A new feature today to take the place of Frank Reade Jr. (He’ll be back some day, when we need some relief from the 21st century.) It’s “Capp Homes,” a look at the models offered by a 1960s housing developer.

There are several things you do when you put something up on the internet.

Just put it up with a few paragraphs of description and let people drift through it until they’re bored because we all have the attention span of a flea on a hotplate

Annotate every damned page.

You might know which direction I’ve chosen. The awesome one! But there’s only so much you can say about these houses, since the variations are minor. But there’s so much you can say, because the sum up an era and a place for which I have great regard.

The era of the Rambler. The house with the lawn. The rooms for the kids. The little touches that made it different from the next one. This the world where I grew up - the post-war developments excoriated by ungrateful boomers singing sneering songs about ticky-tacky boxes. They were wonderful places to grow up.

But that’s not to say there weren’t problems. There are always problems. So instead of just putting up pictures and leaving it at that, I’ve tried to tell tiny stories. I mean, tiny stories.

There are 43 houses. Two per week. As with any new site, it’s a cold open, but you’ll come to love the feature as the weeks go by.

(He said with hope.)

There’s a word to describe the following. It probably won’t occur to you but it’ll make sense when I say it at the end.

While cooking dinner I listen to music or podcasts. Alexa, play Chopin. And she would shuffle through whatever she had in the library. But you can only say “next” so many times to skip the Funeral March before you realize you want to hear your Chopin recordings. So I thought I’d put all of my music in the Amazon library so I could call up anything I had. Doesn’t that sound cool? Isn’t that a 21st century thing?

So I uploaded about 3000 songs.

Things have gone . . . poorly.

Many, many songs weren’t uploaded because of unspecified errors, “corrupt” files, or “unsupported format.” Yeah, like that obscure .mp3 format. It’s like pushing an 8-track cassette through the holes in a phone handset! Can’t be done!

When I tried to upload them again, they were happily accepted. Since I didn’t know what had failed to upload, I decided to do it again, album by album. Deleted everything from the library, using Amazon's web interface. My library was empty.

Launched the music app. It shows all the songs are still there. Huh. Well. Deleted the app, nuked every file connected it, reinstalled. All the songs were still there. They had little computer icons on the right, indicating . . . what? That they could be downloaded? Is it reading my iTunes library? I never told it where it was.

Went to the music.amazon.com page to upload more music. In the last few days, a new update! Can’t upload it on the website anymore. Can only upload it through the app. Yay updates, breaking things and removing functionality!

Go to the app to upload the songs. It won’t, because it says they’re already uploaded.

Go to my music.amazon.com page; the songs aren’t there.

This is usually where I decided "oh hell whatever I'll do this later" but I have been rather diligent about fixing things lately, so I've been uploading through my laptop's music app, which seems fine. Don't know what the problem is and DON'T CARE as long as I can say "play Chopin playlist."

Which I can't, because I can't find my Chopin preludes music folder. I have no idea where it went.

Let’s take a break from this and hook up the Xbox. No, I didn’t want an Xbox, but when I was at Target looking at a Phillips HD Blu-Ray player, the sales dude said “hey, the Xbox will play 4K Blu-Ray. And it’s on sale.”

So it was! Days later I hooked it up and hello, it didn’t play 4K Blu-Rays, because it was an Xbox One, not an Xbox One S. For criminey joseph’s sake -

Oh, that reminds me. I was listening to a podcast of about the Jacob Wetterling case, and they interviewed an old Minnesota legislator.

  This is as Minnesotan as it gets. We really do talk like this.

So I returned the XBox, used all my Amazon Christmas gift-card money to get the S, and it showed up three days later. Setting up the 4K connnection: it can’t display 4K, because there is something interceding with the frammit recombinator.

I went to bed.

So what’s the word to describe all this? Depends, but when I was growling about these problems to myself I thought the actual description is not problem but boastful. Look how technologically adept I am to troubleshoot! Look how I understand how things should be. How small my problems are. How much ease I have. The biggest thing I have to bitch about today is that when I ask my robot to play Chopin she doesn't play my Chopin tracks, but the ones from her library.

I don't know how I can go on like this.

Tomorrow, though - that’s a different story.


Another entry from the fake Ripley comic. Maybe Bob Poulson, the guy who did the one on the left, got rejected by the big leagues, and went to the AAA believe-or-not league.

Google has nothing for a town called "Demir Dere."

Yvonne Kennedy, who for some reason was an expert on Medieval dyspepia remedies, and whose assertions were accepted as fact, lived here:

Wonder if anyone ever rang the doorbell because she was wrong about that "cure." Old Wives' Tale. Never really happened. Although it would be a "cure" in the sense that broken ribs or perforated organs would take your mind off your wind.



