Jay Greeson

The TFP's business team had a story earlier this week on the worst toys of this holiday season.

The list was dotted with potentially "dangerous toys," and high on that list is a super-charged Nerf gun. Somehow Ralphie wanting a Nerf gun rather than a Red Rider BB gun and getting taunted about shooting his eye out with a spongey Nerf bullet does not have the same romanticism.

That said, some of the names of toys on the "worst list" are downright terrifying. There's Spike the Motorized Hedge Hog for kids 18 months and older. Uh, no thanks.

Or the Nickelodeon Frozen Treat Slime, which looks like a frozen dessert, not unlike mint chocolate chip ice cream, but is not intended for ingestion and has a "harmful chemicals" warning on the label.

Were the Asbestos Bake Oven or the Tick Farm already taken? It's pretty clear that the folks who crafted some of these toys do not have kids.


A different time

For those of us of a certain age, dangerous toys came not with a warning on the box as much as a stern warning not to break anything.

Here is a list of toys we had and enjoyed back in the day that would fare way worse in the eyes of kids today:

> A stick. Be it a sword or a bat or a machine gun, we all played with a stick. (And yes, we played with stones, too, and yes, they both could break bones.)

> A can. Friends, if you did not play kick the can in your neighborhood, well then your childhood was not complete. And easily the best memory of every game of kick the can was ending the game with one final player hiding and not telling other players so they spent another 30 minutes under a bush in your backyard before figuring it out.

> Lawn darts. Seriously, kids, ask your parents — heck, your crazy uncle may still have some of these deadly spears in the garage — about how we'd get out there and start playing with these javelins in a game of darts or golf. And then how it turned into Lawn Darts Dodgeball. Wait, never mind that.


Obit observations

We are close to Thanksgiving, and we all have things to be thankful for, whether we realize it or not.

Sometimes those reminders to be thankful come through life-changing pain.

Which brings us to Obit Observations, and coming off the 21 Veterans Salute this paper did earlier this month, the pick was rather clear.

James Johnson died Wednesday, and the 1943 Soddy-Daisy High School graduate was 94.

He served in the U.S. Army from September 1943 — about four months after graduating high school, mind you — to December 1945 and received a Purple Heart and four Bronze Stars, among other honors, according to the obituary.

And while that screams to another time of sacrifice and patriotism, the fact that Johnson was the last living of 12 children — and all of their spouses — born to Isaac and Stella Johnson screams of the ties, the joys and sorrows of family.


Obit observations, part II

OK, this one was online and is not exactly the run-of-the-mill version of our Saturday chats.

Tim Tebow, the former Florida quarterback and NFL first-round pick, said goodbye to his dog Bronco earlier this week. And the emotional goodbye went viral.

If you have ever been in that situation, you can share Tebow's anguish. When I held our first family dog Grayson as he was put down, well, it turned me into a bawling kid.

In fact, let's try something. If you want to offer an obit for your dog — sorry, no cats allowed — send it to me at, and we'll see if there are some dog obit observations we can share.

Contact Jay Greeson at