Daughter has a cold, and can’t stand the taste of any ‘Quils or other evening potions designed to loosen chestal thickness. Went to Target to get something that did not have a flavor. There are no such things. You must have a flavor. Chances are it’ll be Berry or perhaps Mixed Berry, and believe me, if there’s one item in which the subtle flavors of various commingled berries are not immediately recognizable, it’s cough syrup. Or Lozenges, which is what I got.

“Can I see your Driver’s License?” the clerk asked. I said of course and sighed: isn’t this silly?

“Can you turn it around - okay.” He beeped the barcode on the back of my license. In other news, there’s a bar code on the back of my license. “Blame the druggies,” he said.

I don’t.

Haunted for most of the morning by a series of bad dreams that woke me twice, alarmed; the worst sort, too. Running but not making progress, walking and exhausted. A note of amusement: I fell in with a restaurant co-worker on the way home, and commenced to unburden myself of my Troubles from the previous dream; he stopped, and muttered: “Damn. Karma.” And a very short fellow was running towards us; I recognized him as someone with whom the co-worker had an argument.

The little fellow had KARMA printed on his T-shirt, which I thought was a nice detail.

The co-worker - Mike, a cook, I realize now - kicked him hard in the groin and threw him high in the air, but when he landed he produced a shotgun, at which point I ran, thinking: sawed-off shotguns brandished by guys whose T-shirts say “KARMA” is a thing one should avoid.

Woke exhausted. You stare at the ceiling fan, thinking, hope Mike got home. Up for breakfast; new hot-sauce for the sausage because it’s time to give Sriracha a rest. (Nando’s Peri-Peri.) The box of Raisin Bran is half-empty, which means the bran - raisin ratio is just right. (It’s all bran at the top, raisin-thick at the bottom.) Pour a cup of coffee and the workday begins.

Wrote a longish work blogpost about Burger Chef, since it was mentioned on “Mad Men.” Thought of including something about a Hardee’s by the University, since that was the chain that absorbed BC. It was a sad place, that Hardee’s; right by a freeway exit, by a major universe, but somehow cursed. It was on the spot of an old gas station, empty for years. Across the street was another gas station, which had won the war. Those of us who lived in the area knew the fellow who manned the counter most nights, up until the night when someone came in to rob him; neighbors heard him beg for his life.

Didn’t work.

The station is gone: big new apartment. The Hardees is gone: big new apartment. I can’t drive by the area without thinking how different student life is these days, with floor-to-ceiling apartment windows looking out at downtown. And I can’t drive by without thinking of the murder, thirty years ago.

This was one of the murders of the Dinkytown days. The daughter of the fellow who owned our apartment building was murdered by her boyfriend. We all knew the owner because he was a good landlord, if a bit quirky; once he removed a window in the Giant Swede’s unit, then thought better of it and put it back. I look at the building when I drive past, and remember how all of us ended up there - me, the Swede, Wes the Filmmaker, Jack the Philosopher, Sam the Poet, the Crazy Uke. I see the window the landlord took out in my unit - the faint outlines of plaster - and wonder why he did that, why he blinded the side of the building.

But it’s a fleeting thought, half-considered.

The apartment was kitty-whompus from Ralph and Jerry’s, which is the next novel I have to write. “Autumn Solitaire” is in the proofreader’s hands, who may well be despairing or enjoying, who can say; all I know is that the novel is A) invaluable in the sequence of Minneapolis novels, and B) it’ll be cheap. There’s a murder in the lot behind Ralph & Jerry’s, in 1947. The victim lived in my old building.

And that’s why I didn’t mention the Hardee’s in the work blog. Dominos. I seem to remember the gas station man was named Dick. Not the Dick who hung around the Valli drinking 3.2 and communing with the regulars and seemed a decent chap and threw himself off the Washington Avenue bridge one night. One of the regulars wrote “Who remembers Dick Germaine?” on the faux-marble-printed particle board that covered the walls of the Valli bathroom, and you looked at that question every time you used the hand-drier. (WIPE HANDS ON PANTS) A sad accusation, but it worked. I do.

