Wish List for 2010 and Beyond

January 13, 2010

Rich Grimshaw made me do this. He dropped by my blog recently and commented that it was time to move beyond my Christmas post. He’s right! It is time for something new.

After careful consideration, I decided to make it easy on myself and simply compile a list of things I’d like to do before I move on to the next stage of my existence.

I’ll begin by listing the places to which I’d like to travel. These are places I’ve not yet visited.

Japan would be near the top of my list, along with Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and China. I like Asian cuisine and have always been fascinated by photos and articles about these countries.

As for European countries, I’d like to visit Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, and… all the rest. I’d list France, England, Ireland, Austria, and Denmark, but I’ve already been to those places.

Australia and New Zealand are also beckoning to me.

Allow me to digress. (That, in itself, is a ridiculous statement. You have no choice. I’ll digress with or without your permission!)

I read an article the other day. In it, the author noted that someone was at the “beckon call” of another. There was no way to leave a comment, but the phrase is “beck and call.” The author, no doubt, has never been under the control of anyone other than his or her parents.

I am not at the beck and call of either Australia or New Zealand, but I would like to go see them both.

I almost ended this part of my wish list by saying that no other places really interested me. Then I remembered two other continents. There are numerous South American countries that I’d love to visit. As for the continent of Africa, I’d like to go to Egypt to see the pyramids.

Although I am a Christian, I have no strong desire to visit the Holy Land. I’d rather not visit any parts of the world where my life might be in danger because of religious zealots of any kind.

The next part of my list (travel section) would include places I’d love to revisit. The European countries I mentioned above would definitely be on that list, as would several Canadian provinces and more than a few U.S. states.

I’ve only been on one cruise in my life. That was an inside-passage tour of Alaska. Taking the Queen Mary across the Atlantic doesn’t interest me in the least, however I’d love to take a “repositioning” cruise. That’s when a cruise line moves one of its ships from the Caribbean to the Northern Pacific waters via the Panama Canal or back.

If I’m not mistaken, that’s about a seventeen day trip. Of course, the way they feed you on a cruise would probably result in me looking like a beached whale at the end.

Speaking of food, I once had the opportunity to dine on Rocky Mountain oysters. At that time, I lost my courage. I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I will order them the next time I have the chance.

I’m a big fan of Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) and Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations) – two personalities on the Travel Channel. Most of what Andrew eats fail to whet my appetite. However, some of it does arouse my interest. On the other hand, most of the meals enjoyed by Anthony cause me to salivate.

When I was much younger I wished to own a Corvette one day. The first time I came close to being able to afford one I went to a dealership and crawled into one. My head pushed into the roof liner and, at slightly over two hundred pounds (at the time), I felt cramped. It broke my heart, but not my bank account.

Today, I see motor vehicles as nothing more than transportation. The one and only exception is the large motor home. If I could afford the insurance and fuel costs, I’d love to buy one and be off to see America. Of course, we’d have to tow our Toyota Yaris to make it easier to go sight-seeing.

Another thing I’d love to do is ride the train across Canada. The major part of that trip would be the ability to get off when we saw something interesting, spend a day or two wherever, and hop the next train going in our direction. I’ve a sneaky suspicion that such a trip would break the bank.

I just thought of something! Maybe I can get the Travel Channel to give me my own show. I’d get a big motor home and drive across the country visiting Brew Pubs.

When my bride and I travel I often drag her into micro-breweries for a tour. Quite often these breweries include restaurants. We’ve had some wonderful meals at such places. The only negative is that Lu doesn’t like beer. The positive is that I get stuck drinking her samples.

I have one more wish (for now). The State of Georgia has a lottery game called “Win for Life”. The grand prize is $1,000 a week for life. If we were to win that, a number of the things I’ve listed above could become a reality. My bride and I could both retire and go off to see the world.

Perhaps I should buy a ticket.

Now, we’ll see if Rich stops by again and makes another comment.

Answers to Jingles Quiz

June 2, 2009

Here it is Tuesday and I didn’t need to be reminded! I promised to give the answers to my ‘advertising jingles from the past’ quiz and here they are:

1. What was brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay? National Bohemian Beer. I remember one of their ads where the announcer decided to ask an oyster what he thought of National Beer. The oyster’s answer was, “I’m a clam.”

