A co-worker has a plastic Holiday Inn sign on her desk. Never seen it before. Wandered over to take a look, and to my surprise there were TWO (2!) people in adjacent cubicles. We started talking about the sign, how strange it really is, or was, and what it meant to us as kids. I said it had a name - the company referred to it as the Great Sign.

“Sounds biblical,” said co-worker, and yes, doesn’t it? The clouds shall part and the Great Sign shall appear, and seven housekeepers will knock upon seven doors!

Never thought of that; have to work it into something.

That’s why it’s nice to have people in the office.

Not enough coffee in the world today, O my brothers. Working on a multi-day sleep deficit. Had a bout of post-lunch weariness at work, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that. Used to hit almost every day, but now with my Renewed Vigor I’ve been sparrow-bright all day until I die at the appointed nap time. So, let’s see if there’s any K-Cup coffee to be had . . . ah.

Holiday Blend!

Which holiday, though?

You know - the Holidays! Look at the box, you idiot, it’s red. The letters are different colors Because Festiveness. C’mon! The Holidays!

But if it’s the Holidays, why is it Holiday (singular) Blend? Doesn’t that suggest it is particularly appropriate for one day, and not a generalized season of performative mirthfulness?

Oh, shut up and drink.

So I did. Mmm! This coffee is Brecht to is the spice and heft of S Batok! As the box says:

A spectacular blend cheer. as cortees seleci am the very besi
recions come together for a most celebratory cup. Velvets luscious chocolate notes from the Americas follow festive East African arom of candied zest and are brewcht to is the spice and heft of S

That was the OCR grab of the side of the box. Focus wasn’t that great. I thought AI would compensate, but apparently that upgrade is coming next week. Anyway, it did the trick, and now I’m a perky reanimated flesh bag about to shamble for a few miles on the treadmill. Back in a bit.

LATER Full of vim now. Alas, it’s the start of the middle of the afternoon, the worst time of the day. The big yawn, the great expanse of grinding hours, the slow tick and the torpid tock, the opposite of the Twilight Zone: nothing unusual can happen in this time. No one steps into the shadows. No one finds that things are not quite as they seem. I have a few details to tidy up, then it’s the walk to the car and the drive to the house and the walk with the dog, the widower’s life without the actual widower part. Again, the house feels too big. Makes me want to text Daughter but I don’t want to be a pest.

Ah, maybe I’ll be a pest.

UPDATE I was a pest. She had a presentation to give in class today so I asked how that went. I expect an answer in seven hours. Sometimes it would take less time to actually fly to London and knock on the door and get an answer.


Our weekly example of the happy pasttime of our era: clicking and clicking with no objective in mind. Where do we start? Where do we go?

  . . . How do we get from here . . .
Here, I jumped up and blurted loudly to my wife, Judy: "Good God! John Edwards was having sex with the daughter of the guy who taught Tommy Burns how to kill horses by electrocuting them!"   . . . to this sentence?

I was doing a Quasicomic for Chuckles.

I loved them when I was a kid. Who didn’t? Pure sugar. They came in five flavors, two of which hit the spot: red and black. Upon reading the text of a Quasicomic, I learned this:

  All black.
  Googling . . . well!

The brand has ben around the block a few times.

The Chuckles brand was first produced in 1921 by Fred W. Amend. The only factory was in Danville, Illinois. Nabisco bought the Chuckles Company in 1970.

A management buyout occurred in 1986, and the company was quickly acquired by Leaf. Leaf's US properties were sold to The Hershey Company in 1996 and the Chuckles trademark was licensed to Hershey.

Hershey sub-licensed Chuckles to Farley's & Sathers in 2002, which later merged with Ferrara Pan in 2012 (also owned by Catterton Partners), forming the Ferrara Candy Company.

Ferrara Pan was an interesting company, for two reasons. First: they made the most interesting non-chocolate candies a kid could buy. They were like Wham-O: hit after hit. Except for Boston Baked Beans. Never could figure out why you’d want bean candy. They made Red Hots, the spicy cinnamon candy, and Lemonheads, which had a sour phase, and a mouthfeel like congealed melted plastic.

