10/1/2010

HALF  STOLF

item 1 >>> Jan. 15, 1919. The United State Industrial Alcohol Company, Commercial St., North End of Boston. A little after noon, a cast-iron tank of molasses, 50 feet above ground-level, exploded…2.5 million gallons, a wave 8 to 15  feet high, moving at 35 miles per hour. The flood killed 21 and injured 150. Trapped horses had to be shot. The cause is unknown to this day, altho it was freakishly warm, around 40 degrees, up from around 0 just a few days previous, leading some to speculate that  the molasses,  destined to become rum, had simply expanded.

item 2 >>> Why did we call paperbacks “pocket books”? Because that’s what Simon and Schuster called them…remember their logo, a Kangaroo reading a book? Her name was Gertrude.

item 3 >>> Similarly, Captain Kangaroo had big pockets overflowing with stuff, hence his name. He even explained that on the very first show, October 3, 1955. The pockets were less emphasized as time went on. But what was he captain of? Technically, nothing. The original concept of the show was a children’s museum, and he the Captain of the Guards and Tour Guides. That idea evolved into the Treasure House, and Kangaroo was added to Captain as a cutesy kiddie touch. Yeah, I know, Grandfather Clock scared some of the younger kids…you just can’t win.

item 4 >>> John F. Kennedy said: “How did I become a hero in World War II? It was involuntary. They sank my boat.” Ironically, in the 1990s the Republicans would adopt his quote of “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

item 5 >>> His father, Joseph Kennedy said: “He may be President, but he still comes home and swipes my socks.” (Re his son’s congressional victory in 1948: “With the money I spent, I could have elected my chauffeur.”)

item 6 >>>  Ralph Edwards on his radio (not TV) show “Truth or Consequences” said he would broadcast from the first town that renamed itself after the show, in honor of it’s 10th anniversary. Spa town Hot Springs, New Mexico jumped first, and its new name was introduced on the show April 1, 1950. Because of the date, many listeners assumed it was a joke. Check the map. It wasn’t.

item 7 >>> Are you or somebody you know called “The Dragon Lady”? That comes from the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates.” Terry Lee evolved into an Air Force pilot, but when the strip started, he was an American kid living in China, and there were pirates, like the Dragon Lady, who went on to become the strip’s ultimate Femme Fatale.

item 8 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if…you know the correct response to “Thank you” is “You’re welcome,” not “No problem.” That reply always bothers me because I think to myself: But what if it had been a problem…then what?

item 9 >>>
You might have gotten candy from Putnam Pantry if…you heard of horehound before you heard of that other word that sounds like hore but is spelled differently. Hore is a variation of hoar, an old word for gray, as in hoary and hoarfrost. The plant is in the mint family, and in cross-section, it’s stem is square.

item 10 >>> Among actresses and woman singers in the 1950s, 3 big trends in first names were: masculine nicknames, changing Y to I, and dropping double letters to single. Employing all of these, for example, were Dani Crayne, Jeri Southern, Lari Laine, and Tedi Thurman. Then there were Larri Thomas, Reggie Dombeck, Marti Barris, Willi Burke, Johnnie Jones, Jimsey Somers, and Jeff Donnell. The story goes, she got that nickname from the Mutt & Jeff comic strip.

Wicked Ballsy

It seems most Baby Boomers called them “flicker pictures”…flicker pins, flicker badges, and the ubiquitous flicker rings. When I was a kid, we called them “wiggle pictures,” as did Cheerios. Other names included tilt, action, grated, to-and-fro, and rocker pictures. When they first appeared in the 1930s, people called them “winkies,” since they were often used for a winking eye on a billboard. (Now that would have been a BIG wiggle picture!)

But they were all made by one company, Vari-Vue of Mt. Vernon, NY, and they called them officially “Magic Motion.” The technical term they used was “lenticular,” a word used to describe a type of cloud, from Latin meaning “lens-shaped.” The Rolling Stones paid tribute to the Beatles by hiding their pictures on the lenticular cover of “Their Satanic Majesties Request” in 1967, a much maligned LP, but one of my favorites, sorry. To help you see them, note that all but John have mustaches…Paul and Ringo are also wearing turbans.

shameless plug city USA…
Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com  and   http://thewholething.podbean.com
Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com  and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com
More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com  and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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