FILM NOIR mouthwash

The use of fear to sell things has always been around. Sellers are always toying with the psyche of their buyers. This ad, from 1933, just seems to ramp it up. Maybe it's just me, but this looks like a photo you'd expect to see on an old film noir movie poster. This fellow has more than a sore throat to worry about. This fellow is about to die. I don't know who killed him, but it wasn't germs.


Click on the image to see it larger.


BLACK INK on the fingers

It's just a little match box, nothing more. I was given this box over 38 years ago by a childhood friend's step-father. I was in art college at the time and he thought I'd enjoy the content of the box. No, it wasn't full of matches that I could have used to burn holes in my art which could have turned into some really interesting performance piece. It was full of Speedball pen points. Lots of old pen points. For four years I was close friends with pen points. I did some seriously bad calligraphy during my college years. I think back on it and cringe, but...that's not the point of the box. 


I like the box. I like the handlettering and think it appropriate that the box once held the tools for handlettering. Who knows when the last match was used. I have no idea how old the box is. It's pretty shabby and has ink stains, but it went beyond its original use. Someday somebody will throw it out. To them it will just be a little old match box, but I know it's more than that. I know that at some point a person kept all their special little pen points in there. Their index finger most likely had a stain of black. More than once they probably worked on some lettering for hours only to accidently put their hand down on the wet ink requiring them to start all over again and possibly releasing a torrent of profanity. Yup, been there, done that.

Haven't touched a pen point in years. They're here somewhere in my desk, I think. I sort of miss them...along with that black stain on my index finger.

As to the matches. What can one say about matches except that these had the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval which must have meant they were very very special matches. A match guarantee. Don't see that anymore. Matches made in the USA with a guarantee. How exactly did they work that? If a match didn't strike did you put it in an envelope and mail it to Good Housekeeping? What sort of proof did they require? And if they believed you did you get a refund? For the entire box? or just those that didn't burn? Gives a person pause...but not for too long. Don't think you'll find too many guarantees on matches these days. About all you get is the surgeon general's warning to "close cover before striking" which has always struck me as a little funny.  Who was the first person at the match company to realize they needed this warning? Was it an attorney? Did match companies have attorneys way back when? Yeah, I'm spending far too much time thinking about this little box.


One other thought...if they're national matches why are they made by a universal company? Seems like somebody was thinking world domination one match at a time. 

And if you're still reading this and you'd like to see a little bit about Speedball pen points take a look at this link. It brings back a lot of memories for some of us.



When I first moved to Los Angeles The Brown Derby was still standing. I'm glad I got to see it before it was demolished. I do recall a lot of discussion going on about how to at least save the hat, but alas, like most things in LA, it no longer served a purpose so was disposable. I never got to eat there so I can't give you a restaurant review. And the current location of the dome of the hat is just better forgotten. If you want history about the Derby check out this link at Wikipedia.

I can say that it was fun to drive by and see a giant hat alongside the road just as seeing Tail o' the Pup hot dog stand was, and fortunately still is, fun to see. 

Which brings me to a book. A really fine book by Jim Heimann called California Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture. I've put a link to it in the Amazon column on the left. It's a fun book full of photos and information about the eccentric architecture that used to dot the highways and byways of this country. A few still exist and I'm happy to be old enough to remember seeing some of them. 

I'd take a giant hat or donut, a building in the shape of a pig or airplane, or a motel in the shape of a wigwam any day over what passes for what we currently see along the freeways all over the country. Things were fun before corporations got involved and put their generic stamp of boredom on everything. Ahhhh for a drive along the coast and a stop at a Big Orange for a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. Anyway, do check out the book. Highly enjoyable. 

And one more thing about this postcard of the Derby. I just googled the photographer, Hubert A. Lowman and see that he was quite prolific in the field of 4 color work in the 40s through 60s. I can't find out anything about him personally other than he won a prize of $15.00 for a shot he took and submitted to Desert Magazine in 1942. Other than that his name seems to show up for all sorts of shots of California and the Southwest. I'll have to pay closer attention to some of the other cards in my collection. It's not that the photo is stunning, it's just that it does the job and hopefully paid the rent. Fewer and fewer businesses offer postcards so this is a job that is becoming as lost as these fun buildings. 



I'll admit that I know very little about this beer. I don't drink beer. Never have. Okay, well there were those few times as a kid on picnics in Aiea with small cans of Lucky Lager....

What I do know about Hamm's is that I loved the bear in the commercials. That and the song are all I remember. I don't even know if this beer is still made. But it was fun to find this old coaster in the back of a drawer. In very decent shape considering its age. It has to be close to 50 years old. Not something expected to survive. It was supposed to be used then tossed. Classic vintage ephemera.

