Monday, February 9, 2015

Happy TV Families: Part One - - Dennis the Menace (1959-63)

Dennis the Menace

Many of our happiest moments are those we spent being entertained when we were young. I love to study the lives of the famous and not so famous and sometimes the real heroes aren't who you expect them to be. Dennis the Menace was created by Hank Ketcham (1920-2001) to mirror his own family (son Dennis, wife Alice, and himself; Hank is a nickname for Henry). Let's take a look at what happened to all of the main cast members.

Jay North

Dennis Mitchell

Jay Waverly North was born August 3, 1951, in Hollywood. His father was a negligent drunk who didn't act responsible. After his parents separated when he was four, he never saw his father again. When he was six, he appeared on his favorite TV show, Cartoon Express, and that led to a career as a child actor. A few weeks before this he appeared on Queen for a Day. (His mother was a secretary for the West Coast director of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [AFTRA] which helped get him on the show.) Jay soon got an agent. His mother was keenly aware that children in entertainment often lead troubled lives. She did her best to see that wouldn't happen, but it really didn't help, once he was working. Jay did quite a bit of television but they (his mother and his agent) worked hard to see that he got the lead on Dennis the Menace. That was his life from June 1959 through March 1963. With the death of actor Joe Kearns in 1962, many people were amazed the program stayed on the air. But when it did go off the air, it broke Jay's heart. He began going to a regular school (it was private) and he did a few acting jobs (movies and television). In 1966 he did the series Maya, which was done on location in India. After that was over, he went back to California, to finish at a private high school in Beverly Hills. He did voice work for cartoons. Then he moved to Chicago to work in theater.  At age 20, he married an actress with a four year old child from a previous marriage. The marriage lasted from July 1973 until the separation in April 1974, the divorce becoming finalized that October. During the meantime, Jay acted in his last starring role, The Teacher, about a 28 year old married teacher who got involved with a recent high school graduate. Since Dennis the Menace was still playing in reruns in some places at that time, it was quite shocking to see Jay acting and speaking the way he did in this movie. Jay started going to acting classes but was getting nowhere with his life. Jay enlisted in the US Navy in 1976 and received an honorable discharge in 1979. He was soon cast in a TV movie Scout's Honor (1980), which also featured other former child stars. Jay worked for one week on the soap opera General Hospital. In the 1980s he had  plans of starring in a project about playing mass murderer Steven Judy but that never took off. In 1991 he got married, but that only lasted three months. Then he met a caterer at a pediatric AIDS charity function in Florida and they have been happily married since 1993. After a few years of marriage it dawned on Jay that he had been physically and mentally abused by an aunt and uncle when he was a child. Seeking help for that led him into a career as a correctional officer in Florida. I haven't heard if he is still working in the prison or if he has retired but he has led an exemplary life, thanks in part to fellow child star Paul Petersen at  A Minor Consideration!

Gloria Henry

Alice Mitchell 

Born Gloria McEniry, on April 2, 1923, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She studied art history in college and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1940s, working mainly as a radio actress, where she began using her stage name. Very busy in television in the 1950s, she was written out of the female lead of The Files of Jeffery Jones (1954-55) when she became pregnant. Married to architect Craig Ellwood (born Jon Nelson Burke) in 1949, they divorced in 1977. They had three children. After Dennis the Menace, she slowed her career down to take care of the family. After they grew up she continued working until 2005, when she retired. Gloria is alive and well today at the age of 91.

Herbert Anderson

Henry Mitchell

Born March 30, 1917, in Oakland, California, he was what is known in show business as a "character actor," that is someone who plays a supporting role who could be the most important character in any situation. He was the only person to be in both the Broadway version and the movie version of the Caine Mutiny. During the 1950s-1970s, he did a lot of television and never lacked for work. Herb (who was also called Guy) retired from acting in 1982 and moved to Palm Springs. He died from complications of a stroke on June 11, 1994, in Palm Springs.

Billy Booth

Tommy Anderson

Born November 7, 1949, in Los Angeles, as William Allen Booth. He had a ten year career in the movies that began when he was seven in 1957 and ended just before his 18th birthday. Billy died of a liver inflammation on December 31, 2006, in San Luis Obispo at the age of 57. Some sources give his birth year as 1952, but in the Snow Queen (1957) he was not a toddler.  After acting Billy went to Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. He eventually became a lawyer and practiced law in San Luis Obispo.  He was divorced and was survived by a son, as well as his sister and his mother.