It’s not the people who died or disappeared from those days that I find remarkable; it’s the number of them I could get on the phone in five minutes. One of the old Valli stalwarts found me on Twitter the other day, to my delight. But this is why I don’t check Facebook too often, lest I find a message from someone I waited on in 1981, who enjoys the Bleat and all that but man, you were insufferable back then. Kidding! You were just pretentious.

That Hardee’s sucked, that was the problem. The new apartment on its plot is beautiful. Huzzah for tomorrow; huzzah for the living. But now and then: remember. Then walk on.

And if you hear footsteps of someone small with a gun, walk faster. Or turn. I’m telling you, Mike kicked KARMA hard, dude flew fifty feet.


In Destruction News: another ramp is going down.

A ramp, and good riddance. We've gotten good around here at building parking ramps that don't sit like big hairy warts on the face of the city, but there was no masking the uglyness of this one. You might think that the building across the street surely must be a jail; no business would want to stuff its people behind those slitty windows. Ah, but they did, and they do; that was the brand-new HQ for Northern States Power, part of the joys and glories of urban renewal. As was the ramp. Rising in the ramp's place:

The very definition of a modern generic office building, but I'll take it.



It’s perhaps the third thing you notice, but it’s the best thing in the picture:


Elmer’s expression. Oh, we can count on him to get peeved and talk about the illustrious exploits of his forebearers, but I don’t think there’s any call for the serviceman to snap at him like that, particularly when he’s helping out.

The phrase “bull in a china shop” may have originated from the day Elmer finally snapped.



They weren’t the only ones who made film, you know. But you do wonder why anyone else tried.


Nice little store display.

To compound their difficulty, the company made film in Rochester, the home of Kodak. Bell & Howell took them over in ’49.


As for Ansco, the company came before Kodak, got into cameras, had a bruising patent suit with Kodak - Ansco started it and won, but lost ground in the meantime.

Merger and new products and the rest of the long slow ebb followed, although they were the official film of Disneyland for about a day and a half.

Still, they did this:


Here’s the New England Confection Company at its height, with non-wafer products. And an abundance of lower-case.

I remember writing a piece about NECCO wafers once. Put the name in mostly lower-case. Got a snippy letter from the company, instructing me that it was all caps. I think they should have been lucky anyone mentioned them at all, inedible poker-chips that the are. It’s confusing to the ordinary consumer; the company’s name is Necco, the package says Necco, but the trademark is NECCO, it seems. Even the URL says so.

They still make the Sky Bar, and seem to have absorbed a few orphan brands as well - including the Clark Bar. But they didn’t get the other Clark product, the Zagnut. As for the Bolster, it’s gone - but in the 20s it was sold . . . with Hobo.


Hudson napkins c. mid 60s: the brand-block was intended to flow in one continuous ribbon. Probably had to pay for that, and only happened when they splurged for display space.

Made by the Hudson Pulp and Paper Company. Times obit, 1998:

William Mazer, who made his fortune in the paper industry and shared it with charities at home and in Israel, died on Tuesday. He was 92 and lived on the Upper East Side. Mr. Mazer embraced the philanthropic traditions and commitments of his father, Abraham Mazer, founder of the Hudson Pulp and Paper Corporation of New York.

It was sold to Georgia-Pacific in 1979, but some trees cut down in 1953 were converted into wealth, invested, and probably did some good today. I wonder what happened to the corporate archives - all the advertising, all the product mock-ups. Possibly waiting at the GP HQ for the moment when someone proposed do a monograph on napkins.

It's not a silly idea. No one saves napkins. But the designs say a lot about the era. Who knows what little kitchen gems we'll never see again?

Not that everything was pretty. Case in point:



National Homes was incorporated in 1940, which probably was not the best year to set up shop making prefab houses.

But perhaps a few juicy war contracts kept them afloat, and by the end of the war they could bang out a dwelling in under five weeks, and as little as two. Cost? $5,750 in 1948, or about $57K in today’s money. The average income was under $3K, and the average taste looked at that pattern and thought “Stylish!”

Inasmuch as its a pattern at all. It just . . . exists, somehow. The eye searches for a pattern, but finds only the miasma-swirl that looks like some sort of chicken-stew. I like the Charcoal and Pink the most, but somehow looking at it makes my brain anxious.


And that's it for today; new Richie Rich addition.


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