My wife noted that the neighbor was digging up his boulevard by the driveway, presumably to install an apron for the garbage cans. Newly married men might say “that’s nice, dear,” but I have been married for a quarter century today and hence know that the proper response is “I should do that too.” So on Sunday I went to Home Depot to get mulch (sigh; five more bags) and some stones to put down. I figured I would tear out the old dirt-and-spurge patch, put down some irregular paving pieces and fill the cracks with gravel.

I also knew this would end poorly.

To assist me I took along the Giant Swede, who has some experience in these things, and once we were at the store we went to RETURNS so he could take back a defective bulb. (Last week he exchanged some bulbs for some different bulbs. A fortnight of bulb trouble.) At some point in the process he hit the wrong button, or swiped too soon, and the POS system demanded that he enter his email, so he could be emailed a record of the transaction. There was no way out of it. The entire transaction was hopeless corrupted, and had to be started from the top. For the sake of the paperless, convenient future.

Off to the Garden Center. There we picked up the large stone slabs; one broke in half right away. Tried to figure out how they’d fit together. Tried to think how the garbage cards would sit on them. Realized the surface would be rather uneven, and here my troubles began.

Why not get these small flat pavers? Make a nice flat surface.

Why not indeed.

Sooo I measured how many I would need, and the number was 50. So we put fifty of the heavy stones on the cart and I pushed it to the checkout and entered my information (why yes, email me that receipt) and we put fifty stones in the car and headed back to the house for a Coke and a small cigar. After I took him home I set about digging in the dirt - a job that was interrupted periodically by the need to move the sprinklers over the vast expanse of Jasperwood’s hill. We’ve had no rain for a month. The lawn crinkles. The sprinkler system is offline, and that’s another story of ruinous expense I’ll detail down the line, but the point is this: 250 feet of hose snaking here and there, spraying the desiccated grass. The pipes whine with the effort. My wife, toiling on her own garden duties (bushes died, had to be replaced), toils in silence. I spade up the dirt.

I strike a cover for one of the sprinkler system valves. Buried. But not so buried that it won’t make paving the area with the stones completely impossible.

Unless I reduce the area paved by half, and the carts sit on the new apron with their wheels hanging over into the gentle ramp of the driveway. I put a few stones down. I try to fit them to the space, to the rounded edge of the driveway.

Looks. Like. Krep. Looks exactly as half-assed as I knew it would be. Call the wife over, explain the problem. Why are those valve junctions there? she asks, a question for which I have no answer. They just are.

I say: this isn’t going to work. I’m going back for irregularly shaped stones. Surely they don’t have some that don’t break. I shouldn’t have listened to the Giant Swede. (Because this is all his fault now, his years of helpfulness suddenly curdled.) I drive back to the Home Depot at 4:30, realizing I haven’t felt the restorative blast of a shower all day; they are kind enough to unload all the stones for me, and I buy some irregularly shaped stones that look like they might do the trick. But there aren’t enough. I will have to return tomorrow for more.

Fine. FINE. Done with this. Shower, make dinner for the family, and spent the evening hooking up 100 additional feet of hose to irrigate another part of the yard that died and went to the green Elysian fields of Heaven. All day the pipes have been whining when the water-pressure booster kicks in every 90 seconds, howling up, dying down. Howling up, dying down. It’s like living with an air-raid siren in your basement. But heck: the neighbor watered his lawn all day and it bounced back nice, so all the day’s work will be repaid.

Standing on the top of the hill as I adjust the sprinkler, again, I see what the neighbor did with that space he cleared by the driveway.

He just put down sod.

A drop; two drops. I wonder if I have the sprinkler set too high -

And it begins to rain.

Rain! True rain! It beats down on the skylights, patters on the gazebo roof, and we’re delighted. Finally. I crank off the water spigot.

And the rain stops.

NO! NOOOO! COME BACK! But the skies are shut. Damn. Well, I trudge down the hill, rest the timer on the sprinkler to two hours, trudge back up, back aching from the fargin’ stone hauls, and turn the water back on. Go inside. Start to work.

And the rain comes again.