Joseph Kearns

George Wilson

Born on February 12, 1907, in Salt Lake City, Utah, his family moved to Los Angeles before he started to school. He came from a devout Mormon family and, although he often served as a commercial spokesman for Roma Wines, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and similar products, he completely abstained from all vices, including coffee. He went to college at the University of Utah as a music major and was an expert organist. An interesting point of trivia is that he and Gunsmoke composer Rex Koury were both organists at congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints while they were working on radio shows. Joe built his Hollywood home around an organ in his basement. In college, Joe earned money doing stage makeup for vaudeville shows. He began working in radio as an actor in the mid 1930s in Hollywood which led to television and movies. Joe died five days after his 55th birthday from a cerebral hemorrhage at his home. Joe never married. Five months later his mother died from a broken heart. On the Dennis the Menace show, his character was said to be gone on a trip and his brother John came to visit for an extended stay. 

Sylvia Field

Martha Wilson 

Born February 28, 1901, in Allston, Massachusetts, as Harriet Johnson. She moved to California as a child and began acting while still in school (she never finished her education). Married three times. Her third husband was actor Ernest Truex, and they had a very happy life together until he died in 1973. She remained good friends with Jay North until she died on July 31, 1998, at the age of 97 in her home in Fallbrook, California. This picture is from her publicity packet in the 1920s.

Gale Gordon

John Wilson

Born February 20, 1906. in New York City, he had some health issues growing up (including a cleft palate) and was sent to England as a child for therapy and education. His real name was Charles T. Aldrich, Jr. He never legally changed his name. In fact, for most of his profesional career, he lived 120-150 miles away from his work. Neighbors always thought he and his wife (Virginia Curley who also acted for a living) worked all week in an office in Los Angeles and just liked the remoteness of living in the desert for the weekends and weeks off. He lived in Borrego Springs, California, and was involved in some very light agriculture at his ranch there. Known as "Chuck" to his neighbors, his real life demeanor was nothing like the characters he portrayed. In their last days, he and his wife, (known as Ginny) both suffering from cancer, moved to a convalescent hospital in Escondido, California. Virginia died just a few months before her husband died. Chuck Aldrich died on June 30, 1995. The photo here was taken when Chuck was 19 years old. He took the name from his mother's stage name (she was a Broadway stage actress), Gloria Gordon. There are those who recall he played Flash Gordon on the radio in 1935 and thought he took the Gordon name from that, but he had been doing the Calling All Cars radio show two years before and using the name Gale Gordon. Chuck and Ginny were married in 1937 but had no children of their own.

Jeannie Russell

 Margaret Wade

Born October 20, 1950, in Pasco, Washington. She has a younger brother named Bryan Russell, who was also a child actor. Jeannie's main line of work is working as a chiropractor although she is still very active in the entertainment industry; in fact she is the one to contact for any information about the goings on of the alumni of the cast of Dennis the Menace.

Sara Seegar 

Eloise Wilson

Born July 1, 1914, in Greentown, Indiana.   Schooled in London and Paris (but graduated from Hollywood High School in Los Angeles). Sara was the youngest of five daughters who were all involved in acting, although she got into the business years after her sisters got out of it. She acted on stage, in movies, on TV, and on radio. She married actor Ezra Stone on October 10, 1942 (he was best known on radio and in movies as the character, Henry Aldrich; after that, he was a television director). Sara Seegar died on August 12, 1990, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, leaving her husband, a son, and a daughter.

Robert John Pitman

Seymour Williams

Born January 20, 1956, in Los Angeles, California. Died about 8-10 years ago in Hawaii (according to Dennis the Menace costar Jeannie Russell). He dabbled at acting until he was in his early 30s when he began using a different name, which friends would not disclose. (Consequently, this was the only picture I could use for the 'Blog.)

It is interesting that only three members of the cast survive.  Jeannie Russell has a website (it's for her chropractic practice) and you can use that to contact her to ask any questions you may have (her e-mail address is on the site, at the top of the page). In researching this I realized there is another family worthy of study and that is the Mitchell Ketcham family. But that's for anther day.

Things are going slow so keep the family in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Look what I found at McDonald's

Back when I was in seventh grade at Colton Junior High School my last class (that was seventh period; fourth period was lunch) was world history and geography taught by Scott Klemm. Mr. Klemm was a young teacher who had no children yet, so he and his wife spent lots of time during the long summer break traveling to foreign countries. I was only 12 and I had only been out of California twice to visit family in Oklahoma. Then we also took a few trips across the border into Tijuana but that was a few years earlier when the family lived in San Diego (and I think we may have gone there once when we lived in Oceanside). But Mr. Klemm had been all over Europe and other places.

