Clean Songs

Don’t worry, this isn’t  a diatribe about the lyrics in contemporary music. The title is in reference to 45 rpm records that were a free give-a-way in laundry detergent. I don’t remember what brand of soap it was but some time in the late 60’s or early 70’s you would get an actual vinyl record inside the box. I guess it was the adult equivalent of the toy prize inside the cereal box.

I don’t know how many of these we got, but for some strange reason I only remember two of the records. I vividly recall there was “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys and “Lineman For The County” by Glen Campbell. At the time, these were two major recording acts and those were huge hits. I doubt an artist today would let their songs  be marketed in such a fashion.

Now that I think about it, maybe today would be the best time for such a campaign. Imagine the tag line, “Dirty lyrics, but clean clothes!” I missed my true calling.

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There are actually five seasons


fall preview tv guide

"My holy book growing up."


When I was growing up I enjoyed the changing of the seasons, but the one season that I looked forward to the most was the new television season.

I don’t think I ever anticipated any piece of mail as much as I did the fall preview issue of TV Guide. As soon as it arrived I would read it from cover to cover and plan out my television viewing for the coming year.



Honestly, I doubt as much planning went into the first moon mission.

I remember all the articles touting the wonderful new programs. Everything seemed like a sure- fire hit. Often it would take me several weeks to realize that some of those shows were not all that good. No matter, there was always something else to watch. I don’t know if my tastes have improved or if television has declined. Years ago, there was not a single night that I didn’t find a program that I enjoyed. Now, i can barely find two nights where I enjoy my viewing options. It’s probably a combination of improving taste and lesser quality. I must confess I was once quite fond of a show called “It’s About Time”. Go ahead and google it. When you are done laughing at me, come back and finish reading this post.

Obviously there are some television programs which have reached a theatrical level of quality. Perhaps, years ago, producers had the challenge of creating programs which would appeal to the entire family, whereas many households only had one television set. It certainly brought people together. Now, with every room having a TV and the infinite number of channels available, broadcasters can target so many different niches and each family member can retire to their little corner and watch what they prefer.

I think maybe we were better off with one television per home, even if the family was all stuck watching a silly show about astronauts that travelled back to caveman days. You didn’t google “It’s About Time” did you?


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▶ Leslie Caron And Mel Ferrer – Hi Lili, Hi Lo – YouTube

The clip below is from the 1953 movie “Lili” starring Leslie Caron. It is a film I remember not so much for its content as for its context in my life. I tend to associate many of the key moments in my life with what was on television at the time. This movie is a prime example.

I was in second grade in 1968 and my parents had decided to buy a new home and move us to a different section of town. We were not consulted about the house choice as I’m sure many parents would do today. I did not see the home until the day we moved in.

I remember getting on the bus in the morning to go to school, but after school my father picked up my brothers and I and drove us to the new house. It was much larger than our previous house and was set on a dead end surrounded by woods. I recall my parents had told us all about the pond and the river behind our yard. Though we did not see the house until moving day, my parents did a good job off “selling” us on the new place.

I vividly recall racing outside to explore the yard and surrounding woodlands without a moments regret about leaving the place that had been my home for seven years. I guess my parents made a pretty good pitch .

Aside from the thrill of seeing the pond and the river behind the new domicile, there is not much else that I remember. I can’t even picture my siblings when I recall that day. It was as if I alone were discovering this new uncharted territory. Strange that one could have such a sense of isolation in a family of seven.

The only other two things that I remember fairly well were my dad assembling our new beds and watching television before we retired for the night. That’s where we come to the clip. I don’t know why, but I distinctly remember this movie being shown on the ABC network that night, which I think was a friday, but I’m not positive about that. I remember very little about the film other than this part of the movie with this famous song.


▶ Leslie Caron And Mel Ferrer – Hi Lili, Hi Lo – YouTube.

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Summertime Blues

I never really cared for the month of August. Even though it was just as long as July and very much the Summer season, I couldn’t help but feel that Summer vacation was about to end.

Where July presented all the promise of long days of baseball, bike riding and swimming without a care in the world, August represented slightly shorter hours of daylight and the inevitable shopping trip to get school clothes and supplies.

No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not embrace the free time still allotted to me in the same way. Even as an adult I still have that same feeling. Despite the fact that I work all through the Summer and no one month should seem different from another, there is an ever so slight carefree attitude in July that diminishes in August.

Hope everyone had a great Summer! Now, it’s time to get down to serious business, like counting the days until Christmas…



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Say it ain’t so, Joe!


Bazooka Joe book

A little gum history to chew on.


I just read that Topps will  no longer include Bazooka Joe comics with its iconic bubble gum candy. At Blast From The Past we sold our last piece of individual Bazooka gum with the comics last week. I should have held some sort of ceremony, but I’m not sure I could have held back the tears.

I was not a huge fan of chewing gum as a kid, but I never attempted to play a game of baseball without first chomping on a wad of Bazooka. It was essential to improving balance and hand eye coordination. Well, it seemed like it helped.

Though very hokey, I loved the silly little comic episodes of Bazooka Joe and his gang. It was quite a bonus for a product that was already cheap at a penny. The original Topps bazooka gum even had a crease that would allow you to easily divide and share with a friend, so you really got a lot of bang for your buck–or your penny, as was the case.

Fortunately, Abrams publishing  had the wisdom to put a collection of the strips in the above pictured book. The timing of the cancellation coinciding with the books release seems fairly odd, but then what decision by the current crop of soulless corporate pencil pushers does not?

I’ll bet Joe would have a clever quip for this situation. But, alas, now we will never know.

