Writog? A writer-photographer. Citizen journalist. Unless indicated otherwise all content, text and images, here at www.writog.com (C) Copyright 2006 - 2017 Luke T. Bush

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Location: Plattsburgh, New York, United States

Writog: writer-photographer.

Friday, April 30, 2010

My Way Or The Highway Patrol

The Golden Age of Television. Great shows like Highway Patrol (1955-1959) starring Broderick Crawford as police chief Dan Mathews. Gripping police drama such as the episode entitled "Radioactive."

A "sneak thief" steals a radioactive oil indicator, a metal box with a couple of dials and a tube sticking out the bottom. After the highway patrol spots him the thief throws the device from his car into a junkpile. A trash picker finds the device and sells it to another junkyard to get a better deal. Later a ham radio operator, interested in all sorts of doohickeys, buys the mysterious unit to figure out what it is.

Dan Mathews and the highway patrol must find that ham radio operator, name and address unknown. If he takes the oil indicator apart, removing and uncapping its long tube, he will be exposed to the radioactive pellets inside.

It turns out the hams in the city have an evening broadcast, a swap shop and information pool, dealing with their hobby. Dan contacts the amateur radio station and has a warning sent out.

In the meantime, the last buyer of the device takes it home and shows it to his pregnant wife. Shortly later he manages to separate the large tube from the rest of the unit at the work bench in his radio shack. He's about to uncap the tube when his wife feels faint, dropping some dishes. He has her sit down in front of the device while he gets her a glass of water. Suddenly recovering from her fainting spell, the wife takes the tube apart, the radioactive pellets falling out on the table. Fortunately the husband runs in and pulls his wife from the room, explaining that the pellets are radioactive, dangerous.

Dan Mathews and a scientist show up. The husband worries that his wife has been exposed to a potent dose of radioactivity. The scientist asks the wife how long she was exposed. She replies a couple of seconds, maximum. By my stopwatch, it's fourteen seconds after she popped off the protective cap and looked inside before she's pulled away. According to the broadcast warning, more than five seconds exposure can be deadly.

So it looks like this young pregnant wife is going to give birth one of the X-Men mutants. But the scientist accepts her two-second maximum exposure story. He smiles. No need to worry, he explains. He gets that much exposure every day when he inserts and removes the pellets. No bother.

If that's the case, then why did everyone act like the device was an atomic bomb ready to explode? Of course, if they didn't, the viewer would've tuned out 25 minutes earlier.

Better yet, why didn't the device have the black-and-yellow symbol for radioactivity painted on it or RADIOACTIVE in bright red letters? That's right. People were stupider in the 1950s -- at least TV cop show scriptwriters.

The 1950s device depicted in this image is:

A. An American-made radioactive oil indicator.

B. A Russian-made personal vibrator.

"So big boy -- you read much Freud?"

Scientist: "You were only exposed for two seconds? Don't worry; I get that much exposure every day. Look at me -- I'm only 25 years old."

"This is Ducky Drake, WIRY Radio. I think the Tea Party should burn down the Plattsburgh Public Library. Is it just me?"


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