael Leddy said...

“Complete halves of roller skates” — yes, exactly, or halves of a skate. : )