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When Garbage Pail Kids ruled the school yard

We often think each generation of children is the one which has sunk to the lowest levels of humanity.

In the 1950's, and early 1960's, adults were horrified to see teenagers dancing to Rock 'N Roll.

By the early 1970's, it was the kids who toked up all day.

These days, it's children who have sex, flirt on the internet, and join gangs.

But it was my generation, who started the trend of black market trading in the school house.

We were trading the scourge of society under the lunchroom table. The things which repulsed adults more than anything else -- Garbage Pail Kids trading cards.

Garbage Pail Kids were BIG with school children in the mid-1980's. They were someone's way of mocking the Cabbage Patch Kids trend, which was also BIG at the time. The catch is that, while Cabbage Kids were cute and cuddly, and palatable to adults, the Garbage Pail Kids were the complete opposite.

The Garbage Pail Kids often depicted someone dying, mutilating themselves, or covered in snot, vomit, or both -- and children sought them out like they were pieces of crack.

Of course, the most memorable Garbage Pail Kids cards were released in Series 4. These are the cards that were most often traded under the lunchroom table at school.

There was the classic Unzipped Zack. This character was shown pulling a zipper down his face, and as the skin slipped away, his skull was revealed -- with a giant crack in the top, so you could see gray brain matter.

There was also Swollen Sue Ellen, who had cheeks that were so swollen, it looked like she had a butt for a mouth.

Max Axe was dressed as a Middle Ages executioner with a black hood over his head, and he carried a blood soaked axe. A basket filled with body parts sat at his feet.

Double Iris had four pupils, two in each eye ball. She wore glasses with four horizontal lenses as a result.

Dyin' Dinah was strapped to a falling bomb.

So of course, the trading of these cards was banned almost immediately in my elementary school. If a teacher, or a staff member, found them in your possession, the cards were confiscated. They were then, either put in the office where only your parents could pick them up, or they -- appropriately enough -- ended up in the garbage.

Well, tell a child they can't do something, and they will automatically look for a way to secretly defy you. It's the law of nature. Children must disobey adults.

In our case, the lunchroom became ground zero for the Garbage Pail Kids black market. There was an order to it all. You'd eat your lunch, then whip out the cards and start trading when lunchroom monitors weren't looking. It was all very sneaky, and like all illegal activities, some people got caught from time to time.

I never got caught, by the way. The trick was to wear long sleeves with loose ends that you could quickly slide your cards into.

In retrospect, it was all very innocent compared to what the youths of today are up to. I guess we could only wish children would revert back to trading Garbage Pail Kids cards.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.