Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Curing the Common Hangover

No doubt most of us will be raising a glass to bid 2013 a fond fare-thee-well and welcome in the New Year. While I heartily approve of this tradition (and intend on partaking myself), there’s always the harrowing experience of a New Year’s Day spent feeling like the dregs of a dog’s dinner to think about. Yes, party hearty and pay dearly seems to be the motto where drinking is concerned for even though the US Mail doesn’t deliver on New Year’s Day, Mr. Hangover definitely will be making house calls.

Doubtless humankind discovered the hangover the night after discovering how to produce alcoholic beverages. Since that fateful morning partiers have sought cures for the fatigue, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, dizziness, and skull-crushing headache brought on by a night spent in the bottle. Unfortunately, the passing eons have failed to yield up a remedy for this scourge.

It seems a little odd that humanity never has come up with a cure for the common hangover. I mean since the Stone Age we’ve been fermenting various ingredients, indulging in the mind-altering results, and presumably suffering for the ensuing ill but in the age of rovers on Mars we’re still not sure how to treat Brown Bottle Flu. The best the Mayo Clinic has to offer is drink lots of water, eat a bland snack, take two aspirin, and sleep it off. Sometimes you think they’re not even trying.

What did our ancient (and not-so-ancient) ancestors do when the party they had last night went sour in the morning? Well, here are some folk remedies for hangover – and be forewarned, I do not endorse or recommend any of these for reasons that I think will be obvious.

A Hat-full of Alder Leaves: Some Native American tribes in the Rockies recommended that a wife place the leaves of an alder tree under her husband’s hat not only as a treatment for hangover but general grumpiness. Seems like finding your hat filled with foliage might actually cause grumpiness rather than relieve it. Finding one’s fedora stuffed with twigs and leaves after a night in the ruts might leave a fellow wondering exactly what he’d gotten into before finding his way home.

Headache Flower: In Britain a common folk remedy for hangover was chewing the seeds of wild poppies. It’s important to say that your average poppy seed muffin isn’t going to produce any ill effects, but chow down on a large amount and you might just take a trip in William S. Burroughs Dream Machine. You may already know poppies are used to produce morphine, once a key pain reliever, so it’s possible that the poppy seed cure might be the only effective treatment for a hangover – that is if you don’t mind Lewis Carol-style tea parties. The British post-party pharmacopeia also included betony, viper’s bugloss, mint, and yarrow.

The Hair of the Dog: Before Shakespeare’s time this phrase actually referred to a treatment for genuine dog bites. The idea was for the one who had been bitten to find the offending dog and pluck a few of its hairs, mix them with soot and hog fat and rub it into the wound as a cure – which might just result in needing more dog hair for the bites you receive while trying to treat your dog bite. In ancient medical texts this treatment usually was recommended for being bitten by a rabid dog. The use of the phrase “the hair of the dog that bit you" in reference to hangover treatments has been in use since Shakespeare's time.

The Bloody Mary: Much more pleasant than contemplating plucking hair from a rabid canine is imbibing a Bloody Mary the morning after a binge. Fernand Petiot claimed have invented the drink in 1921 while tending bar at the New York Bar in though this claim can be disputed. Gossip columnist Lucius Beebe printed one of the first US references to the Bloody Mary in 1939 in a column about New York’s 21 Club, including the original recipe:

"George Jessel’s newest pick-me-up which is receiving attention from the town’s paragraphers is called a Bloody Mary: half tomato juice, half vodka

Deep Fried: One thing the old remedies have in common with the Mayo Clinic is a belief that food can help stave off the effects of a hangover. However, the old cures tend to lean toward fatty and fried, high-calorie dishes. After a tough night at the forum, the ancient Romans treated a bad case of passum-head with a nice plate of deep-fried canaries. After an Olympic drinking marathon, the Greeks sought relief by devouring sheep's lungs. And medieval tavern-goers sought to cure their hangovers with a paste of eel and bitter almond. I guess, considering the options, sliders aren’t such a bad choice after all.

Folklore aside, my personal advice is all things in moderation. I’d recommend a little less drink for a lot less pain. Besides, it’ll mean a lot less un-tagging of embarrassing pictures on Facebook once you’re able to bear looking at the computer screen!

I've always had a thing for flying boats, so the China Clipper is a fascination for me. So, while shopping images, I perked up at seeing this shot in an article on Glenn Martin and Martin's construction of bombers and clippers from the May 1937 issue of Life Magazine. Take a close look at the nose of the plane and you'll see it, China Clipper.

I'll have to take some time to do a proper entry on the clipper soon, maybe this summer when the breeze is warm and a fellow's thoughts start turning to the sea.