We always thought about food and Mr. Klemm said after two weeks in Europe he looked forward to eating American food again. Back in the late 1960s fast food had not yet gone international. So when he was in London he went to a restaurant called Wimpy Burger (named for the character in the Popeye cartoons and comic strip). He said the preparation was different and so was the manner it was served. 

So over the years many of our fast food chains in America started sending out restaurants abroad. People who like to complain commented that McDonald's would ruin the world by causing everyone to eat the same unhealthy fare. Maybe that's true to some extent. But the other thing people said that this would cause was a "sameness" of culture. Everyone would claim the hamburger is their national food and Coca-Cola is their national drink. Even before that time, Coke was already in every corner of the world, save for behind the Iron Curtain, other Communist countries, and a few isolated places that didn't want anything from outside its boundaries. 

Not everyone is the same and I have some examples showing you things you can get at McDonald's all around the world.

1. Hot Dog (Japan) This is a breakfast item there. So you won't find it after 10:30 or whenever their cutoff time is between the two menus.

2. Poutine (Canada) Curds with gravy. You can get these anywhere in Canada. I never heard of them until I started doing a study on McDonald's around the world a couple of years ago.

3. Burger McDo (Philippines) Not only the menus vary but also the nickname we give the place. We Americans say "Mickey D's." But in the Philippines, they call it "McDo." And the "Do" has the same pronunciation as the first syllable of Donald. So it's "mick-DAW," only the second syllable isn't stressed out. Anyway, you don't find regular hamburgers on the Filipino McDo menu. Instead, you see the Burger McDo which is a hamburger patty (all beef) on a soft bun (different than the regular burger) and some kind of secret sauce which I remember as being reminiscent of Jack in the Box secret sauce (do they still use that?) I made the comment when I was living in Mindanao that I didn't see a regular hamburger on the menu. One manager told me it's there. You just order a cheeseburger without cheese. Next, I'll teach you how to get a grilled cheese sandwich at any hamburger stand.

4. Onion Rings (Malta) I am not much of a French fry eater. I will eat them but I would much rather have onion rings. Malta isn't the only country with onion rings. But it's the one country that has discussed removing French fries from the menu.

5. Deluxe Double McPork (Vietnam) McDonald's has a pork version of every hamburger served. I lived in Vietnam between 2006 and 2008 but McDonald's didn't get there until February 14, 2014. Next Saturday will be their first anniversary.

6. Big Mac (Israel) Yeah, I know you can get a Big Mac anywhere. But look at this hamburger very quickly. If you know the rules about Kosher eating you know that meat and dairy products are never served together. The Israeli Big Mac has no cheese. 

7. Chicken McDo & McSpaghetti (Philippines)  More from the Philippines. You can actually buy a whole bucket of Chicken McDo, which is fried chicken, complete with the bones. McSpaghetti is a Filipino favorite. The sauce is not spicy but sweet. It has pieces of ground beef in it and sliced up hot dogs (or "hotdogs" as it's usually written in the Philippines). Don't expect to find spaghetti on the McDonald's menu in Italy. It's not there.

8. Chicken Maharaja Mac (India) One of the things those critics I mentioned at the beginning of this post said was that the popularity of McDonald's would get the Hindus in India to start eating beef. No. There is no beef on the menus there. In fact some are completely vegetarian. The Chicken Maharaja Mac is the chickenized version of a Big Mac. 

9. Bacon Roll (United Kingdom) This is a breakfast item that the Brits have been eating for over a century. It's a long roll with bacon and ketchup. Very simple but it looks great. (I am a bacon lover.)

10. Twister Fries (Indonesia) As I said I'm not much of a French fry eater but curly fries usually have a lot more flavor. This is a new item at McDonald's in Indonesia. I think you'll find them in other countries, too.

11. Double Filet-O-Fish (Singapore) Actually you can buy two fish sandwiches and put the cakes of fish together. But it's so nice when they put it on the sandwich for you. 

12. Georgie Pie (New Zealand) This is a meat pie New Zealanders have been eating for generations. Unlike the American pot pie, it's finger food. The local nickname for McDonald's is Macca's.

13. Salad Sandwich (Fiji) It's a typical tossed salad with dressing on a sesame seed bun. All the McDonald's in Fiji are certified Halal.

14. McArabia (Saudi Arabia) It's a chicken sandwich with lettuce, onion, and tomato, condiments inside some soft Arabic bread. This is actually found throughout the Middle East.

15. Fish McBites (Spain) Breaded fish balls. I guess they're something like a fish version of Chicken McNuggets. Incidentally, when I lived in Indonesia (mid 1990s) McDonald's served fried chicken because Indonesians at that time were not generally accustomed to frozen food. So they had fried chicken. It was not unusual to have chicken coops in restaurants. A KFC outlet near where my family lived in Bogor, West Java, had a chicken coop in the dining area.

