Monday, July 12, 2010

Rediscovered! Elmer the Safety Elephant!

I just returned from a trip to one of my favorite stores of all time, "United Unlimited", the "King Solomon's Mine" of the surplus, off-price, factory second and just plain bizzare. Want some of those "Spice World" or "Backstreet Boys" trading cards? Looking for a set of furry handcuffs? Need ten bras but only have a dollar? "United Unlimited" is the place for you!

Today I was lucky enough to find two vintage school workbooks (the "Mammoth Practice Book"...only 10 cents!!), and on the back I found an old friend...Elmer the Safety Elephant. To those too young to remember, Elmer was a perky little elephant with a "Lord Fauntleroy" collar and tie and, if that didn't make him "cool" enough to us school kids, displayed his name on a sailor cap on his head! To me he always looked like an image you'd find on a popcorn box, but I guess Elmer was capable of multi-tasking.

Elmer was found in every school, decorating walls with safety-first-type posters reminding us to "look both ways before crossing streets" and when there was no sidewalk (a real problem in those days) to walk on the left-hand side....FACING traffic. I clearly remember this being stressed....FACE the TRAFFIC. A few wags suggested is was so you could see who was about to run you down, but those negative nellies didn't discourage the rest of us. The safety tips from the back of this work-book were typical of the art and tone of those posters. I especially like # 2-KEEP OUT from between parked cars. It looks like the poor bloke in the plaid cap is ignoring the threat of parking in front of an Edsel. I also like #4-Play games in SAFE places away from traffic. It kind of looks like this SAFE place is in front of a plate-glass window, but at least it was away from traffic.

I remember that schools who demonstrated excellence in traffic safety were awarded by flying Elmer's flag above it, the safety elephant himself looking down joyfully at all the kiddies WALKING when they left curbs, and riding their bikes SAFELY. I don't think our school ever got to fly Elmer's flag, but that's OK. If only he would have left us some popcorn.

1 comment:


I remember this image printed on the back of my little school notebooks. A police constable visited my son's school last week - and they're still using Elmer to teach safety!

He's pretty much the same, but has a new outfit - check him out at elmer [dot] ca