Hey, how was your day? Mine was fine. Great. Keen! Neat. Gear. Nothing out of the ordinary; sun and words, lunch and more words, bills and errands, the usual scurrying beneath the sun's implacable career. Daughter's at camp, and all the rituals and routines and familiar details are on hold. This is the first summer in which she hasn't had a dozen "camps" every week to keep her occupied. We've just been here together through the livelong day.
The empty house in summer: it feels familiar. But that doesn't mean I like it.
Some of my least favorite things in life are familiar.
Hot pounding sun all day, evening release: clouds tumbled in, rain pattered on the gazebo roof. Nothing sustained. Took the dog for a walk, a slow walk, a very slow walk - but as long as he's up for it, off we go. Everyone still oohs and marvels: what kind of a dog is that? Muttus geriactricus. He shied away from a rambunctuous Golden, and I told the owner that Jasper was old and shy around other dogs now.
"Oh I know, my dog is old too, but he doesn't act it. He's nine!"
I smile. "Jasper's 17," I said.
"And a half."
On we plod. Favorite spots to sniff and pee. I note with some satisfaction that a few neighboring lawns are as lousy as mine - brown here and there, weedy, the boulevards gone over. Summer run riot. Flowers galore. It is impossible to consider the idea of winter. Summer eternal & triumphant. The drought continues, but it's supposed to rain. The sky at eleven PM flashes bright - Instamatics on Olympus. If the rain comes I hope it will be delivered at night, leaving the day clear. Hope the storm rolls up to Daughter's camp. Thunder outside the barracks: flashlights held under the chin, ghost stories, great cracks in the sky snapping the cord between yourself and distant home: a requirement of childhood.
Plowing through the rich resource of Life magazines - the stories aren’t as compelling as the ads. That’s news. The ads are dreams. If you start to look for certain themes or recurring images, you read the magazines differently. It’s a secondary vocabulary. You’ll notice the prevalence of the Disembodied Salivating Husband Head, licking his chops over the dish below. You’ll see the Uniformly Wide-Eyed Family, beholding something mom just conjured from the oven. And you’ll note the Cleverly Tilted Product. It’s always tilted. I started paying attention to the CTPs because the package design is so good. Clean. There’s a sameness to the typefaces and the design, but overall the grocery store must have looked serene, severe, and well-ordered. Let’s take a look.
Doesn’t “Frosted Foods” sound better than “Frozen”?
There was Mr. Birdseye, as you probably know. Clarence. He sold his frozen-food company to Postum, which made a cereal-based coffee substitute, and Goldman Sachs; the new company was called . . . General Foods.
Elmer and the kids.
Do you know the kids’ names? Larabee and Lobella were the twins, born in 1957; the ones above are Beulah and Beauregard. I’m hard-pressed to think of a mascot who had two jobs - one for Borden’s cheese products, and also for glue. But Elmer was a popular fellow.
Did I say two? I meant three.
Anyway, the packages are okay; I love the consciously misspelled word. Vera Sharp! You know that thrifty moms saved the glasses. For something. Heavens, that’s a perfectly good glass.
Totally wrapped ham: that’s one way to reinforce the brand.
Kraft Cheese had a common look across the cheeses, but the labels had color coding, with the bottom reversed from the top because . . . well, because.
Cheese doesn’t come in jars anymore, does it.
More Kraft: I wonder how sharp “sharp” was back then. Mom’s in a full dress for the picnic? And she’d sit on the ground in that outfit?
Heinz: home of the inscrutable plaid choices:
That’s Louis Nye below, who seems to have been quickly forgotten. Same with Rath. From wikipedia: “In 1980, Local 41 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union which represented most of the labor force, negotiated a plan that, in exchange for wage and benefit concessions from the workers, gave them control of Rath’s board of directors.
The employee-owned Rath operated at a loss in 1981-1983. After a series of further financial setbacks, Rath ceased operations in 1985.”
"Kraft Dinner" is a rather . . . imprecise term.
There’s a picture of the store display, and I’m sure none of them exist. Looks rather top-heavy, too. You know someone bumped a cart into it, and send the boxes scattering.