Friendly Faces

Friendly Faces

Updated 2/21/2021

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 3/1/2021

Today finds me sitting at the ol’ desk studying the wooden Coca Cola case. Among the many sections, two bright spots of Kodak yellow pop out commanding my attention. They take me back to my early cameras which today are completely foreign to the young generation as they whip out their smart phones and snap, snap, snap away.

 

Many people near my age began their picture taking with a point-and-shoot box camera or a Brownie Hawkeye, perhaps. And, of course, the film was black and white. Even though color film was around from the 1930’s, it didn’t become popular until the middle 1950’s with the development and affordability of the 33mm slide camera.

 

The yellow can and yellow box I see are easily recognizable as the remnants of the 33mm period. This small, screw-top aluminum can contained either a 24- or 36-frame film. Unless one had a special event or a vacation on the schedule, it took a long time to use that many frames.

 

At the time the film purchase was made, one also bought a prepaid envelope to return the exposed film, by mail, to a processing company. Then the wait and anticipation! Would the slides be disappointing? Would they be in focus? Would there be any photo bombs or even mistakes like missing heads?

 

When the slides in the yellow box finally arrived, how were they viewed? A projector with slotted-trays was needed. Not used too often, the machine sometimes required one to dig through stuff on the closet floor to find it. One also needed a screen upon which to show the slides. Did your family have a roll-up screen, or did you use a light-colored wall…temporarily removing pictures and furniture to create a blank surface? In the first showing it was not uncommon to have some of the slides backwards or upside-down – somewhat embarrassing especially if neighbors had been invited over for the viewing.

So, do the yellow canister and box have a special use now? True to its calling, the box still has a dozen or so slides, culled duplicates of memorable events from decades ago. The canister, on the other hand, contains coins. There are 4 copper pennies from the 1950s and an aluminum one from 1943. The latter was part of the war effort but the minting of them had to be discontinued because the size and color were too similar to a dime. This valued ‘treasure’, according to Google, is only worth 50 cents or less now.

 

My eyes, returning to another slot in Coca Cola case, fall upon a shoe horn. Remember what a big deal it was to receive a new pair of shoes? It wasn’t that long ago when a shoe salesman was ready to assist, a shoe horn handy in his back pocket. Often shoe horns like this one from northern Illinois were printed with the name of the store, then given to customers as an advertising tool.

 

Lastly, how many of you remember, “Walking the Dog”? In the section directly below the yellow canister is a “Genuine Beginners Yo-Yo” officially patented by Duncan, manufactured in northern Wisconsin. The pristine condition of this wooden yo-yo, one side painted black and the other red, has not been much help in my effort to “walk the dog” again. So much for not practicing over the years! Until the next time… Remember, it’s good for you.

The Ol’ Pack Rat

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 2/1/2021

On this cold winter day while sitting at the old desk, my eyes fall on the many sections of a battered wooden Coca Cola case resting on its side against the bulletin board at the back of the desk. Each of the twenty-four 2½ x 2½ inch squares holds a variety of smaller objects collected over the years. Now I am wondering why I saved them!

 

In one square a royal blue glass jar with its pastel green and white top catches my attention. That’s right, a small Vicks Vapor Rub jar. Vicks was a cure-all for any number of ailments in many a household. One can almost smell the aroma now just as when a dollop was added to a can of boiling hot water. The melting Vicks combined with the steam created an inhaler for those with colds. Or who can forget their mother rubbing a thick layer of the clear gel on their chest at bedtime and covering it with a warm cloth? Or the next day when everyone at school knew what remedy was applied the night before! Indeed, the treatment seemed to work, just as the fading label states, “Vicks Vapor Rub Relieves Distress of Colds”.

 

As I gaze at two other sections that contain brown and black ceramic door knobs salvaged from a now-razed house, I wonder how many hands had touched each during their useful lifetime. Filling another space is a blue-green telephone insulator. For years anybody driving through rural areas took notice of the telephone poles paralleling the road. The poles were strung with one or more wires, each attached to an insulator affixed to the pole. Speaking of telephone lines, remember the “party line” with multiple families on one wire? Each residence had its own ring, for example, two long and one short. But that didn’t stop others on the line from picking up their own receiver and listening in on private conversations!

 

A round pressure gauge fills another square. This gauge would control water pressure from a cistern throughout the house. A thing of the past, the cistern was often built into the basement for collecting rain water – used for purposes other than human consumption. Many other houses used pressure systems for an outdoor well pump.

Another compartment holds a cut-off piece of deer horn used to make buttons for one of my children’s school projects. Sharing the same hole are three keys. Who doesn’t have an assortment of keys lying around – their usefulness gone just as the object they opened is now long forgotten. One is the familiar skeleton key. The other is a “church key”. These openers were offered free when needed for every six-pack of beer purchased. Today these openers are seldom used because of modern packaging.

 

The third key was once attached to the bottom of a can of Spam. With fresh meat being rationed in 1942, urban folks found a likely meat supplement in canned Spam. Spam then became the alternative meat as it required no meat stamps. Spam was eaten cold, fried, baked with pineapple and brown sugar, or prepared using one of the 169 recipes suggested in the Spam cookbook! It was also shipped overseas where GI’s referred to it as “ham that didn’t pass the physical”. That Spam today evokes mixed emotions. The small key is a reminder of its many meals eaten although not always remembered with fondness; yet, once a year I buy the smallest can of Spam I can find and make a sandwich as a token gesture to the past. Until the next time, remember… it’s good for you.

