Another reason the roads were so scary in the one thousand nine hundred fifty: Booz Barometer!

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Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 5:19 PM

Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather was tooling around MN in a stylish big-block Ford LIMITED coupe and working on the pinball machines, jukeboxes, and vending machines he owned as portion of his coin-operated machine business.

Another reason the roads were so scary in the one thousand nine hundred fifty: Booz Barometer!

This sobriety-test-themed bar game probably sent many drunks out to crash

While going through thousands of elderly family photographs and negatives, I've found such prizes as shots of this innovative and very Minnesotan VW-powered ice shack built by my maternal grandfather. Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather was tooling around MN in a stylish big-block Ford LIMITED coupe and working on the pinball machines, jukeboxes, and vending machines he owned as portion of his coin-operated machine business.

One of those elderly family photos was this much-faded Instamatic one hundred twenty-six print of me working one of my grandfather's just-retired coin-op machines at age two. The memories came flooding back -- the Booz-Barometer had a screwdriver handle with a loop on the end, and the player had to move the loop from right to left without touching the wavy steel bar. If you did touch the bar, a buzzer would sound and you'd know -- allegedly -- how intoxicated you were. The concept was similar to that used by the elderly Milton Bradley game, Operation. Of course, I was totally unable to work the Booz-Barometer properly, even sober as a judge (or toddler), until I got to be about five years old, and the experience was very frustrating.

Driving is much safer presently than it was fifty or sixty years ago, partly because the equipment (vehicles, tires, headlights, and so on) is much better, and partly because the driving-while-intoxicated rate is a lot lower. The heyday of the Booz-Barometer appears to have been the one thousand nine hundred fifty and one thousand nine hundred sixty, when the social and valid stigmas associated with drunk driving weren't particularly severe, and we shudder to imagine how many bar patrons, after the Booz-Barometer issued them a score of "TEETOTALER" (the fourth-most-sober result the machine offered, on a scale from "SUPER-MAN" to "EMBALMED") staggered confidently out to their Olds Dynamic eighty-eight and plowed into a concrete abutment thirty seconds later.

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