Daughter said they watched a movie in class. This is not surprising. No one is concentrating and the tests are done and the learning is all finished up and there’s no point whatsoever to class, at all. Couldn’t have ended two days earlier, though. Couldn’t have shaved off two of those “release days” that pop up from time to time. Have to keep them into June.

It was an old movie, she said. Black and white.

Was it an old movie about old times?

Well yes, it was black and white.

But there can be movies today about the present in black and white. Was this about times that were old when they made the film?

(I could see that one processing.)

It was old, she said.

What was it called?

I don’t remember. But the teacher said he was the most famous actor of his time,

Clark Gable? Cary Grant? Jimmy Stewart?

I don’t know.

(As I said: there’s no point to putting them in the school boxes in June. None.)

What was it about?

A man goes to a house, and the father has a flashback to olden times, and the man goes up to the room where he’s going to stay and he hears a voice through the wall and then the father bursts in and says he must leave the room, right now, and then he runs outside crying the name because it was his wife who was dead.

Was it a haunted-house movie?


Did people wear suits?

No - I mean yes. What do you mean?

Suit jackets with lapels, like church.


Did the men wear hats?


Wife shows up for dinner and we start over again with the story. This time she tells it differently, and says the actor was the best actor of his time.

Best or most famous?

I can’t remember.

What was his name? You said it was something odd.

(She mumbled something vaguely English.)

Best actor of his day.

English name.


Possibly moors were involved.


Wuthering Heights, I said.

And so it was.

You've seen it? she asked.

Shook my head. Haven't read the book, either.

Really, it's not that hard.


This morning was the last lunch I’ll make in a while. The zipper on the lunch bag broke, so I held it together with rubber bands. Off she went with a last request: could I pick her up from school, since it was, you know, the last day? I could. (There’s one more day, but the class is going to the Mall of America water park. Because, you know, they have to be in school through June.) She came to the car with her bag stuffed with locker detritus. Not as much as I’d thought.

The last day of school used to feel more important. I think it’s because it’s 57 degrees and it seems like they’re taking spring break.

Oh, but the rain did come again. While the sun shone. Earlier the sun shone enough where I could sit out without wanting to pull a blanket to my neck like someone on the deck of a transatlantic steamer in March. Then the clouds bore down - they didn’t come in, they descended, like a lid on a pot.

I’m past despair and simply resigned. The Jet Stream will move when it moves. Not until. At least it means I’m getting things done. Novel work proceeds apace, as these things do. (When they proceed it is usually apace.) I finished the redesign of the big replacement for the American Motel site, a 150+ page thing that hews to the new site-wide design. (Yes, I am doing that. Nearly every page. From scratch. Almost finished with the 20s site, which is simply the first in the folder. I plan to dump everything on the web on January 1st, 2014.)

Why? If you have to ask, you might be new to the site. I do this all the time. It’s a sickness. A wonderful, marvelous, chronic condition. Dissatisfaction: the spur to constant improvement.




To explain: I constantly encounter sites that put up old graphics and say “here’s a lovely old something” and that’s it. CONTEXT matters. There are stories and names and little bits of the forgotten chatter of daily commercial life, and nothing reminds you how things come and go like finding old brands that make you scratch your head and wonder if anyone ever missed them, or noticed when they went away.

Say, you got those Pepster Mints? I see you’re out.

Don’t carry them no more. Stopped making them.

Oh, well, then give me the Beech-Nut gum.

Which brings us to:


Here’s a little guy I found tucked away in the back of a magazine. A hellish pain-imp laughing with an expression indistinguishable from misery. Ha ha!


For some reason I didn’t post him right away, and now I know why: I was waiting to find an ad in an old copy of a newspaper from 1947.



Laugh off the oniony belches! By now you're wondering if there any color ads, to give us a better impression of how Jest presented himself to an uncomfortable, gassy nation.



Oh, lucky America. It was advertised as being good not only for unhappy food reactions, but "distress" from "smoking." Speaking of which:



You loved it as a gum, you’ll trust it as a cigarette:



The brand went back to 1921, and was a Lorillard offering; I have no idea when these were discontinued. There didn’t seem to be much marketing for them at all. Beech-nut Gum was a separate company, which arose out of Beech-Nut Ham. Really. So you have three disparate things, all named for the Beech Nut.

Which is the nut of the Beech Tree. Wikipedia says the nuts are edible, but bitter.



Bewitching or otherwise, debutantes have gone out of style:

That name! Cholly Knickerbocker! Can’t be real. It wasn’t, of course - it was the house pseudonym for the Hearst society writer. The first one wrote about the 400, the social elite of the day; the second, Igor Cassini, who started in ’45 and was indignant that the country should lavish praise on 400 blue-bloods. He replaced it with the “40,000,” which was a big more democratic. (Cassini was born in Russia; his family lost everything in the revolution. Might explain it a little.)

Yes, he was related to fashion designer Oleg, who was famed for making dresses for Jackie Kennedy. His brother.


Ever wondered what the author of Perry Mason looked like?



He has a Dictaphone - looks like an old Columbia model, too. Why? He dictated many of his stories to a team of secretaries, a fact that was apparently not only known at the time, but part of his public image.



A regional airline makes a bid for the post-war tourist trade:



That was Pennsylvania Central. They had four fatal crashes between 1958 and 1960, one of which occurred when the Vickers plane lost all four engines. Icing was blamed. The wiki entry notes:

Even several decades after the crash, the owners of the farm still report finding personal items left in the area of the impact.



For a distant celestial body, the moon is quite interested in how insects regard the mammals engaged in spawning rituals:


The brand would have been familiar to GIs who served in the Pacific: it was part of the jungle kit. The active ingredient was Indolone, which I’m assuming left the market when they found something better that did not make your skin melt after repeated use.



. . .that the trains at the World’s Fair played “Boys and Girls Together”?

No one knew, because that's not accurate. If you look at the fine print, you'll see that the horn played "The Sidewalks of New York," a famous song from 1894, considered the city's unofficial anthem. It was revived when it came to suggest the Good Old Days before life became hectic and impersonal. You know the song.

This is lovely. 1:41 is when the ad's assertion is referenced.



They started with radio - yes, a fellow named Sparks was in the radio trade - and weventualy ended up making TVs, fridges, and so on. They've changed the focus from car horns in the last few decades: they're in aerospace, medical, electronics, and other such items today.


Interesting Comic Sins update. Believe me. And the usual usual here and there. See you around.



blog comments powered by Disqus