Category Archives: memory lane

Memory Lane: The Barylambda

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You’ve already asked yourselves, “What’s a barylambda?” It’s this animal pictured above, which exists no more. I love that picture, though. I’d swear it was shot in Edgar Woods, the way it used to be before Democrats paved over every square foot of it. That background does take me back!

This is one of my favorite prehistoric mammals. That long, powerfully-muscled tail looks like it ought to be on a dinosaur, not a mammal. I can’t think of any mammal today that has a tail to match it.

I was always delighted when my Free Prehistoric Monster in a box of Wheat Honeys or Rice Honeys turned out to be a barylambda. Like this one:

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*Sigh*  Even if we could get the barylambda back, we’d still need a woods to put him in. Our local Edgar Woods was just perfect, but it’s gone as surely as the barylambda.

I hope God remembers to put it back when he restores all things.


Memory Lane: The Game of ‘Schmo’

Just in case there isn’t another Democrat “debate” for a while, here’s something very similar to tide you over–the game of Schmo (

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Remco produced this game in 1959. How well I remember those commercials! “I’m a schmo, and that ain’t good…” The object of the game was to see how could be the biggest nincompoop, or schmo. Events within the game featured forgetting one’s pants, stepping into wet cement, and other schmo-like misadventures.

I expect I’ll be sitting in a doctor’s waiting room while you read this.

Schmo, anyone?

Memory Lane: ‘Jocko’s Rocket Ship’

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Do any of you remember this–Jocko’s Rocket Ship, a TV show from 1958?

Douglas “Jocko” Henderson was one of the first African-American disc jockeys to make it big in radio, first in Philadelphia and then in New York, and for one season he was on TV. Jocko’s Rocket Ship came on after school, on Channel 13, New York, which some years later became our long-time PBS channel. Jocko was competition for American Bandstand.

At nine years old I had no interest whatsoever in rock ‘n’ roll–indeed, I never did get interested in it–but I couldn’t get enough of rocket ships. Sometimes you even saw Jocko in a space suit. So I was looking for outer space and alien planets and bug-eyed monsters, and all I got was crummy rock ‘n’ roll. Then I found out I was the only kid in my class who’d ever even heard of this show: my friend Marvin flatly refused to believe in its existence.

“Jocko” Henderson died in 2000. I’ll bet it’s been a good 50 years or more since I’ve thought of his show.

‘More Memory Lane: “Fury”‘ (2016)

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This is the toy that served me when I played “Fury”

A 1950s American middle-class childhood–I wouldn’t trade it for gold.

Fury was a long-running TV show about an orphan boy, a horse nobody wanted, and the healing power of love.

If you showed up in Hollywood with a script like this today, they’d think you’d lost your mind. Or they’d buy it and then find some way to make it dirty.

But for those of us who knew and loved this show, way back when, the memories are sweet.

Another Fantastic Gag That Didn’t Work

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Comic books in the 1950s advertised for all sorts of incredibly cool things you could send away for–X-ray glasses, Sea Monkeys, this little doohickey you could put in your mouth that would let you throw your voice like a professional ventriloquist… genuine authentic foot-locker full of these pitiful flat plastic soldiers…

And the Joy Buzzer.

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This little treasure, you wound it up and hid it in the palm of your hands, and when your victim shook hands with you, he’d get a loud buzzing shock that’d make him jump a foot in the air. We thought it might’ve been electric, but when my brother and I got our Joy Buzzers, we quickly discovered there was no electricity involved. In fact there wasn’t much of anything involved. If you and the victim really tried on purpose, you could get it to buzz. But usually nothing happened.

At least these things weren’t expensive.

To this day I remain skeptical of the worth of goods and services advertised in comic books.

Bonus Song, ‘A Wooden Heart’

I was absent-mindedly whistling this song today, not knowing the title or any of the lyrics. My step-grandfather, John, who’d been a merchant seaman for much of his life, and was born and raised in Holland, used to play this on his harmonica. Once his brother Jacob came across the Atlantic and they played this as a duet at a family gathering. Something about the tune clung to my heart for all these years.

I never expected to hear it again, but as I whistled it, Patty exclaimed, “Oh! ‘A Wooden Heart.'” And she sang a few bars of it in German. It’s a German folk song, although John and Jacob probably knew it in Dutch.

John was a good man and he had some great stories of the sea… and I miss him. I miss them all.

But I’m sure they know this song in Heaven, and I hope to hear it there–on John’s harmonica.

Lee the Liquidator

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People are always not asking me what it’s like to be a liquidator, a business I pursued for several years. “Easy Liquidators,” that was me.

You’d be amazed by how much surplus product there is, of all kinds–nothing wrong with it, but for some reason a company got stuck with it and just can’t move it. So there it sits in the warehouse, taking up space and reminding everybody there that business decisions sometimes turn out badly.

