A childhood friend who accidentally read a couple of my little blurbs asked if I actually remembered everything I was writing about. I didn’t say this was a smart friend. But it is a tad difficult to write about something that you DON’T remember!

It did get me to thinking if there were memories out there that had faded over to the forgotten side. And I’m not counting here the ones that I choose not to remember. Like knocking down that whole row of brand new bicycles at Robert Hall’s Western Auto or sophomore Latin or getting run over by Leroy Segraves in a high school football game or ripping my pants wide open doing the Watusi on Channel 7’s Top Ten Dance Party…..

Old Gold cigarettes came to mind. I have no idea why, except maybe I’m no smarter than my friend. I never smoked one. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a pack other than on a store shelf or in an advertisement. And I don’t know if they even make them anymore. But it is an item I just barely recall. One of those things that is certainly close to being gone forever in my memory bank.

I wouldn’t remember them at all if it weren’t for the dancing feet covered with white high top boots. The early television ads back in the day showed a pack of Old Golds with a lady’s legs protruding from the bottom. The pack, and sometimes two, would dance lightly across the stage as some guy hidden behind the curtain extolled the virtues of Old Gold’s tobacco blend. Even as a ten year old I thought it was a ridiculous way to sell cigarettes.

Of course, it may not have been quite as preposterous as I thought; here I am, writing about the brand half a century—and then some….after the commercials ran. Buddy Wiggleton and I used to wonder why they didn’t call them New Golds, Modern Gold or Better Than Gold. It seemed to us they wanted you to try something that was worn out!

I reckon it made more sense than smoking a Camel.

The blame for me not picking up the cigarette habit lies at the feet of my high school coaches. My only goal in life back in those days was to make the varsity team. I showed up for football and before we got our practice gear Coach Scott lectured us, “Don’t smoke young men, ever. It will cut your wind.” First day of tryouts for basketball, it was the exact same admonition. I got the message early. Loudly. And often.

Here’s another one that almost escapes my memory. In the early 1950’s, they would take up a collection to help fight polio at the Park movie theatre. Mr. Clericuzio, the manager, had the official cans with pictures of young boys and girls stricken with polio. The top had a small slot where you could drop in your change. It seems like it was done in conjunction with the March of Dimes program instituted by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Faultless Starch just barely lives in my mind; mostly because Mom didn’t use it. She bought that harder than concrete, stiffer than Bessemer steel, more solid than the Rock of Gibraltar Niagara Corn Starch! And by the amount she poured into mySunday-go-to-meeting collar, it must have been cheaper than a Continental paper bill back when Washington was huddled up at Valley Forge.

Folks at church were always so complementary on how attentive me, Leon and David Mark were to Brother Hatcher’s sermon each and every Sunday morning. The truth is we couldn’t turn our heads in any other direction!

S.S.S. Tonic barely rings a bell with me anymore. But I remember Mom giving it to us if we had a fever or the chills or a headache or a bellyache. She’d pour it on a knife wound or a rash. If you had a sore throat, she made you gargle with it. She’d put a few drops in your ear if it was aching. And if a bad tooth was bothering you, she’d have you swish it around in your mouth.

No wonder my mind is trying to blot out that concoction! And I can’t for the life of me remember how it tastes…..could be there is something to this “selective memory” theory.

Nobody talks about fender skirts or moon hubcaps anymore. Penny gum machines and roller skate keys have gone the way of the dodo. S&H Green Stamps won’t buy a thing these days. There’s a fading list chasing the Old Gold cigarettes as items I’ve almost forgotten.

And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Who knows, we get too much of that old stuff cluttering up our minds…..it might “cut our wind” completely out.

 

Respectfully,

 

Kes