A Pre-New Year's Eve Message

Planning on enjoying a night of partying on New Years and then the bowl games on New Year's Day? Well, maybe you should watch this message from Century Productions!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Here's wishing you all the best in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome to the Postseason

Welcome to the post season, football fans. All the prognostication is over and the swollen-headed experts can pretend the fantasy scenarios of how the season would play out they so proudly proclaimed back before week one actually played out. Most fans of the home team can begin their off-season commiseration and start looking forward to the eternal promise of next year while sixteen teams fight it out in the Thunderdome that is the NFL playoffs.

The photo is of Cal Hubbard of the New York Giants and was taken in November of 1936. Hubbard started playing pro ball in 1927 playing both defense and offense. In 1929 Hubbard moved to the Green Bay Packers where he played for the legendary Lambeau and won an NFL championship.

Hubbard took to the small town atmosphere in Green Bay and began umpiring baseball games during his summers there. In 1936, he took on a new career as an American League umpire and eventually became well known for his work on the diamond. In 1958 he was appointed umpire-in-chief of the AL and to date Hubbard is the only person to be enshrined in both the Baseball and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Funnies - Post Christmas Equation

Life Magazine, January 1914

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Federal Motor Truck Company

As the 1914 ad above suggests, the Federal Motor Truck Company had a reputation for being the every day truck, there to do the job. Its vehicles were basic, no radical design innovations or experimental motors, just tried and true trucks to do hard work.

The company was founded by Martin Pucher in 1910 and manufactured trucks at its Detroit, MI plant for most of its existence. Unlike many early automotive companies, Federal endured through the Great Depression and produced vehicles up into the 1950's. Eventually it fell on hard times, though, and military contracts weren't enough to keep it alive. The last Federal was produced in 1959.

You can read a much more detailed account of Federal's history by Rolland Jerry here, and I've added a little, PowerPoint-esque video showing some Federal trucks below (hope you don't mind the irritating ad attached to the video).

Friday, December 27, 2013

Willard Young and his Orchestra - Turn On the Heat

Ventured outside today and got a cold dose of reality...well, at least it was pretty cold. So, in honor of the inclement weather, here's a little ditty by Willard Young and his Orchestra extolling the positives of a good central heating system.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pennsylvania Oilproof Vacuum Cup Tires (1914)

Pennsylvania Oilproof Vacuum Cup Tires...it took several minutes for me to figure out the middle line of text was "oilproof". I guess typography wasn't a big concern in 1914 when this ad aired. I'm sure that what we see as double (or even triple) entendre went without so much as a raised eyebrow back in the ragtime era too. I like to imagine that a car equipped with PA oilproof tires sounded like a motorized octopus going down the avenue. Cue the suction-cup sound effects!

Speaking of suction cups, notice that the ad executives didn't use that term when describing their tire tread design? Patents for the first modern suction cups were issued by the US Patent Office in the 1860s. TC Roche was awarded a patent in 1866 for what he called a "Photographic Developer Dipping Stick". In 1868 Orwell Needham patented a more refined suction cup, calling it an "Atmospheric Knob"  which he purposed for use as a handle for drawers. I couldn't find an etymology for "suction cup" on the web, but I'm sure it's out there somewhere and that it probably didn't come into use until after 1914.

I couldn't find any definitive information on the fate of the Pennsylvania Rubber Company, though I did find that a company going by the name of  the Pennsylvania Rubber Works moved from Erie, PA to Jeannette, PA in 1903. It's probably that the name changed at some time and that the records of that change didn't show up in my web search. I did find a postcard of the Pennsylvania Rubber Works in Jeannette, though. These cards always amaze me. I mean, the factory and the landscape in which it appears are utterly un-amazing and though I appreciate having it as a document for this blog post, I can't imagine sending it to the folks back home. 

On the back of the card, "Hey mom and dad, just drove by this building and boy did it stink. Made me miss ma's meatloaf..."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Pudding

If you've taken a little time to browse this blog, you'll know I have a fascination with the past. Whether it's old cars, advertising from the 30's, the music of the 20's, or the comics of the early 1900's, I'm fond of all things forgotten. So, it probably isn't surprising that I found a somewhat forgotten Christmas day tradition to write about today. What is that tradition, you ask? It's the dinner table cannon ball, the desert bowling ball, the Christmas pudding.

Many believe the recipe for the Christmas (plum) pudding can be traced back to medieval England, but the first recipes appear in 17th century publications. The ancestors of the plum pudding may be older, going back to savory puddings such as those found in the Harleian Collection  of manuscripts found in the British Library. In the 1400's a method for preserving meat in a pastry casing with dried fruits in the form of pies became popular and these mince pies became popular dishes for the festive season.  The chief ancestor of the modern pudding, though, goes all the way back to the pottage of Roman times. Pottage was slow cooked in a large pot and by the 15th century plum pottage, a stew of vegetables and fruit, had become a common first course. While this is all well and good, what about the holiday treat Dickens' Tiny Tim heard singing in the copper? Well, it wouldn't come into being until the Victorian era.

