Category Archives: memory lane

Memory Lane: Toy Horses

See the source image

See that beautiful palomino horse, rearing up on his hind legs? It was a popular toy in the 1950s, and I still have mine, and it’s still beautiful. They came in two different poses and several colors. In fact, I still have half a dozen of them. Each one came with a cowboy, a rather fragile saddle (that’s the green thing, and I’m afraid none of my saddles have survived), even more fragile reins and bridles, and a very tiny hat for the cowboy’s head. I still have one of the cowboys, but no hats.

My animal box that my father made for me is full of plastic horses of all different shapes and sizes. Like a lot of kids of that era, I was horse-crazy. On rainy days, indoors, or sunny days in the sandbox, I trotted out my horses and put them through adventures. What with all the westerns on TV at the time, that wasn’t hard to do. And the hours drifted by so pleasantly.

Castles made of my mother’s books, looming fortresses of sand–my horses had their work cut out for them. But those stories I made up for them always came out all right in the end. Soon I left off making up western stories and had my horses interacting with lions, elephants, and dinosaurs.

I wish I could line them up and take a picture for you. If you’re my age, you might spot some dear old friends among the crowd.


A Crabby Crab

Here’s a little something I miss from our old fishin’ day–the crab who gets hauled into your boat while trying to steal your bait, and then wants to make an issue of it. These little fellows can be feisty! The big ones we kept–yum, yum!–but the small ones got a talking-to and tossed back into the water.

Note the silly hormad in this video tempting the crab with his finger. He’d’ve sung a different tune if the crab had caught him!


Memory Lane: Halloween

Image result for images of zacherley

(This will be the first Halloween, in I don’t know how many decades, without Zacherley, “the Cool Ghoul,” who died a year ago tomorrow. He and his maniacal laugh worked right up to the end.)

Patty and I have just returned from a ride around town, looking at Halloween decorations. I can’t say much for Halloween as it is today–too much nastiness has seeped into it–but even so, it does call forth pleasant memories. Just to name a few:

The store windows in New Brunswick, all painted with Halloween scenes. My father used to take us there to marvel at them.

The huge, grey Victorian house catty-corner from the Y, peeling paint, grey boards, surrounded by encroaching stunted trees–with a yellow light in one of the windows on Halloween: and how we kids trick-or-treating used to scuttle past it in a hurry.

A nice little black and orange whistle I used to have, in the shape of two cute little owls.

My friend Bobby’s precocious imitation of Zacherley imitating Boris Karloff.

Bobbing for apples in a washtub in one of the many little grocery stores our town used to have. They’re all gone now. So are the apples.

Those special assorted Brach’s mallowcremes that only came out for Halloween–yellow, orange, brown, and honey-colored, shaped like pumpkins, cats, ears of corn, bats, witches, shocks of wheat, the Man in the Moon, etc. I loved those! They’re still around, but few stores seem to carry them.

Everybody coming to school in their Halloween costumes–quite a break in the routine.

Aunt Millie serving Halloween cookies and making spooky noises from some undisclosed location in the house. She always got into the spirit of any holiday.

The special, thick, 25-cent Halloween issue of Little Lulu.

These and other details I’ve stored up as memories of a good time, a fun time, wholesome, harmless, nothing to do with violent video games about shooting blood-crazed zombies… and at least I can still get mallowcremes, even if all the rest of it is gone for good. But at least it’s gone where this unhappy age can’t touch it anymore.


The Ideology of Envy

Image result for images of hillary rolling in money

Say hey, remember this? Candidate Obama to Joe the Plumber: “I do think, at a certain point, you’ve made enough money.” (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/04/i_do_think_at_a_certain_point.html)

Note the operative word is “you,” as in “you, not me.” If you are Obama, or Clinton, or Pelosi, or Kerry, or Gore, you never, never, never reach that point where you’ve made “enough money” and the government might as well just scarf up every cent you make beyond that.

And leftids buy it. Do they ever. How many times have you heard one of them complain that no one should be “allowed” to make more than a certain amount of money? And yet that never, never, never applies to Democrat politicians who get half a million bucks just for showing up to make a ten-minute speech, pouting, whining football players, air-headed movie stars, or “rap artistes.” Leftids never complain about their masters earning virtually infinite amounts of money. If you are Donald Trump, you have “too much money.” If you’re Hillary Clinton, who’s counting?

God help us, millions of us vote for these people.

They’re always yammering about Income Inequality, but I have yet to hear them propose a scheme to make my income equal to John Kerry’s, or to damp down his income until it’s equal to mine.

But then who really thinks they mean a single word they say?


