An actresses’ admiration: “That movie of John’s where Michael stuttered, I had to ask him how he did that.”
Let me back up a bit.
I remembered around noon that I had decided last week to call Peg Lynch, the author / actress of the “Couple Next Door.” You hate to barge in on other people’s lives, though. She and her husband are both in their 90s; what are the chances they’ll answer, be interested in talking, or that you’ll get a relative who says “it’s a bad time” or a surly nurse who doesn’t have time for people just calling people up without no good reason?
But. If I didn’t now I never would. So I called. She answered. I said I was looking for Peg Lynch. She said I had her. I introduced myself and said I was from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and apologized for interrupting.
“Oh, it’s fine!” she said. “I was just watching this Olivia DeHavilland movie where she’s crazy. How can I help you?”
When I got off the phone an hour later I was calling her Peg and assuring her I would call before I came. Apparently I’ll be staying in one of the upstairs bedrooms; she wouldn’t think of having me stay in a motel.
I typed as fast as I could when I was listening to her; I really didn’t expect to get what I got. Figured perhaps I’d get a few halting replies, some sighs over things lost to the mists of time and the fragility of memory, but off she went from one tale to another, laughing and leaping from one anecdote to the next. I missed exactly how the letter she was writing to her friend Dame Judith Dench led to the time when she got a call to meet a man at Hurley’s - it had to do with a song - but I’m hammering away, trying to keep up.
. . . well we met at Hurley’s, it was the only place at Rockefeller Center that anyone liked, and Herman, Herman Hupfeld, had a package for me. Wrapped by a man, you could tell by looking at it. Well I opened it up and it was a music box. ‘“It’s from Bogie,” Herman said. I lifted the lid and it played . . .oh, what’s that song, the “Casablanca” song - “As Time Goes By!” That one. And I asked him Herman, when did you write that song? He said, Nineteen thirty-one. I asked him how much did you get paid for it, and he said ‘Twenty five dollars.’” Isn’t that just a shame?
And this was just a throwaway anecdote.
I later learned that Dench starred in a TV show called “As Time Goes By.” I have no idea how she got to know Dench, but she did some work in England that yielded all sorts of abiding friendships, such as the aforementioned John and Michael and the rest of the lads she called “The Pythons.” (She was referring to "A Fish Named Wanda.")
“My daughter is in London, and she had dinner with Michael Palin and his wife last night,” she said.
I’ve put in a request to the paper for travel funds to fly to Massachussets and do the story on Minnesota’s First Radio Star - a woman who, at one time, had 25 million listening to her show and another 12 million on the evening repeat, who counted Thurber, Jack Benny, and JFK among her fans, and who was was so delighted to learn that someone still listens to her work every day, in sequence, the way it was meant to be heard, that you think the world a cad for not having done something grand for her before.
So it’s off to Massachussetts, then. Will also probably do a sidebar on her husband, who was a Norwegian commando in WW2 involved . . . in this.
You can see why I put down the phone and placed my palms flat on the table and exhaled and said “well then.” I'll dole out an anecdote a day for the rest of the week. More to come. Believe me, I think I'm going to have a lot more when this is done. She says she's been putting things together in a book, with the format being a reply to a man who sent her the first fan letter she ever got, in 1944.
He's alive, too.
It's the weekly round-up of absolutely random logos and packages and brands from the rich, pumice-filled, meat by-product-derived products of American industry. We begin with a reminder that plumbers are just like all those buddies you have who charge you $80 just for showing up at your house:
Because America’s too busy to say Copper Alloy!
The plumber is your friend, and would not steer you wrong. The Wheeling Steel Company had a steamboat named after the brand, and this 1929 photo notes that it was scrapped in 2006. Wheeling Steel’s brands have all expired, it seems - look at this collection of DEAD trademarks, all up for grabs.
WALT WANTS YOU
As the kids say: Buh-what?
Of all the people you’d think wouldn’t have to put an ad in a magazine for animators: Disney? It was 1937, and production on “Snow White” was behind schedule - could it possibly be that they put out ads looking for people who come swoop in and animate as fast as humanly possible?
Department L probably alerted them that applicants had seen the ad in Life.
FASTER! ENDOWEED! KILL! KILL!
EndoWeed: gosh, wonder what that did. EndoPest was a sibling brand - some nifty brocure work for that substance here - and of course both came under the Vigoro brand - which was made by meat-giant Swift. Some have wonder how a bacon company got into the pesticide business; possibly it was brand extension from Vigoro, which used the leftover stuff they couldn’t possibly sell as food.
They used everything including the oink.
THE DUTCH GIRL
Another meat by-product, believe it or not. The Cudahy packers had an interest in a pumice mine that sold them the grit used to clean up slaughterhouse floors. Got some extra grit? Sell it as a cleanser. The Dutch Girl - her face was never shown, which boosted the creep factor - was shown chasing dirt, a remarkably inefficacious means to extirpate household grime.
More here, although the page says the company was looking to reuse animal fat, not grit. I don’t know about that. One of the ads cites the use of SEISMOTITE, which was their trade name for . . . pumice.
I'M STARVIN' HERE
I don't care how good the stuff was, it's not enough. It's just not enough.
An old TV spot:
But just in case you're not suppressing your appetite enough, try . . .
The premium coffee from the World’s Largest Importer of Coffee - back when that meant it had to be good.
Oh, one more thing. I saw this a while ago and thought that cannot be. Obviously, it was, but - yeesh:
"So I was in the train going to New York, and there was a man sitting across from me, and he had his newspaper up so I coudn't see his face. Well then I had my newspaper up to. But we said a few words as the trip went by, you know like you will. Well the train gets to my stop and I stand up, and I look at him, and I see it's Lindberg. He gave me a wry little smile.
I didn't know what to say so I asked him 'How was the flight?'
'I made it,' he said. 'I made it.'
"As I was leaving I remembered something I'd read, and I turned around and said 'I heard you took a peanut butter sandwich on the trip - do you like it with mustard or mayo?"
"I wish I could remember what he said, but I think he just smiled."
-- Peg Lynch
The usual delights in the usual places - hit the buttons below! Bookmark 'em! Honestly, do I have to do everything? ;) I mean, there's an entirely new blog entry up at the Strib between noon and 1. Traffic helps. Traffic always helps.