Over time the savory elements of mince pies and pottage were scaled back and an emphasis was placed on sweet fruits and though mince pies still exist to this day, pottage eventually became largely known as plum pudding. In 1747 East Sussex cook Eliza Acton recorded the first recipe for Christmas Pudding in a cookbook and by the 1830's the holly-topped ball of flour, fruits, suet, and spices appeared on holiday tables. I did some digging and came up with the following 1837 recipe for Christmas Pudding from a book with the catchy title of A Housekeeper's Book: Comprising Advice on the Conduct of Household Affairs in General by Frances Harriet Green. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Card from the Gentleman from Indiana

Here's wishing you and yours every blessing of the season!

May your stockings and hears be full!

The Grinch is Serving...

Now we don't think of yeast as a food unto itself, but dig into the magazine archive and you'll find ads touting it not only as food but as good for digestion. Nothing like a little yeast mash to wash down Christmas dinner!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - Send Me Your Love for Christmas (Raymond Scott Orchestra)

Well, here we are. Christmas Eve is dawning and the jolly old elf is making a last check of the tack and harness while the elves tune up the jingle bells. It's been fun punctuating the season with a bit of holiday music from off the beaten path. All that's left is tearing the wrapping paper off those lovely presents under the tree and getting to work on January's resolutions.

What's one of the best gifts a fellow could get on Christmas day? Well, I'd say a little love from the one he loves best! And in keeping with that sentiment I'll make my last yuletide ditty Send Me Your Love for Christmas by Raymond Scott and his Orchestra. Here's hoping you and yours have the jolliest of holidays, may the seasons blessings find their way into your stockings and your heart brim with cheer!

The Funnies - New in Town (1927)

Life Magazine, 1927

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stutz Motor Company

My apologies for getting a late start to posting the regular Sunday automotive musings. Blame it on the season and the weather, we spent Saturday carousing with some good friends and a rainy gloom has fallen over the city, making daybreak seem to arrive sometime around eleven-thirty. Regardless, I've managed to shake the cobwebs off and I thought in honor of last night's festivities I'd do a little holiday piece. No, that doesn't mean images of Santa riding cars or ads extolling the virtues of buying an automobile for your honey's stocking (though I think I'll do both of those in coming holiday seasons). Instead I'm taking a more sidelong approach. As I've mentioned before, Kelly and I belong to several swing clubs and this year one of them held its annual Christmas Ball at the Stutz Building here in Indianapolis which meant we got to spend some time in the company of some great old cars.

The Stutz Bearcat on display at the Stutz Business Center, Indianapolis, IN

The Stutz Motor Company made high-end cars here in Indy starting as the Ideal Motor Car Company around 1911 and produced vehicles all the way up to 1995. Possibly one of the most famous of Stutz's cars is the Bearcat which featured one of the first multi-valve engines to appear in automobiles. 1919 brought stockholder troubles and in 1922 control of the company had changed as did its focus.  The re-imagined Stutz produced "safety cars", that is to say automobiles which featured innovations such as windshields made of safety glass, a low center of gravity for better handling, and the "Noback" transmission designed to hold hills.

The Stutz Black Hawk Streamline LSR Car at the Stutz Business Center, Indianapolis, IN

In 1927 Stutz set the world land speed record, averaging 68 miles per hour over 24 hours and in 1928 driver Frank Lockhart employed a pair of supercharged DOHC 1.5 liter engines to power his Stutz Black Hawk streamline racer.  Lockhart turned in a speed of 198.29 mph in his first pass with the Black Hawk, but in his second run a blown tire resulted in a violent crash which ejected Lockhart from the vehicle killing him instantly.

1973 Stutz Blackhawk at the Stutz Business Center, Indianapolis, IN

Stutz production came to an end in 1935 and didn't resume until 1968 when a New York banker funded Stutz Motor Car of America. In 1970 the prototype Stutz Blackhawk was distributed featuring GM parts. These cars featured all the luxuries the 70's could offer: power steering, automatic transmission, power brakes, electric windows, air conditioning, power locks, electric seats, and all leather upholstery. Initially the venture was successful, Elvis Presley bought a Blackhawk in 1971 and other Stutz owners included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Evel Knievel, Barry White, Lucille Ball, and Sammy Davis Jr. The high cost of a Stutz meant an extremely small production run (less than 700 vehicles between 1971 and 1882).

Wiki-rumors have Stutz currently designing an electric vehicle, but that seems to be wishful thinking. With competitors like Tesla Motors, Fisker, BMW, Cadillac, and Mercedes in the market it seems unlikely that a niche manufacturer like Stutz could make inroads.

A Little Christmas Music - Christmas Island (The Dinning Sisters and Bob Atcher)

Yes, long before Jimmy Buffet and his parrot heads got hold of it, the song Christmas Island was a hit.

