We’re thiiiiis close to Daughter’s thank-you package. We had a brief text convo today, and I must admit I initiated it. That doesn’t break the rules exactly, but we’re discouraged. I wanted to know how the first day of the new school went, and how college living arrangements were going, etc. She wrote back: no school, she had switched families. The plan runs the Rotary kids through three families to ensure a variety of experiences. We did not discuss the video she had sent the previous day, which was disturbing in ways I cannot describe.

You’ll see it Friday.

We’ve a bounty of historical artifacts today. Makes me wonder if I live in the past entirely these days, and of course, no. I spent a regrettable amount of time on the issues of the day - reading, thinking, cursing - and listen to the BBC to make sure I know about the rise in entrepreneurship in Ghana.

The past isn’t a comfort, anymore than a recollection of a blanket keeps you warm. There are a dozen eras I’d love to experience and not one I wouldn’t want to leave for the wonders of the modern age. I mean, Daughter is in an apartment now, a smaller place than her previous homes. She wanted to know the square footage of our kitchen / family room for comparison, so I got out my tricorder and walked the distance with the measure app. Magic.

The present is the future, and it's amazing. To be honest, there’s a lot of old, old stuff I’m working on that leaves me in a state of advanced meh. But you can’t understand an era if you just look at the stuff you like. Believe it or not, I’m working on the Jerry on the Job site. It has to be 20 years old. I’ve found a new source, and some of the strips to back to 1914. It wasn’t the same; no flip-takes, no Givney flying head-first into the desk. So I’m doing three a day, with about 50 additions total. Also working on four other sites: a fancy Salads book for the Gallery, two books on home entertaining for the 60s site, a “Friends of Frank” site that handles boy’s mags from the early years of the 20th century.

Sheridan Keene, our Sherlock Holmes:

They’re from 1900. Aimed at 12 year olds, 14 year olds.

The period between 1895, let’s say, and 1919 fascinates me more and more. All of a sudden, so much was possible; all of a sudden, so much was changing. Entire mediums invented. New forms of communications. Impossible structures. The boy who sat on the floor of a house in a small Illinois town dreaming of Gotham as he read about Inspector Keene might have gone to the big city for a job when he was twenty, and marveled agog at this:

The Singer, in progress. Digg had a link to a story about the loss of the Singer - a Digg link to American Conservative? Unpossible. Perhaps because it criticized rapacious capitalism, which cares not for history, only for money. Well, Digg also had a link to the Utopian Dreams of Thamesmead, a London development that erased everything history had taught us about community, and replaced it with inhuman Brutalist concrete expanses. You’ve seen it, perhaps; that’s where they filmed Clockwork Orange.

I lived in a place designed along these ideas. Cedar Square West. The intentions were noble. All classes would live together, the wealthy in the top of the tallest tower, the middle class in the low-slung units and a few of the towers, with the rest mixed with Section 8 and middle-class. That was the plan, anyway. In the middle was a concrete park that defied any attempt to moderate its bleak abstractions. I’m sure the illustrations for the project showed people sitting around reading books and laughing as the water splashed in a fountain. The reality was a trapped plastic bag from the store shoved around by the currents of the pit, making a lazy turn around and around, over and over. Then, at 1:30, everyone woke up when the bars downstairs poured the glass empties into the metal bins.

The Singer was a beautiful building, a creature of astonishing grace, and it came from an era we would now regard as unenlightened. The concrete indifference of Cedar Square West came from the minds of caring humanists with the best intentions.

Odd how that works out.

Anyway. I’m not surprised we built huge things like Cedar Square West in the 70s, but I am always amazed at the early skyscrapers. They figured out everything they needed to do to keep them from falling down, and they did it with pen and paper. I hadn’t known this:

The old Singer Building on the left is being integrated nto the new one.

In the comments, someone noted that we’ve lost the ability to do things like that, and I don’t think that’s so. There was an era when the stonemasons who could carve the exquisite details were few, but 3D printing will change that. I just fear it’ll be used to clever abstractions that look like something leaked from a nightmare.

Another thing I came across while scouring old newspapers for the name of a theater seen in a movie soon to appear on B&W World:


That ran about the same time as New York was tearing down its Singers and putting up straight black towers indistinguishable from one another except for the numbers over the door and the abstraction in the plaza.

Coincidence, I'm sure.






It’s 1964.

This one might be from the Holiday period, but A) there’s only one that mentions Christmas, and B) who knows how the schedule will work out this year, meaning there’s no guarantee I’d do the 60s in December, and C) who cares? I make the rules around here! Me! You’ll take it and you’ll like it!

Although I do not expect anyone to like it with the degree of enthusiasm the Toaster Receiver is expressing.

She is insane, or faking it to mock the gift-giver, or terrified. Normal Mom in the upper right-hand corner is admiring the way the plug fits in the back, and Albino Joan Collins is trying to lie to the hostess about why she opened the lid. I thought I left my cigarettes in here


f “ability to hold the weight of three adults” is your main criterion for typewriter selection, I guess:

Why Royal McBee, though?

Royal McBee was the computer manufacturing and retail division of Royal Typewriter which sold and serviced early computers RPC-4000 and RPC-9000. Royal McBee partnered with General Precision in the Royal Precision Electronic Computer Company, which sold and serviced the LGP-30 (in 1956) and LGP-21 (in 1963) single-user desk computers manufactured by the Librascope division of General Precision. Royal McBee was based in Port Chester, New York.

The parent has been through many hands, but it’s still around.

Remember, filtered cigarettes were supposed to be better for you.




Here’s the jingle. It’s so very, very early 60.


“Baked Hash Filet Mignon.”

I’d eat it.

Dial it back a bit there, missy

Note: everyone can claim membership in the Pepsi Generation, if you have a “young view of things.” A perspective unseasoned by time and experience, perhaps? It was a long-running campaign, and I believe it replaced their “Be Sociable” campaign, which was much more sophisticated and “grown-up.” They were entering the era of the youth cult.

For many of us, step four is the dealbreaker.

I did not know this: “The 5th Avenue is a candy bar introduced in 1936, consisting of peanut butter crunch layers enrobed in chocolate. It is produced and marketed by The Hershey Company. The bar is similar in composition to Nestle's Butterfinger candy bar.”

It was originally made by Luden’s, and if you’re of a certain age, you’ll no doubt make a face: no one wants to think of Luden’s when you think about chocolate.

Swear to God I did not know this was next in the folder.

What are the odds? Luden’s didn’t own the 5th Avenue at this time, even though it says “Product of the Proprietary Division of Luden’s.” Wiki:

Luden’s was acquired in 1928 by Food Industries of Philadelphia, a holding company owned by the Dietrich family. In 1980 the company acquired Queen Anne Candy Co., based in Hammond, Indiana. During its heyday under Dietrich ownership, Luden’s produced more than 500 varieties of candy in addition to its better-known cough drops and employed more than 1,200 people.

In 1967 animator Ed Seeman and musician Frank Zappa worked together on a television commercial for Luden’s Cough Drops. The commercial won a Clio award for Zappa’s soundtrack.

Mr. Luden passed away a year short of 90 in 1947.


I had one of these when I was young, and it was like biting into a small mammal. Never had one since.

Let's drop in on the far-away yet oh-so-relatable world of 1916, as seen through the work of Clare Briggs. See you around.



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