R.I.P. Taffy May

When I was a little girl, the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow was a horse.

I really only voiced the question of my getting a horse to my parents a couple of times, knowing full well that the answer would be no, and, as a matter of pride,  I’d ultimately have to run away from home or, at the very least, stage a run away as in the following true scenario:

“Look at this Janey,” my father remarked to my mother, “I found Linda’s pajamas in this little 45-record case in the bushes just outside her window when I was mowing the lawn.”

Oh I was going to run away alright . . . eventually.

Ok, fine . . . if I wasn’t going to get a horse, at least I could try for a kitten.  This is how I went about it.  Step 1:  Convince my parents that I was head over heals in love with cats.  So I colored umpteen pictures of kittens and scotch taped them to my circa 1959 pink wall.  Step 2 wasn’t even needed because Step 1 worked like a charm.  Next thing I knew I was picking out my very own gray, long-haired kitten from a batch of 5 or 6.

In my excitement, I failed to notice that this particular kitten had issues.  It suffered from the world’s lowest kitty IQ.   Maybe that’s why the name I chose, Taffy May, seemed to fit her so well.

Taffy May was the perfect cat for a little girl to bond with.  Being nearly brain-dead, she allowed me to pick her up and carry her around without protest.  She slept with me all night under the covers which I thought was because she loved me so —  but more likely she just couldn’t figure a way out.

I loved stupid little Taffy May with all the passion of my nine-year-old heart and soul.  She failed to grow to full size due to the fact that while she was checking to see if there were any predators around to eat her cat food, the dog would wolf  it down.

She had one batch of kittens – if three can be considered a batch.  But being the little dummy that she was, she managed to lie on all three of them during the night and  in the morning the only one left breathing was my beloved, Taffy May.

Perhaps it was Karma (I know there was a car involved) the day Taffy May shuffled (or rolled) off this mortal world.  I was on my way home from school without a care in the world.  When I rounded the corner, there stood our across-the-street neighbor, Mr. Huey, holding a lifeless Taffy May up by the tail.

I don’t know how many times Taffy May had been run over, but judging from the fact that she was literally as flat as a pancake, it would be safe to assume more than once.  I screamed and ran into the house where I was inconsolable well into the night.  I never got another cat of my very own, out of respect for Taffy May, who will always have a place in my heart . . . about two feet wide and one and one-half inches deep.

Until next time . . . I love you

The Edible Horror of 1959

Hello Dear Readers! 

Today we are going to put away our mirth, store our humor in the overhead storage compartment and put a lid on our collective jar of Hardy Har Hars — so that we may take a serious look at a trend from 1959 that is so disturbing, so bizarre, so downright twisted that, frankly,  we really don’t even want you to read the rest of the post . . . okay fine go ahead and read it . . . but you’ve been warned!

 

The Edible Horror of 1959

As you can see, this 1959 cook book is trying to pass itself off as an innocent Metropolitan Cook Book featuring foods that are not only delicious and nutritious, but also, foods that appear to have a wonderful outlook on life, a cheerful disposition and an enviable outgoing vivaciousness that would light up a room!

 

Looks innocent?  Look again!

But even though things seem innocuous enough on the surface what these pictures are actually depicting is the sick, brain-washed, utopian edible world of 1959 wherein innocent foods have been programmed into wanting to be eaten.

 

As evidence, let us take a look at this unsettling illustration:

Here we have meat that has been obviously drugged so that it can be paraded before the eyes of carnivores — by its very own offspring as they wave parsley in an attempt to draw attention to their very own parent’s deliciousness!  What in heaven’s name was going on in 1959?

 

And in another equally unsettling illustration we see this:

Here carrots, radishes and onions are happily waiting in line to be dipped into a boiling caldron of soup!  Notice the mindless smiles and the blank affectations in the eyes of indoctrinated vegetables as they so willingly and cheerfully give their lives to this 1959 Orwellian soup du jour!  Oh the vegumanity!

 

And it just keeps getting worse:

Here we have an apple throwing a pie in its OWN face in some sort of sick prelude to the eating of said pie.  Thank the good lord, cruel practices such as this do not go on in the present day.

And finally we must insist that all children be out of the room before scrolling down to this final example of 1959 edible horror:

Family cannibalism!