Hamm's_Beer_ Bear_tatteredand lost

Here's a link to Wikipedia's information about the bear. I have to wonder why they chose a bear. Maybe it's just me, but the idea of a bear up stream in my refreshing drinking water...ummmm...and then there's the color of the beer. Oh, never mind.


The words from the Hamm's Beer Theme "From The Land of Skye-Blue Water" were from a 1909 poem by Charles Wakefield Cadma (c) 1937 by Edwin H. Morris & Company. The theme music was by Nelle Richmond Eberhart.

From the Land of Sky Blue Waters (Waters),
From the land of pines, lofty balsam,
Comes the beer refreshing,
Hamm's the Beer Refreshing.

And for the best part, an actual Hamm's Beer commercial starring the Hamm's Beer Bear. It's almost classic Mad Men silly.

The artist who created the bear was Ray Tollefson. More information about him can be found here. Mr. Tollefson died in 2002.

UPDATE: Received an email from Mr. Tollefson's grandson which I'm printing below. Thank you Alan for contacting me. The Hamm's bear will always be one of my favorite animated characters. How lucky for you to still have so much of your grandfather's work!
I did a search for my Grandfather and stumbled across your site. Fun stuff to see the Hamm's Bear. We have many of my Grandfather, Ray Tollefson's, original ink drawings of the Hamm's bear. He also created a book so that all future artists would draw the bear the same. And if you ever start drinking beer, you can still buy Hamm's. - Alan Tollefson



Was it with the Brownie Troop? Is that how we went to the Dole plant? Or did I go with my parents? I'm betting it was with the Brownie Troop. What I do remember were women in hair nets busily moving those pineapples along the assembly line. But what they put in the can could never compare with what we bought out of the field on one of those trips around the island in the '56 Chevy BelAir convertible. But then either way pineapple was not your friend. But ohhhhh when the juice ran down your arm and you were left all sticky for hours. Good times. Good times.

Alas the tower is gone. Read here to find out about it. Really is a shame.


THE PINK PALACE with the white carp

The original is long since gone, but not in the memory of two little girls. It was a pink palace in Waikiki with a big fish pond inside. We were especially taken with a beautiful white carp that swam around the island in the center of the pond. We named "him" Whitey and our memories of that fish still remain. Our families dined on all sorts of tasty delights. I remember loving the bread that seemed nearly raw served with the duck. Poor duck. Poor carp.

Lau Yee Chai was torn down a year or so after we visited. I don't know what they put up in its place. I do see by doing an online search that there is another Lau Yee Chai in Waikiki, but it can never compare to the original. It can never have the magic. The original was like being in a palace. Pure fantasy for those two little girls.

This menu is actually from 1945, not from when we visited in 1959. My dad visited the restaurant during World War II. Somehow this thing has survived all these years in near mint condition.

The pidgin English is a bit bizarre. Okay, it's over-the-top. I'm guessing P.Y. Chong had to pretend to be something he wasn't in order to make a living, but then I remember my folks saying how expensive the food was so I imagine financially he was doing pretty well. He played the game and won.

There are 4 more pages of this that I haven't scanned.

Click on the images to see them larger.

P.Y. Chong_menu_front_tatteredandlost

P.Y Chong_menu_interior_tatteredandlost

P.Y Chong_menu_back_tatteredandlost

Update: Turns out the Lau Yee Chai we went to was not the original. My father informed me that the one he went to in 1945 was located near the mouth of the Ala Wai where the Ilikai stands. It was in a swamp with the building up on stilts. I've never seen a photo of this. Hope to find one someday.

Update 11.21.10: Today I received the following comment from P. Y. Chong's grandson. The net can be such an amazing place. Thanks for contacting me.
The stories of PY Chong and his resturant are very interesting. The resturant was sold many years ago at auction. The menus are an excellent snapshot of that era in hawaii history. I am glad so many people got to eat there and experience it, since it was something I can only read about. Thank you for sharing your memories. I am PY Chong's grandson.


50 YEARS AGO today

It was 50 years ago today that my family boarded the SS Matsonia in San Francisco to sail to our new home in Hawaii. Hawaii was still a US territory, not a state. We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on a very cold January day, bundled in the warm clothes we'd brought from the East Coast. Within days we were in paradise covered in flower leis.


I'll never know who aboard that ship decided to seat two military families with two little girls at the same dining table, but I'm forever grateful. Those little girls became best friends for life, the sisters neither of us had. Today out of the 6 members of those two families only 3 survive.


I can't begin to describe what an adventure it was for two little girls on that ship. We still talk of the fun we had. We were instant friends.


