I’m doing a story on sugar-free candy. Best five, worst five. (The latter category are the ones that you can keep eating and eating until the next day you discover that all your internal organs have liquified.) Needed a few more, so I went to CVS after dropping Daughter off at choir. The selection was scant, as it usually is. There’s not much, and most of it has the look you associated as a kid with DIETETIC products - no fun and ugly, like Medical Candy, because you have no choice.

I chose the worst-sounding product. Decided I needed some clip-on sunglasses, since I’ve lost two pair somehow in the last month, and got those. There was a rack of shoe supplies nearby, and I thought “I’m at that point in the year where I will be putting on dress shoes more often, and the laces are likely to snap.” So I picked up a pair of laces.

They were $2.47. With my card, I could get two for four dollars. They give the card to anyone. It means nothing. You can get one on the spot. It’s just something to reward customer loyalty. I have no customer loyalty.

Really: although it manages to be ubiquitous, CVS is neither here nor there. Walgreens is fine, and doesn’t have that “interloper” vibe CVS gave off for a while. We’re going to come into this market and shake it up! Great. Could you be incredible? No? You’re settling for Not Different, except for the newness of the stores? Do you realize your competitor will refresh its interiors soon and you’ll be old? Whatever. They built a CVS right next to a Walgreens, as if to say “step aside, old man.” Walgreens redid its interior and looks smart, except the clientele is old and suspicious. Both places smell of liniment.

So I went to the counter and put down my items. It looked like the most pathetic assembly of goods you could imagine: shoelaces, a small tin of Altoids, clip-on sunglasses, and a bag of sugar-free “coffee flavored drops,” which are popular if you were old enough to be n Times Square on V-J Day. The clerk didn’t care, but if she had I wonder if she considered which of these items brought me in today. There had to be something that spurred me to pull over, park my car, and walk to the store. Sunglasses? Okay, but it’s dark outside. Sugar-Free coffee drops? What drives a man to go out at 7:30 on a black October night for these? Shoelaces? That has to be it. The only thing he’d need right now.

“This is the most pathetic group of things I’ve ever bought,” I said.

“Great!” she chirped. “Do you have a CVS card?” I said that I would enter my phone number. It didn't work. I said I would try another. It didn't work.

"You can come back with your card some other time and get that straightened out," she said, and before I thought of saying "why, I haven't time for that nonsense" I realized I was a man buying shoelaces on a Wednesday night. Obviously I did.

I came up the stairs and said “It’s that time of the quarter!” thinking Daughter would say “what?”

And Daughter said:

“Field Notes?”

Why - why yes, Field Notes. How did you know?

“I don't know, it’s been a while? You sounded excited?”

Astonishing. I open the package. There’s the usual excitement: what will these small unique notebooks look like this time?


This is cruel. The four books are part of a set. They are different. This means that you cannot use one without ruining the set. Granted, there’s a second batch of four, and these I set aside to go with the other shrink-wrapped sets that are never opened, never used, but exist in a state of perfection unsullied by grubby hands. But the perversity of my devotion to these books means I cannot use these, either. Usually I can’t use them because they’re so cool, but now there’s the additional problem of being cool and sequential.

I am almost relieved when the set is slightly disappointing, because then I know I will use them.


Finishing up the dense ad for boys who like . . .

THEY HAVE 'EM ALL. Behold, the plastic kits with six parts you snapped together:


Aurora acquired a license from Universal Studios to create a line of kits based on Universal monsters, which became the company’s most popular offerings. Aurora's kit of Frankenstein appeared in 1961. Giant Frankenstein was an all-plastic kit that, when assembled, created a 19-inch tall model. This was followed by twelve other monster figures that were issued and reissued in various versions through the early 1970s.


I remember them well. They were cool, but Revell had the quality brand. Or was it Revell had the quality brand, but Aurora was cool?




Recent history:

In the 1990s, the family of Joseph Giammarino announced the return of Aurora Plastics Corporation as a manufacturer of hobby kits under the name LAPCO, or Lost Aurora Plastics Corporation, with a product line to include reverse engineered reissues of long gone kits. Nothing came of this. Again in 2007, Giammarino's family announced the return of Aurora, with their first offerings stated to include aircraft and figure kits from their original 1960s line This web site lists products to be made available in May–June 2012, but as of March 2015, none are available to order and the site appears to have not been updated.

Make that October 2016.





Almost eleven thousand souls. Wikipedia says "Union City is recognized for the following: It was the site of a minor battle in the American Civil War in March 1864, and it was the site of a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company/Goodyear Tire plant, which generated a large amount of the city's economy."

Was. Generated. Well, let's see how they're doing now.

It doesn't need the flag to tell you it's a government building.

It's a beautiful building. Sober, restrained, judicious. The statue is Congressman Robert "Fats" Everett.

I'm not saying anyone's in the mood for a hanging, but should it strike, they're set:

A gas station, once upon a time, but there's little of the original design left.

The town still has a Kohler plant; they make shower doors. The loss of the tire plant in 2010 put almost 2000 people out of work. Tyson is the largest employer now.

I hope it's Christmastime; otherwise, seeing these window decorations in February or March is a bad sign. Shaved cornice; evidence of a neighbor that was just as tall.

There's little on the web about this fellow.

By little, I mean nothing.

Ghost sign, shuttered windows, painted wall, faux stone facade: it's like it's trying to cram every Main Street cliche into one building.

It's not any Finance Company. It's an incorporated Finance Company.

I - I can't even begin to wonder what happened.

Although if I was forced to speculate - a set of circumstances I cannot imagine arising - I'd say the original buildings still slumber in the dark behind the latter-day facades. The only question is whether the building on the right was completely redone, or whether you see the spaces where the windows were.

If so, they were huge.

A bank? Of course! But not any bank. It's the Third National Bank. Really:

And it used to be the Old and Third National Bank. I'd like to the site that informed me of that deathless piece of information, but that's about all it says.

The second worst thing about this type of awning, so popular in the 70s and 80s?

Its durability.

You know a lot of time has passed when this type of sign starts to look venerable.

Those extruded-letter rounded-corner modular signs were the worst - they replaced good solid metal and bright neon, and looked hideously cheap.

Visually, it's an inverted pyramid:

But I doubht that was the intention. How bigger people must have felt when those bricked-in areas were filled with glass. Unless this isn't a rehab, and was built to look like this. Hard to say.



Opened in 1941, and for some reason it's called the Masquerade Theater today. Hard to get that name to stick when the sign still says Capitol.

But it still stands and it still houses entertainment - so who's complaining? Not me.

That'll do! See you around.



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