11/4/2010

item 1 >>> Those stone walls you see all over New England were preferred to wooden fences because they were much more durable. They divided fields, marked property lines, penned in animals, anything you’d do with a fence on a farm. When you see a stone wall in a woods, it’s because that was once farmland. Why New England? The glaciers of the Ice Age deposited literally millions of rocks here, and they were hard minerals, granite and gneiss, hard enough to survive the crushing force of those sheets of ice. What’s interesting is, most were brought to the surface during plowing, and farmers who had enough stones sold their surplus. My Dad, from Ohio, called them rock walls…up here in upper Upstate NY, they’re called stone fences.

item 2 >>> I grew up on the North Shore, went to college in Boston (well, Cambridge), then moved to upper Upstate NY for the next 36 years. And I admit I’ve changed the way I talk, saying soda, dresser, basement, trash can, and blacktop…instead of tonic, bureau, cellar, trash barrel, and hottop. Also, my Dad’s sisters are teeny little insects, thiiiiis big, little bitty guys…But it’s been so long, I can’t remember what I used to call shopping carts. I was surprised to see a sign at the roundup stall outside a Stop & Shop saying “carriages.” Apparently, this is a New England thing, but I asked around, and North Shore Baby Boomers seem to have never heard of that. Various web-sites also ascribe “wagon” to New England as well as Hawaii, along with generic American “carts” and “baskets,” “buggy” in the South and oddly Pittsburgh, and “trolley” in UK and Australia. The best I can remember is maybe “shopping basket,” but it’s very, very hazy…or maybe substitute “grocery” for “shopping”…

item 3 >>> But I do believe girls back in the day took their baby dolls out for some sun in a “baby carriage,” not a baby buggy, stroller, pusher, or pram. Well, we heard of buggies, as in “rubber baby buggy bumpers.” To the extant that the Sears Catalog could be considered American Standard, they distinguished between buggies, where the doll is lying down, and strollers or strollerettes where it sits up. This was in the 1950s, and in the 1960s, buggies became carriages. Prams? British mostly, so you’d expect it in New England, but if anyone said it, they might of been of our grandparents’ generation.

item 4 >>> Hey girls, did you have one of these…Baby Coos, Tiny Tears, Toodles, Betty Bows, So-Wee, the Gerber Baby, Betsey McCall, Betsy Wetsy, Annette doll, Chatty Cathy, Patti Play, Little Miss Echo, Scooba-Doo, Babystep, Bride dolls, Nun dolls, or the famous Mme. Alexander dolls? And I believe the first year Sears offered a “colored dolly” was 1960…any earlier?

item 5 >>> My sister mentioned she remembered a local shoe-store had a device that measured your shoe size with an X-ray…turns out she’s right.  The major manufacturer was the Adrian X-Ray Company of Milwaukee. They estimated that in the early 1950s, 10,000 machines were in use in stores across the country. It took a picture of your foot in the shoe, which could be checked thru one of 3 viewing ports on the top of the machine…one for you, the salesman, and your mother? It took a while for them to be phased out…by 1970, only 33 state had banned them. It’s said that the last one was still in use in Madison, West Virginia in 1981, and when authorities blew the whistle, the store donated it to the US Food & Drug Administration.

Item 6 >>> A while back I listed some of the popular dog breeds when I was a kid…cocker spaniels, beagles, German shepherds, Irish setters, bassets, collies, and poodles dyed pastel colors…well, maybe it was on my other blog stolf.wordpress.com. And the only time you ever saw a Lab was on your Dad’s Field & Stream calendar. I inadvertently left out Scotties, St. Bernards, and Old English sheepdogs…so sorry. I’m in the doghouse.

Item 7 >>> Anybody remember Marsilid, touted as the first effective anti-depressant drug, a supremely benign alternative to electroshock? In 1958, Popular Science Monthly magazine called it a “psychic energizer.” Wheeeeeee!

Item 8 >>> Better late than never…American actress Faith Domergue, perhaps best remembered as the female lead in the 50s classic “This Island Earth”…it was pronounced doe-MERZH, not dommer-goo. No, no, don’t thank me, that’s what I’m here for…

item 9 >>> And while we’re at it, the full quote from Gen. Israel Putnam was: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes, then fire low.”

item 10 >>> When I was a kid, just riding down Rt.1 was our trip to Disneyland, and the treat of the trade was the Rt .1 Miniature Golf, Baseball Park and Diary Castle, in Saugus. Big surprise, their website is theorangedinosaur.com. Owned and operated by the Fay family since 1958…and remember…6 stroke limit on any hole!

Wicked Ballsy

College yearbook time…who’s the coed?…answer tomorrow…


shameless plugachusetts…

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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