On a recent trip to Rhode Island, I stopped off at an antiques market. It was a fairly typical arrangement: a red barn with vintage cars parked out front, and loads of vendors inside. Tables carried the usual country junk popular for decorating beach homes and offered no shortage of stuffed and mounted deer heads.
In the back of the market, I came across a glass case containing tiny, precious objects. On its very bottom shelf I found something that totally blew my mind: a gun toothbrush, for kids.
Now, clearly this toothbrush came from another era—a much more innocent one, fixated on cowboys, Indians, and the romantic side of shooting things. It was basically a form of something we see all the time: a toothbrush that’s also a toy, aimed at enticing kids into maintaining better oral hygiene. Well that makes sense, I thought, I see cartoon character toothbrushes all the time, why should this be any different? Still, this one really set me thinking.
The “Gun Brush” (labeled above the pistol grip) is “Made in the U.S.A.” probably in the 1950’s or 1960’s, and not only is it a brightly colored plastic gun, but is has a functioning trigger! So you can click away while you brush your teeth, eradicating Plaque, and any inhibitions that you may have had about putting the barrel end of a gun in your mouth. Can you imagine a company being able to get such a toothbrush on the shelves in this era of drive-bys and schoolhouse massacres—let alone finding a parent today that would buy a toy gun specifically designed to go, point blank, into their child’s mouth?
But, despite being so incredibly wrong by today’s standards, I am attracted to this crazy thing. I feel invited to play with it, and can’t help myself. The kid in me thinks its “cool!” and wants to know if it comes with a holster, and if it can be loaded with toothpaste too?!