Saturday, November 22, 2008

Got Any Cigs?

I'm talking about candy cigs. Do you remember them? It was so cool to walk around with one in your mouth and pretend you were puffing on it just like your parents did when they smoked. How swell it would have been if they found a way to have a smoke like substance come out the end. They came in these neat little boxes that looked real. I could carry them in my Barbie purse along with my candy lipstick and pretend I was a big girl. My God! Who thought of that and what were they thinking? Be brave, then, and buy a bubble gum cigar.
Penny candy. That was part of our culture. Every Friday my dad would come home from work with 2 little brown bags full of the stuff for my sister and I. What a treat to dig through it and see the sweet little treasures.
You could always tell what kind your friends were eating by the color of their mouth, lips, or tongue. Blue meant Spudnik gum. Red were the fireball jawbreakers and black pieces in your teeth were the licorice pinwheels. Any color could be the sippy sticks and yellow pieces in your teeth were the banana b-b bats.
I loved the candy beads. Think about it, love beads at age 5. They came on an elastic string and your neck ended up being stained in an array of psychedelic colors from sucking on them. Top it off with pumpkin seeds with an inch of salt encrusted on each one and a marshmallow ice cream cone.
Wax lips were the rage because after they were in you mouth too long and you started gaging, you could just eat the stuff. It amazes me we all didn't die at a young age from being plugged up with wax, artificial flavors and gum.
How about nip wax bottles with juice in them. Juice? I am sure that the flying saucers were made with the same stuff communion wafers were but only different colors.
Mmmm...Necco wafers,(the chocolate ones) candy buttons on paper, Bazooka bubble gum and fizzies. Boston baked beans, jawbreakers and neopolitan candy slices. DumDum suckers (why are they called DumDum?) and Tootsie pops. They are the ones that ripped the skin off of the roof of your mouth when you tried to bite into the Tootsie Roll.
Just think about it. These precious gems basically only cost 1 penny apiece. You could get 100 pieces of candy for a dollar and have a candy buffet. It might look like a deal, but when it was all said and done, $1.00 for candy, $50.00 for the dentist and $100.00 to have your kids stomach pumped. Not a good investment afterall!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dive Under Your Desk, The Communists Are Coming!

Remember air raid drills in elementary school and you had to get under your desk and cover your head in case the Russians dropped a bomb? Man, how stressful is that to a little kid? We didn't know what was going on, we were just scared. I really was getting paranoid when I found out my grandmother was from the Ukraine. I was sure the school was going to label me a Communist and put me in jail. On top of that, my other grandparents were German and I would be considered a Nazi, too. I was doomed!
During the 1950's bomb shelters were built, proving that the threats from the Russians were real. The United States feared the Soviets would take over the world.
The cold war in the 50's wasn't a declared war, but an arms race between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States. Whoever has the most nuclear weapons and warheads wins. None of these weapons were ever deployed, but it was feared that at anytime, the Soviets could hit the US with a nuclear bomb. I wonder if kids in Russia had the same fear of us and they had to dive under their desks too?
"Are you, or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" That was the question. President Harry Truman expressed this fear through the Truman Doctrine.
Communists should be exposed and eliminated. Between 1947-1952 6.6 million persons were investigated. Not one single case of espionage was uncovered.
School districts required teachers to take loyalty oaths and universities screened their staffs. There was actually a shortage of teachers in New York because of this.
Filmmakers were monitored and put on blacklists for any suspected Communists activity.
In 1951, Congress passed the McCarran Internal Security Act. It required every communist or so-called Communist organization to register with the government.
The board even set up concentration camps and gave the government the authority to lock up any supporters. Neighbor watched neighbor and liberals were evil. If you were a radical, then you must be a Communist!
All of this information was gathered by secret paid informers. Because of this, the personal rights of millions of Americans were destroyed.
Talk about paranoia. This was a bad trip. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, now, does it? Look at what is going on in this country now. Instill fear in the masses and they become easily controllable. It's that simple.

The Communist Manifesto (Penguin Classics)
McCarthyism, The Great American Red Scare: A Documentary History
The Cold War: A New History
One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture (American History and Culture)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Follow The Jell-O Brick Road

Jell-O = gelatin. Basically, it's a glutinous material made from boiling animal bones, not suited for the vegetarian diet. That really bums me out because my mother never told me that. I loved the stuff. It was pretty, wiggly, fancy, and fun. My grandmother always had it in her fridge in little glasses with fruit, mainly bananas in it. My mom made a very cool green salad with apples and nuts inside. Then she put a dollop of Miracle whip on top and that was fancy. I loved Jell-O when the top got hard and rubbery. You could just peel it off and chew it. Wow, was that's livin!
In 1845, an industrialist, Peter Cooper obtained a patent for powered gelatin. Forty years later the patent was sold to a cough syrup manufacturer who added fruit flavors to the powder. Since the company was unable to succeed, Francis Wood, who owned a food company, bought the business for $450.00. He placed ads in "Ladies Home Journal" proclaiming Jell-O to be Americas most famous dessert. In the 1930's congealed salads (aspics) were the rage. So, Jell-O came out with vegetable flavors like celery, Italian and tomato. These flavors were short lived.
In the 50's and 60's new flavors evolved like apple, grape, black cherry, black raspberry, and lemon lime. In 1966, the Jell-O no bake desert was launched and a cheesecake could be made in 15 minutes. The perfect companion to a TV dinner.
Over the years, popular desserts came about and celebrities promoted them. Jell-O, there's always room for more! As of 2008, there are more than 150 Jell-O brand products and over 300 million boxes of Jell-O sold in the United States alone. Wow, that's alot of animal bones and not bad for a $450.00 investment!
So, the next time you are in Leroy. New York, stop by the Jell-O museum. It's the only one in the world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This is Cool

