It’s gone now, but deserves a note in its honor. I refer to Sunday night. I refer to the temperature. The sun slid down; the world slipped a degree and fell out of the 80s, perhaps for the last time this year. Eighty! I dropped daughter off at the church parking lot for Hi-League - they were all going bowling - and decided that it would be better to do some errands than go home, sit, then get up in 77 minutes and drive back. So: here!


Time to kill, so let's find as many pumpkin-themed items as possible. Can I stretch these out, one at a time, over the time from here until Halloween? Let's find out.

If someone objects to Halloween as a Satanic holiday, here's your fallback confection:

I had done all the shopping the day before, and I only needed one or two things . . . but when you’re killing time in Target on Sunday night, various objects have a different appeal. On a busy afternoon with chores to fulfill, you might not look at the bin of Five Dollar CellPhone Things. Cords, chargers, earbuds, so forth. But, ah: a five-dollar emergency charger.

My wife turns her phone off to save power. I have noted that this defeats the purpose of having the phone itself. But if I turn it on it runs down. Yes, but there is a window of opportunity, oft as long as six hours, in which people may contact you, thereby fulfilling the purpose of carrying the object in the first place. I looked at the charger, calculated the likelihood she would use it, foresaw the fortnightly trip to her car to pull it out and look at the levels and take it inside and charge it and put it back. Well, maybe I should call her and ask if she wants it.

But her phone was off.

I bought it. Heck. Five bucks. Won’t leak acid all other place right away.

A bag of Halloween themed Reese’s Peanut Butter cups: white chocolate. $2.50. Regular price, $2.79. Cue the Homer-drool gif. In the cart.

How much time left? Lots. So let’s look at lunch bags, since daughter’s lunchbag is old and full of grot. The selection was scant, as if frantic moms had swept through the store hours before and stripped the shelves of mid-price, practical, graphically neutral lunchbags. There was one that had a zebra print and cost a penny under four dollars. I know my daughter has nothing with a zebra print; there has been scant, sporadic evidence interest in animal prints. But she has been dressing monochromatically with white-and-black assemblages. Four bucks. I can always take it back. In the cart.

What else? Ah, a record player. In the cart.

Really. I bought a record player from Amazon to digitize all the old platters I inherited, and apparently I confused the specs. It did not have RCA outputs. It had speaker inputs. Do I have speaker wire? I do. Do I have some old speakers? I do. Hooked them up and played the record - which was a 78 from 1950, yes, but had never been played. Sounded awful. Back it goes - and while I could find another one online that suits my needs, I don’t want to pay ten dollars to send it back. (See last Friday’s column.) (Really! I’ll wait.)

There was a sale on new dental-cleaning bones for the dog. In the cart. You want them to keep those nice white choppers.

There was a discontinued sale on a Target brand of hand soap, with the scent “Tomato Vine.” I liked it. Two dollars and eight cents. Two in the cart. Not a wise idea, really. If I like it the second bottle will never be used, because I know it no longer exists. Question: does it replace the Parsley-scented soap in the downstairs bathroom? Or do I wait for that to run out in May of 2015? Will I remember that I’d set up a queue of soap-scent? After all, the ornamental dishwashing soap by the sink - Cranberry, Mrs Meyer Clean Day, bought on steep discount - is only used when the counter spigot is out of soap and I can’t be bothered to refill it; consequently it has lasted long beyond its intended use as a Holiday Scent intended to bring the aromas of traditional winter celebrations into the home. Really, it’s like using Fir or Pine in May. It’s just wrong. It goes against the natural progression of seasonal aromas.

Lucky for me, I A) don’t associate the smell with Christmas, and B) don’t use it much because it’s “all natural” and hence doesn’t work very well. I used their cleaning products for a while when they were on sale, because they were “Radish” scented. Windex cleaned; this stuff just smeared.

I realized that the Tomato Vine scented soap would not go in my daughter’s bathroom, because it was almost time for the Jack O’Lantern soap container. I bought it in New York at a Bath and Body Works in 2002; this song, "Please Forgive Me," was playing on the speakers. That song always got to me - the artless singing, the single hook, the quiet request for forgiveness. I always thought I’d have to ask my daughter for forgiveness at some point, either for doing something wrong or just for leaving this earth at a bad time for her - at least that’s what was running through my head at the store. Like I said, New York, 2002; March; it was a hard trip.

And I think of that every year when I put out the Jack O’Lantern soap, which never gets used, and goes back in the cupboard on November First.

I wandered over to the cheap bins, where I used to get Halloween pencils. I know it seems silly, but I know a million other parents will nod and understand: seasonal details. Pencils, window jelly decals, drinking cups, napkins, treats - the days are plays and you’re dressing the set.

Now we get into arguments about whether candy corn should be brought into our lives before October. I am a hard-liner on this. I lose. All the time. No Halloween before October.

Yeah, well the Christmas stuff goes up after Thanksgiving and that’s November.

I don’t care. The last week of November is . . . honorary December.

Wander back to the Halloween section of Target. It’s thin. Five years ago it abounded with skulls and pumpkins and animatronic dishes with hands that grabbed at you and talking tombstones and life-sized skeletons, and now it’s as if they don’t give a crap. Candy, that’s where the money is. So here’s the candy.

Warm Halloween this year? That’d be great. Seems likely. The weather is a month behind. Daughter considering going trick-or-treating with friends; I encourage it. If you’re girls and you’re dressed up in good costumes and you’re polite, you will be well met. You will be welcome. If you are louche teen boys with bags and you smell of cigarettes, no.