16. Double Big Mac (Thailand) I first saw this sandwich in Japan and later they had what they called a Mega Mac, which had four patties. That's a little overkill, if you ask me (but if I were to go back to Japan, I would definitely get one if I happened to be at McDonald's).  Please forgive the variance of sizes on these pictures, my Photoshop program is on the fritz at the present time. They come from lots of sources.

17. Grand Big Mac (Italy) This makes Double Big Mac look small. It's two Quarter Pounder patties on bigger buns. (As I said, I'm sorry the pictures aren't all the same scale.)

18. Mega McMuffin (South Africa) It's not a bigger English muffin... they put more meat on it... It has two pork sausage patties, a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, a fried egg, and some bacon slices. 

19. McOz (Australia) For those 45 years ago who thought McDonald's would turn the world American, Australia would prove them wrong. This hamburger is an Aussie creation. It has something most people in this part of the world might find revolting: A slice of beet (they call it beetroot). Like the folks in New Zealand, McDonald's in Australia is called Macca's.

20. Angus Premium Bacon Burger (Argentina) While we in America (which includes all the territories) lost our Angus Burger most of the world that had it before kept it (including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, and lots of other countries). Argentina (where NOT eating meat is a crime) put another big Angus beef patty on their burger. 

The book you saw at the top of this posting is from the early 1960s, about an American boy who has a young friend from Germany visit him and the story explains their dining experience at the local hamburger stand. As you see the last picture here, they didn't have dining rooms then. Nope, MickeyD's wouldn't get those until I was a sophomore in high school. I remember the first one in our area to have one was on Mill Street, across from the National Orange Show fairgrounds in San Bernardino. Colton wouldn't get a McDonald's until after I finished high school. Funny thing, BOTH of those hamburger stands are gone now. 

As far as my list, some of you are probably wondering why I didn't include drinks. I mean everyone always gets intrigued by the idea that McDonald's in Germany sells beer and McDonald's in Argentina sells wine. But Europe is changing. My friends in Germany tell me that many of the McDonald's there have stopped selling wine because they got tired of drunk customers (something people from outside of Germany have trouble fathoming). 

Anyway, I'll post most stuff like this. If you like it. Let me know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gil Stratton, Jr., Superstar

As most of you may know, I am more than just a casual aficionado of Old Time Radio. Radio drama is something you can enjoy when driving, sewing, cooking, or almost any other quiet activity. You don't lose concentration and it makes the time go by so quickly.

Radio had its own cadre of stars. There were performers who specialized in radio drama. One of those was Gil Stratton, Jr. It was a name often heard in end show credits, although on many shows, he was unbilled. 

Gil was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 2, 1922, as Stuart Gilbert Stratton, Jr. His father was known as Stu and Gil was Gil. They never used the Jr. or Sr. tags except on government documents (which Gil said he never used after he left New York). Gil took dancing, singing, and acting lessons while growing up. He worked on Broadway as a chorus dancer but on October 1, 1941, he took the lead as Cadet Bud Hooper in the stage version of Best Foot Forward. It was popular enough for Harry Cohn to buy the filming rights for Columbia Pictures. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer got wind of this and paid Cohn $150,000 for the rights. MGM knew this would be a great way to showcase some of their star performers and other Hollywood notables. By the way, the old MGM studios (now the Sony Pictures Studios), despite the tag in the credits stating "Made in Hollywood USA." was actually in Culver City, a separate municipality incorporated in 1917, six miles from Hollywood. Hollywood was a sleepy community which was incorporated as a city in 1903 but annexed into Los Angeles less than a decade later. Interestingly, while MGM was always flaunted as being a part of "Hollywood," Hal Roach had his studio in Culver City about eight years before and he always said he was in Culver City " get away from the madness that is Hollywood."

For those who don't know this movie (when I was growing up it was one of those movies they showed on local TV stations on a weekday afternoon when they have "reality" shows today), the story is about a Pennsylvania military residential high school for boys (Winsocki Military Academy) which was to be visited by a famous beautiful Hollywood actress. In the musical play, the star was Gale Joy (a created person for the show), who was played by Rosemary Lane (1914-74), who had been in the movies, although she wasn't what you would call a superstar. Gale Joy's publicity agent tried to make a phony scandal to get his client some notice, so they snuck her into the dorm of the academy, into Cadet Bud Hooper's room (Bud was also the cadet brigade commander), which made his girlfriend jealous. It ended with a Saturday night dance. And that was the whole story. Everything works out in the end, simply because nothing happened in the first place. We were so easily entertained back then. 

