The first of October. One of my favorite months. September is the train; October is the destination. The weather is warm and hardly any trees have turned, except for a few that immolated themselves ahead of schedule and burn red in the golden light of suppertime. Right now I’m outside in the gazebo - still roofless; the top hasn’t arrived yet - and it’s warm enough. That’s the best you can hope for in October: warm enough.

Usually we go to Disneyworld, but not this year; our place was booked up. That’s the difference between owning something and having a share in a place, I suppose. Mixed feelings about this. Need some time between visits, now that Disney as a childhood narrative has completely evaporated from our lives. EPCOT is there for you after that.

I’ve been trying for the last year to put together a big reel of all our family trips to Disneyworld. For some strange reason it’s hard. When I look at the video, the first trip, daughter holding up a little stuffed animal so it can see the gates as we pass through for the first time, the picture gets all blurry.

Wife took the summer flowers out of the bed around the tree in the backyard, and replaced them with mums. That’s always a sign. I think she has some flowers timed to bloom around this time as well, so an autumnal palette asserts itself gradually, the same time as the vines turn crimson and the hostas fade to a brittle, gorgeous yellow.

This morning the city crews started working on the enormous elm in the Triangle. That would have been my tree if the city hadn’t run a street through the property decades ago; I’ve seen the old maps, and Jasperwood goes right down to the point of the park. I suppose it’s my Sudetenland or Polish Corridor, but it serves a public function for all, and I’ve no psychological claim on it. Unlike the person who lived here when the road went through - for all I know it was the original owner, the Candy Man, and that’s why he packed up and left for the Western Lakes. Can’t put a road through the lake in front of your house.

The crews only got a few limbs off. The tree looks, well, truncated, but unbowed. That’ll end soon, and there will be a brand new hole in the sky where once there were leaves. The Triangle had two old elms; the first fell a few years ago, and a spindly newcomer fills the spot now. It will grow quickly, and the replacement for the old tree will lag behind. The newcomer will be felled forty years hence, the replacement twenty years after that. It’s like a two-stroke engine, pistons rising and falling, the great chug of time pushing the earth around the star.

Crickets now, counting off the beats of the night, the chorus of metronomes; wind in the trees, crescendo, legato, decrescendo. To completely mix all my metaphors, it’s as if November is the month where you pass a room where someone used to live, and it’s bare. October isn’t that. But there’s a box in the middle of the floor. On the first it’s empty. The weeks go by. The shelves grow bare. Halloween comes; midnight strikes. All has fled.

Except the decorations, which will be on sale. What I see in the stores so far is dull and unimaginative, as if the great enthusiasm for Halloween has peaked and cooled. Target used to devote great acres to the stuff, with talking pumpkins and statuary and imaginative displays, but they’ve dialed it back a bit. It’s not that people are tired of Halloween, they’re just tired of it having to be such a damned big thing. I wonder how much of the Oughts Halloween enthusiasm was sublimated uncertainty.

Well! Have to get some novel in tonight if I’m going to earn my keep on this side of the dirt. Product galore below, with some interesting discoveries.




There’s no Elmer this week; he might have stormed out of the house because he thought Elsie had decided to enlist in the Navy or was inviting her 2nd cousin Bossie or any other misunderstanding that made steam shoot out his nose, and convinced him the best course of action was to grab his hat and leave the house naked. Or, he’s off to work, overseeing his Glue Empire. A tender domestic moment:

Look at that calf! Beaulah’s look of trepidation is priceless; the artist captured shaky resolve at the right moment. On a cow. Elsie, whose devotion to Borden products outshone all other pitchcreatures of ads or radio, takes the opportunity of the first day of school to conduct a tour of Borden’s products the teacher may neglect to mention.

This includes Glue made from Milk.

Thus reassured, the daughter-calf goes off to school, her headgear a mere nod towards the concept of clothing.

Even though Mom is wearing clothes.

They really didn't think this all the way through.

Back to Casco. I asssume the CAS part is from casein; it’s white glue, more or less. School glue. The teacher may not be brand-specific, and this is a shame. Casco would be rebranded a few years later . . . as “Elmer’s,” of course. The “school glue” was introduced in 1967, and the orange cap - according the company website - is, of course, iconic. The same company made Krazy Glue. Given Elmer’s temper, that seems apt.