I look for the hideous Jones Co. candy corn soda; not this year. Reminds me that Jones Co. soda was once a thing, as they say. She liked it. Ghastly stuff. I would have bought it if I saw it.

Wonder how the bowling’s going. Same friends as the previous night, which was like the Best Night Ever, Fall Version - the game at high school, with the enormous floodlights; pausing back to our house to go up the Water Tower; late night movie, sleepover.

They go off laughing and they come back, until, of course, they go for good. But. The previous night we went down to the Battle Bridge, the basement, and watched Gravity Falls and laughed ourselves stupid. She proposes it. She knows I like it. Friday night is the best part of the week, and that’’s the best part of a Friday night.

At the checkout counter the guy behind me drops a bottle of pasta sauce on the floor. It makes the most extraordinary sound.

Walk outside. 8:04. It’s warm. It’s just spectacular. This would be the time to drive back with the Perfect Song on the Radio, but that already happened, and it’s dark. This is different. I drive back to the church and sit in the parking lot and listen to chill-lounge-Ibiza-beach music, thinking of the next time I’ll be in the Caribbean drink. The buses return from the bowling alley.

“Hey there,” she says.

“Hi there,” I respond, as always, thinking, as always, of the Disney song: ho there. We’re as happy as can be.

And we drive home in the dark with the windows open and the warm air flowing around us. When I get home I check the weather and it’s slated to drop 20 degrees the next day.

She didn’t like the lunch bag. Zebra? I mean thanks but . . .

I know. I didn’t think it was you, but I didn’t know it wasn’t. I thought it could be. I took a chance. Forgive me.






Elmer manages to be a jerk even when it comes to doing his patriotic duty:


He’s not budging because he’s in a hurry to do his civic duty. He’s just being impatient. Well, after corn-trodding he was speared with an umbrella tip, so that’ll learn him. And what’s this nonsense about “I suppose you are always careful” - how could he possibly live with her and not know she’s completely anal about every detail of her personal and professional life?

Bother your milk.



Another in the series of ads that used beloved comic characters to help you defecate. In this instance, a man is so troubled by his inability to move his bowels he is going to shoot himself in the head, then fall into the ocean in case the wound is not mortal. If nothing else, at least his bowels will empty.

You might wonder if these are the Katzenjammer Kids. They are and they aren’t. Wiki:

The Katzenjammer Kids was so popular that it became two competing comic strips and the subject of a lawsuit. This happened because Dirks wanted to take a break after 15 years, but the Hearst newspaper syndicate would not allow it. Dirks left anyway, and the strip was taken over by Harold Knerr. Dirks sued, and after a long legal battle, the Hearst papers were allowed to continue The Katzenjammer Kids, while Dirks was allowed to syndicate an almost identical strip of his own for the rival Pulitzer newspapers.

The pirate, by the way, is not named Dunner Vetter. I believe it’s Captain Bloodshot. Dunner Vetter is a German expression used in times of trial and strife, but I can’t quite tell what it means.

Captain and the Kids sailed over the horizon in 1979; Katzenjammer, for Criminey’s sake, is still going.




Four examples of mid-40s hues and packaging:


It’s probably face powder. I’m sure it’s face powder. My mom had packages like that, and they were 85% puff. I wonder if any survive, anywhere.



Look at the way his mouth’s drawn: perfect for the sound you know he’s making.


No, the culture didn’t completely militarize for four years between 1941 and 1945, not at all.

BVD was Bradley, Voorhees & Day, three men who had no idea their combined initials would become popular shorthand for underwear.



Usually it’s the wife who goes home to Mother; rare is the man who stomps off in a huff, particularly since the issue is obviously his problem with alcohol:


For heaven’s sake, man, you have FOUR children. Grow up.

The Alkaline aspect of the drink, now forgotten, was a counteragent to acid, or things like it. Alka-Seltzer might be the only product that still has the term and concept in its name.


As someone who goes through a bottle a fortnight, I appreciate the Economy Size, and enjoyed the view of what the spray bottles looked like in ’53.

I’m just puzzled by the woman, the dog, and the sponge are looking at an enormous mirror as though they are expecting something else to happen.




Imagine the mathematical possibilities:

If you’re into grey hair, I guess. Ummm-hmmm seems a peculiar thing to say; we’d go with Mmm-hmmm, but still wouldn’t use it like this. Note the emphasis on HE: this implies someone else wears the shoes, so perhaps there’s enough guys to go around, and they needn't get into a fight over which one gets the well-shod man?

You can guess what BDC means. It’s not hard.

City Club was also a beer, but these are not beer-soaked shoes. Yet, anyway.



In advertising, anyway. Next week Product will be all 1967, as I incorporate more ads from the 60s into the feature. I haven’t done it so far because they don’t lend themselves to this treatment. Advertising had grown up and changed, and adopted tones and styles that weren’t as fantastical, romantic, or “funny” in the same way as the ads for the 40s and 50s. For example:


You have to think about this, which is the point. They’re selling the packaging, so you’ll think it’s different and special. It’s still powder. Where’s the Mom? The grateful freckled gap-toothed kids?

And then there’s a view of the future:



Thanks to electricity, the energy of progress. More next week. Don’t expect the same range of products: by 1967, most of the ads in magazines seemed to be cars, liquor, and smokes.




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