It stopped a while ago, and I turned off the sprinkler. Nerves are shot from the constant sound of running water and the air-raid siren in the pipes, but you know what? The flowers look magnificent. The bushes are great. The trees are beautiful. The grass will come back. Anyone walking up the steps would think my, what a lush and lovely place. All my wife’s work. Me, I just haul mulch, screw up elemental stone work, and call it a day.




The weekly look at commercial images and logos and such from the middle of the previous century. We begin, as we do often, with the Weekly Borden.

You'll drink your vitamins, and you'll like it:


Elsie, no one is paying attention. Also, you’re sitting in a director’s chair on the beach, and you’re going to fall over because you are - and don’t take this the wrong way - a cow.




Mrs. Niven Busch may have loved the sight, but let’s ask her about the smell:

He wasn’t a golfer. He was a writer - a few novels, New Yorker profiles, and movies. Lots of movies, including “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” He married Theresa Wright, an actress, in ’42. His wiki bio says he was a busy fella:

In the early fifties, Busch and Wright divorced, and Busch left Hollywood for northern California, where he devoted himself to cattle ranching and the full-time writing of novels. There he would meet his second wife Carmencita Baker and third wife Suzanne de Sanz.

Not at the same time, presumably.



What is this, Colonel Sanders’ brother shows up to give the nice young couple some B-12 shots?

It’s an ad for Servel, which pushed its ice-maker capabilities, and pushed it hard. The text of the ad concerns how the couple will like their “second one” better, but that doesn’t apply to Servel, because they’ll never replace it, or something like that. Leaving aside the idea that the ol’ country doc showed up to say “you may hate your newborn now, but the next one will be much more enjoyable,” and leaving aside the Ceremonial Bestowing of Ice, there’s the matter of Servel’s ice-maker itself, which looks like a 1996 PC.



Yes, there was a move to drink your Jello.

Before it solidified, that is. For a brief period the ads tried to reposition it as a Kool-Aid of sorts - just dump it in water with some sugar, of course - LOTS OF SUGAR LOTS - and then sit back under the happy visage of Sol Invictus and sip away. The way the word is plotted on music staves references something lost today; the Jell-O Jingle. All you had to do was suggest music and people could hear the jingle.

Short little ditty.




Apparently the color was popular that year.


Another victim of the spread of air conditioning: the death of Summer Hot-Kitchen Dread.

To the left: the Famous Home Economist, wo only seems to be referenced on the Internet in Armour terms.

Hubby expected a cooked meal when he got home from the office, where he’d been working all day on the Johnson Contract; least you could do is give him something that sticks to his ribs, as the horrible phrase had it. But who wanted to cook when it was 90 out? Solution: minced, pureed, meat-parts pressed together with binding agents, and and seasoned with spices. Lunch Tongue and Pork Feet. Mmmm-mmm.

What’s missing? TREET, Armour’s Spam Pretender. It’s still make, although Armour went blue a few years back. This might have been an attempt to distance themselves from a hue that made one think of “dried blood,” but it was still a solid piece of brand identification.

Here’s early 60s Armour packaging.

The difference between Treet and Chopped Ham seems unclear to the casual observer.



It was one of the original flavor. Wiki:

In 1925, technology improved to allow a hole in the center of the fruit candies. These were introduced as the "fruit drop with the hole" and came in Orange, Lemon and Lime, each of which were packaged in their own separate rolls. In contrast to the opaque white mints previously produced by the company, these new candies were crystal-like in appearance. These new flavors quickly became popular with the public. Four new flavors were quickly introduced, namely, anise, butter rum, cola and root beer, which were made in the clear fruit drop style. These did not prove to be as popular as the three original fruit drop flavors.

Ingenious, when you think about it: make the product distinctive by giving the consumer less. It has a hole! Er - therefore? It has a hole!

But there were earlier flavors before the hole breakthrough.

By 1919, six other flavors (Wint-O-Green, Cl-O-ve, Lic-O-Riche, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-Let and Choc-O-Late) had been developed, and these remained the standard flavors until the late 1920s. In 1920, a new flavor called Malt-O-Milk was introduced. This flavor was received so poorly that it was discontinued after only a few years.

Sounds good, if you ask me.

Richie Rich addition; work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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