Tired of bright, cheerful post-war mid-century ads that promise a fun life of ease and satisfaction? Me neither, but this year we're going to shake up the Product feature. We're going back. Way back. This . . . is 1898. Every week we'll advance another decade, stopping at the 70s. Oh sure, you say - the year always begins with nice plans, and falls apart after a few months.

Sorry, Charlie; I have the entire year laid out. It's quite the show.

So! 1898. The selection of consumer goods is noticeably smaller.

It's nice to see that our first entry gets a little help from Wikipedia, so these things aren't that remote.

James Baker Williams, born in 1818 in Lebanon, Connecticut, operated a soap factory at his general store in Manchester, Connecticut. In 1842 he moved his business to Glastonbury owning much land, including a mill on Williams Street and the land where the park is currently located. By the turn of the 20th century, JB Williams Soap Company was known worldwide for its shaving soap.

The company's records were donated to the U of Connecticut. They seem to end in 1956, when the company was bought. You know what else they made? Aqua Velva. Lectric Shave. That last one had a memorable name, great for a commercial stinger. Someone set us up the beard:

Another? Sure, they're short:

See? We haven't left the mid-century world at all.

This one had a poem.

Dyspepsia's pangs, that rack and grind
The body, and depress the mind;
Slow constitutional decay,
That brings death nearer, day by day;
Nervous prostration, mental gloom,
Agues, that, as they go and come,
Make life a constant martyrdom;
Colics and dysenteric pains,
'Neath which the strong man's vigor wanes;
Bilious complaints, -- those tedious ills,
Ne'er conquered yet by drastic pills;
Dread Diarrhea, that cannot be
Cured by destructive Mercury;
Heralds of madness or the tomb;
For these, though Mineral nostrums fail,
Means of relief at last we hail,
HOSTETTER'S BITTERS medicine sure,
Not to prevent, alone, but cure.


What was it? Booze:

The original formula was about 47% alcohol -- 94 Proof! The amount of alcohol was so high that it was served in Alaskan saloons by the glass. Hostetter sweetened the alcohol with sugar to which he added a few aromatic oils (anise, coriander, etc.) and vegetable bitters (cinchona, gentian, etc.) to give it a medicinal flavor.

The bottles date back to 1858, and while they're collectible, they're not rare - Hoffy sold a ton of his stuff. For obvious reasons.

It goes without saying, of course, but in case you're curious:

John Hunyadi ( Cluj , circa 1407 - Zemun , August 11, 1456) in 1446 and 1453 between Hungary governor . The country is one of the richest landlord, a prominent military leader, several southern county manager , voivode. Many oszmánellenes campaign and heroic protection of the kingdom earned the Turks adjective.

But that's, like, grade-school level history! The real question is why a medicinal water was named for 15th century Hungarian ruler.

Did I say was?

Electricity could do such marvelous things - why, it just buzzed your wrinkles off.

Printer's Ink magazine gave the quack a softball interview here. Gibbs also invented something caleld the "Electricura Shoe," which contained negative and positive plates. You generated your own juice by walking around, and were thus cured of whatever was bothering you.

Credible lot, they were, but we're not that much better.

In case you thought "stogies" was just street slang:

The nice thing about these cigars? No drugs of any kind.

The term is supposed to make you think of Saving Teeth, if you know Greek.


Known as Van Buskirk's Fragrant Sozodont, or Van Buskirk's Fragrant and Antiseptic Sozodont, the product was dispensed from a glass bottle through a metal sprinkler and, as illustrated advertisements show, could be applied to the teeth using a toothbrush. The product made strong use of advertising as a marketing tool and by the late nineteenth century was an established household word.

What happened to the product?

Sozodont fell out of favor with consumers in the early twentieth century amid concerns about side effects of its usage. As early as 1880, however, one dentist complained, "I will testify to what is so well known to most dentists, viz., that it [Sozodont] destroys the color of the teeth, turning them to a decidedly dark-yellow.

Which would seem to be the opposite of the product's intentions. Another dentist said its alkalinity eventually destroyed the enamel of the teeth. Combine that with the yellowing, and you have ANTI-TOOTHPASTE.

Modular shelves, the early years:

The company is still around, and goes by the name Globe-Wernicke today. They make . . . modular bookcases.

Mr. Munson was a court stenographer, inventor of the Munson Shorthand System.

In those days, you could make a nice pile if you invented a system.

He got his start reporting on the Harvey Burdell murder case, the scandal of 1857.

That'll do for today. Don't miss my MONDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. The big green Startribune Star.




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