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Monday, January 20, 2014

Williamsburg, VA: A Promised Trip from 1982 (Part Two)

Together in Saltville, Pauline (top row, 2nd from the left, known much
later to us as Granny) and her little sister Bea (bottem left), along
with the rest of the ladies in their family.  Below is Bea's note to Pauline.

 Williamsburg, Virginia, a visit in pictures to Virginia's Colonial Capital.

The following pictures are from a fold-out packet of souvenir pictures.  To see the story behind the packet, and the first set of pictures, check out part one of this post: Williamsburg, VA: A Promised Trip from 1982 (Part One).  The link for Part One can be found at the end of this post.  .

Williamsburg, VA: A Promised Trip from 1982 (Part One).
And for more information on visiting Williamsburg, check out

Friday, January 17, 2014

Williamsburg, VA: A Promised Trip from 1982 (Part One)

"Granny", with her daughters, visiting the Empire State
Building in 1965.  
"This is where we'll go if you come back..."
It was 1982, and my wife's grandmother, Pauline, a woman everyone called Granny, received a folded packet of postcards in the mail.  She lived here in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  The packet was from her sister, Bea, who lived in Saltville, Virginia.  Saltville was the family home, where Granny had been raised, before she had followed her husband to a job in the sweltering heat of the Louisiana coastal plain with one son in tow in the 1930's.  The transplanted couple added two daughters to the family, the youngest of which became my mother-in-law.  By 1982, Granny had lost her husband to emphysema, her daughters were both married, and she lived with her son, who never left home.  Granny never would move back to Saltville, choosing instead to live out her years in the home she had built with her husband.  She would, on occasion, still visit her ancestral home in the mountains.  Obviously looking forward to a visit later in the year, her sister slipped the packet in the mail.

I found the packet just a few days ago, stuffed inside a high-backed secretary desk in the home of Granny's oldest daughter.  Bea intended to take her sister's family to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Did Granny and Bea ever get to Williamsburg?  I do not know.  I'd never heard talk of such a trip, nor have I ever found pictures to suggest it happened.  Both sisters are no longer here to answer such questions.  Neither are Granny's children.  But what we do have is the packet, which gives us a great look at what they might have seen if they ever made the five hour, 350 mile trip from Saltville to Williamsburg.  The packet is all-in-one, connected and folded to the size of one postcard.  Unfolding it reveals the trip that may or may not have happened.

Watch for part two of this post for the rest of the postcards in this collection.
And for more information on visiting Williamsburg, check out

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

After-Christmas Shopping with Burstein-Applebee in 1968

Okay, I know what you're thinking.  Christmas is over.  Way over.  Like there isn't even any Christmas turkey left in the house.  The last of the turkey-jello was fed to the cat at least four or five days ago.  What's left of the Christmas fudge was accidentally packed away with the ornaments, which, incidentally, isn't a bad thing.  After all, it helps to have the fudge inaccessible as we try to meet those New Year's resolutions that have more to do with fantasy than reality.  So...why am I posting this about Christmas shopping?

Well, let's look at the facts.  You, along with everyone else, were given gift cards galore.  So many that you were able to stuff your wallet with them.  And now, stacked inside that worn, supple leather, they'll sit for months, forgotten behind the expired library card and the unused Putt-Putt Golf frequent duffer card.  But here's your chance to be really wise about your forgotten gift cards.  Check this out.

First things first: get those cards out and look them over.  Which ones do you want to really use?  If you're a book lover like yours truly, you'll definitely want to set the Barnes & Noble card to one side.  That one will get used.  In fact, I doubt it made it into the wallet.  It was probably used up before Christmas was officially over at midnight.  Online shopping is such instant gratification, isn't it?  But look through your cards and grab the ones that weren't  Yeah, you know the ones, given by a distant relative who really had no idea what you do with your life.  Maybe you aren't so keen on Omaha Steaks since you're a vegetarian.  Or you'll never buy a hat from Lids, since you have a perfect head of hair that should never, ever, be covered by a wide-brimmed ball cap with primary colors that came straight off of Blues' Clues.  Heck, maybe you just refuse to use that Amazon gift card because you once bravely announced publicly that you'd never do business with those cut-throats at Amazon because...well, you can't remember why you said it and sort of regret it but you know your friends and family are now watching you to see what you'll do with that Amazon gift card and wondering if you'll stick to your principles or if you'll just go ahead and order the entire set of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blue-ray.  Anyway...take these cards and sell them to friends at work.  Sure, you'll have to come down a bit on their value, but that's okay.  At least you'll spend money on your own terms, without being forced to buy something from some store you don't like.

