“I think I can, I think I can…but I prefer my beer from a bottle, thanks.” Episode III

– 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.

Moving on…

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.

Actually, that’s kind of mean-spirited. I just hope you don’t pullet offCame home the other day to find a bag with a stack of new phone books in it on my front porch.

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.

Phone books. I poked around the topic a bit.

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.


One thought on ““I think I can, I think I can…but I prefer my beer from a bottle, thanks.” Episode III

  1. Mark Preston October 9, 2011 / 11:24 am

    About Phone Books – Here in Lexington, you can opt out of getting a Yellow Pages. They are nice enough to confirm that you don’t want a phone book. First, they leave a yellow placard hanging on your door knob, stating that they were sorry, but they did not leave a phone book today.
    Then, about a week later, they call to see if you got your notification, and if you were accidentally missed. They offer to have one delivered the next day, if need be. They offer to leave their phone number, in case you change your mind. This happens 4 times a year.

    The nice thing is, if I DO wish to get back on the yellow pages phone book receiving list, I can always go to http://www.att.com/mydirectories and order one. Or order a CD. Or, even better – download the app for my smart phone.

    :: sighs ::


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s