In the motion picture version, since MGM was making the movie, they decided to use a real star. They wanted to get Lana Turner. But by the time they were ready to begin filming, Miss Turner was noticeably pregnant with daughter Cheryl Crane. So they got whoever they could and they got Lucille Ball. Although this phony scandal seemed like something that would happen on the I Love Lucy television show a decade later,  Miss Ball was treated with utmost dignity in the most embarrassing of situations. 

Gil Stratton was sent to California play the part of Bud Hooper, along with a few other of the original Broadway performers. But when they saw what Gil looked like they gave his role to Tommy Dix, who also came from Broadway. Tommy sang the song, "Buckle Down Winsocki," in the Broadway show as Cadet Chuck Green. MGM wanted Tommy to sing the song. They also wanted Bud to sing the song. So they made Tommy Dix play the part of Cadet Bud Hooper and Gil Stratton, Jr., played the part of Cadet Chuck Green. But the only thing Chuck really did in the Broadway production to get notice was to sing that song. So Gil was left out of the movie credits. 

But MGM had Gil under a contract so, despite not being a "star" he was going to survive pretty well. Health problems gave him a 4-F status with the draft board (Tommy Dix had the same condition which had to do with heart problems.) Gil continued as an actor in movies until 1954. His best remembered roles are Cookie in Stalag 17 (1953) and Mousie in The Wild One (1953). He worked as a television actor and as a radio actor. He was a well-natured, hard working performer. 

In 1954,  he was hired by KNXT (now KCBS-TV), the CBS owned and operated television affiliate in Los Angeles, to be its regular sportscaster. This led to regular live announcing gigs for the Los Angeles Rams (when they were playing in the Colisseum) as well as the horse racetracks, Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar.

He retired in 1984, at which time he divided his time between Hawaii (where he owned a radio station) and Los Angeles (Toluca Lake). Gil died at his Toluca Lake home on October 11, 2008, from heart problems.

As for Tommy Dix, who was born Thomas Paine Brittain Pavard in New York, New York, on December 6, 1923, he struggled as an actor until he got out of the business in 1950 and joined his father-in-law's construction company in Alabama. He began using the name "Bobby Brittain." In 1959, he divorced his wife then moved to Northern Virginia (Washington DC area) where he prospered in real estate. He remarried. As of this writing he is alive and well at the age of 91.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remembering Fedco...

Back in 1948, a group of postal workers, most of whom had served in the military forces during World War II, started up the Federal Employees' Distributing Company (F.E.D.Co.) It was pattern after the post and base exchanges where service members buy merchandise on a military installation. For many years, Fedco served only U.S. (civilian) Government workers. Eventually, local government employees were added, then students, then practically anyone could get a Fedco card.

The Fedco card looked like a credit card. It had no photograph. It was very common for one member to let a nonmember borrow the card. The only time the name was checked was if a personal check was used to buy merchandise.

The stores of Fedco were made up of several smaller stores. There was the main department store, a pharmacy, a gourmet supermarket, repair shops, caterer, a quick serve restaurant, a produce department (that was separate from the supermarket), and an auto department outside the store, usually with gasoline sales. 

When I joined Fedco in 1975 (my qualification was that I was a student at San Bernardino Valley College, which was located directly across the street from the San Bernardino location of Fedco) I paid $5.00 for my lifetime membership card. And a husband and wife could have their own separate cards with one membership. That changed during the last few years of the store chain. Membership increased to $10.00. And no more duplicates could be issued (unless you said you lost a card, but even that wouldn't be checked.)

Unlike membership stores today, Fedco dealt with normal quantities of items. The supermarket didn't have anything in bulk. It had some odd things. Wild african game meat, imported French pastries in the frozen food section, and brands from other parts of the country. Fedco had butcher's on duty who would custom package any kind of meat the store had for sale.

I remember how the merchandise was put into paper sacks and sealed completely with tape and staples. I guess they thought no one would try to sneak any stolen items into a bag that was so carefully sealed.

Fedco began losing money during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It was after that when the huge membership stores began to come out. Fedco didn't stand a chance. They filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and closed a few months later.

Here is a list of the Fedco stores:

#1 Van Nuys

#2 La Cienega (Los Angeles)

#3 San Bernardino

#4 Cerritos (replaced the Lakewood store in 1970)

#5 National City (replaced the San Diego store in 1984)

#6 Pasadena (this location had a huge separate furniture store)

#7 Costa Mesa

#8 Ontario

#9 Escondido

#10 Buena Park


Today the locations in Van Nuys, Los Angeles,  Cerritos,  Pasadena,  and Costa Mesa are Target stores.