Here we see a strawberry about to take a big bite of sorbet made out of Sister Stawberry!  We witness Pear munching delightedly on Brother Pear Pudding and Apple enjoying applesauce made entirely of Mother and Father Apple!

These are images that will forever sully the once pristine synapses of our heretofore innocent brains.  I’m sorry Dear Readers to have to do this to you!  But you were warned!

If it’s any consolation

Until next time . . . I love you

1957 Fun with Radioactive Ketschup

Dear Readers!  I went to the  Thrift Store yesterday.  I was lucky enough to find this Heinz Ketchup cookbook from 1957!

You see, back in 1957, before life was unnecessarily complicated with Twitter, Facebook and the radio alarm clock, people would stay home and cook dishes that required a lot of Heinz Ketchup.

Let’s take a peek at some of these 1957 Heinz Ketchup prize winning recipes and see if we can get a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past:

It’s Red Magic! Hey wait a minute! In 1957, during the height of the cold war against communism, it seems a little odd that Heinz Ketchup would bill their product by saying “It’s Red Magic.”

And the fact that Mother seems to be flirting with a gigantic tomato man wearing a manacle isn’t helping Heinz Ketchup’s credibility either . . .  oh well let’s just keep moving.

Okay, here we have Mother cooking with what looks like a radio-active bottle of Heinz Ketchup. But there’s probably a simple explanation.

Mother’s husband, Father, is probably a Nuclear Physicist who sometimes brings home radioactive isotopes from the office to put in the Ketchup bottle to freak Mother out!  That Father! Always with the pranks!  (Too bad Mother didn’t even notice!)

The only explanation for what Mother is doing here is that Father told Mother to take a long walk on a short pier.

Ha! That Father!  He’s always doing silly stuff like that to Mother. Of course,while Mother was taking a long walk of a  short pier, she decided it might be fun to try a little fishing.  But what to use for bait?  Hm . . .

Of course, as you can see while Mother was trying to decide what to do next, the radioactive isotope Heinz Ketchup bottle fused permanently to Mother’s hand.  Father. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.

Here are Mother and Father’s children, Boy and Girl. They are eating minced ham and bean sandwiches that Father made for them.

Oh that wacky Father!  He made both Boy and Girl these Ketchup bean sandwiches and is now hiding behind the Admiral Frigidaire spying on them as they try to eat their radioactive isotope Ketchup bean sandwiches.

Right about now Father is probably thinking about how he should see if Milton Berle needs any more comedy writers!

Hey who’s this? Why it’s New Mother, of course. Old Mother had a drowning accident when she was unable to paddle to safety after falling off a short pier due to the Ketchup bottle being fused to her hand.

But that’s okay because Father found and married New Mother later that day!  And New Mother has just cooked Father a tasty dish of  Green Beans with Ketchup!

Little does New Mother know that Father has just stuck two radioactive isotopes into the casserole dish she’s holding and Father can’t wait to see the look on New Mother’s face when she tries to set the dish down but finds that it’s fused to her hands!

Unfortunately Father didn’t get to see the look on New Mother’s face because just then the phone rang and Father ran to answer it because  — who knows — it might have been that all important call from Uncle Milty!

“I need a new comedy writer. Find out if Father’s available.”

And there you have it, Dear Readers, a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past.

Until next time . . . I love you

My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers The City Pool

 

Waitsburg City Pool or Gawdawful like it
The Waitsburg city pool (or gawdawful like it)

 

A Swimming Pool Fool

When I was a little girl, I was a swimming fool even though the pool in our little town left a lot to be desired.  First of all, it wasn’t heated or filtered so they had to drain it every week and refill it with water they piped in from the South Pole.  Not being a filtered pool, you’d think we would have all gotten a horrible disease like typhoid fever, leprosy or at the very least, Polio, but the water was either too cold to sustain microbial life or nobody could ever stay in long enough to catch anything.