But there was another non-choc company: Just Born. They made Mike and Ikes, which I never seemed to need, and Hot Tamales, the chewy shellac-coated answer to the Red Hots. For some reason I associate them with Bible Camp, perhaps because they seemed to be a bit of naughty hellfire? No, of course not.


What I do know is that the company’s logo was the strangest, weirdest, most wrong thing you could find on a pack of candy.

I mean, eww. It looked like a deformed baby in its amniotic sac.


(It's from this site, which has a great collection of candy boxes.)

The name came from the founder:

Sam Born, who grew up in Russia, immigrated to the United States from France. Born introduced “French Chocolates” to New York City. A candy maker by trade, Born was responsible for many innovations including the technology to produce chocolate sprinkles, known as Jimmies; the hard chocolate coating used for Eskimo Pies; and was given the keys to the city of San Francisco in 1916 for inventing a machine that mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops called the Born sucker machine.

A pioneer of the trade.

I was interested to find that Ferrara now owns Brach’s. This was a name that loomed large in a child’s mind, since Brach’s had huge bins of candy in supermarkets and variety stores. The Pic-A-Mix stations. You’d select your favorites, and buy them by weight. Grandma always had some Brach’s around - soft chocolate with flavored cream centers, some of which were odd, but somehow all tasted the same in the end. The wrappings were crinkly shiny foil that wasn't really foil. This was the upscale stuff. You had those Brach's around, you were living it up Rockefeller style.

The death of the brand is the usual story: bad management, inability to adapt, etc. This is almost hilarious:

In 1987, Klaus Jacobs purchased the company for $730 million, and by the end of 1989, it was in serious trouble.

Klaus Jacobs almost immediately fired Brach's top officers and gutted the leadership of its sales, marketing, production and finance departments. Some of these positions were filled with European executives with little experience in the candy industry.

Former executives cited Jacobs Suchard's autocratic management style and inability to recognize the difference between American and European candy consumption habits. The name of the company was changed to Jacobs Suchard Inc., a name few retailers or consumers recognized, and product lines were trimmed from 1,700 to 400 in an attempt to cut costs.

This alienated many of its largest customers, including Walgreens and Walmart, who found other sources, including Farley Candy.

In addition to the cuts in product selection, Brach's also curtailed holiday promotional activities.

Yeah, “Jacob Suchard” instead of Brach’s, that’ll work.

Say, why does this wikipedia entry link to Helen Brach?

Helen Vorhees Brach (born November 10, 1911 – disappeared February 17, 1977) was an American multimillionaire widow whose wealth had come from marrying into the E. J. Brach & Sons Candy Company fortune; she endowed the Helen V. Brach Foundation to promote animal welfare in 1974.

Brach disappeared on February 17, 1977, and was declared legally dead, as of the date of her disappearance, in May 1984.


An investigation into the case uncovered serious criminal activity associated with Chicago horse stable owners, including Silas Jayne and Richard Bailey. More than a decade later Bailey was charged with, but not convicted of, conspiring to murder Brach; he eventually received a sentence of 30 years after being convicted of defrauding her.

Others thought the chauffeur did it. The body was never found.

This is getting peculiar.

About that Silas Jayne:

Silas Carter Jayne (July 3, 1907 – July 13, 1987) was a Chicago-based stable owner, horse trainer, and horse trader who was heavily involved in criminal activity, including fraud, intimidation, arson, and murder. He covered up the infamous Peterson-Schuessler murders and hired the murder of his stepbrother.


On October 18, 1955, the naked bodies of three young boys, John Schuessler, aged 13, his brother Anton Jr., aged 11, and their friend Robert Peterson, aged 14, were found in a ditch in the Robinson Woods Forest Preserve on the northwest side of Chicago. When found, they had been missing for two days.

The boys had traveled from Jefferson Park to downtown Chicago to see Walt Disney Productions' The African Lion at the Loop Theater, 165 North State Street, on the afternoon of October 16.

Nearly forty years later, ATF agents investigating the February 17, 1977 disappearance of candy heiress Helen Brach were told by informants that Silas Jayne's former employee, Kenneth Hansen, had boasted of committing the murders at the Idle Hour Stable.

