All American Barbecue

Suburbs BBQ

The Smell of Democracy in the Air

Every July 4th our split level development would be shrouded by the smoke of burning charcoal, the sizzling smell of democracy was in the air.

Besides a parade, nothing was more quintessentially American than a July 4th back yard barbecue. Like some sacred Old Testament tradition of sacrificing an animal to please the Lord, every Independence Day a burnt offering of seared flesh was offered up in homage to Uncle Sam.

And in that confident mid-century soaring bull market, Democracy was as vital to our health as a Delmonico steak.

Dad knew tossing a hunk of meat on a sizzling grill, the ubiquitous package of Kingsford briquettes at the ready, proclaimed to the world “I’m proud to be an American.”

The Smell of Capitalism In The Air

Wealth from Waste

In fact nothing was more American than those Kingsford briquettes. Invented by the quintessential American capitalist Henry Ford as a way of further lining his own pockets, Ford had a better idea. By charring the wood scraps left over from his Model T’s and mixing them with starch fillers and just the right amount of chemicals, industrious Mr. Ford created briquettes.

Ford Briquettes

The smell of democracy was indeed in the air – nothing reeked of capitalism more than turning industrial waste into profit.

Excerpt from Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

 

 

Colds, Flu and the Story of Kleenex

Sniffles

It’s the height of cold and flu season again which means it’s all out war on sniffles and red running noses.

For those battle fatigued sufferers, endless reinforcements of Kleenex are constantly being supplied to the front lines.

Today we take for granted those ubiquitous boxes of soothing tissues, but for an earlier generation who battled the 1918 flu epidemic, the existence of Kleenex would have been nothing short of a miracle.

Kleenex Cleans Up

Kleenex wouldn’t make its debut until the mid 1920s and a grateful nation suffering from hay fever and winter colds sat up and took note.

No one was more grateful than my grandmother Sadie.

Tucked into her sleeve, or balled up in her pocket, Nana Sadie never went anywhere without a tissue at the ready, her first line of defense against deadly germs. Nana was certain the air was filled with dust and germs which could then be inhaled resulting in a nasty cold…or worse.

To her, the invention of Kleenex was a modern marvel of science, rivaling sulfa drugs and penicillin in saving mankind. With the simple toss of a disposable Kleenex into a waste basket, you were wiping out thousands of dangerous germs, and saving countless lives.

1918 Flu Epidemichealth-flu -winter 1918

As a veteran of the first and worst flu epidemic every, old fears and suspicion borne of that war, had scarred Nana Sadie for life.

In 1918 America was at war, not only over there but here at home as well. The Influenza epidemic of 1918 meant it was all out war on the home front too.

The public in 1918 and 1919 was petrified of the Flu.

It was a panicky time, when everyone and everything became suspect as the cause of contamination mirroring the Red Scare which reached near hysteria that year.

Provoked by a fear that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent – a revolution that would destroy the American Way of Life, ordinary people became suspect of being Anarchists and Communists.

So it was with the Influenza, when even everyday items such as books, candy wrappers came under scrutiny and attack as transmitters of the dreaded disease.

health-handkerchief

Everything came under suspicion – paper money, ice cream, even wet laundry. No one was safe from that villainous brute Influenza.

“Everyday someone else you knew got sick,” my grandmother would explain sadly.

“It killed the young, the strong, the healthy, the rich, the poor, people who had so much to live for…my own brother and sister, so young, God-rest-their-souls. People avoided one another, they didn’t speak, if they did they turned their faces away to avoid the other persons breathing…”

Dangerous germs, scowling and sneering could be lurking right around the corner- yesterday a suspiciously shared sarsaparilla in a soda fountain, today, a sneeze on a shared seat in a sullied streetcar, tomorrow-who knows- the blunder of a borrowed book from the public library.

But the favorite source of blame continued to be handkerchiefs. Continue reading

A Thing of the Past

The Doctor is Always Within Reach

Vintage ad Mallory Electronics 1949

 A Thing of the Past

Today when it is unthinkable to go anywhere without your smartphone in hand, it’s hard to imagine the excitement and wonderment generated by this post war ad that hinted at the future possibility of a mobile car phone that functioned merely as a…. phone.

Traditionally, progress was what Americans could always count on…new and better ways of doing things.

Replacing one convenience for a new improved model that would irrevocably improve your life for the better has always been the American Way.

Calling All Doctors!

Mallory Electronics

It may be two in the morning raining buckets but in 1949 you could always count on Dr. Higgins. Like the US mail neither rain nor snow nor dark of night could stop the beloved family doctor from making a house call.

When a call for help comes the doctor can’t say no!

But imagine the time when Doc Higgins can be reached even when he’s at the wheel of his old Buick just by picking up his mobile phone. That was the near future offered up to the hopeful reader in this optimistic 1949 advertisement.

Thanks to Mallory, a manufacturer of parts for modern electronic equipment and their contribution to the future of the mobile phone, “the family doctor would always be within reach of his patients. In emergencies he can give directions over the phone as he speed to the side of the stricken.”

“Modern miracles of communication were already happening,” the ad explains. “The spoken message is no longer chained to fixed routes defined by existing wire lines. With equipment now available, explained by Mallory “oral messages can now be sent from one moving vehicle to another and to central control points.”

Call Waiting

Doctors Smoking!

The Doctor Makes his Rounds.

“Wherever he goes, he is welcome…his life is dedicated to serving others” the copy in the ad reads. ” Not all his calls are associated with illness. He is often friend and counselor. His satisfactions in life are reflected in the smiling faces of youngsters like this one and countless others whom he has long attended. Yes, the doctor represents an honored profession…his professional reputation and his record of service are his most cherished possessions.”

Of course this illustration appeared in a 1946 ad for Camels cigarettes, where our kindly family doctor heartily endorses smoking, so perhaps his professional reputation was less than sterling.

Of course modern miracles of communications like the car phone did come to pass, but the idea of a doctor making house calls has become as antiquated as the ad itself.

You may be able to speed dial your doctor on your mobile phone but good luck in getting a timely appointment.

Now all you can count on in our ailing health care system is interminable office waits and astronomical costs.

Today, the smart phone has replaced the car phone but the house call by a family doctor…irreplaceable.