The San Bernardino location is a Mexican supermarket.

The National City and Buena Park location are Walmart stores.

The Ontario location is the operations building for the Ontario Police Department.

The Escondido location was demolished.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shopping at Mayfair Markets

I'm 57 years old. A century ago I would have been considered an old man. When I was growing up I would have been considered an old man. But I don't feel old. I fully intend to live to be over 100 years old without needing my wife or children to help me.

But I go to the store and I feel ancient. Things are different today. So, in my imagination (and yours), I'm taking you on a trip to the Mayfair Market on South Hill Street in Oceanside, California. Mayfair is gone. And the street is now called Coast Highway. And all the things we are buying today no longer exist. (That isn't the store I have in mind in this picture. It just happens to have a TWA Boeing 747 airplane; that airline is gone, too!)

Arden All-Jersey Homogenized Milk - - 99% of all milk sold in supermarkets today is from Holstein cows. It's very plain. Jersey has a very rich taste. It also has a lot of fat and things the food police (who aren't necessarily looking out for our health) don't want us to have. This picture was so difficult to obrain I couldn't even get a clear one.

Sweetened puffed rice cereal - - This isn't about brands. I'm referring to a specific generic type of cold dry breakfast cereal. And it hasn't been available nationally for more than 20 years. I'm referring to pre-sweetened puffed rice. The last nationally available brand was Nabisco Rice Honeys. Interesting thing about Rice Honeys: It was originally called Ranger Joe Rice Honnies and it had a companion cereal, Ranger Joe Wheat Honnies."Ranger Joe" was a children's radio program that came out of Philadelphia in the early 1940s. Interestingly, the company bought its own cereal factory in one of the Philly suburbs. They began making Honnies cereal so that children wouldn't had so much sugar to their cereal. The idea was so they would be careful about their sugar intake, which is the reverse of what some people are told. Ranger Joe went off the air and the cereal company was sold to Nabisco and the spelling of the name was changed to "Honeys." It was a very popular seller for more than 40 years. When the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company bought Nabisco, several cereal lines were taken off the market (including Team Flakes). A few years later, Kraft Foods, which had previously acquired General Foods (which included the Post cereal line), bought the Nabisco cereal line. It was thought that Post would reintroduce some of the cereals which had fallen by the wayside. But unfortunately, they only seemed interested in shredded wheat (Nabisco Shredded Wheat was part of the Post-Tens individual servings assortment in the late 1940s and early 1950s). So there would be no Post version of Rice Honeys, like a rice version of Post Super Golden Crisp. I would love it if someone could prove me wrong and go to their local supermarkets today and find a nationally advertised version of pre-sweetened puff rice cereal. The closest you will come is Quaker Puffed Rice, which is only puffed rice, no sugar or other sweetener. Maybe someone can do a campaign to bring back Kellogg's Puffa Puffa Rice.

Barbara Ann Honey "V" Bread - - I'm not sure that you could find this in Oceanside, since it's in San Diego County. But it was in Mayfair Markets in the Los Angeles area, which included Riverside, San Bernardino, and Colton (where I grew up; I moved there from Oceanside in 1966). Honey V was a multigrain bread that had a crust that was coasted in sesame seeds. Eventually, Barbara Ann (which had bakeries in Los Angeles and San Bernardino) had merged with Langendorf Bakeries. And Barbara Ann would cease to exist in the early 1970s. Langendorf is also gone.

Kraft Miracle Margarine - - Normally, a pound (454 grams) is made up of four sticks, each of which is 1 cup (48 cl). Kraft took their regular Parkay Margarine and whipped it, yielding another two sticks. I guess, if the recipe didn't ask for a specific weight of margarine, you'd be OK. And when Kraft was busy with General Foods and Nabisco, they sold off their margarine lines to ConAgra Foods out of Omaha. 

Nestle's Quik -- Many years ago I worked in the advertising department for a major newspaper. I learned many things about business. One thing that stayed with me: Name changes don't happen for nothing. I grew up drinking my milk with Nestle's Quik. It not only added chocolate flavoring to the milk; it added weight. If I had Quik in my milk during dinner I didn't eat so much (and I ate a lot; still do!) I remember seeing Nesquik when I was stationed in Germany with the US Army. It didn't have the bulk that I had come to love with Quik. I knew that when they changed the name of Nestle's Quik a few years later that the head honchos of Nestle in Switzerland didn't like that America had a different chocolate milk powder than anyone else in the world. So they changed it. Incidentally, the ingredient that is missing from Nesquik is soy lecithin.

