Uranium Glass

Some of you know what this is and some of you call it by various names like “Vaseline glass” or “Depression glass.” For those of you who have never heard of this, just make a trip to almost any antique store and you’ll undoubtably see a display of this kind of glass somewhere, hopefully on full display with a blacklight or ultraviolet light. Now, for those of you who are wondering, yes, it’s radioactive…but not enough to give your goldfish a third eyeball or anything…I don’t think…anyway, unless you put your goldfish into a bowl made of this glass, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

I mentioned the blacklight or ultraviolet light…this is used to bring out the glow. It’s really cool to look at. We have a display cabinet full of these glass pieces and at night, we turn on the blacklight and use it as a nightlight…a bright green glowing nightlight. At Halloween, we throw in some big glow-in-the-dark plastic spiders to make it cooler still. At least the grandkids are enthralled with it.

The history of this glass goes back to the late 19th century through the early 20th century. During the World War II years, uranium became a controlled substance and the making of this glass ceased. Since the end of the cold war, it has resumed but not in large quantities. Besides, the old glass is cooler anyway. The alien-type glow from these old pieces is mesmerizing.

I look at this glass and all kinds of ideas enter my head. Wouldn’t a Christmas tree with all glow in the dark ornaments be cool? The strings of lights could all be little blacklights and in a dark room, it would be an eerie sight. I’ve also looked at the uranium glass buttons my wife has. I’d love to fit them to my eyes and wear a blacklight necklace or something to make them glow. I’m pretty sure I could scare a grandkid or two with that get-up.

1ST GRANDKID: Why is the room so dark?

2ND GRANDKID: I dunno…maybe the power’s out?

Just then, an eerie sound comes from the doorway…

1ST GRANDKID: What’s that?!?!

2ND GRANDKID: Are those glowing eyes?!?!

Then I raise my hands with the uranium glowing fingernails shaped like claws…

ME: Grrr, arrrrrr, growl (and other monster noises).


Yeah, that would be fun. For some reason, however, my wife doesn’t think it would be a good idea to traumatize the grandkids. Personally, I think it’s my right as a grandpa. It would build character and give them something to talk about for years…

1ST GRANDKID: Remember when grandpa scared us with that glow-in-the-dark stuff?

2ND GRANDKID: Yeah…something was wrong with him, huh?

1ST GRANDKID: I dunno, he wasn’t near as funny when they upped his meds…

2ND GRANDKID: Yeah, but when he escaped that asylum, that was pretty cool.

1ST GRANDKID: Yeah, it made the news. “Crazy old veteran escapes asylum to further scare more grandkids.”

2ND GRANDKID: I remember that.

1ST GREAT-GRANDCHILD (1st grandkid’s kid): Is that why we can’t see him?

1ST GRANDKID: Yeah…that and the third eyeball he grew from all the uranium exposure…

Ok, maybe it’s not such a good idea…but I still assert my grandpa rights whenever I can. I still think it should involve some scary stuff, but I’m more afraid of my wife than I am the uranium. Those grandkids don’t know how lucky they are…


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