The Ol’ Pack Rat

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 1/1/2021

While sitting at the old desk, I stuck my fingers into the accumulation on the cluttered top and pulled out a tattered magazine. On the cover was a wounded G.I. lying in a tent close to the front lines of a battle while a nurse held his hand. Outside a single star shone on the ruins of a bombed-out church. The magazine is the Christmas issue of LIFE, dated December 27, 1943, at the height of WWII. Price:10 cents. The articles inside are printed in black and white with the advertisements done in bright colors. The main article, “Experienced by Battle”, is a long, “32-page color portfolio of paintings by six well-known US war artist/correspondents”. It provided a moving, descriptive view of what the fighting forces see and do in the action of combat. One of the artists was Aaron Bohrod whose name is familiar to Wisconsinites because of his association with the University of Wisconsin-Madison after the war.

 

On a lighter note, a young celebrity star, Mary Martin is featured in a six-page “Close-Up” section. A two-page collage of cartoons depicting Bill Mauldin’s Joe, Up Front provided a touch of humor to offset the seriousness of war. One cartoon depicted a less-than-satisfied Joe opening up another can of Spam. Other memories surface while I am thumbing through the pages. Ads included variations of the urging: Buy War Bonds. Occasionally when a house is pictured in an ad, there would be a Gold Star Service flag in the front window. The war ration stamps are unforgettable to people who experienced this time period. Pillsbury’s pancake flour had an added incentive to buy their product: ‘Requires No Ration Points’. And who could forget the Burma Shaveditties? Included here is their ad:

 

Loose Lips Sink Ships
Don’t Talk Today;
If You Must Talk,
Step up and Say,
“Burma-Shave!”

 

Car manufacturers of the past such as GM Oldsmobile and Pontiac featured their efforts in making guns for airplanes. Studebaker made aircraft engines. Willy developed the famous Jeep and also built marine engines. With factories converting their production to the war effort, only 139 cars were produced in 1943 for civilian use, increasing to 610 during the next year.

 

Other ads are familiar: Borden’s Elsie the cow and Elmer the bull highlighting LIEDERKRANZ cheese; Bird’s Eye touting “frosted” food with a recipe for succotash; Jell-o featuring four colorful salads. There were 14 liquor ads with names like Four Roses, Old Grand Dad, and Three Feathers. Cigarette ads abounded in full-page ads. Seeing the Lucky Strike ad made me recall the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on Saturday night broadcast over our Philco radio. It was my teenage brother’s favorite program. Being the younger of two children, I rarely was able to listen to what I wanted (e.g. Fibber McGee and Molly) unless my brother was not at home. Not often enough as I recall. Until the next time, remember… it’s good for you.

 

The Ol’ Pack Rat

Posted 6/24/2019

July 2019

 

Arthur E. Clough

 

RSVP Vets Helping Vets Program Helps Veterans and Families Do What They Love

 

Arthur loves to sing, Judith loves books, and Amy loves to give back as a volunteer.  This amazing trio met through RSVP’s Vets Helping Vets (VHV) program.  The program provides rides free of charge to medical and other important appointments for Veterans and their family members who don’t have access to other transportation.

 

Judith and Arthur E. Clough came to Verona from Texas in 2017 to be near daughter Heather R. Bowers.  Arthur is a retired U.S. Army Veteran with 28 years of service. When her parents first arrived, Heather did all the driving for them.  Enter Amy Lasch, who volunteers for RSVP as a VHV driver and in the Madison office. Asked about why she volunteers Amy promptly said, “When my kids went off to college I had extra time, and I wanted to give back.  I enjoy volunteering and it’s important!”

 

Lasch works 70 percent as a Physician Assistant for UW-Health in Madison.  Amy said, “I’ve been driving Arthur and Judith for about a year now.  At first, Arthur couldn’t remember my name and called me ‘Tammy,’ but after a short while he made an effort to remember my name and says ‘I know, your name is Amy!’”  Amy enjoys driving Arthur and Judith to help them get to and from activities and to socialize.  “Arthur talks about himself and his memories, such as singing bass in a choir.  Judith is researching her family history and I drop her off at the library.

 

Arthur goes to activities such as Club 108 at the Verona Senior Center.”

 

Club 108 is an activity program for individuals with early memory loss named after the Verona Senior Center’s address, 108 Paoli Street.  Club 108 Program Assistant Jan Paul said, “Arthur forms friendships and interacts with different ages, physical abilities and backgrounds.  The program uses cognitive stimulating activities such as conversation, crossword puzzles, movies, games, skits, music, gardening, art and photo sharing from trips and guest speakers.”  Jan and longtime volunteer Lou Slamar run the Club 108 program. Verona Senior Center Program Manager Alasa Wiest said, “Club 108 is a growing program with a group of very involved 80 to 90 year olds who meet weekly.  Every other week, our caregivers support group meets at the same time as Club 108, allowing caregivers time for a short break and to confer with one another.”

 

Heather Bowers, daughter of Arthur and Judith said, “Dad sang on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day at the Verona Senior Center and my Mom’s rides to the library every two weeks are an incredible, critical thing for her.  She
sometimes leaves the library with ten books to consume!”  Heather loves the help she gets from Amy and RSVP’s VHV program, “I was doing all the driving myself, it is an enormous help, I would be at my wit’s end without the service.”

 

Amy remembers how proud Arthur was when he sang for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Her greeting from Arthur says it all, “when he sees me he says with a big hug, ‘It feels like forever since I’ve seen you!’”

 

RSVP volunteers like Amy help folks like Arthur and Judith to keep doing what they love! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering as a driver, contact Mary Schmelzer, Driver Services Co-Manager at 608-441-7896 or mschmelzer@rsvpdane.org.

 

Written by Luanne Fax, RSVP of Dane County, Driver Services Marketing & Program Assistant

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