You know how you’re wondering whether you should download the complete collection of background music for Kresge stores, and get sidetracked on their employee-training filmstrips from 1947? I know! It’s fun, but you lose sight of the objective.

The Internet Archive, blessed mess that it is, has a big collection of variety-store material, from the aforementioned Kresge music to some Jam Handy products for incoming employees. They are marvelous. For one thing, you get a sense of the stores in the late 40s, and man, are they crammed.


The prices are interesting. A spool of thread costs 5 cents. Today that’s about .65. On Amazon, it goes for $3.50, but I’m sure today’s threat is Better and Stronger. Still, I’d wager that all the thread in 1947 was made in America, and moved to China to save on production costs.

And yet.

\Anyway, our Shopper Fella appears to be married to a china doll:

The general message of the filmstrip: keep your counter neat, so people can see all this crap clearly, without having to paw through the bins. Another one concerns the ways you cost Kresge $$, thanks to your carelessness. Again, the crowded displays:

She's got a little Audrey Horne filling in at Dad's store going on here. Unfortunately, she is . . .

When you peeved the store manager, he made sure you knew it.

Same goes if you made him happy:

She does everything right, and does it with a smile! So you have to ask yourself a question, gals:

Drop Winnie in lower Manhattan in the early 70s, and she could probably find you some 'ludes. She'd be in a punk band, and knew lots of places where you could flop.

My favorite filmstrip takes place at a fountain, where the waitress is giving the new employees tips on doing a good job. You should see the customer as yourself, even if he’s a grumpy old professional Van Heflin impersonator.

(I’ve restored these as best as possible; the color is horrid.)

These are so fraught. They're like stills from an early Kubrick movie, if he'd done color at the time.

Then Mr. Grump has a burger, a Coke, and some pie. All’s better!

She upsold him on the ice cream, which led to a bigger tip, although she looks as if she expected better.

Lollygag not, ladies; that brightwork isn't going to clean itself.

I love that machine. I wish I had one.

In the end, if you do everything as well as she does - and gosh, she's just passing on what she learned - you could make a career of it. She's the Fountain Manager now, and doesn't have to wear a uniform.

You wonder how many of the women in the audience were rolling their eyes and snapping their gum, and now many leaned forward a little, keen to do good. After all, there's nothing wrong with being a Fountain Manager. It's important. It's something everyone would see, too.

Note: I am not being sarcastic. It is important. Everyone would se that you were the person in charge, and had been trusted with responsibility. You had your own apartment. You had some money set aside. Your parents weren't happy you didn't use your teaching degree, but honestly the world was absolutely swimming in those now and you didn't really want to sit in a classroom all day telling 10-year-olds about the exports of Peru. Yes yes you have your handsy mashers, but a girl learns how to deal with them. And there's always some nice regulars. The fellas from the shoe store come in and crack wise and tell her they're all in love with her and will fight for her affections. The nice old lady who dresses up  - for Kresge! - and always has tea and puts too many sugars in her handbag, poor dear. The kind old man who doesn't say much but always seems grateful for a smile, and leaves a quarter. Who knows. The store could get a handsome new manager! They don't date waitresses. But a manager, well, that's a meeting of equals.

A manager's hours are longer, though. And you have to corral the girls with whom you used to laugh and chat and gossip. You can't go to the movies with them because you have to be up to open the counter early. So you go home and write a few notes in your diary.

It's hard, some times, but you're on your way, and you know it. You just know it.

Oh: about that Kresge music. Swirling from above, trickling from tinny speakers, lending an air of romance to the day.

  I am entranced by this strange, lush dream.





It's 1925.

Remember, the papers were HUGE back then. Absolute horse blankets. The overall impression of the news in this design? It’s long. Long news.


The classic foundling cliche was a cliche for a reason: it happened a lot.

Wonder if this qualified as a “feel-good” story.



A strange disease. What could it be.

Subsequent stores in the late 20s about the Radium Girls noted Demenitroux, and how he left his body to science so they could figure out what the hell happened.

I'm not sure it was much of a secret by then.


  That’s an odd story to appear in the newspaper.

If you’re wondering whether they were ever reconciled, I can’t say. Mr. Haberman died 14 years later; Haberman Jr. was a machinist, retired in Carson City, and died in 1986. A Mason, a member of the Knights of Templar, many kids, grandkids, and a great-grandkid.

We’ll never know what it was about. No reason we should, but when it’s in the paper, you get invested in the smallest of stories.

No reason for this except reader-flattering boosterism.



  Novel approach. She was still living in the same house with her husband in the 1940 census, so things seem to have gone better than one might expect.

  It’s a poor copy, but it gives you an idea what the early days of radio looked like. Much like Yahoo’s home page in 1998.

  A silent movie gag come to life, except no one’s laughing.

You know, just because Webby was our 2020 artist year doesn’t mean there aren’t, oh, a thousand other panels we’ve never seen. I’ll take any opportunity to run what I come across.


Almost a hundred years ago.

Does it seem like it? Does it feel like it?





And now, a new feature! Hope you like it.






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