The Dinning family consisted of nine children, all musically inclined. After winning several amateur musical contests, three of the family, twins Jean and Ginger and sister Lou started performing with their brother Ace's orchestra. Eventually the trio moved from Oklahoma to Chicago where they were hired by NBC radio eventually becoming the highest paid act in the city.

An interesting link between past and present, the Dinnings nephew Dean was bassist for Toad the Wet Sprocket.

The song Christmas Island was written by actor Lyle Moraine in 1946 and originally popularized by the Andrew Sisters backed by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians in a Decca recording that same year. Moraine appeared in 42 motion pictures, often without credit. If you want to see Moraine in action you can rent Son of Paleface starring Bob Hope and Roy Rogers. Moraine appears as a bank clerk in the film and co-wrote the cowboy songs sung by Rogers in the film with Jack Brooks and Jack Hope.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - It's Winter Again (Hal Kemp)

There's a little nip in the air, so it's a good time for a tune from Hal Kemp. Let's try It's Winter Again.

The Grinch is Serving...

Hunt's Rice and Beef Porcupines...spit out the quills.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - White Christmas (Louis Armstrong)

Ah Louie, Mr. Armstrong I'd dearly have loved to have seen you in person. If the time machine is ever invented, I'll use one of my trips to spend an evening dancing to the music of Louis Armstrong. For the time being, here's his unique version of Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (Dick Robertson and his Orchestra)

Here's another tune from Dick Robertson and his Orchestra, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe.

I thought I'd written about the tradition of mistletoe somewhere in my blog, but when I looked I couldn't find anything on the subject. At the risk of repeating myself (I beg forgiveness if I do, the dog is getting older you know), to remedy that situation let's touch on the origin of smooching under the old yuletide weed.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that attaches itself to a tree or bush, drawing water and nutrients from its host in order to live. Now, that doesn't seem to be much of a starting point for a plant that's associated with love and kisses and the holiday season, but let's press on and try to ignore any unflattering comparisons to certain romantic entanglements.

The etymology of the word mistletoe isn't certain. Some say it's related to the German mist (for dung) and tang (for branch) as a reference to the fact that the plant can be spread via bird droppings. I find this origin dubious, though, since it's unlikely Germanic peoples naming the plant would have understood how it was spread well enough to make the link.

As this little spell from Queen Loeta and the Mistletoe, a 1857 tome by George Halse suggests, mistletoe has always been attributed with certain magical properties.

The magical essence of mistletoe goes back into antiquity and the most likely source of the Christmas custom associated with it might be the early church's habit of adopting pagan traditions into its ceremony to ease acceptance of the new faith. It's know that pre-Christian peoples in Europe saw mistletoe as a representation of the divine male essence, romance, fertility, and vitality and that these people sometimes kissed under sprigs of the plant seeking some sort of mystical boon.

Mistletoe as a Christmas decoration isn't mentioned before the 18th century. According to tradition, when a man and woman meet beneath the mistletoe they are obliged to kiss.  Washington Irving described this tradition in his 1820 The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.

And I like Mr. Irving's take on the tradition. Nothing increases fondness more than short supply.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - The Merry Christmas Polka (Dinah Shore)

Dinah Shore, darling of Chevrolet in the 50's achieved fame as a big band singer, an actress on the big screen, and as hostess of variety shows on the small screen. I have an unusual fascination with the polka, so much so that I forced my poor wife to learn the dance and play victim to my poor rendition of it every Oktoberfest. But the biergarten is closed and we're into the yuletide season and it's time to trot out a different, more Fezziwig kind of polka. So, here's Dinah and The Merry Christmas Polka.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - I told Santa Claus to Bring Me You (Bernie Cummins Orchestra)

Ohio seems to a hot spot for big bands. Bernie Cummins was born in Akron in 1900 and his first ensemble debuted in Indiana. Eventually Cummins put a dance band together and his lineup changed over the years to reflect the changing tastes of his audience. Since Cummins' orchestra primarily played the Midwest, it felt right to feature one of his Christmas ditties. I Told Santa Claus to Bring Me You is one in a series of popular songs where the singer pleads with the man in red for the perfect girl or boy wrapped up under the tree. Sounds a little bit like kidnapping to me, but the holiday season is filled with imponderables.

December: The Full Cold Moon

It's not surprising that December's full moon is known as the Full Cold Moon. In December here in the northern hemisphere we stand at the bottom of the year's wheel and often the bottom of the thermometer too. It's the perfect moon for seeing a certain flight crew of reindeer making practice runs in preparation for the big night.