The Magic of Turning Nine

Until I was in the fourth grade, all my summer mornings were spent begging and pleading with my mother to take me to the swimming pool.  But when I turned nine, she decided I was old enough to go to the city pool on my own. So every morning I’d get up and kill time by playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids until the magical hour of 1:00 o’clock when the city pool opened.  My mother would fix me a tuna sandwich and make me wait half an hour before I could head out to the pool lest I get a cramp and drown. For some reason known only to 1950-ites, the most dangerous thing a person could do in the fifties would be to down a tuna sandwich and then dive directly into a body of water.  You would get a cramp and you would drown.  Period.  End of story.

leading cause of drowning in the 50's
Leading cause of drowning 1950-style

The Art of Towel Rolling

The towel you brought to the swimming pool said a lot about how well your parents had their acts together. The parents who had their acts totally together bought their children their own beach towels every summer with a cute picture of a whale or a beach umbrella emblazoned across its front.  Other parents who didn’t have their acts quite as together didn’t mind if their child brought whatever towel happened to be hanging on the towel rack that day.  And then there were the  parents who didn’t have their acts together at all.  These were the parents who were big believers in sun-dried kids.

My parents fell into the middle category.  I would take some dingy towel off the towel rack everyday and fold it in half length-wise and roll my swimming suit up in it.  Then I would put on my thongs (which is the fifties speak for flip-flops)  and I’d head out across town to the city pool to join the small group of children who were also addicted to the swimming pool as much as I was.

The Regulars

Looking back on it now, there were about five of us who came every single day without fail.   Most of them were sun-dried kids and for a while I forsook my towel to fit in.  (I’d tell you their names but I’m not sure they had any.)  Anyway, we would simply find a dry spot on the cement and lay there until we got hot enough to brave the frigid waters of Antarctica for another ten minutes of splish-splashing hypothermia.

Jackknifes, Cannonballs and Cutaways

Most of my activity at the pool was waiting in line to go off the diving board.  My  ‘go to’ dive was a jackknife.  My friend, Susan Weber, was a whiz at a dive called the cutaway. While us girls worked on our dives, the boys were perfecting their cannonballs — a dive that never made any sense to me because why make a big splash if you can’t see it?  But I do remember the boys who were a little on the hefty side being much better at the cannonball than their skinnier counterparts.

After Swimming Hunger

I have never been hungrier than I was in the fifties.  Being a kid lends itself to a lot of hunger.  The hunger you feel from only eating one bite of breakfast before school and counting the seconds until lunch.  The hunger you feel after waiting for lunch to find that you are too finicky to eat hamburger gravy and sandy butter sandwiches. And then there’s the  hunger you feel after school from being too picky to eat a decent breakfast and lunch.

Seven Bowls of Cheerios

But the hunger I felt after swimming all afternoon in the city pool beats them all. It’s the kind of hunger that only seven bowls of Cheerios swimming in a soup of sugary milk can satisfy.  Sitting at the kitchen table, eating Cheerios with the late afternoon sun pouring through the window and knowing that after you finish your last bowl, the Three Stooges will be on.  Does life get any better than that?

I think not.

Cheerios from the 1950's

Until next time . . . I love you

My Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop

Welcome Dear Readers to this edition of my brain Peanuts remembers.  

Today’s topic:  Soda Pop

Drinking soda in the fifties was a lot different from today. First of all, soda came in a bottle. In Washington state, where I grew up, there was no such thing as drinking a can of soda. No siree! We drank a bottle of pop or we drank nothing at all.

Back then, when you bought a bottle of pop, the pop was yours to drink — but you had to give back the bottle because you were merely renting it. After all, you had to pay a 2-cent deposit on it, for crying out loud, and not taking it back for a refund could seriously affect the budget.

So everyone always returned their pop bottles to get their two-cents back because two-cents in the fifties would buy enough gas to get you to Canada from anywhere in the United States.

 "Hot diggity dog! It's my ticket to Canada!"
“Hot diggity dog! It’s my ticket to Canada!”

The only people who drank out of a can were beer drinkers. But beer cans were worthless so beer drinkers didn’t worry about getting their deposit back. They would simply chuck the empties out of the window of whatever speeding vehicle they happened to be drunkenly swerving down the highway in.

Today, we would consider this drunk driving but in those days we simply considered it littering. And in the 1950’s, littering was America’s favorite pastime — as much a way of life as Polio, onesie gym clothes, and radio-active cleansing cream.

But whether you were drinking out of a bottle or drinking out of a can, you would have died of thirst in the 1950’s if you didn’t have one of these.

The most important invention of mankind since the creation of invention ITSELF!!!
The most important invention of mankind since the creation of invention ITSELF!!!