Nabisco Cheese Ritz Crackers - - I remember the box as being BLUE with the Ritz trademark YELLOW (a reverse of this). I have always liked cheese crackers. I like both Nabisco Cheese Nips and Sunshine Cheez-Its. But these were simply amazing. They were like the Cheese Nips expanded three times their normal size. This is another product for Mondelez-International to revive for its defunct Nabisco line!

Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Syrup - - A few decades after Cordelia and Walter Knott passed away (the wife died first) their children sold the Knott's Berry Farm theme park to CedarFair in Ohio. Knott's Berry Farm Foods, which had moved from its original berry farm site to Placentia many years earlier, was sold to ConAgra Foods. Later it was sold to the J.M. Smucker Company. Smucker's is all about marketing. But they are located in Ohio, where they eat their chili con carne five ways (at once) while we in Southern California eat ours with either tortilla chips or crackers. So they knew about the boysenberry legacy and what it meant to the Knott family. They added boysenberry pancake syrup to their own Smucker's line of syrups, when they saw the only place where the Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Syrup was making any progress was Southern California and Las Vegas (lucky us!) But that wasn't good enough. So they took both syrups off the market. You can still get boysenberry syrup at Knott's Berry Farm today. It just doesn't have the Knott's Berry Farm name on it anymore.

Pillsbury Funny Face Drink Mix - - .Freckle Faced Strawberry, Goofy Grape, Loud Mouth Lemon, Chinese Cherry (later Choo Choo Cherry), and Injun Orange (later Jolly Olly Orange), plus a few other flavors that were introduced later, comprised the Funny Face drink mix line. They were the first drink mix to add an artificial sweetener (cyclamates) and market it to the general public, rather than to diabetics and others who must watch their sugar intake. After the Pillsbury marketing people realized these two characters were a mistake, they did fine until the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamates. Funny Face was then off the market for a few months until they came up with plans to reintroduce it with sugar, which they attempted but the novelty wore off and it was all over.

Laura Scudder's Wampum Corn Chips - - Laura Scudder (1887-1959) founded her snack company in Monterey Park, California (close to downtown Los Angeles), in 1927. Hers was one of the first to use cellophane packaging instead of waxed paper, which kept the snacks fresher. Their slogan was, "...the noisiest chips in the world!" After she died the company did fine for a few years when it was sold first to Pet Milk, which sold out to General Mills. General Mills didn't want Laura Scudder, so without a buyer the company ceased to exist. A few years ago a tortilla chip company in Orange, California, bought the trademark and is thriving, using Mrs. Scudder's original recipes. The name "Wampum" for the corn chips was dropped in the early 1970s. Laura Scudder also had a line of peanut butter which stayed with General Mills. When most of the former Pet Milk properties went to J.M. Smucker, Laura Scudder's peanut butter was a welcome addition to their line.

Hunt's Flavored Catsup - - Introduced in 1965, this was extremely popular but it proved only to be a fad. The popularity didn't last. It was much like Heinz Ketchup in purple and green about a decade ago. Hunt's began calling its "catsup" "ketchup" in the 1990s.

Peter Paul PowerHouse Chocolate Bar - - This was the only Peter Paul candy bar that didn't come in two pieces. It wasn't originally a Peter Paul product; other companies had it. When the Peter Paul folks (a division of Cadbury of the United Kingdom) were bought by Hershey's they only retained Mounds and Almond Joy. Peter Paul claimed this was the healthiest, most nutritional bar in their line.

(Generic) Macaroni and Cheese Loaf - - When I was a kid, this was my favorite lunch meat. It was whatever  mystery meat they used to make their pimiento loaf with cooked pasta and cheese blended in. I'm told this is very popular in Michigan and other parts of that area in the country, but I haven't seen it in big supermarkets in Southern California in many years. (I'm told Save-A-Lot has it.) It was great with Velveeta Cheese and Miracle Whip on whole wheat bread (I was a very unusual kid who avoided white bread if I didn't have to eat it. Roman Meal is still my favorite.)

Hi-C Fruit Drink - - When I get my fortune I'm going to invest in Coca-Cola. Coke bought this about 60 years ago and still does well with it. You have to realize, if fills a need: Normally, you can get your vitamin C from orange juice. This doesn't have orange juice but it has natural orange flavoring and vitamin C. It has the same nutrients (and I learned in cooking school that natural orange juice is higher in sugar than many of the drinks like this). You won't find it today in a tin can. That was how they sold fruity drinks like this until a few years ago. Today, Hi-C Orange Drink is called Hi-C Orange Lavaburst. It tastes just like I remember, even though HCFS (high-fructose corn syrup) replaces the sugar from my childhood, it's a wonderful feeling when I drink it. Some parts of childhood are worth reliving. And they serve it at McDonald's.