Memory Lane (More Old Fogey Stuff): Rubber Band-Powered Boats

1961, the Civil War Centennial: and I wanted to go out to some of those lovely huge mud puddles on the playground and re-fight the Monitor vs. the Merrimac.

First I had to make the ships; and the operating principal was the same as displayed in this video, only instead of styrofoam I used left-over wood paneling, and instead of a sharp knife, a jigsaw. Add the rubber band-powered paddles, tack on a rotating turret for the Monitor, and you’re in business. In fact, these little ships were so successful, that I made a whole fleet of them.

I had to provide sound effects with cap guns, and line the shores of the puddle with little plastic soldiers, blue and grey, and the result was hours of fun. My father bought the jigsaw in the first place so we could make our own jigsaw puzzles, but the rubber band boats were even better.

And all it cost was the few hours it took to make the ships.


Another Extreme Sport (Oops!)

I never did get around to trying sky-diving, but I was a wiz on my pogo stick. Used to be able to pogo up and down the football bleachers, and the stairway down to our cellar–which, if my mother had ever seen me doing that, she would have boiled me in oil.

But, as we shall see from this video, every sport carries with it an element of risk. And some more than others.


Sanity Break: Flight of the Knuckleball

My brother-in-law has had to be hospitalized for his dementia, and who knows how it’ll turn out? Please pray for him.

Meanwhile, permit me this indulgence. All my life I’ve wanted to throw a knuckleball, and have yet to accomplish it. Watch the video and see how the ball wobbles and wanders on its way to the catcher, who almost drops it. No wonder it’s so hard to hit.

The shortstop on our softball team, Sandy, had a terrific knuckleball. You really couldn’t tell where it was going to go. It’s hard to describe what I saw while waiting to catch it. A softball isn’t supposed to flutter like a moth! As a first baseman, I used to dread the possibility that someday Sandy would give in to temptation and throw me one of these fluttering moths during a game; but he never did.

It’s raining now, so I can’t go outside and try again with some black walnuts. By the time I was fifty I’d finally mastered the curveball, then the screwball; but the knuckleball continues to elude me. I’ll keep trying, though. It’s goofy things like this that keep you young.


The Awfulness of ‘Queen for a Day’

My Grandma had what I could only think of as a very strange taste in television. I ought to know: I spent many an afternoon at her house, just the two of us.

She loved those old soap operas with the creepy organ music, most of whose plots seemed to consist of old ladies getting a raw deal; but the show that really gave me the willies was Queen for a Day. As I remember the format, the poor old trout with the most baroque sob story got to be Queen for a Day and received a lot of rather cheap prizes. This pioneering effort in reality TV ran on NBC from 1956-1960, and on ABC till 1964. It has since been equaled many times for sheer horribleness, but never surpassed.

For entertainment and edification value, it ranked somewhere between a deep paper cut and stepping in what your neighbor’s Great Dane left on your lawn when he got loose.

Oops! Wrong video! Somehow I got the 28-minute sample instead of the 2-minute one. Please don’t feel obliged to sit through the whole thing. Two or three minutes is more than enough.


Memory Lane: ‘Oleanna’

This came out in 1959, and soon us kids were singing it at YMCA summer camp. The mess hall rang with it: Oleanna, a Norwegian-American folk song. This version’s by the great Theodore Bikel, plus Israeli folksinger Geula Gill.

Yes, this song was sung by those eccentric people who came here legally, embraced their new country, took pride in becoming Americans, and never demanded to be rewarded for breaking immigration laws. They learned to sing our songs, we learned to sing theirs, and the songs wound up belonging to all of us.

(Inane Y camp memory: Kid to counselor: “Bruce put a boogie in the Kool-Ade, I seen him!” Counselor bops his against the table. Some people will do anything to pay their way through college–but maybe that’s ancient history, too.)


Memory Lane: ‘Lamp Unto My Feet’ TV Show

Lamp Unto My Feet

It’s almost impossible to imagine this on network television nowadays: Lamp Unto My Feet, an hour-long religious anthology show that aired on Sunday mornings from 1948 to 1979. But we are living in a time of cultural disaster.

Now I have to admit I never saw this show. We went to church or Sunday school on Sunday mornings, and didn’t watch TV. And from the descriptions I’ve read, maybe it was just a tad too interfaith, too world-friendly for me. If they brought it back today, it would be recast as a multicultural parody of itself.

But the whole idea, by today’s debauched standards, is radical. I mean, you turn on your TV and there’s a great actor like James Earl Jones playing in a drama intended to edify a Christian or Jewish audience! If you had that today, Organized Atheism would howl its lungs out and some Christ-hating judge would shut you down.

Too bad we can only imagine it.


%d bloggers like this: