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Amid nationwide discussion on the importance of accident prevention and safety education, Tin Pan Alley songwriters Irving Caesar and Gerald Marks wrote and advertised Sing a Song of Safety (1937), a book of songs that taught children domestic, playtime, and traffic safety lessons, illustrated by Rose O'Neill. Caesar secured a recurring guest segment to perform the songs on the variety program The Royal Gelatin Hour in 1938. Focusing on Caesar's segments, this article examines the role of children's music on the radio in the 1930s. Placing these songs in their historical context, I show how they both portray and challenge citizenship and community roles with regard to age, gender, and race. After unpacking the context of The Royal Gelatin Hour and the relationship between protection and innocence in safety education, I describe the portrayal of parenting in the segments. Taking one of Caesar's segments as a case study, I examine boyhood and race in the program's adaption of the safety patrol. By investigating the role of children and the construction of childhood in these initiatives, this paper addresses the relationship between children and media and early uses of media as a surrogate for parenting. It examines the use of popular culture in public safety efforts, the synergy of and tensions between service and profit, and the use of music to convey societal duties in everyday life as they shift throughout the life course.
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