Sweet-Heart Soap - - This soap had a delicate perfumed aroma but the best thing about it was that it was highly compressed. One "bath size" bar of Sweet-Heart could last three similar sized Lifebuoy or Dial bars. Originally manufactured by the Manhattan Soap Company, it sold out to Purex in 1957. When Purex sold out to the Dial Corporation, the soap was dropped in addition to the next product on this list.

Purex Bleach - -Purex was a Southern California institution for many years. In fact, today people just a little younger than me and older say "Purex" to refer to chlorine bleach. When the Purex Corporation was sold to Dial, the original namesake product was dropped. They still make Purex Detergent.

Brew 102 Beer - - Brewed at the Maier Brewery in downtown Los Angeles, near Chinatown, next to the Los Angeles River (a concrete ditch). It was cheaper than a Coke. I'm not a drinker but I grew up with alcoholics in my family (not immediately). When money was low, this was the beer that they drank.

Shinola Shoe Polish - - There were several brands then, not just Kiwi. Esquire was another popular shoe polish brand.

pHisoHex - - I'm told we are probably the only industrialized country in the world that bans this amazing cleaner from being sold without a prescription. When I was a kid, I always washed my face with this. Maybe that's why I never had acne. It was banned when I was in high school.

Luer All Meat Franks - - In butcher's slang, "all meat" means no by-products or fillers. Luer was a cut rate meat packing house out of Torrance, California. They went out of business in the 1990s, although for their last few years they only processed for in-store house labels. They made the macaroni and cheese loaf I loved as a child.

Koogle - - Koogle was a short-lived product manufactured by Kraft. It was one of the last products that was mailed out anonymously as free sample junk mail. I believe there were other flavors besides chocolate.

Mayfresh Orange Soda - -  Mayfresh was Mayfair's in-house private label. Since stores weren't all about selling in volume back in those days, they were just as happy to sell a single can of soda pop for 12 cents, less than half the price of a Coke.

Mighty White Toothpaste - - From 1963. This was made by Alberto-Culver, the same company that gave us Alberto VO-5. It was just toothpaste but its commercials were clever.

Soaky Fun Bath - - Colgate-Palmolive had a cute idea with this one: This was probably one of the first "body wash" products. But the idea was that you would buy one bottle of Soaky and keep the bottle as a toy. There were literally hundreds of characters available. The problem was that most supermarkets didn't have that much room. Maybe five characters would be all they got. The idea was cute but it ended up losing more money than it could possibly earn.Characters included cartoon characters, comic strip characters, movie stars, folklore heroes, and more.

Postum with Natural Coffee Flavor - - Postum was the first product of the Post Cereal Company (originally the Postum Company) of Battle Creek, Michigan. It actually predates the Kellogg Company. C.W. Post was a patient of Dr. John Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. (And, tragically, Mr. Post would commit suicide about 15 years later while on vacation in Santa Barbara, California.) Postum was originally made from the scraps made from cereal production. It was a cheap drink that made Post a wealthy man. He earned enough money to expand his company to include the manufacture of breakfast cereals. Original Postum never was intended to be a coffee substitute. But over the next few decades, the Postum Company evolved into General Foods, which produced Maxwell House Coffee. So by using the scraps to make Sanka Coffee (which is decaffeinated), it was made into a caffeine free coffee substitute. (It may seem strange but the parts taken from decaffeinated coffee to take out the caffeine, also do not have caffeine.) Postum was very popular until the 1990s when the sales took a terrible nosedive. Before the Post cereal line was sold to Ralston Foods, Postum had ceased production. There was talk that Ralston would bring back Postum. Then Ralston turned the new Post Foods Company to face the world alone. That company ended up selling the Postum recipe to a Mormon company that wouldn't handle coffee. So unless another company takes up the production of Postum, there won't ever be any coffee flavored Postum again.

Noxzema Skin Cream - - I know what you are going to say: "That doesn't look much different from the Noxzema I just bought at Walmart last night..." But that's what's in the jar. The jar itself is glass. And I can remember about 35 years ago when all jars were glass. 20 years before that all cans were either steel or tin. Packaging was potentially dangerous a few years ago: Broken glass. Slicing from the metal strips that came off when opening coffee or shortening cans. You could knock your eye out with a pop bottle cap. Are we any safer now?

Well, that was a fun trip to the grocery store. I think if we do this again we're going to one of those lifetime membership department stores. Hey, if my membership was good for a lifetime and I'm not dead yet, shouldn't it still be valid? No? Ah, I see... It's the lifetime of the store... Gotcha...

Please pray for Hana and me. Thanks.