Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Whatever became of …


THE OTHER DAY I wrote about inflation and reminisced about Royal Castle's 15-cent burgers, quarter bowls of chili, and birch (root) beer. People from the north can think about White Castle.

As of 2014, there was one lone Royal Castle and it was in the same town in which the chain was founded: Miami FL, also once the home of Burger King.

It got me thinking, whatever happened to . . .

"Reasonable and prudent" speed limits

    Some states in the Intermountain West substituted "reasonable and prudent" for maximum highway speed limits. This came to an end when then-President Richard Nixon set 55 mph as the maximum speed limit on any road receiving Federal highway funds. Nixon's object was to lower America's dependence on Arab oil which, at the time, had a stranglehold on the U.S. economy.

20-mule team Boroxo for laundry and dirty hands

    Boroxo still is around, but now "Goop" and other hand cleaners have pushed Boroxo out of garages. The tv program it sponsored, Death Valley Days also is just a memory.

A&W walk-up counters

Billboards that bothered Lady Bird Johnson

    I think that I shall never see
    a billboard lovely as a tree.
    Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
    I'll never see a tree at all.
    Ogden Nash

Burma Shave road signs

    Signalled left
    Then turned right
    Burma Shave

    Most signs were cute
    There's no denyin'
    Some gave advice
    To keep from dyin'
    Not Burma Shave

    Signs from the beginning (1927) to the end (1963) can be read at http://burma-shave.org/jingles/1952/heavens

Cars that could fly

    When I was in Civil Air Patrol (Miami Composite Squadron #2), the cadets recorded the comings and goings at Tamiami Airport. One of the rare birds we recorded was a Taylor Autocar (shown on the linked web site).

Crosley, Desoto, Hudson, Nash, Oldsmobile, Packard, Plymouth, Studebaker

    From super-compact cars such as the Crosley, to the Packards and Hudson Hornets. The Packard name still is around, but the last "real" Packard came off the line in 1956. I've had the dubious honor of riding in the back seat of a Crosley and rode "up front" (there was no rear seat) in a Nash Metropolitan. My first car was a 1950 Oldsmobile 76 on which I painted "Spirit of '76."

Drive-in movies

    Drive-in "theaters" were just the thing for young people with romance on their minds and for young families who could let the small fry fall asleep in the back seat of the family flivver. Phoenix AZ used to have a drive-in that cost $1 for a car, no limit on the number of people inside, or 50 cents for walk-ins. Those of us with empty pockets used to "thumb" our way in and watch the movie from hard bench seats near the front of the lot.

Drive in restaurants with "car hops"

    Almost everybody who watched early Happy Days episodes knows about Al's Diner. In Orlando in the mid-to-late 1900s we had a drive in called "Steak and Shake." At one time there were "car hops" - waitresses - who brought meals to the cars on trays that hooked onto a rolled down window. Unlike the Happy Days car hops who got around on roller skates, the Stakes & Shake car hops kept their feet on the ground.

News reels before the feature movie - rather than commercials; it was enough we paid admission

    I don't know when movie news reels disappeared but the cause of death was tv. When you could get your fill of all the murder and mayhem while sitting in your own home in front of a 9 or 12 inch (diagonal) screen, there was no reason to watch the news at the movie theater. The microwave and popcorn in a package came later and almost put theaters out of business.

Placing a hand over the heart when the flag is raised/lowered and when the impossible-to-sing National Anthem is played

    Next time, watch your favorite professional sports team while the national anthem is played/sung. When I was a kid we learned to to stand place our right hand over where our heart was alleged to be - actually a little above and to the left of the organ's actual location - while the flag was raised and while the national anthem was heard. We also learned that was the proper thing to do when the flag passed by in a parade.

Saturday matinees which, for 25 cents (or less) kids could watch cartoons, a serial, and a feature film, usually a "boy kisses horse" western

Veterans' Day paper poppies

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    John McCrae, May 1915

    Once paper poppies were passed out on the sidewalks of America (and elsewhere). Now, in many places, people go from house-to-car and car-to-destination building with minimal footsteps. Maybe the men and women who hand out poppies ought to take a lesson from the Salvation Army and set up outside busy malls. Maybe if we had more paper poppies we'd be more likely take a moment to remember those folks who died to preserve our freedoms.

My list was longer and included Trailways and both Brylcreem and Vitalis until I discovered they still very much exist.

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