It's all fun and games until...

by Susan Utley

A few weeks ago, my husband and I sat by the river talking about the good old days when we were kids. It was one of those “remember when” conversations that old people have. Here’s how it went:

“Remember when we never wore shoes in the summertime?”
“Not one of us stepped on a rusty nail.”
“Ever wear a bicycle helmet when you were a kid?”
“Did they even sell helmets back then?”
“Remember lawn darts?”
“Oh my gosh! Lawn darts! I loved that game!”
“They’re illegal now.”
“Yeah, just because some kids couldn’t play by the rules and got impaled by a lawn dart.”
“I never knew anyone who got impaled by a lawn dart.”
“We should get some.”

So that’s how it all began. This is the journal documenting the procurement and demise of one set of vintage lawn darts.

Day One
The search for lawn darts is on! My first google search reveals vintage set on Craigslist for $175.00. That’s a little more than I wanted to spend. Seems lawn darts are scarce.

Day Two
Today I modified my search terms and discovered plans to make my own set of lawn darts using a potato and a penny nail. Emailed plans to my clever and talented father, who also happens to own welding tools, to see if he can make me a set of lawn darts, minus the potato of course.

Day Three
Father replied in the affirmative but will require plastic fins. A new google search reveals website selling replacement parts for lawn darts. While it is illegal to sell assembled lawn darts, one can purchase all parts necessary to build their own set. Cost to build set of four: $400 plus shipping. Cost of little plastic fins: $50 each. Back to Google.

Day Four
Received email from father. He found set of vintage lawn darts on Craigslist for twenty bucks and rushed over to meet the man for the “exchange.” Noticed nasty scar on forehead. When father asked why he was selling so cheap, the man said he found them while cleaning out the attic. They were meeting in a trailer park. Ah well, father says lawn darts in the mail tomorrow. Only $12 for shipping! So excited!

Day Seven
Still waiting for lawn darts to arrive in mail. Getting anxious as I am certain mail lady has discovered valuable contents and swiped my package. Calling father to see if he insured illegal lawn darts.

Day Nine
Lawn darts have arrived complete with original “Jarts” brand packaging and Official Rules! Raining today. Can’t wait for the sun to come out!

Day Ten
Sun is shining! Took Jarts to river and sat down to read the rules. Safety, blah, blah, blah, warning, blah, blah, blah, okay here we go: Place plastic rings 25’ apart. That seems kind of close. Threw first lawn dart and overshot by about fifteen feet. Placed rings further apart in order to get more height. Made up own scoring system as official rules too complicated. Husband won first round of lawn darts! 21 to 6! I love this game!

Day Eleven
Targets are a bit small when placed further apart so went to Walmart and bought two hula hoops for $12. Played second round of lawn darts at river. Husband won again 21 to 10. I’m getting better! Husband says I need to work on my stance.

Day Twelve
Husband says I’m leading with the wrong foot and need to adjust my grip. Husband won again 21 to 16. I’m showing signs of improvement!

Day Thirteen
Getting tired of walking back and forth to pick up lawn darts. Suggested rule change: each player stands at opposite end of lawn dart playing field (in safe zone of course!) Husband skeptical so went to Walmart to buy bicycle helmets. $24.99 each. Mine has pink flames.

Day Fourteen
Following my opening toss, husband refused to play with new rule change. Back to walking. Dropped lawn dart on husband’s foot. Took husband to emergency room and claimed accident with rake. Husband received tetanus booster and paid $50 co-pay. No stitches! Note to self: the wearing of shoes is probably a good idea when playing games with pointy tipped objects. By the way, husband winning 16 to 5 at time of accident.

Day Fifteen
Decided to practice while husband at work. Nosey neighbor kid came over to tell me lawn darts are illegal. Gave him ten bucks to keep his mouth shut then challenged him to a round. I won! I won! I won! Plus, I got my ten bucks back! Invited him back to play again tomorrow. He said he didn’t have any money so I told him I would consider all wagers.

Day Sixteen
Husband won again 21 to 4. If he tells me one more time how to grip the dart…I’m starting to hate this game.

Day Seventeen
While practicing the finer points of “the grip,” accidentally released lawn dart in backwards direction hitting husband in shin. Spent another afternoon in the emergency room. When doctor inquired as to cause of accident, I said he tripped over hose and fell on the rake again. Husband said, “She hit me with a lawn dart.” Doctor not amused. Got three stitches and paid $50 co-pay. Tried to make husband feel better by saying at least he didn’t have to get a tetanus shot. Husband not up for playing today.

Day Eighteen
Looked out window to see husband in driveway talking to neighbor boy and neighbor boy’s father. Boy he looks mad. Husband gave the little snitch his $10 back plus vintage Star Wars Boba Fett action figure. Husband looks annoyed but stitches healing nicely. Maybe he’ll want to go play a round of darts?

Day Nineteen
Husband posted ad on Craiglist:
“Found vintage set of lawn darts while cleaning out attic. $20.00”


  1. ...and I remember the days of "fishing" with M-80s. It's getting close to the 4th of July. I wonder if the South Carolina fireworks stores have any of those suckers stashed in brown wrappers under the counter. Can you ask your father where I can get a pair of welder's gloves on the cheap?

  2. Sorry your hubby had to get stitches, but...great post! What's sad is that kids today don't know fun the way we did. And what's with no sparklers allowed anymore? Even sparklers are banned.

  3. ...if I call recall correctly I think my father fished with something a bit more powerful than an M-80! Now there's a story to tell! As for welder's gloves no doubt he would recommend Harbor Freight. Good protection for all types of explosives...err I mean welding projects.

  4. Omg, Mr. Vagabond and I had a similar "remember when" conversation just last night. Bicycle helmets and knee pads seem so ridiculous considering we both survived childhood without them. Then again, lawn darts may be illegal for a reason. LOL! Hilarious!!

  5. Good post!

    Yes I've had those conversations with my husband. We rode bikes with no helmets. Never got hurt. I still won't wear one now.

    We played croquet in the yard. Set up the hoops and knocked balls through the hoops with a mallet. One time my sister swung and hit the neighbor kid in the eye. Uh oh. Kid was okay, and we still played croquet. After a while.

  6. I'm guessing we can assume that all lawn darts for sale on Craigslist are the result of similar emergency room trips. Did you actually end up in the ER twice?? Great post!

  7. Two emergency room visits in one story! That's championship stuff there. *Amy, who lives smack in the middle of South Carolina's fireworks belt, makes note to look for M-80's next month*

  8. *roars with laughter* Awesome post!

  9. Read this again, just because I could...so funny! I've had the same conversation..."Did they even make bike helmets back then?"


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