The Great Condom War Of 1932

By Robert W. Sconce

what a hell


Psst, buddy! Slip me a can of condoms, will you?

This is probably the way I put it to a trustworthy pal who worked at the drug store. That was in 1932 when I was a lad of 14 and condoms were largely unmentionable among respectable people everywhere. Still, I thought it time I found out about such things, so a friend and I collaborated on a condom caper. He had the 50 cents. I had the gall.

We both agreed that our parents would kill us if they found out, but we felt we must take that chance. We expected to get exciting merchandise with possible aphrodisiac side-effects. No such luck. Instead, what we got reminded me of grandma’s grubby little thumb protectors (she called them thumb stalls), a device used in sewing. Our curiosity satisfied, we decided to destroy the condoms but finally yielded to the waste-not-want-not cornerstone of our home training and hid them for a later stage of life.

I had just the place...three hollow coins in a Mysto-Magic set my folks gave me one Christmas. Perfect fit. The condoms snuggled into the coins, the coins went back in the Mysto-Magic set, and the set went back in its place on a high shelf in my closet where it had been sitting unmolested for several years.

Then one day I made an alarming discovery: The set was gone! Who? Where? When? I didn’t dare ask so the mystery persisted.

On the eve of my departure to the army, I was then 23 and a full-fledged member of the family. I wanted to ask my dad a few family questions. Not about the condoms, of course. That one I planned to carry with me to the grave, but I wanted to know what happened to my Uncle Roy. He was my mother’s brother, and he and his family often dined with us on festive occasions. I asked my dad if he would care to explain why Uncle Roy had simply dropped out of our lives.

Dad, a hard-shell moralist of the old school, was not happy with this question, but he seemed to recognize my right to know. “Son,” he said in a confidential tone, “do you know what a rubber safety is?” I told him solemnly I thought I knew. “Well,” he continued, “a few years ago Roy wrote me a nasty letter having to do with your old Mysto-Magic set your mother had given Roy’s daughter as a Christmas gift.”

Oh, God...I could see it coming.

Seems that when Uncle Roy’s 10-year old daughter was performing magic for a Sunday visitor—their minister, no less—the condoms fell out of those coins, and everybody went into shock. Uncle Roy reacted by writing a “nasty” letter referring caustically to what he called Dad’s holier-than-thou attitude and accusing him directly of hiding his “rubber safeties” in a used magic set which he then tried to fob off as a brand new Christmas gift.

“Pretty tacky!” said Roy.

Dad blasted back with fury claiming the “rubber safeties” were probably some of Roy’s own he’d hidden and forgotten. That did it. Uncle Roy and family dropped out of sight never to be seen by us again.

Though all the leading players in this domestic drama have gone to their rewards, I still feel compelled to clear my conscience before I die. Will the remaining kin of Uncle Roy please come forward? I’ll treat them all to a holiday dinner. They’ll eat turkey while I eat crow. I want to get this outfit back on track again. Contact me at Box 1113, Omaha, Nebraska 68101.

Ed. Note This article was written many years ago by the father of our popular columnist Mark Sconce, who found it only recently.

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