It emerged that Hansen, who was 22 years old at the time, had met Peterson and the Schuesslers while they were hitchhiking. Hansen lured them into the Idle Hour stables under the pretext of showing them horses. When Peterson discovered Hansen sexually abusing the Schuessler brothers, Hansen had attacked all three and killed them. Jayne had been enraged at Hansen when he discovered what he had done. However, realizing the murders on his property had the potential to ruin him, Jayne concealed the crime. The bodies were put in a station wagon, and disposed of.

Jyne was involved in much, much more, including the aforementioned murder of his stepbrother. F. Lee Bailey represented him. He lost.

Silas Jayne was imprisoned at the Vienna Correctional Center in southern Illinois. Jayne's cellmate said that Jayne was allowed to keep his horses at the prison's stable and to ride unescorted into a nearby town to buy whiskey. Also Jayne's brother Frank regularly transported prostitutes from Chicago to the prison to have sex with Jayne. On May 23, 1979, Jayne was paroled after having served six years.

He kept busy:

Silas was tried and acquitted of arson in 1980, after he allegedly had a former cellmate start a fire in a stable where men against whom he had a grudge kept their horses. Thirty-three horses perished in the fire.

He died in 1987.

The Our Day Farm near Elgin is still operated by the Jayne family. Silas Jayne's great-nephew Charlie Jayne was the first alternate for the U.S. show jumping team at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

It all goes back to the Show Jumping Horse Killings, an insurance-fraud scheme. One of the ringleaders was a guy who killed a horse called Henry the Hawk, owned by a woman whose daughter "emerged as the femme fatale in the sordid John Edwards affair," and who also had an affair with author Jay McInerney.

And here I had to stop.











After a series of relatively short visits - 14 pictures, 15 or so - we’re back to the long slog. As I’ve said before, I never look at these after I clip them. Probably clipped these a year ago or more. No idea what we’re in for, or why I did so many. Could be a lot of bad; good be there’s lots to praise. Let’s open the folder . . .


Well ain’t that America, as the poet said.

They have the sidewalk corner-cut plates with the raised metal nubs, so it looks like some ADA money sloshed through York.

We must be on the outskirts, moving in.

There was always one of these on the outskirts of downtown. Two bays, brick, Buckaroo Mansard - can’t quite fix the brand.

Okay, now that I think of it, it's probably a Texaco. They had those awful lights for a while.

Whatever it is now, we know what it was then.

OUMB in the most forbidding style of the day.

An old dealership, I’d say. The odd windows seem original. The upper floor makes no sense.

Rust stains were the proud sign was once anchored.

Hold on now - is this then, or now? What year is it?

You decide. Or, I could go back and check, but no: you decide.

What an oddly underwhelming theater facade.

Marks of an old marquee?

Still playing? Still playing. It’s the Sun, and has a website with absolutely no historical info at all.

Holy Crow, it’s the most 1968 building EVER

You’d have to be required to smoke Silva Thins and wear English Leather if you went there.


The rare three-name-block building:

An cum unum adolescens. Est at iusto eligendi. Vidit volumus mel ea, ei has errem ridens maiestatis. Ei sea bonorum concludaturque.


Mirrored glass made for striking abstract scenes, but they have a way of alienating everything around them. Don’t look at me! Look at yourself, you stupid loser!


Of course it’s a courthouse.

The "Couldn't be bothered" style of civic architecture.

The inevitable old hotel.

But was it a hotel? Seems to be offices now. Lacks the telltale second-small-window that used to indicate a bath.

The top indicates a hotel, though; that elaborate balcony for important events.

Lights for a roof deck?

A perfectly fine nice old bank.

And this is also a bank.

A perfectly fine nice old bank.

And this is also a bank.

As is this.

My point being, we lost a lot when small-town bank architects stopped trying.

Why yes, it was!

A movie theater, I mean. The old marquee can be seen here, where it’s also reported that “A wind storm toppled the upper portion of the facade in 1993.”

Before there were movies:

The old Opera House. Every self-respecting prairie town had to have one. Quantity of Actual Opera actually enjoyed: quite small.

We’ll end here, because it seems as if I could go forever.

Rome, eternal. Until the tornados come through, I suppose.


Now two ways to chip in!

That will suffice, I hope. Some pretentious Google Street View pages await your inspection and shoulder-shrugging. See you around!




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