A regular reader sent an extraordinary packet to my office the other day: stuff that fell out of his ceiling. It had been hidden in a suspended ceiling tile in 1953, and laid undisturbed for half a century. Now I have it, and the nifty parts have been scanned. There’s a grocery store circular for Skoog’s, a store long gone in these parts; a Crosley Steel Kitchen brochure in bright undimmed colors, a Chevy catalogue whose cars boast unnatural hues and impossible lengths, and a series of religious tracts aimed at converting Jews to Christianity. Another church bulletin advertises an upcoming speech by six convicts who saw the light while doing a tour in the big house; one of them would play the saxophone. (And then there would be a weenie roast. ) Also: two big pamphlets from the International Retail Clerks union, and a copy of the AFL’s house organ, “The Federalist.” Dull stuff, but the politics are interesting. The magazines castigate Stalin and communism. There’s even a picture of a Union joes in overalls and a union bureaucrat giving the boot to an anarchist. And how do we know he’s an anarchist? Well, duh: baggy Russian bolshie suit. Bushy black whiskers. And – this was always the giveaway – a black bomb in one hand, fuse lit.

It’s interesting to compare the liberalism of these magazine with the liberalism I get in my union newsletters. The old stuff is far more hopeful, cheerful, energetic and gosh it all, pro-American. It has its deadly earnest side – one ad reminds you to visit only Union Barbers if you value your health. But it’s broad-shouldered & cheerful. The future belongs to the retail clerks union, and not to the forces of collectivism. Well, that sort of collectivism, anyway.

Aaaannd that’s almost it for today. I have a huge piece due in about 36 hours, and I have to get to it. Confession: some time usually reserved for the Bleat was spent on the Spock MP3, which I have just saved from utter sucktitude. But I’ll leave you with this: an unexpected update to the heretofore dormant Microfiche Follies site, courtesy of Katie down on Level One of the USS Startrib. Are you ready to be beautiful through the magic of arsenic? Of course you are.

My promise to you: even when I have nothing, I always have something.

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