Interesting thread John!
I remember them well. You could buy them ay Glens Fair Price in Harrisonburg.
I doubt anyone knew about the law then and since it's a class 4 misdemeanor, I doubt anyone would have cared if they had known.
In those days every hardware store carried carbide and carbide lanterns, We did marvelous things with acetylene (what the carbide and water forms) and used it for everything from cannons to scare crows away from crops, to fishing (Don't ask).
Thanks for sharing!