Elmer’s was spun off from Borden in 1999, by the way. I hope there wasn’t trouble in the home.


Note the slogan. “We need to come up with something that makes people want the gum because they think Hollywood people chew it. Any ideas?”

Don't know if they mean it's smart in the "clever, fashionable" sense or the "intelligent decision arrived after considering evidence with dispassionate attention."

Why not both? Follow your Hollywood betters! They are prettier and have more money.

They really played up the "Cocktail" aspect; this ad also attempts to link the mastication tablets with thin crooners who just sent the bobby-soxers. The Bowman Gum company made it; I wonder how many times the switchboard operators said "No, not Beeman, Bowman" every day.

But who was Bowman? Jacob Warren Bowman. He was a gum salesman in Philly who started his own company in 1927, and called it . . . Gum, Inc. For many years their "Blony" gum ruled the penny-bubble-gum niche, and they dominated trading cards as well. Until they didn't. Topps bought them out in 1956.

As for Jake Bowman? The blog Dean's Cards says:

Jacob Warren Bowman’s biography reads like a fictional character in a movie. Warren Bowman liked to brag that he had been “married, divorced and bankrupt before he turned twenty one years old.” Bowman was six-foot-three and weighed 200 pounds with an ego to match. Known as a playboy, Bowman was also as loud, as he was large. One observer noted, “When people met Bowman for the first time they were alarmed by his loud booming voice.”

There's more here, if you're interested in the subject of egomanical gum-barons and their Horrors-of-War comics.


I’m not sure bad smells are something you want to lick.

“Stale Smoke,” because no one complains about the smell of fresh cigarette smoke. I include this for the touching little piece of Space-Age iconography: a ringed planet. On a can of air freshener. Science! Science was here to lick stinks!


Always happy to see an ad that included a store display:

It's not only Fall Happiness Week, it's National Furnitre Week.Women put on their smartest hats and went downtown to the department store or the furniture store owned by Mr. Peterson - he went to her church, they were the nicest people, although the son's a bit of a handful I understand - and they had a chat with that darling clerk who was just so thrilled when they got that Kroehler machine. It was practically something out of the World's Fair, he said. He got a trifle sad when he said it, though; one suspected he wanted to go, but couldn't get away. Something about his mother doing poorly.

As for the company:

By the middle of the 1940s, with over $20 million in annual sales, Kroehler was the second-largest furniture maker in the United States. During the 1960s, when the company employed close to 8,000 people around the country, annual revenues passed $100 million. The company struggled during the 1970s, closing its historic Naperville factory in 1978 and ending its operations in the area.

That must have been catastrophic. The plants were huge; to have something on the outskirts of town like that, unused, with so many people still remembering when it was a Going Concern - well.

The founder was Peter E. Kroehler, who helped Naperville get its first YMCA, and has the current Y named in his honor. By the way, Kroehler started out at a clerk at the factory he’d eventually own, and expand nationwide.

Somehow my search for more information led to this: a company scrapbook from 1968, full of people whose sole appearance on the Internet is probably contained in this pages. I hope they don't mind if I pull a few out and fix them up.

The fleet looked like this in '68:

The gang's all here for Lawrence Skelley's retirement:

Ever get the feeling that everything changed? Everything?


Another glimpse at the displays in stores - this time for Domestic Sewing machine.
Blotter boots?

This exhaustive account of the company says Domestic's manufacturing line was kaput by the 30s, more or less, with the Domestic badge slapped on machines made by the White Sewing Machine company. The site has a picture of the Domestic factory in lower New York - another one of those Marvels of the Day, where smokestacks pouring clouds of black poison were a sign of indomitable progress. Which they were, in a way.

And what might you use the sewing machine for? Mending . . .


I include these for the same reason I ran ties a few weeks ago: this was what stuff looked like in 1951. Compare to the basic line-up you get at stores today: we’ve nothing this wild in general circulation.


Finally, another storefront featured in an ad. But this time . . .

. . . the ad had an address.

Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well. See you around.





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