– Yul Bryner, as the king in The King and I
In my last post (click link https://poetluckerate.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/everything-old-is-new-again/ or just scroll down a bit) I noted the retro-yet-contemporary tinge to my high school classroom; chalk and green chalkboards, duplicating machines, limited modern technology, etc. The whole chalk thing led me to muse on dried-out hands and soaking in dishwashing liquid via 1960’s/70’s advertising icon Madge the Manicurist. While seeking a picture of Madge on the Internet, I also stumbled across photos of another marketing legend from back-in-the-day, Mr. Whipple the Charmin toilet paper guy.
I miss Mr. Whipple.
Not that I ever favored Charmin over other toilet paper, but I always enjoyed Mr. Whipple, and on trips to the supermarket as a kid with mom, dad, Ivar, Lila, Gramps or whomever, I would always make a production out of (of course) squeezing the Charmin, the one thing Mr. Whipple always railed against, but was always caught doing himself.
Seen a Charmin commercial lately? They now feature cartoon bears with pieces of toilet paper stuck to their butts.
That’s your 21st century culture in a nutshell, baby. There is your decline-and-fall-of-western-civilization right there.
When I last mentioned the modern duplicating machine at my school, and the ink cartridge each teacher needs to have to print his/her stuff, I was wistfully reminded of my sixth and seventh grade years and my avocation of the time.
My good friend Craig Lloyd somehow conned his parents into buying him a mimeograph machine – the kind that printed those neat, toxic-smelling, purple printed handouts in school – so that we could produce a neighborhood newspaper: The Weekly News. (click on image to the right)
We worked diligently (weekly!) to churn out top-notch journalism on such cutting edge topics as stamp and coin collecting and neighborhood litter, and we even had our own cartoon characters: Walter and Woofy Weekly – drawn by Craig, but with the occasional punchline supplied by me. (Woofy was a dog, FYI). We also had editorials, crossword puzzles, an odd facts column and want ads, and via those we generated some additional income and sold at least one copy of a Readers Digest Condensed Books volume Craig’s mom wanted to unload.
We sold subscriptions to the Weekly News door-to-door and at ten-cents a five-page issue, and Craig once wrote an ‘Editors Apology’ column when we had to raise the price to fifteen cents a six-page issue to cover costs – though I don’t think the term ‘cover costs’ was entirely accurate. Okay, it wasn’t at all accurate.
If I remember correctly, Craig got his folks to shell out $65 dollars (he’ll correct me if I’m wrong – he is still an editor, for gosh sakes) for the hand-cranked beauty of a stencil duplicating machine – and that didn’t include the stencils, duplicating fluid and paper we used. Big bucks at the time. I don’t know how he pulled that off that sales job; $65 in 1972 would be $350.42 in today’s dollars, according to the fine folks at the Federal Reserve.
There are a ton of great Weekly News stories (well, stories about getting and writing the stories) I could share, but I really just need to thank my still loyal friend, and first editor, Craig for launching my professional writing career. (Yeah, I got a cut of the proceeds – and a byline! I know, many fellow writers are green with envy.)
Dude, you still rock. Thanks for the forty-plus years of friendship.
And just think what sort of mayhem we could have created with the Internet. For free.
Pet peeves yet to be paper trained:
There is no chocolate in ‘white chocolate’
There is no licorice in ‘red licorice’
‘orientate’ is not a word
‘commentator’ is – though my wife doesn’t think it should be.
And don’t get me started on the whole ‘white cheddar’ cheese business.
Periodically, I get this ad when I log on to Facebook:
Well, aint that just what your mama sent yew to college for and financed that nifty jurisprudence degree – so yew could sue fer people who got screwed in bad chicken-coupon deals.
She is either proud as all get out and bragging you up to the other folks at the home, or she is rolling over in her grave.
Personally, I read the complaint and think you’re a moron for pursuing this case. I hope you get battered in court. Or fried. Or maybe both.
I found it quaint. The phone books themselves, I mean.
Whatever do I do with them? With the only children left in the household aged fifteen and twelve, and with grandson Felix still a month away from arrival, it’s not like we’re in immediate need of DIY booster seats around here.
Phone books. The concept is quaint, the execution contemporary – many of the numbers also list a WWW address. This has me scratching my head a bit, as the idea of listing web addresses in a paper phone book seems a demographic oxymoron.
One ‘green’ website suggests using old phone books as worm bedding or as a kneeling pad when working in the garden. (Unless you are fairly diminutive, you may need two. Attach one to each leg with bungee cords, I suppose.) The site also adds this chipper note of helpfulness: ‘Next time your kid needs to papier-mache something, use pages from your old phone books.’
‘Next time your kid needs to papier-mache something’ – quaint. Like phone books. And duplicating machines. And chalkboards and chalk.
Maybe Craig will assign me to write an exposé.