Here's a little Almanac wisdom for December.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Funnies - In the Gift Shoppe (1927)

Life magazine, December 1927

A Little Christmas Music - Santa Clause is on his Way(Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra)

Sammy Kaye was born Sammy Zarnocay, Jr. in Lakewood Ohio on March 13, 1910. Aside from the Christmas tune, Santa Clause is on His Way featured as my daily yuletide offering, Mr. Kaye has another December connection. Shortly after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Sammy wrote the music for the tune Remember Pearl Harbor. Surely it’s just one of many patriotic, support the military, and the boys over there songs that came out of the war era, but one worth mentioning.

A Yuletide Poem - The Mistletoe, A Fantasy of California by Carolus Ager

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - I'm Doing my Christmas Dreaming (Frank Sinatra)

How about a little Blue Eyes to stave off a blue Christmas? With all the Sinatra schlock out there, I hadn't heard I'm Doing my Christmas Dreaming before I stumbled upon the recording while streaming the oldies. It's surprising what you'll find when you're not looking!

Dodge Brothers

Previously I've posted a 1954 Dodge ad, but this is a much older one. In 1922 Dodge promised lightness, hardihood, and economy. Yes, hardihood is a word. It is defined as boldness or daring and I can't really see any hardihood in what essentially amounts to Dodge's imitation of Ford's business coupe.

My grandfather was a Dodge man and when he passed away I inherited his old Dodge Challenger. At the time I didn't appreciate it, now I wish I had the lead sled back again. You never realize what you have until it's gone.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - Santa Clause is Coming to Town (Joe Moss and His Society Dance Orchestra)

Yet another version of the classic, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

The Grinch is Serving...

Prem, Spam imitator, in hot sandwich form! There are dozens of Spam knockoffs, personally I remember my mother buying cans of Treet and recently I heard a broadcast of A Way with Words that featured a version that went by the name of Tang. This particular ad comes from a  1941 issue of Life Magazine. As for the contest, any names for a hot Prem sandwich?

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - Jingle Bells (Phil Harris and the Sportsmen)

Phil Harris is probably best known for The Thing and That's What I Like About the South, but this little Christmas offering comes from 1952 and teams him up with The Sportsmen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - I Want You for Christmas (Dick Robertson and his Orchestra)

Dick Robertson has a different sort of pet in mind as a Christmas gift! Robertson was a prolific writer, penning tunes under a variety of pen names during his twenty-some year career.  This particular holiday tune caught my ear tonight. Here's I Want You for Christmas for your stocking. Better by far than a lump of coal!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Christmas Music - Jingle Bells (Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra)

'Tis the season. Snowflakes, gingerbread, mistletoe, and ho-ho-ho here we go right into the Yuletide. I heard a piece on NPR this week extolling the virtues of the holiday punch bowl and it brought back fond memories of the days when we used to get all dressed up for a holiday cocktail party. It's been a few years since our last blow out and absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe that's absinthe.

Regardless, here's raising a glass of cheer and hoping that the holiday has been treating you right so far. May the lines be small, the sales be big, and the joy lasting. To put you in the mood here's a little seasonal ditty from Mr. Nelson's Orchestra, Jingle Bells.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The F. B. Stearns Company

Frank Ballou Stearns built his first automobile in the basement of his family's Cleveland, OH home at the age of seventeen. His first production model auto was a buggy-style, one cylinder came in 1897. Throughout the early 1900's, the F. B. Stearns Company focused on performance automobiles, introducing a 60hp four cylinder touring car with five or seven seats. Barney Oldfield won the Mount Wilson Hillclimb in a Stearns Six at Brighton Beach in 1910, a vehicle believed to be the most powerful of its era.

Eventually Stearns turned its attention toward the consumer market and by 1914 when this ad ran the company was introducing its Knight sleeve engine.  The company's founder retired in 1925, selling out to J. N. Willys who operated the company until 1929 before liquidating it and sending the legacy of Stearns to the automotive graveyard. 

This ad comes from a 1914 issue of Life Magazine.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day Which will Live in Infamy...

As this headline from the December 15, 1941 issue of Life Magazine screams, on this date in 1941 the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii plunged the United States into the conflagration that had been raging in Europe and China since 1931. The Japanese intended to use the attack as a preventative measure, thinking it would prevent US involvement in Imperial actions against Southern Pacific holdings of the United Kingdom and operations in Southeast Asia.

Japanese operations against Pearl Harbor began at 7:48  on a Sunday morning while most of the base's personnel were attending church services. 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo bombers attacked in two waves, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers. When the smoke cleared, all eight US battleships anchored in Pearl were damaged, with four sent to the bottom of the harbor. 2402 Americans perished in the attack and 1,282 were wounded. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and five midget submarines at a cost of 65 casualties.

Japanese leaders underestimated the American response, though, and on December 8th the United States declared war on Japan.  By December 11th, war had also been declared on Italy and Germany and America had entered World War II.

While digging around the internet, looking for something besides the time-worn photos of burning aircraft and sinking ships we've all seen over the years, I came across this little snippet of a radio announcement. Hearing the words sends a chill through me and takes me back to a September not too long ago when the modern world changed forever.