It was a combination bottle/can opener, and it was a wonderful little gadget. One end would pry off the caps of Debby and Bobby’s pop bottles while the other end would puncture a hole in Mom and Dad’s beer cans. (The only thing this can opener wouldn’t do is open a bottle of wine, but this wasn’t a problem because in the 50’s only Europeans drank wine.)

I think it’s fair to say that the bottle opener was as much a part of the foundation upon which the togetherness of the fifties family was built as smearing butch wax on crew cuts, stenciling on eyebrows or hiding under desks together to survive atomic blasts.

I remember my grandparents only drank Pepsi which they always referred to as Peps. Pepsi was for those who think young. Not only did my grandparents think young, they were young. When I was five, my grandmother was only 44. (Back then people started families way younger so they could get it out of the way quicker and have more time to drink Peps.)

Now let’s say you only drank half the Peps in that rented bottle of yours. What would you do? Well, instead of pouring it down the drain, you would save the remainder of the Peps by utilizing another ingenious type of gadget that people just referred to as that bottle thingy.

These bottle thingys were invented for two reasons.  1) to lock in soda pop freshness and  2) to give people in the future something to sell on e-bay.
These bottle thingys were invented for two reasons.
1) to lock in soda pop freshness and
2) to give people in the future something to sell on e-bay.

That bottle “thingy” I’m referring to was a rubber gasket that went into the top of the bottle to seal in the carbonation as well as that delicious Peps refreshing flavor. After all, you spent a whole dime for that bottle of Pepsi, and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Not if you were ever going to afford that trip to Canada!

Until next time . . . I love you

Fifties Fun with Radioactive Isotopes!

Dear Readers!  I went to the  thrift store yesterday.  I was lucky enough to find this Heinz Ketchup cookbook from 1957!

You see, back in 1957, before life was unnecessarily complicated with Twitter, Facebook and the radio alarm clock, people would stay home and cook dishes that required a lot of Heinz Ketchup.

Let’s take a peek at some of these 1957 Heinz Ketchup prize winning recipes and see if we can get a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past:

It’s Red Magic! Hey wait a minute! In 1957, during the height of the cold war against communism, it seems a little odd that Heinz Ketchup would bill their product by saying “It’s Red Magic.”

And the fact that Mother seems to be flirting with a gigantic tomato man wearing a manacle isn’t helping Heinz Ketchup’s credibility either . . .  oh well let’s just keep moving.

 

Okay, here we have Mother cooking with what looks like a radio-active bottle of Heinz Ketchup. But there’s probably a simple explanation.

Mother’s husband, Father, is probably a Nuclear Physicist who sometimes brings home radioactive isotopes from the office to put in the Ketchup bottle to freak Mother out!  That Father! Always with the pranks!  (Too bad Mother didn’t even notice!)

 

The only explanation for what Mother is doing here is that Father told Mother to take a long walk on a short pier.

Ha! That Father!  He’s always doing silly stuff like that to Mother. Of course,while Mother was taking a long walk off a short pier, she decided it might be fun to try a little fishing.  But what to use for bait?  Hm . . .

Of course, as you can see while Mother was trying to decide what to do next, the radioactive isotope Heinz Ketchup bottle fused permanently to Mother’s hand.  Father. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.

 

Here are Mother and Father’s children, Boy and Girl. They are eating minced ham and bean sandwiches that Father made for them.

Oh that wacky Father!  He made both Boy and Girl these Ketchup bean sandwiches and is now hiding behind the Admiral Frigidaire spying on them as they try to eat their radioactive isotope Ketchup bean sandwiches.

Right about now Father is probably thinking about how he should see if Milton Berle needs any more comedy writers!

Hey who’s this? Why it’s New Mother, of course. (Old Mother had a drowning accident when she was unable to paddle to safety after falling off a short pier due to the Ketchup bottle being fused to her hand.)

But that’s okay because Father found and married New Mother later that day!  And New Mother has just cooked Father a tasty dish of  Green Beans with Ketchup!

Little does New Mother know that Father has just stuck two radioactive isotopes into the casserole dish she’s holding and Father can’t wait to see the look on New Mother’s face when she tries to set the dish down but finds that it’s fused to her hands!

Unfortunately Father didn’t get to see the look on New Mother’s face because just then the phone rang and Father ran to answer it because  — who knows — it might have been that all important call from Uncle Milty!

“I need a new comedy writer. Find out if Father’s available.”

