item 1 >>> Where is Whitewood, Massachusetts? Nowhere on the map…it’s only in the 1960 British movie “Horror Hotel.” Few British horror films of the period were set in America but this one bucked the trend, probably because it was based on a story written by America ex-pat Milton Subotskty, who also happened to run the studio. It begins in 1692, where accused witch Elizabeth Selwyn is…oops…burned at the stake. Flash-forward to the present…haunted hotel, Christopher Lee, it’s in black and white, original UK title “City of the Dead.” I haven’t seen it, but some say it’s creepy and effective.
item 2 >>> Mark Twain said: “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.”
item 3 >>> The Witch City is now also the Bubble Chocolate City…this new product, technically called aerated chocolate, is a European favorite, especially the Nestle Aero bar. The man behind Bubble Chocolate is Paul Pruett, the company is located at 92 Jackson St., Salem, but the candy is manufactured in Belarus, because we don’t have the technology…yet?
item 4 >>> “Invented in the 1800s” is the best I can find on Circus Peanuts. Due to spoilage problems, they were a seasonal item until the introduction of polyethylene bags in the 1940s. They are made by most of the major candy companies, Brach’s, Spangler, Farley, who also make most of the generic versions. But this happens with lots of products, you’d be surprised. You pay premium for the name on the box. They were the inspiration for the “marbits” in Lucky Charms. Besides the traditional orange, Spangler also makes white, yellow, and pink. BTW, the Brits call polyethylene “polythene,” as in the Beatles’ “Polythene Pam.”
item 5 >>> I suppose the rationale behind child-proof car doors is to prevent kids from opening them and falling out while the vehicle’s in motion. Jeez, I think for most of us, if we had tried opening a car door while it was moving, we wouldn’t have to fall out, our parents would have killed us. But what you may have forgotten is that back in the day, car doors had a tendency to just pop open inadvertently, and since there were no seat-belts, kids really could fall out. There was a doo-hickey you could buy at the five-and-dime to prevent this. Still, I’ve owned my SUV for over ten years, and I still can’t remember which doors will open and when.
Item 6 >>> Remember all the Zorro toys? Costumes, plastic figure play-sets, swords, masks, guns (including rifles and flint-locks), coloring books, comic books, bubble gum cards, board games, hand-puppets, just about anything they could think of, even a Zorro guitar. And remember that cheesy Zorro “color TV” they advertised in comic books? I had the full suit, including the sword where you could put a piece of chalk in the tip, and write Z’s on everything, altho my parents “disabled” that feature.
Item 7 >>> Johnston McCulley wrote over 60 Zorro (Spanish for “fox”) stories beginning in 1919….the final one, “The Mask of Zorro,” was published posthumously in 1959, McCulley having died the previous year, at age 73. The all-black costume, bandana mask, and gaucho hat became standard with the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks Sr. movie “The Mark of Zorro.” Illustrations for the original story showed him wearing a wide-brimmed sombrero, and a veil mask, much as the original Lone Ranger did (see today’s Wicked Ballsy.)
Item 8 >>> Got a special request…My first semester at college, I lived at Trimount House, the Opus Dei residence on Marlborough St. in the Back Bay. I have a very hazy memory of a smoke shop within walking distance. I especially remember it having a window display with exotic smokes from around the world, Europe, Egypt, all over. Anyone remember such a thing? Comment to this blog, and I ‘preciate it.
item 9 >>> “Trimount” recalls Boston’s original name “Tremontaine” or “Trimountaine,” reflecting the 3 hills upon which the city was built. 2 of the hills are gone, and Beacon Hill is half it’s original size…they were used to fill in marshes and reclaim areas including the Back Bay…thats where Tremont Street comes from. “Boston” is from Boston, Lincolnshire, England, itself a shortening of St. Botolph’s Town.
item 10 >>> And while we’re at it, MIT was located in downtown Boston from its founding in 1861 until its move to the Back Bay in 1865. It was known as Boston Tech, until moving across the Charles River to Cambridge in 1916. There’s at least one 1950s sci-fi movie that refers to the “Boston Institute of Technology”…can’t recall it at the moment, perhaps “Kronos”? And in the Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode “The Mad Mad Tea Party Affair,” headquarters security is tested by Mr. Waverly’s brother-in-law Mr Hemingway played by Richard Hayden, said to be a professor from Boston’s “YIT.” Love to know what they indented the Y to stand for, if anything…
From the 1938 movie serial The Long Ranger…funny, it didn’t matter if anyone knew who Tonto was, did it?
Yesterday’s mystery snap-shot was Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro, Trinity College ’62, majored in political science, a.k.a. Nancy Pelosi.
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi