The Police Safety Review – Safety from the 50s II

As promised, here’s the full 24-page booklet distributed by the Cape Girardeau (MO) Police Department in the mid to late 50s. Click on any image to make it larger, then move through the gallery by clicking on the left or right side of the picture.

Beware of Strangers

Two pages have an unsual use of the word “moron.” They define it as one who molests young children – either boys or girls.

(“Your Parents Will We Pleased to Explain This Matter More Fully.” Yeah, I bet that was just the discussion they wanted to have at the breakfast table in 1956.)

I’ve never heard the word used in this context, it doesn’t show up in any online dictionaries that I could find, and my copy of the American Dictionary of Slang is silent on it.

Check out Rube Goldberg on Page 22

You normally think of Rube Goldberg’s crazy inventions, but this looks more like the Don Hesse style in the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Actions have consequences

The overall message of the booklet is that actions have consequences. That’s not a bad thing.

1950-Era Safety Tips for Children (Part 1)


We Baby Boomers grew up in a time of contradictions: on the one hand we were told by friendly turtles that we’d be safe from a nuclear explosion if we ducked ‘n covered under our school desks; on the other, we were constantly being warned that some activity or another was likely “to put an eye out.”

While rummaging around in the time capsule otherwise known as my Mother’s attic, I came across a 24-page publication, The Police Safety Review, which had been distributed by the Cape Girardeau Police Department. There’s a 1954 Rube Goldberg cartoon – yes, THAT Rube Goldberg – in it, so I’m going to guess it was published in the mid-to-late 1950s.

Police Safety Review Cover

Safety bottom line

Do something illegal or careless and you’re likely to be

  • Killed
  • Injured severely
  • Scarred for life
  • Arrested
  • Have your bike taken away
  • Have a mark on your permanent record
  • All of the above


Hold on to truck, be crushed to death

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Ignorance of the law: die on way to hospital

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Racing without looking: killed instantly

The Police Safety Review 09 thumbnailRide next to trolley tracks: fractured skull

The Police Safety Review 10 thumbnailsFail to stop: severe injury

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Racing with head down: seriously injured

The Police Safety Review 12 thumbnailRide on the sidewalk: seriously injure a child

The Police Safety Review 13 thumbnailFailure to stop: die on way to hospital

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Ride on handlebars: scarred for years

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Train for Century: break your bike, go to hospital

The Police Safety Review 16 thumbnailThese boys were training for a 100-mile ride between Chicago and Milwaukee when they got their signals crossed and crashed into each other. The editor was obviously disappointed to note, “The riders were not violating any city ordinance because they were outside of the city limits. The editor fails to find anything pertaining to participation of bicycle riders in races or endurance contests. On the contrary, these boys were not racing but were training on a highway; however, their act is a dangerous practice.”

Ride on park path: arrested, bike impounded

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Don’t maintain your bike: die

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Think about your boyfriend: never walk or ride a bike again

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Here’s where you can find the whole booklet

Here’s a link to the whole booklet as a gallery so you can see the “rest of the story” that lead up to these horrible consequences.

There’s an excellent chart of bicycle parts and some very detailed pen-and-ink cartoons that are fun to look at. Overall, the publication makes some good safety points.