Daughter is at summer camp. This relieves me from all sorts of obligations and responsibilities, like minding my language when I hit my head on the corner of a cupboard door. I was reading a list of medieval tortures today - not something I went looking for, but was clicking around, and hello, there’s a fellow with all extremities tied, being lowered on to a sharp point. Doth a-puckering we shall go. It was ascribed to the Spanish Inquisition. In fact all the tortures were ascribed to the Spanish Inquisition, so after two or three you no longer expected -

Sorry. Anyway. The corner-door-scalp nexus is particularly painful, and it’s surprising they never came up with it as a means of extracting a confession. Perhaps it’s because it’s unexpected. If you know it’s coming, it’s not so bad.

But you still would cuss, unless you had kids around, and then GOSH. GOSH . . . DARN. But now daughter is out and I need no longer access the Dagnabit File, if the situation arises. Which it hasn’t. So it’s just me and the dog, and the dog is reacting to the steamy heat by staying in doors and sleeping. We even took a nap, and he woke me up with a paw on the face. HEY. HEY. It’s cute. Especially when it’s accompanied by quizzical canine utterances.

She did not take a camera. No particular desire to take pictures; why? She’ll remember, and if she doesn’t, so? In previous years she took a Flip camera, one of those magical incredible change-the-world things (a cheap movie camera! Fits in your hand!) that was rendered old and dumb by smart phones. Little does she know I took all the movies off and stored them away. Because she’ll remember camp fondly. I do. Every year she goes off, I think about White Earth Lutheran Camp, and regret that I have but a handful of pictures.

Friend from school and cousin. One was interested in science and comic books, and the other was a farm kid. Guess which was which. As far as I know the friend is still interested in science. I know my cousin still farms the ancestral land.

Every year I take out these pictures and try to recall what it was like to be 10. Not the most robust search return. Not sure 10 matters much, as long as everything’s okay. It’s just the foundation of childhood curing and settling and solidifying. At some point, of course, camp is just kid stuff, and the days of drawing up a list of all the things you’ll bring and counting down the days and hoping there won’t be rain and going to the library to consult the dark elder texts to make offerings to the elder gods to make sure it doesn’t rain, and getting the hairy eyeball from the old librarian who knows what you’ve come for and doesn’t want to go down to the vaults so she just gives you the key, the one that has carvings of snake that move slightly when they touch human flesh. It never moves when she holds it. You wondered about that. Only when you did. Anyway, that’s just a thing of the past, after a while.

The camp is gone now; old Google Earth views showed something that might have been the site, but there are cabins on the lake now. And by “cabins” I mean substantial homes that cost half a mil, probably. The days of a slob with a shack on a lake are gone. I mean “slob” in an affectionate sense, because it makes me think of a neighbor I had in St. Paul. He worked at the Ford plant. Middle aged guy, looked like Buddy Hackett + Zero Mostel. Always had a snootful when he was home; hit the Hamm’s when the whistle blew and it was one brown bottle after the other until it was time to lay down and crack the plaster with snorts and snores. Or so you suspected. Wife was mild and long-suffering in the Edith Bunker mode. Anyway, he had a cabin. A shack with a screen door that probably let the bugs in. A weedy yard, brackish water, musty smell, old board games and Reader’s Digest condensed novels on the shelf. But it was his cabin and he went up there every Friday, like so many Minnesotans. The property was probably gathered into a larger lot a few decades ago for a nice house with satellite and an alarm system and owners who use the word “duvet” when thinking about how to do the guest room.

I wish I’d have a cabin, but it seems like another place to fix; you’d go up and work on the cabin, and I don’t see the point. Give me the gazebo and the water feature and the knowledge that the lake is just up the street, and I’m delighted. I never fished, and that’s part of it. Sitting in a boat with a line in the water to yank up a crappy never appealed.

O summer, and the languid ease with which the day slips past. Some do it in a boat. I do it in a gazebo. And we all dock on the shores of fall, he said, tumbling into cheap bathos.

Hot and sunny again tomorrow, but watching a big storm bear down on Daughter's camp. Nothing better than a storm at camp at night, if you're old enough to enjoy the drama.

And you're never too old.



Now it's time for our weekly look at old logos, packages, ads, and other bygone examples of commercial culture. We begin with the usual domestic humiliation.

  Beulah's looking a little screwy. It's probably her way of coping with the latest problem in the household: Dad's cross-dressing again. She wants to run around on a while in a cage. That's what life feels like, anyway.




I mentioned this brand before, just because it had a strange reputation in my youth. They made ginger ale, which no kid wanted. The name said “Canada,” which did not mean good pop. The name also said “dry,” which was the absolute opposite of what it really was. Then there was that logo - it just reminded you that Canada was big and weirdly shaped. How to compensate for all these difficulties with an American audience?

Have a scout drink it:

  The rest of the early 60s lineup, which had the twin virtues of being A) uninspiring, and B) inconsistent.



Oh, he’s going to knock over that table. You know it. And she seems to expect that he's going to spill the beer, short out the cord and electrify the floor.

Yes, today it's Blatz! In a few months of our days-of-wine-and-roses life it'll be something half the price. As long as it gives us that good ol' jolt, right? This is the “now” segment of an ad that showed how times had changed. In the old times - invariably shown as “Gay 90s” tableau with father wearing a high collar and Mother in a big bustle and an oval picture of an ancestor on the wall - the women did the dusting, but nowadays the modern people have been liberated by gadgets, and the womenfolk sit around drinking beer while men pick up.

Then the women run the vacuum again because he missed a spot. Several.



Just a round-up of toiletries and and hair-care products, to illustrate old package design.

Toni Trio . . . for twins?

Mr. Edelman, who died Tuesday at age 92, founded the agency named after him in Chicago in 1952. His first client was Toni Co., which used identical-twin models to advertise at-home hair perms.

It was Mr. Edelman's idea to take several sets of twins on PR tours to dozens of cities, where they posed with politicians and celebrities. One model was coifed at a salon, the other at home; "Which Twin Has the Toni?" was the slogan.

The campaign generated so much publicity that at one point the Federal Trade Commission intervened to make sure that the twin with the Toni wave wasn't done up by a professional.

Of course. The people had to be PROTECTED from possible Toni falsehoods.


This still makes sense - but barely. Fountain pens are niche items for particular people. When they were common, though, everyone knew the problems associated with ink. It was slow to start. It evaporated in the pen. It clogged. It took a while to dry.

Flashy, Steppy, Misty, Floaty, and Hungry: it's shame no one ever animated their adventures, and gave them distinctive voices.

Oh, who are we kidding. Mel Blanc would be all of them and two would sound like Daffy.




A fine product of . . . the United States Plastic Bandage Company.

In 1954 they were sued because their bandages weren’t sterile, which would seem to be a big deal. I’ve no idea if that did them in, or they gave up the ghost because Band-Aid had a virtual monopoly. Even though they had the “finger-tip” style, which was so easy! Only five steps! Do it wrong, and it’s useless! Slides off in water!



Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then! And of course, Richie Rich.


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