And there you have it, Dear Readers, a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past.

Until next time . . . I love you

My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers: Television

Hello Dear Readers!  Welcome to this edition of My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers.

Today’s Topic:  Television

Back in the 50’s, before there was nothing  good to watch on hundreds of satellite and cable TV channels,  we had to make do with nothing good to watch on only three measly little channels, ABC, NBC and CBS.

Ah the Simple Days!

Watching TV in the 50’s couldn’t have been simpler.  First of all, there was no remote to bother with.  We never had to spend upwards of a half hour rummaging around the Naugahyde davenport cushions trying to find the remote control.

Instead, my brothers and I would spend upwards of a half hour arguing over who should change the channel because they were the closest one to the television set.

I have one vivid memory of me and my little brother, Ricky, and my older brother, Peter, plastering ourselves against the back wall of our living room, each trying to make ourselves farthest away from the TV.  I can’t even imagine how many episodes of Ruff and Ready were wasted in this way.

Changing Channels

Changing the channel in those days was pretty simple.  You simply walked over to the TV and turned the dial until it would clunkily kachunk onto either 2 (ABC), 4 (CBS) or 6 (NBC).  The dial had way more numbers on it than 2, 4 and 6.  (It might have gone up to 11 now that I think about it.)

Obviously, TV manufacturers were the visionaries of the 1950’s. They kept their eyes focused on a day in the not too distant future when there might actually be more than snow to watch on all those other channels.

50's television snow
They saw the future and it didn’t look anything like this, thank god!

But in the 50’s, because there wasn’t that much on TV and because we were all so giddy about television viewing, we were all pretty much okay with watching snow.

My grandmother, who lived way out in the country and had no cable connection or antenna reception, claimed she got channel 13.  She’d proudly turn on her TV set and turn the dial to channel 13.  There  would be nothing but snow on the screen. But if you listened closely enough, you could occasionally make out the sound of voices although it was impossible to figure out what they were saying.

I remember visiting my grandmother and sitting in front of her TV set watching the snow and listening to the random voices.  Her TV set was pretty fancy.  It was in a blond wooden cabinet that had shuttered doors.  I’d sit in front of it, watching the snow and listening for voices while my grandmother would watch from her new white Naugahyde couch while she crocheted colorful afghans (the blankets not the people). My grandmother was totally on board with mid-century decor.

The Thrill of Saturday Morning Cartoons

My brothers and I would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons.  But if we were too early, we would turn on the TV and watch the snow because all the stations quit broadcasting at midnight and didn’t resume broadcasting until about 7 a.m. in the morning.

So every night at midnight, all three stations would broadcast a recording of The Star Spangled Banner and then sign off.  Everybody was a lot more patriotic in those days.

Maybe because there was a cold war going on, and you never knew if tonight would be the night that Nikita Khrushchev would get tanked up on vodka and accidentally pass out on the atomic bomb button that was aimed directly at your hometown.

It’s little wonder that TV programmers figured it was probably a good idea to send everybody off to bed with a good dose of patriotism.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, my brothers and I would watch the snow until the thrill of the test pattern came on:

IndianHeadTestPattern16x9 (1)
Not only is this impressive, did you know one of the colors is magenta?

Once the test pattern came on things really got exciting.  It meant we were almost to the beginning of actual television broadcasting and one minute closer to watching the cartoon adventures of Ruff and Ready!

The test pattern was accompanied by a long tone like you would hear during an emergency broadcast warning.  Then an announcer would come on and explain what the colors of the test pattern were.  One of the colors was magenta. Every week my brothers and I wondered what color magenta was.

MagentaIcon
Okay just googled magenta,. and even google isn’t sure what color magenta is.

Sometimes while we were waiting for the cartoons to start, my brothers would scrape the frost off the freezer box in the refrigerator and eat it like a snow cone. I never cared much for the frost on the pre-defrost-free refrigerator freezers.  I always felt it had a funny aftertaste. But my brothers seemed to enjoy it.

freezer frost
Peter and Ricky viewed this freezer frost as the snow cone half full.

Ah yes!  TV in the 50’s.  I often ask myself if there’s anything today that compares to that long-ago  thrill of hearing the theme song to Ruff and Ready while eating freezer snow cones . . . and the answer, Dear Readers, is yes . . . practically everything!

 

Until next time . . . I love you