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Counterculture Power

The 60's was a time of rebellion and counterculture in which younger people were questioning everything including corporations, authority, and the government. Some of the issues during that time were the Vietnam war, nuclear arms, civil rights, drugs, sexual freedom, the enviroment, and non-conformity. The movement made a change in American culture. The lifestyle included peace, harmony, love, mysticism, music, and religions outside of Christianity. Psychedelic drugs were used as a pathway to expand consciousness. A williness to challenge authority, enviromental awareness, and changing attitudes about gender roles and child rearing were also part of the movement. Utopian lifestyles, or communes were popular. Shared goals, farming, raising children and running households in longing for a simpler life was achieved. Many members of this counterculture saw their lives as a way to express social and political beliefs. Song lyrics, art and personal appearance, were used to make politicl and personal statements. "We are here to make a better world. We didn't end racism, but we ended segregation. We ended the idea that you could send half-a million soldiers around the world to fight a war people did not support. We ended the idea that women were second class citizens. We made the enviroment and issue that couldn't be avoided. The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypercritical, brave, silly, head strong, and scared half to dealth. And we were right." Abby Hoffman

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On The Road Again

March 31, 1969

Dear Daddy,
I know you don't want to hear what I have to say, and I know you are going to freak out, but I have to say it anyway. I realize I have only been in college for two semesters, but I need to get out of here. My friends and I have decided to go to California. There is so much more going on out there and frankly it's where it's at. I have decided to drop out of college for awhile to find myself. I will be coming home next week to grab my backback, a few pairs of jeans and a few bucks for the road. Our friend is giving us space blankets so we can keep warm while sleeping under the stars. No need to worry, I am 19 now and can make adult decisions. I will be fine. See you next week,
Love and Peace,

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's Hip To Be Cool

In the sixities, the fashion industry was turned inside out and upside down. New styles and colors evolved and fashion was based on ethnic designs from Nepal, India, Bali, Morocco and Central America.
In general, most hippies were anti-fashion. We rejected the dictation of corporate America as how we were supposed to dress. The fashion industry was seen as part of capitialist propaganda. Forget ever wearing a logo or endorsing a sports figure. We were anti-establishment, revolutionary, and laid back.
Our stores were the Goodwills and Salvation Armies and piecing something together with bits of cloth. We slit our jeans to make bell bottoms, inserting American flags or colorful bandanas. We covered the holes in our jeans with patches, tie dyed our shirts and bleached our jeans.
We wore Nehru shirts, halter tops, velvet, batiks, and any other crazy outfits we could piece together. An old vest and some beads meant you were stylin.
In 1965 Mary Quant designed the mini skirt. That was the symbol of sexual freedom for women, along with see through blouses and braless breasts.
Accessories were a must to complete the look. Love beads, granny glasses, ethnic jewelry, and necklaces with peace signs and ying yang symbols were popular.
Going barefoot puts you in touch with the world around you. You become more aware and sensitive. Shoes were confining, so going barefoot summed up our quest for freedom.
When I look back on those times, I realize how creative we were to compose our own identity. But, in fact, we all pretty much looked the same. I can understand now, why my parents went crazy. How odd we must have looked to that generation. I know they must have been praying, hoping it's all just a fad.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I love Janis Joplin. I saw her in concert once and took her picture. It is a prized possession. You can't see her face, but it shows mounds of hair and many braclets as she is wailing into the microphone.
I always wanted to sing like that. Who didn't. After secretly trying for a very long time, it was just easier to mouth the words and pretend it was me singing.
Janis was born January 19,1943 in Port Arthur, Texas a small petroleum industry town.
She died October 4, 1970 in a motel in Los Angeles of a heroin overdose. She was only 27. Man, that pains me. I wonder what she would be like to this day. I am certain the world couldn't handle her. Where would she have gone with her music? Would she have been a mother or gone in to politics?
During the tense days of racial intergration, Janis stood up for the rights of African Americans who were segregated in her home town. She was a rebel and took the non-traditional path with literature, arts and especially music. She gravited to the blues and copied the style of Leadbelly, Odetta, and Jesse Smith. She played the coffee houses in the small towns of Texas. When I was in college, I had a beatnik professor from Texas. We would hang out at his house, discussing all thing relevent and listen to him play blues guitar. He often played with Janis in his town's local coffee house.
Janis eventually landed in Austin where she became a student at the University of Texas. Living on the edge, she experimented with drugs, speed, and alcohol. At that point, she returned home for a year to get herself and life together.
Not happy in college, even though she was a good student, she took up an offer from a friend and auditioned to sing with a group called, "Big Brother and the Holding Company."
They played music in the Bay area and up and down the coast of California. Their unique brand of psychedelic rock made it to the big concert, The Monterey International Pop Festival. When Janis sang Ball and Chain, the whole world took notice.
After leaving "Big Brother and the Holding Company," Janis formed other bands. She consumed more drugs and alcohol than ever. I had a girlfriend who wanted to be just like her and carried around a bottle of Southern Comfort in the apartment while listening to Janis sing the blues. Well, my friend sang the blues one day when she drank too much and had to be escorted to the hospital via the ambulance.
The third band Janis formed was "The Full Tilt Boogie Band" and at that point she was happy with her new style of music. Pure heroin took Janis away in a hotel in Los Angeles one night at the age of 27.
Her albums were gold, platinum and triple platinum. The "Greatest Hits" album still tops the charts in Billboard.