The Grinch is Serving...

I'm not sure I can think of anything less appetizing than frosted ham. Maybe hamsicles? As for mincemeat ham...no comment.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Grinch is Serving...

A glorious Grinchy celebration brought to you by the good folks at Heinz. Who knew you could get canned plum and fig pudding? What kind of sadist would serve it anyway?

The 50’s definitely weren't the era for food photography. What’s the deal with the cancer chicken and what are those lumpy things sharing its plate? Who wants cranberry and grape jelly to go with their cancerous chicken? And Heinz mincemeat? I suppress a shudder!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Quote for December

"December 25th has become guilt and obligation."

- Phil Donahue

Haynes Automotive Company

Ah, hyperbole, automobiles advertising is thy name!

Haynes began offering a "light six" in 1914 (the year that this ad aired in Life Magazine), an achievement that they proclaimed with all the qualifiers of a sports announcer playing up their favorite team.  Haynes claimed to have developed the first gasoline driven American made car - an honor that actually went to the Duryea brothers.

Haynes was an Indiana company, operating out of Kokomo until 1924 when it declared bankruptcy.

The Grinch is Serving...

This year I thought I'd drop in on my Yuletide role model, the Grinch. Throughout December we'll be checking old Grincy-pooh's cupboard to see what the green fellow is serving his guests. And one thing's for sure, no Christmas banquet of doom is complete without an opening course of coffee and fruitcake! Yes, it sets the festive mood and gets that indigestion going early!

1885 - A Christmas Song

Holiday wishes from the December 26, 1885 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you don't have to ride your dinner to Grandma's house this Year!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Food Inc. Spot by Earl Harris

A little spot about food, where it comes from, and the hidden costs from my good friend Earl Harris. True food for thought!

Victor Young and his Orchestra - Way Back Home

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's a little 1935 ode to home wherever it might be from Victor Young and his Orchestra - Way Back Home.

Coming in 2014 - World War I

Life Magazine's Proclamation of the Beginning of World War I, 1914

One of the things I set out to do when I began this blog was to look back at historic events. Most of my retrospective has been of the lighthearted nature, checking out old magazines and ads and commenting. The coming year offers an opportunity to do something a little bigger, though. In 1914 the world tripped into the chasm that would eventually become known as World War I and humanity would never be the same again.

In the coming years I plan to mark the important dates of World War I by posting images, music, art, and anything else I can find. It's probably the most ambitious, yet slowest project I've ever embarked upon since it will span seven years, starting with the events that began the move toward war and ending with the Treaty of Versailles and the end of the war.

It's a deep dive into the events that shaped the twenties and the lost generation that would mold art, music,  and literature in the United States and I'm looking forward to learning a lot (and sharing it) along the way.  So, stay tuned. The first installment will come in January!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bourbon-Glazed Turkey

If you've read my blog, you’ll know that I've always had a love of cooking. This culinary affair has led to a relationship with the holidays that ranges somewhere between love and absolute frustration. Like it or not, every American cook has been brought up to believe that their holiday meals should offer up the bounty of the land, sea, and air (or at least the corresponding aisles of the supermarket); surpass the top restaurants on the Michelin list for taste; and look better than a spread in Martha Stewart’s magazine.

Aside from the year I set the centerpiece on fire, I've had a pretty good track record, but the thought of cooking a twenty five pound bird is always a little daunting. So, I figured instead of my usual magazine captures of the meals of the 30’s and 40’s I would share what I consider to be the ultimate recipe for Thanksgiving turkey. This bird comes out with a crispy, sweet glazed skin and moist meat and it goes great with just about anything.

Bourbon-Glazed Turkey

2C Butter at Room Temperature (divided)
1T Poultry Seasoning
½C Light Brown Sugar
½C Honey
½C Apple Cider
½C Wild Turkey Bourbon
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Take half of the butter and combine with poultry seasoning until well mixed. Carefully separate the turkey’s skin from the breast meat and rub liberally with the butter/poultry seasoning mix. Salt and pepper the turkey, including inside the cavity, and place in your preheated oven.

While your turkey is baking, go ahead and prepare the glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy, 1 to 2 quart pot. When the butter begins to foam, add the brown sugar and honey and stir until the sugar is melted and the mixture resembles syrup. Remove the pot from the flame and add cider and bourbon (failure to do so can result in a flare-up, loss of eyebrows, and a heck of a story to tell the firemen). Return the pot to the burner and heat while stirring until the glaze just begins to boil, then remove from the heat and allow the glaze to cool.

Around fifteen minutes before the turkey is done, brush with half the glaze. When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and brush on the remaining glaze. Let cool fifteen to twenty five minutes before carving.

The Funnies - The Better Part (1901)

Life magazine, February 1901

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Funnies - Roast Aepyornis (1913)

A little something for those contemplating carving the holiday bird. Life Magazine, 1913

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The Stevens-Duryea company is the child of J. Frank Duryea and the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Company. Stevens entered the market with a 5hp runabout what would eventually be known as the Model L. In 1902 the company produced a whopping 61 cars and production numbers grew as the automobile craze swept the nation.

This 1913 ad from Life Magazine features the Model D, an 80hp touring car and the company's last design before Duryea sold the company. New management didn't improve the company's prospects, though, and the exorbitant pricing of Stevens-Duryea cars proved its undoing. In 1924 the company stopped manufacturing automobiles, focusing on building auto bodies for companies such as Stanley and Ruxton.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let Go

All and all this week turned out to be one of the kind that leave a fellow more than a little wrung out and tired. You see, this week my cube-mate was "let go". It was a strange affair, in this era of contract employment and "right to work" legislation making just about every job into a short-term contract, it's hard to know exactly how to feel when a coworker suddenly isn't one any longer. There was the prerequisite expressions of dismay and sorry, the well-wishing and assurances that the future holds something better, and then the awkward parting on his last day followed by an even more awkward emptiness. After the depressing reality settled in, though, I started to think about the way we talk about something that's an all too common event.

We think of one word to describe when a worker is deprived of their job, fired. To be straight forward, fired isn't an amicable parting of the ways or the result of downsizing, it's being ushered into a side office for the equivalent of a gangland whacking. Don't say goodbye, there's no notice, there won't be cake in the cafeteria and a card on your desk, just get off company property before your boss calls security. According to the Word Detective website, the term "fired" was first used to describe the loss of a job in the 1880s and is linked to the discharge of a cannon. Imagine a circus performer being shot out of a cannon, and replace the clown outfit with a business suit and you get what our 19th century relatives were thinking.

Where there is a need humanity will invent a term, and it's probably obvious that not all partings between employee and employer fall into the perp-walk out the door variety. There are times when, due to the ambivalent currents of economics and business, a worker joins the ranks of the unemployed and that parting of the ways can't accurately be described as firing. In 1871 the term "let go" came into use to describe just such a situation. Let go describes downsizing, the expiration of contracts, and any number of unfortunate circumstances.

It's not much, but hiding behind the shield of etymology blunts the pangs of parting a bit. Those of us who are left behind are gifted with an appreciation of the uncertainty of fortune, one day everything is ticking along per plan and the next everything is upside down.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Full Frost Moon

My father always waxes poetic about the frosts of November. For him it means hunting season and predawn trips deep into the woods where he will sit quietly and wait. As he’s gotten older the stories he tells most often revolve around past glory and humorous stories of old friends. Time ferments both wine and memories, mulling each with the spices of vineyards and autumns past.

November’s full moon most commonly goes by the name the Full Beaver Moon for its association with trapping and harvesting pelts for the winter months, but I’ll always know it as the Full Frost Moon. Seeing it always will bring to mind the scent of a camp fire on the cold air, the falling leaves, and my father dressed in his camouflage with his face smeared with greasepaint.

Here's a little about November's full moon from the folks at Old Farmer's Almanac.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


This past weekend I had an opportunity to revisit some of the haunts of my misspent youth. Those of you familiar with Indianapolis might recognize Talbott Street as the avant-garde, bohemian neighborhood associated closely with artists, poets, poverty, and alternate lifestyles. I spent much of my twenties lounging about the living rooms of friends who rented the unkempt and decaying Victorians that had been ruthlessly subdivided by slumlords. Much of who I am today grew out of those shabby rooms, my appreciation for Victoriana, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco all rose from the splendor-come-squalor of Talbott Street. The friends have long moved on and though I still am in touch with some of them, the past always has a luminous quality akin to St. Elmo's Fire. The days seemed brighter, the spirits higher, the laughs louder, and the days carefree, but truth is the good ol' days never were all that good.

On Friday we paid a visit to the Talbott Street Nightclub to take in Indianapolis' equivalent of The Birdcage. Two acts in drag with lip-syncing to the pop hits of today and yesterday, cheap drinks, and the human sideshow that is uninhibited youth. When the curtain came down and the MC bid us goodnight, I stepped out into the chill of early November and had a look around.

There comes a time when you must face time's onslaught, honor those things that are lost, and move forward with as brave a face as you can muster. So, with a nostalgic smile I say farewell to friends who've moved on. So many people I thought would always be an integral part of my life have moved on to jobs and families far away, others have gone from this world all too soon. I miss them all and in the quiet hours before another feeble autumn dawn I can't help but wonder where they are and what they're doing.

Life is an ever-flowing stream of moments, not a condition, and if we don't live each we're carried haplessly downstream to our end. So I swim, sometimes with and sometimes against the current, but nonetheless I swim. The me who played football in the February mud and ice of twenty years ago in the empty lot on Talbott Street wouldn't recognize the me of today, and that's not a bad thing.

Franco-American Spaghetti in a Can!

With the Christmas season fast approaching, I thought I'd open a can of holiday shopping food on you. Good is such a subjective term. I mean it is good in that it's not spoiled.

100 Years Ago - The Bra

100 years ago today the first modern elastic brassiere was invented, and ever since teenage boys have been trying to figure out how to defeat the diabolic things!

Small Turkeys and Spry!

I wasn't aware there were new smaller turkeys. Frankly, the bird in the roasting pan shown in this 1954 ad for Spry Shortening looks more like a chicken than a turkey. I think someone got cheated at the supermarket! Regardless, Spry was Lever Brothers hydrogenated vegetable shortening and a direct competitor with Proctor and Gamble's Crisco. Eventually Spry faded from the US marketplace, though the vault of truth known as Wikipedia indicates it still can be found in Cyprus.

Packaging - wow. When I first stumbled across this ad I thought, "why are they advertising paint by showing food?" It's interesting how things have changed since the 50's. No manufacturer would proudly tout homogenized in bold text across the front of their packaging today. Of course, when this ad aired nobody had ever heard of trans fat or its ills. You also don't see a lot of unconditional guarantees these days. It's hard to get a manufacturer to live up to their promises and harder still to get them to put it down in writing!

How does Spry shortening guarantee (unconditionally, no less) that you’ll have a tender and golden turkey? Well, by dousing it in delicious hydrogenated shortening! Not only should you slather the bird before baking but soak a rag in the stuff and swaddle it in grease too! That may explain why it looks like the scrawny bird’s heart has burst out of its chest!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Morris Bacon!

I know I usually choose my ads based on how humorous they are, but this one is a little different. I don't know what it is, but the imagery and simple presentation really appealed to me. I just about can smell the bacon and it makes me think of one of the many fall weekends I spent in Brown County or camping at Raccoon Lake as a kid.

Morris was owned by Armour and this ad comes from a 1922 issue of Ladies' Home Journal.

Camel for Thanksgiving?

I can remember holidays at my grandparents’ house. They lived in a tiny 30s era bungalow with ceilings so low I almost could touch them with my elbow while standing flat-footed. Back in those days it seemed like everyone smoked, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles, everyone went through a pack or more throughout the course of the evening. By nine o’clock a low bank of smog filled the house and those of us who didn’t smoke would retreat to the back yard for fresh air in spite of the chilly weather. I lost my grandmother to throat cancer and my grandfather never was quite the same after she was gone.

This Camel ad from 1939 promotes smoking as an aid to digestion and, following its prescription everyone should smoke at least five cigarettes during the course of a good Thanksgiving dinner. If you imagine that a lavish dinner lasts two hours, that’d be about a pack for every eight hours or almost two packs a day. To me it sounds like Camel is offering its customers a monkey for their backs, not digestive aids.

I did some searching for the two spokespersons mentioned in this ad. Dorothy Malone was, as the ad indicates, an author and food editor, but finding any real information on her is complicated by the existence of an actress and another author with the same name.  She wrote books such as How Mama Could Cook!, Cookbook for Brides, and Cookbook for Beginners and also wrote as Prudence Penny and Elsie Barton for the New York American and Secrets Magazine respectively.

William H. Ferguson, salesman? Now, come on, who cites a salesman as a spokesperson? I mean, though I have respect for anyone working retail, I have to say there are doubts when it comes to the veracity of someone literally trying to sell you a bill of goods. I wonder if he sold Camel cigarettes?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

1937 Cab-Over International Harvester

I came on a great 1937 ad for International Trucks today. International (better known as International Harvester) started out as a farm implement company, showing off its first horse-drawn reaper some time around 1831. Eventually the company moved into manufacturing mechanized tractors with the tide of technology, eventually becoming a staple of the American farmer.

IH trucks have an amazing look to them, something very Art Deco while at the same time just bulldog ugly. My first real introduction to them came through the movie Real Steel where the protagonist Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) drives a '63 International Harvester Cab-Over Sightliner from one robot boxing bout to the next. Every time I see that truck my gypsy blood warms up and I start having dreams about drifting from state-to-state, living out of the back of the truck, going wherever the wind blows me. Then I wake up and wonder where the heck a fellow would get a decent shower and the dream fades away.

Unlike many of the companies whose ads I've featured, International Harvester still manufactures farm equipment albeit as a part of Navistar.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Back from the Cold

Celebrating the end of my cold with a particularly militant ad for Smith Brother's cough drops snipped from the pages of a November 1919 issue of Boy's Life. I remember the Boy Scouts are supposed to be prepared, but I didn't know they were "soldiers of public health". I can't get past seeing a kid in scouting gear and gold-and-blue neckerchief standing on the corner glowering and saying "Hey bud, healthen up!"