Couldn’t Do That Today
I was visiting with some friends one Sunday a few years ago at a Mother’s Day brunch at the Presbyterian Church when the conversation turned to the “old days,” and how things used to be. I had recently received an email that compared certain things in the 1950s to those of today and how they had changed. One of the things mentioned in that email was how students used come to school with their shotguns or rifles in their vehicles and leave them on the parking lot during school hours. This brought to memory my experiences of that era.
Quite often after an early morning stint of hunting ducks, and if it had been a dry run where we pushed the time too close to take our guns home before school, my hunting companions and I would drive directly to school with our shotguns on the seat of the pickup. If we happened to meet one of the teachers as we drove up, and he learned we had been hunting, chances were pretty good he would want to know if we’d had a good hunt; then he might go to his own car, retrieve his shotgun, and we would compare the merits of his gun and ours. Couldn’t do that today. The school would likely go into immediate lockdown, and we students, as well as the teacher, would be in a peck of trouble.
The conversation at our table then turned to some of the old radio and TV programs. Remember the days when you could listen to a radio program or watch a TV show and were just as entertained by the commercials as by the regular programming? (A far cry from the six to eight minute solid blocks of boring commercials we have to endure these days.) And you could actually listen to, or watch more than three and half minutes of programming before the next commercial came. A thirty minute program only had three commercial breaks, and they lasted no more than one minute each.
I remember the old Dinah Shore radio program. She was sponsored by Chevrolet. How many remember the Chevrolet jingle: “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet….” Then there was Super Suds. I believe Super Suds sponsored the old Blondie and Dagwood radio program staring Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton. Remember that jingle? “Super Suds, Super Suds, wash your duds with Super Suds.”
Other laundry products included Rinso. It had a jingle, also, but it escapes me at the moment. For the kitchen sink and bathtub, there was Ajax. Hand cleaning products included Palmolive and Lava soap. Those who remember the Lava soap of that era, will also remember it was like washings your hands with sandpaper; but it did remove the grit and grime, and perhaps a little skin as well. There were Lifebuoy and Lux for the bath. If you used Lifebuoy, you were promised freedom from the scourge of B O(body odor). I wonder how many people remember how the term soap opera came into being. Radio dramas were dubbed soap operas because the majority of them were sponsored by soap companies. This moniker carried over to daytime TV dramas as well. Some of those products that I remember were Oxydol, and Duz. “Duz does everything.” Remember that little jingle? Other commercials with snappy little jingles included Bromo Seltzer. Bromo’s little ditty was: “Bromo-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer,” recited to the rhythm of the huffing and puffing of a steam locomotive.
I supposed the powerful steam engine was supposed to represent the Bromo’s premier power for getting rid of a headache.
During that month of May, the Turner Classic Movie channel was featuring Frank Sinatra movies. I remember when he was on national radio. He was the Bobby Soxers’ new idol. (Bing Crosby had graduated up, and was now the idol of the married women.) Frank would always sign off the program with the first line of his theme song: “Put your dreams away for another day…,” and then he would say, “Good night everybody.” I remember my mother’s disgust with those “silly girls”—as she referred to them after seeing pictures in the newspapers of them swooning and fainting in front of the bandstand as he crooned those love songs. They would also rip his clothes trying to get a piece of his garments.
In the early days of his career Sinatra was really skinny, and he took considerable razzing for his thin stature. His signature move , while singing, was to lean the microphone from side to side. (In those days hand mikes were not used. Singers stood before a microphone mounted on a stand.) When asked why he moved the microphone from side to side, he allegedly answered: “I have to. If I just stood there behind it, the only thing people would see would be my bow tie.”
I have a new novel coming out in late Fall (November or December) entitled LouIsa—Iron Dove of The Frontier. If you click on the “Books” or “In The Works” page at the top of this website you can read all about her, as well as a few excerpts from the book.
Below is short excerpt from Chapter Three
LouIsa sat facing the saloon owner across his desk. She was pitching him for a job playing piano in his saloon.
“You can’t be serious, Miss Houston. Classical music in a frontier saloon? I don’t think so. This is Dodge City, Kansas, ma’am. The men who frequent my place are a bunch of hell raisers. Why. . .they’d shoot you in the first ten minutes, then proceed to shoot hell out of my saloon. I’m sorry, Miss Houston, but I don’t think a classical person is what I need. Now if you can sing and play honky‑tonk pi‑ana, maybe we can do some business.”
LouIsa smiled inwardly. I can do that, she thought. Once the boys get to know me and get comfortable with me, that will be the time to introduce them to the classics. She stretched her hand out across the desk.
“You’ve got a deal, Mr. Lewis. When do I start?”
“How about tonight?” he asked.