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!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quote for November

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

~ Sara Coleridge

The Coming Frost

 Here's a little poem from the November 14 1885 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine heralding the wonders of the first frost.

100 Years Ago - Hockey-Mo

I spotted this in the November 1913 issue of Popular Mechanics Magazine and couldn't resist putting it on the blog. Nothing about Hockey-Mo on Google (unless you're interested in Missouri hockey).

I'm dubious about whether this even is real beyond a couple of people jumping on their bikes and whizzing around in front of some friends with connections to a Popular Mechanics writer or maybe the editor. Regardless, there's nothing like the idea of men and women in early 20th century dress chasing a little white ball around with field hockey sticks while riding early Harley Davidson motorcycles.