Sometimes it’s just poor timing. There is a time for selling Star Wars action figures, and a time to stop buying them because you can’t sell any more. Get the timing wrong, and presto! Four truckloads of Star Wars action figures.

Liquidators seek out this unwanted merchandise and find buyers for it. Okay, the buyer pays just pennies on the dollar; but by then the seller is more than happy just to get rid of it. If a deal is made, the liquidator gets a percentage.

Every now and then, I’d score. The very first day I tried it, I found a stockpile of assorted figurines at a warehouse right in my home town and a buyer just several miles down the road–and a $500 paycheck for me. I had a great time with Star Wars Cookies from Canada and Disney “Bug’s Life” books–made a year’s pay on each of those deals. Not that my year’s pay was all that large.

But mostly my deals were either small or not happening. The silver lining was that everybody always sent me samples, which had many different uses–as Christmas presents, stuff for my own use, items for Patty to sell at flea markets.

I met some good people who taught me a lot about the liquidating business, and about business in general–so I know, by observing the principle in action, “no profit, no business.” Socialists are hopelessly wrong about that. Indeed, unless you can grow your profits beyond a certain percentage–beyond 50%, usually–you’re just treading water. Working your butt off to get nowhere.

And I met a couple bums and shysters, too.

I don’t do it anymore because all I ever wanted to be was a writer and besides, I wasn’t all that good at liquidating. But oh–those quality cigars! Twenty-five boxes of free samples. Neither the seller nor the buyer–I had an eager buyer–nor I knew you needed a special license to move tobacco products. So I was stuck with hundreds of high-quality cigars that I hadn’t had to pay for and that Mr. Ramos didn’t want back. Months and months of pleasure!

It kind of made up for the trunkful of hospital johnny-coats that I couldn’t sell to anyone.

A Relic of Awfulness

I feel whimsical this morning. I’m convinced God gives us that so that we don’t burn out. A good laugh is part of God’s stuff, too.

I don’t know why this antique ridiculous commercial popped into my head today. Vintage 1979, it was for Revlon’s “Charlie” fragrance–I have no idea who gets to name perfumes, or how they go about it–complete with supermodel Shelly Hack and her 64 teeth and Mel Torme roped into singing the jingle.

Lyrics of enduring, persevering brainlessness: “Kinda young, kinda now… Kinda free, kinda wow…” It takes a special talent to write such drivel.

Mel Torme was one of the leading singers of his era and also a championship-caliber quick-draw expert. Interesting man! Great raconteur, too. They were going to do a feature on him for Sixty Minutes once, he says, but dropped it once they’d found out he had no history of scandal, adultery, alcoholism, or drug addiction. “I was too dull,” he admits.

Memory Lane: Marx Play Sets

I loved those play sets by the Marx Toy Co.! I didn’t have any of these carry-all cases, but I did have the Cape Kennedy play set when it was still called Cape Canaveral: and boy, those spring-powered rockets! You could actually put a dent in your ceiling. Like, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” But the threat was obvious even to us kids, and nobody shot his eye out with a Nike missile.

The commercial also shows Fort Apache, Noble Knights, and Boot Camp play sets. My favorite, not shown, was Dinosaurs and Cave Men.

These toys set my imagination on fire. For a while there I wanted to be a toy maker when I grew up, so I could design some really far-out play sets. But in the meantime I rejoiced in setting up the little plastic figurines and turning the set-up into a story.

Have they quite succeeded, yet, in putting the imagination into deep freeze? Would kids even know what to do with a play set anymore?

I remain hopeful: just give them time, and they’ll figure it out. Human nature as God created it, good and bad, will not be denied forever.

P.S.–Where did my video go? Can any of you see it?

Memory Lane: The Katzenjammer Kids

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The Katzenjammer Kids, at the hands of various artists and writers, were in newspapers and comic books for 109 years, starting in 1897, until 2006; and they’re still available in reprints.

They were in the Sunday color comics in my Grammy’s paper (but not ours), and I always looked forward to seeing what Hans and Fritz would get up to next. Looking back on it now, I wonder why they were so popular. Really, they weren’t nice at all–in fact, a couple of delinquents. Did they resonate with our sin nature, with some darkness in our souls? I can’t imagine trying to baby-sit for them: you might not live to tell about it.

Then again, perhaps they served a useful purpose, after all–an opportunity to let off steam without doing any harm. Hey, I watch the Three Stooges. That doesn’t mean I go around poking people in the eye and pulling chandeliers down from anybody’s ceiling. It means I laugh when they do it, because it’s so ridiculous. Maybe not as ridiculous as Okashii-yo-Cortez, but certainly more harmless.

I don’t know what I’d give to be at Grammy’s house again, reading the comics in her Sunday paper.

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