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Father’s Day

I don’t have a particular anecdote for this occasion, just one small remembrance. There is a picture my grandfather took which shows my dad holding myself and my older brother in his arms. We must have been no more than two and three respectively and looked quite small with each of us cradled in one of my father’s arms. In the photo, I am looking up at my dad and my face seems to have an expression which implies, “gee dad, you are awesome!”  That’s the same way I have felt for the past fifty years.

Happy Father’s Day


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We’ve got trouble right here in River City!


skittle pool game

The game for pool guppies

The above picture is of a new version of a game from the 70’s called Skittle Pool which was the companion to the Skittle Bowl game. Basically they were miniature versions of two of America’s favorite pastimes, bowling and pool. If we were to believe Professor Harold Hill from the “Music Man”, shooting pool was the sure path to a life of ruin for a young man and yet right there on the box it said fun for the entire family. Who would you believe? I guess my parents decided to believe the box.

I seem to recall that for the most part we gravitated towards games with an element of motion or action rather than traditional board games. I guess we were not a very cerebral bunch. Fortunately, despite playing Skittle Pool, none of us ended up in juvenile hall. My parents really dodged a bullet when they ignored Professor Hill’s warning. I’m just glad I didn’t get stuck playing the trumpet instead.



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Happy Mother’s Day

Since this blog is devoted primarily to my childhood, it only makes sense that I should recognize Mother’s Day. After all, you can’t have a childhood without a mom. Now, I have mentioned my mother in this blog before, so I am not venturing into new territory.  I wish I had some incredibly amusing anecdotes to share, but I do not. I have mostly very mildly amusing anecdotes. Nothing outrageous ever happened in our household.

My mom is a world-class neat freak, which is odd because I am somewhat of a slob. I recall that she would often try to get us kids to at least meet her halfway in the housekeeping department. She had decided that she would no longer put our laundry away, but, instead, place it at the edge of our beds for us to put  in our closets and bureaus.  I am not proud of the fact that most of mine ended up on the floor after being kicked there when I went to sleep at night. If I had a time machine, I think the first thing I would do is go back and make a point of being a little more cooperative towards my mother. I honestly can’t think of a better use for such a device.

Oh, back to my anecdote. My mom was famous for cleaning in stealth mode. Seriously, it was like things got cleaned constantly, but you did not always see it happening. Once in my late teens I had gone into the kitchen to make a baloney sandwich. I placed a small plate on the counter and turned to retrieve the food from the refrigerator. When I looked back to find my plate it was nowhere to be found. I had not heard a sound nor seen anyone. I paused for a  moment and wondered if I had actually even taken the plate from the cupboard, then I knew what had happened. “Mom”, I yelled,”did you just put a plate in the dishwasher?”  She walked back into the kitchen and replied in the affirmative. I just started laughing and told her I had not even used it yet. I have no idea how she could have moved that quickly and that quietly, but she did. I guess you had to have some sort of super powers to keep ahead of five kids and a husband.

I made the mistake of telling my wonderful wife Beth of my mom’s incredible cleaning prowess. This served only to create major panic in her over the possibility of being judged as lacking in the housekeeping department. Any time my parents were scheduled to come over, poor Beth would spend hours trying to make sure the place was clean and neat enough. Unfortunately, this usually consisted of just shoving everything in sight into the spare bedroom. She would often get quite upset that I was not more concerned about making a good impression on my parents, especially my mom. I informed her that I was pretty sure my mom knew I was a slob and there was no reason to try and deceive her. That never went over too well.

What I meant to tell Beth was that my mom was too sweet to ever pass judgement on someone and even if she were not, she had to be thrilled that it was now someone else’s turn to clean up after me. I think that if I were to start cleaning up after myself now, it could be insulting to my mother. After all, it would be like saying I could do this for my wife but not for my dear mother. So, I guess my sloppiness, in a way, is a tribute to my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! (You’ll be happy to know there is a pile of laundry at the end of my bed.)

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The Beatles Cartoon

Believe it or not, my first exposure to The Beatles was from the cartoon series. They were the biggest musical act in the world and I would not have known they existed if it weren’t for television. The only time I recall listening to the radio when I was very young was whenever my dad was driving us somewhere and I have no recollection of any of the music being played.

I really didn’t start listening to music until my grandparents gave me a very small transistor radio one Christmas when I was nine years old. That opened up a whole new world to me. I remember summers when my brothers and I would pitch a tent in the back yard and “camp” out. All we had was that little radio, but it seemed like the most fun in the world to listen for hours on that tiny little speaker with the crappy sound.

One song that I was particularly fond of in the summer of 1971 was “Uncle Albert”. I was ten at the time and it was in heavy rotation on the radio. I had no clue that it was by one of my favorite cartoon characters, Paul McCartney.

The Beatles Cartoon – Rock and Roll Music – YouTube.

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Abracadabra – Home.

The first magician I remember seeing on television was Mark Wilson. I remember he had a syndicated  show that I  watched every Sunday morning for a couple of years. A few years later, the big star in magic was Doug Henning. He had several prime time specials which I made sure never to miss. Although his act had the big illusions, he also did some nice closeup magic which I always found more fascinating.

Moving forward, David Copperfield and Lance Burton were the next generation of big time magicians who also had a significant television presence. I don’t see magic performed on television any longer and I wonder why. Perhaps in a world with CGI movies and such great technical advances, people aren’t impressed with the big stage illusions, which have often had their secrets revealed.

In the end, I guess the illusions could not compete with all the new found  “reality” on  television. I think someone should produce a TV show where a magician makes all the housewives of wherever disappear. Now, that I would watch!

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