Today’s lesson pertains to one of the most essential, most versatile pieces of equipment you can ever own. Yes, I’m talking about that three-year-old, half-full roll of duct tape.
We used to call it “100 mph” tape when I was active duty. So named because that was the speed at which it would disappear if you left a roll unattended for more than two seconds. OD green or black were the only colors the Supply Sergeant had on hand. Sometimes, you even had to turn in the used/empty roll in order to receive a new one. You always had to “justify” why you needed a new roll.
This multi-use product was invented in 1943 by an Illinois mom named Vesta Stoudt working at the Green River Ordnance Plant near Amboy, Illinois. Over the years, this crucial piece of equipment has been mistakenly referred to as duck tape. This is probably due to the fact that when it was invented in World War II, there was a need for waterproof repair tape. This new tape could resist/shed water like the back of a duck. Ergo, the association with the tape and the fowl.
If you have ever worked with this product, you are aware of its pros and cons. Pros: it’s low-tech (anyone can use it). It holds everything together (for a while). The color matches the rest of your equipment. It works underwater (sort of). It can be used as a Band-Aid or to secure a splint. Cons: If you accidentally fold it over on itself you’re done; it’s not coming back apart. There is never enough of it left. You can only get black when you need green, or you can only get green when you need black. Someone will always leave it behind when everyone thought it was packed up.
Fast forward to today. Duct tape comes in every color under the sun, including prints, plaids, etc. I even found a couple rolls imprinted with little camper trailers on it. My granddaughter likes the pink rolls plastered with daisies. You can still make a temporary repair on just about anything these days with duct tape. Now, it comes in just the right color or pattern. To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite PBS shows, “If the women don’t find you handsome, they can at least find you handy.” Go out there and fix something!
George Keck is an Army retiree, a drummer, and Lawton resident, off and on, since 1964.