Now, here's the genius of my plan.  With all that money you've managed to salvage from the gift cards, you are now free to pick up one of these great specials at Burstein-Applebee.  Just check out these deals:
 Have you ever seen such a versatile tape recorder?  Of course you haven't.  And that's because right there in the Burstein-Applebee catalog, you'll find the most versatile tape recorder yet!  Well, it's the most versatile yet in 1968.  There may be one that is more versatile now, in 2014, but I challenge anyone to tell me they can find one that is more versatile and lower priced at $119.50.  Go ahead, just try and beat this deal.  I mean, seriously, this baby has versatility coming out its reels.  Just consider:
     The 2 track monaural allows for 12 hours of recording time.  Twelve hours!  That's like half a day.  In fact, that is half a day.  Golly.
     This wild ride has three speeds: 7 1/2, 3 3/4, and 1 7/8.  Who could ask for anything better than that?  Who would want to even think of fractions beyond these?  You'd have to be a math teacher to even try and slow that speed down to a number even remotely divisible by 1 7/8.
     That slim attache case is designed at only 3 5/8" thick.  I don't know about you, but I think 3 5/8" is truly the definition of slim.  You couldn't get slimmer than that unless you developed digital technology and created an MP3 player that was only 5/8" thick.  And trust me, in 1968, you wouldn't have been smart enough to develop digital technology.  Fact is, you aren't smart enough to develop it in 2014.
     And let's not overlook the fact that this baby has volume and tone controls that are recessed.  Do I even need to point out how cool that is?  I didn't think so.
Now here's a deal you can't ignore.  Okay, okay, you've seen portable TVs before.  But have you seen one with 82 channels?  You can use this sweetheart anywhere, which is important, since you'd never get to use all 82 channels in 1968.  So you just port this puppy over to 2014 and then you'll be able to appreciate the full range of television programming that can be packed into this beautiful, solid state, deluxe, television and its full 37 square inch viewing area.

For just under one hundred dollars, you'll get a super bright picture for the whole family to see.  Even in broad daylight!  I know, that's crazy, right?  But there's more:  its transistor circuitry has 44 solid-state devices.  It even has a modern, clean look when the set is turned off.  That's right.  It doesn't have that outdated, dirty look when it's off.  And why would it?  This amazing set is produced by the world-famous Matsushito guys.  And they've always been about modern, clean looking televisions that are turned off.  Now just don't forget to order your four-pound battery pack for $29.95.  That's less than eight dollars per battery pound.  When's the last time you saw a steal like that?
Now, don't forget all of the B-A personal mail order service you'll get when you order one of these fine after-Christmas products:
     For starters, you'll have this handy B-A order blank...whenever possible.  Sometimes, it just isn't possible for the order blank to be handy.  We realize that there are limitations to when an order blank can be handy.
     You tell B-A how you want the shipment made.  Express?  Freight?  Regular Parcel Post?  Decaf Parcel Post?  Or how about Air?  That's right, they can float your order to you on the clouds.  And you get to decide when you send the money too.  Use a money order, or a bank draft (whatever that is!) or even...heck, let me quote them.  You'll think I'm making this up, but I'm not.  "Many B-A Customers ask us to fill in the exact amount on their signed blank check...a most convenient and safe way to send remittance."  Uhhh...okay.  Oh yeah, and don't forget that the Federal Reserve Bank Ruling states you cannot send in a check where the bank name has been deleted.  That Federal Reserve is sharp, I tell ya.  Nothing gets past them.  Not even checks without bank names on them.  Someone's thinking down in D.C.
     But before you go and get too excited about these amazing shipping options, let me bring you back to reality a bit.  There is an important little rule to keep in mind.  There is a minimum order size.  I know, right?  Disappointing.  But I have to admit they make a good point.  They state, and again, I quote:
"Since it is not economical to process many small orders, a 50c service charge is necessary for any order under $5.00.  You avoid this charge entirely on orders over $5.00."  Well, they got you there.  You'll have to spend at least five dollars.  Okay, so the B-A shopping experience isn't all fun and games.  As mothers have said since the beginning of time: life is full of disappointments.

And speaking of disappointments, don't even get me started on the $35.00 minimum order for opening a new B-A Revolving Charge Account.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quick View of Apples and Poetry

I don't often do this, but I'm going to post a quick video here.  I'm not much of an Apple fan, but someone over there has the heart of an artist.  This video debuted just moments ago during an NFL playoff game, and I think it is one of the most extraordinary short videos I've seen in a long time.  So turn up your speakers, focus for a minute and a half, and experience this moving, poetic moment.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A View from an Abandoned House

Recently I've been digging around an old house that we will soon be remodeling.  It has been interesting to discover many outdated products and brands that I either remember with fondness or have no memory of at all.  The house was built in the early 1960's.  It had been unoccupied for many years, and we decided that not much of the original house was practical to preserve.  This mostly included the wood paneling that covered the entire house.  Yes, that's right, except for the two small bathrooms that were lined with drywall, the rest of the house was covered in wood paneling.

The paneling itself was still in good condition, but it really just had to go.  So off it went.  And as it did, I noticed this little logo stuck inside the paneling on every other piece.  It turns out that the wood came from Gabon, which, in the early 1960's, had just obtained its independence from France.  I realize that the drum motif is African, but I couldn't help but think that this image was making an attempt to snag the attention of home builders who were still wanting to jump on that Tiki bandwagon that had been rolling along.

A little surfing tells me that Gabon is known for its petroleum and timber products.  Port-Gentil, a small town after WWII, grew to 20,000 residents by 1960, and it seems many of them made it their mission to panel as many of the walls of America as possible.  

I found many cigar boxes in the house, most of which were in very bad shape.  However, in a store room cluttered with piles of junk, I dug out this box, which was badly discolored and stained.  Opening it, I discovered that the image inside the top lid was nicely preserved.

El Producto cigars were once a popular cigar, though that was nearly one hundred years ago.  While most cigar fans looked elsewhere for something to smoke, George Burns was well known for his devotion to the brand.  You can read more about his love of El Producto Queens, what he called his little ladies, at