2. With what product will a little dab do ya? Bryl-creem, a little dab’ll do ya, Bryl-creem, you’ll look so debonair. Bryl-creem, the gals will all pursue ya, They’ll love to RUN their fingers through your hair. This and similar products were eventually given the negative label of ‘greasy kid’s stuff. See number eleven below.

3. What product proclaimed that the wet head is dead? The Dry Look from Gillette. Perhaps the advent of the Remington and Norelco electric razors forced the Gillette Company to produce something other than blue blades and safety razors in order to help men look sharp, feel sharp, and be sharp.

4. What commercial used the phrase, “With a bee and a bi and a bo and a bop”? Sure! That’s Dairy Queen with the curl on top. I remember when the first DQ in our area opened. It stood on the corner of Steuben Street and Foster Avenue and was only open in the summer.

They offered a choice of vanilla soft serve ice cream. You could get a cone, a shake, or a sundae. It would be a few years before they began to dip the ice cream cones into the chocolate sauce. The Dilly bars were unveiled around the same time. The banana splits they offered from their earliest days couldn’t compete with the drug store soda fountains where the three scoops of ice cream were three different flavors. Blizzards and other fancy items were decades in the future.

5. What brand of gasoline kept your car on the go… for business or pleasure… in any kind of weather? Atlantic keeps your car on the go, go, go, so keep on the go with Atlantic. While I was still a young man, the Atlantic stations became ARCO stations.

Another bit of trivia… for years, the Pittsburgh Pirates radio broadcasts had three sponsors: Atlantic gasoline, Iron City beer, and Braun’s Town-talk bread. Their pregame shows were usually sponsored by Harmony Quality-Checked Dairy products. Roberto Clemente did some of their commercials, but he didn’t sing.

6. What star did the man with whom “you could trust your car to” wear? The big, bright Texaco star. Uncle Miltie (Milton) Beryl’s early television show was sponsored by Texaco.

7. What product ‘hits the spot; two full glasses, that’s a lot”? Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, go get Pepsi for the Pepsi bounce. While Coca-Cola was still selling seven ounce bottles in Pittsburgh, Pepsi-Cola was winning over me and my buddies with the twelve ounce bottle. Those nickels were hard to come buy. We tried to get the most for our money. That’s why Lotta-Cola in the sixteen ounce bottles won us over for a while. Brand loyalty meant nothing to us.

8. Besides wanting to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, what did those singers want to buy the world? Surely you guessed this one by now! Coca-Cola. It was a great commercial, but they needed larger bottles to convince most Pittsburghers.

9.What product’s commercials invited you to “Be happy, go Lucky, it’s light-up time’? LS/MFT – Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. For many years, ‘Your Hit Parade’ was sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. In my youth, Lucky had another slogan – “Lucky Strike green has gone to war!” The red circle in the center of the pack had been green, but the green die was needed for our military. At least that’s what the marketing department said. For the truth of the matter, check out Wikipedia’s explanation.

10. What car did Dinah Shore want you to drive when she invited you to “See the U.S.A.”? In your Chevrolet, American is asking you to call. Drive your Chevrolet through the U.S.A., America’s the greatest land of all. With GM in so much financial trouble, you might want to hurry out and buy that new Chevy while they’re still being manufactured.

11. What product was Charlie warned about from the standpoint that he’d have a “tough time keeping all the gals away”?  Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie, it keeps your hair in trim. You see it’s non-alcoholic, Charlie, it’s made with soothing lanolin. You’d better get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie, start using it today. You’ll find that you will have a tough time, Charlie, keeping all those gals away. This was one more brand of ‘greasy kid’s stuff’.

12. What product’s ads included a beaver singing “Brusha, brusha, brusha”? Ipana tooth paste. According to Wikipedia, you’d have to go to Turkey if you wanted to buy some, although I’m sure you could find a way to order it over the Internet and have it shipped to your home.

13. What product was sold based on, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is”? Speedy Alka-Seltzer. They later had a commercial with a man sitting on the edge of the bed repeatedly saying, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” His wife reminds him that he did, indeed, eat the whole thing and suggests he take some Alka-Seltzer.

14. What was “Dad’s Old Fashioned”? Root Beer. It came in three different sized bottles. The ‘junior’ size, the ‘mama’ size, and the ‘dad’s’ size.