We ate on the deck next to the pool, stole swizzle sticks out of people's drinks, sat beneath Tiki statues playing with our dolls, ran up and down from one end to another exploring the ship. The temperature changed from the wintery cold to tropical warmth and soon we were in shorts with our heavy coats packed away. We danced the Hukilau and were awarded with our own new Hawaiian names. It was magic. Though the ship is long gone, that beautiful ship, the friendship is still strong.


To learn more about what it was like to sail on a classic beautiful ocean liner before they became little more than giant garish shopping malls take a look at the book To Honolulu in Five Days: Cruising Aboard Matson's S.S. Lurline by Lynn Blocker Krantz, Nick Krantz, and Mary Thiele Fobian. I have placed a link to the book in the Amazon column on the left

Click on images to see them larger. 


THE HAVES and the have nots

I think it's hard for younger people today to really grasp how far we've come. This ad for Del Monte pineapple juice is from a 1937 Better Homes and Gardens. I don't really think I need to make any comment. Each person will bring what they want to it. It's like a scene from one of those 1930s Hollywood musicals where the women were bejeweled and white like snow and the servants were always black and spoke broken English. Even the height difference between the two women was calculated.

To see a larger version simply click on the image which will take you to Flickr.




Many years ago I found a stack of these flyers in the trash. The date is 1947, post-World War II, and the housing boom was on. The start of the baby boom and the beginning of the suburbs as we now know them.

I can't find anything online about this development, but I'm assuming it's located in Casa Grande, Arizona. I'd be fascinated to see the evolution of this place.

To see the image larger simply click on it which will take you to the Flickr site. Then click on "all sizes" above the image to see a larger and readable copy.



SNOW FALLS into the silence

until the walkers pass.

LONGING for what?

This illustration, by Hubert Mathieu, is from a January 1932 Dilineator magazine for a story entitled "The Coat with the Sensuous Lines" by Dora Berezov. I find virtually nothing online about either the illustrator or writer. I have yet to read the story, but was taken by the style of the drawing. Very nice. However, and this is a big however...what's up with that leg? I know it shows movement in the drawing, but the longer I look at it the stranger it gets. 

"A story by a new writer who interprets with humor and pathos the crowded labyrinths of New York's lower East Side." Okay, okay, I see it. Humor and pathos in that leg. Yeah, I get it.

The quote from the story is, in case you can't read it, "I don't want nobody better, Ma," she sobbed. "He's good enough for me."

And how long did the model need to stay in that pose for the artist? Did she walk funny afterwards for just a little while? We'll never know. Just a thought for the day.


WHIP YOURSELF into a miracle

Again, from the 1937 Better Homes and Gardens.

It really is funny to look at vintage women's magazines. Rarely are women identified as anything other than their husband's name. We don't know their first name, just his. It's like a stamp of ownership. Complete loss of identity. 

Anyway...Mrs. Fred Wolff seems to be putting together a buffet luncheon for her friends, hoping for compliments. So while she puts salad in the mouths of her guests Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation put "It's this dressing," says Ms. Wolff, "that gives vegetable salad the right dash!" into Mrs. Wolff's mouth. 

No information is given as to who Mrs. Wolff is or why they chose her for the ad. Was she important in society? Did she win a contest to be in the ad? Did they just grab the wife of one of the ad guys at the agency because she looked "normal" and comforting to the readers? Unless there are relatives who see this and rush to respond I guess we'll never know. Mrs. Fred Wolff, here's to you and Miracle Whip.

What really attracted  me to the ad is the illustration. It's lovely. Not what you often get in vintage magazines, 4 color photos of food that look like they've long since been forgotten in the back of the fridge. This is a really nice watercolor. No information is given about the illustrator, which is a shame. It's really lovely.

And I guess we can now pencil in Thursdays on NBC for the Kraft Music Hall Program. So that's Thursdays with Kraft on NBC and Saturday night's Alka-Seltzer Barn Dance on NBC. I'll keep looking through this magazine to see how we can fill out the rest of our week.

And speaking of hideous looking food in 4 color, I'd highly recommend the very funny book The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks. He has captured all the stomach churning photos that were common in women's magazines and recipe books from long ago. Okay, not that long because I remember some of these from my childhood. People call it retro, we called it dinner. I've put a link to this book on the left side of the page.


NEW YEARS CHEER no longer cheerful?

So, how's it goin'? Still suffering from those cheese balls you ate at the party New Years Eve? The ones that had been sitting under the heat lamp on the plate of mayo? Some of us tried to tell you to just keep moving and try the chocolate dipped potato chips instead. So here you go, just what you need. 

"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...oh what a relief it is" caught on nicely. "Be wise--alkalize" not so much.

And with how bad NBC's programming is they might want to consider bringing back the Alka-Seltzer National Barn Dance each Saturday night. Indigestion linked with people dancing in a barn...makes sense to me. I smell Emmy!

1937 Better Homes and Gardens