15. Which was the ‘foaming’ cleanser that “washed the dirt right down the drain”? Ajax. As I recall, it competed with Babo, Bon Ami, and Comet. When the University of Pittsburgh built round dormitory buildings in the early 1960’s, the students quickly named them “Ajax” and “Babo” and “Comet”.

As I listed the answers, a flood of memories came rushing in. Perhaps the answers stirred some memories in our older readers. Hopefully they’ll share those thoughts by clicking on the comments below.

I also realize that some of these products are still available. Some may have had a face-lift or even a name change. If you have information, please share it with us.

Thanks again.

Earliest Trips to New Jersey Shore

May 28, 2009

Because my father was raised in South Jersey and still had family living in that area, most of our annual vacations were taken at the shore.

I can vaguely remember riding in the old Chevrolet. As I recall, it was a green car that looked something like the one in this photo.

Gone by 1949 but not forgotten

Gone by 1949 but not forgotten

I always thought that car was a 1943, but while looking for a photo I discovered that Chevy didn’t make any consumer cars that year. They were too busy building military vehicles.

In any case, you’ll note the car had a large back seat area. It was large enough (and I was small enough) that I could lie on the floor and use the middle hump as a pillow. My older brother had the luxury of lying on the shelf by the rear window. (Back then, seat belts in cars were non-existent.)

I vividly recall looking up and out the windows and watching the utility poles flash by as we ‘sped’ down the road.

In those early days, we were only able to speed between Irwin, Pennsylvania and Carlisle, Pennsylvania – a distance of about one hundred and sixty miles. In the late 1940’s, the total distance we traveled was more than four hundred miles and much of it was on the old U.S. highways that went through dozens of small towns.

Many of those old highways were three lanes that required drivers to be extremely careful when passing. That middle lane – used by motorists going in both directions – resulted in many head-on collisions.

We usually began our vacations late on a Friday night. Dad would come home from work and sleep for a few hours while mom packed the car. Then, around midnight, we’d start on the long journey. We lived about forty or fifty miles from Irwin and it was mostly city driving. The Penn-Lincoln Parkway did not exist and there were lots of traffic lights.

From Irwin, we’d sail along the ‘new’ turnpike that had opened for traffic in 1940. When we got to Carlisle, we’d return to the U.S. highways and continue our eastward trek.

As I recall, we sometimes avoided Philadelphia by passing through Wilmington, Delaware. If we did go through Philly, we’d cross over the Ben Franklin Bridge.

By eleven o’clock on Saturday morning, we’d be greeted by Uncle Lewis and Aunt Nellie. I’m sure dad was exhausted, but Lewis and I were ready to go crabbing and fishing.

In 1951, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was opened from the Ohio line to Philadelphia. That cut an hour or two off the trip and also made it possible for us to stop at a Howard Johnson’s for more than gasoline.

Coincidentally, a song that sticks in my head because I heard it so much during our travels between Pittsburgh and South Jersey was also recorded in 1951.

Les Paul and Mary Ford were popular recording artists of the time. Several years later, they divorced, but Les Paul continued playing guitar and began designing his own line of guitars. I’m sure my step-son, the rock star, has heard of Les Paul guitars… but he might be left wondering who the guy in that video is.

Getting back to our vacation journeys… the Walt Whitman Bridge opened in 1957 making the trip even easier. Then, in 1965, the Atlantic City Expressway opened.

Today that trip that took at least eleven hours in 1948 can be accomplished in under seven.

Many people have come to take the Interstate Highway System for granted… as though it has always been there. For the younger generations, that is absolutely true – it has always been there!

But those of us who remember being stuck behind trucks and buses winding their way along two-lane U.S. highways cannot thank President Eisenhower enough for pushing the idea through congress.

However, let me let you in on a secret.

If you are not in any big hurry to get from one city to the next, get off that Interstate and follow the old U.S. highways. In many cases, you’ll find the road surface to be in much better condition. It has been resurfaced and doesn’t carry the heavy burden of trucks, buses, and cars.

If you like looking at old buildings (many, unfortunately, abandoned) along with farms and forests, you’ll find the travel much more interesting.

Just keep the secret to yourself. We don’t want everybody to get off the Interstates. Smelling the roses won’t be so sweet if you’re stuck in a traffic jam.