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

 

 

Vanishing Americana

Mottvile, NY Post OfficeResident Pat Spillmann checks her post office box at the post office inside the Mottville Emporium in Mottville, N.Y., Monday, April 28, 2014.

Photos and Article By Kevin Rivoli | krivoli@syracuse.com

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL

Across rural America small town post offices are being closed in an effort by the U.S. Postal Service to stop mounting revenue losses.

Being an independent branch of the federal government, the postal service is mostly subsidized by postal fees. The fact that more people are paying bills and communicating online instead of mailing letters has forced the postal service to make deep cuts.

Many of the old brick-and-mortar post offices, slated for closure, could be morphed into village post offices. A village post office is one that is run by a small business owner as part of their retail operation offering limited postal services like selling stamps, PO boxes, or package services

-2a3ade7a10bff7e2Postal clerk Deb Holbein chats with Pat spillmann, right, and Maureen Bishop at the post office inside the Mottville Emporium in Mottville, N.Y. Holbein is also the owner of the Emporium.

Enter Deb Holbein, owner and operator of the Mottville Emporium. The Emporium offers consignment furniture, antiques, dry-cleaning and, of course, a post office, of which she is the clerk.

Mottville, a tiny hamlet in the town of Skaneateles, is made up of the fire department and a single two-story red building that is home to the Emporium and Tea and Treasures General Store.

That’s it. Blink while your driving and you miss it.

“Having a post office means we get to keep our zip code,” says Holbein. She’s quick to note that Mottville has had a post office since the late 1800’s. “We love our post office.”

-3b470a24df724eaePostal clerk Deb HolBein works in the post office at the Mottville Emporium in Mottville, N.Y. Holbein is also the owner of the Emporium.

Mottville resident Pat Spillmann agrees.

Spillmann makes her way through the small cramped overstocked shop to the back corner designated as the post office. She drops an envelope in the mail slot on the countertop, next to the greeting cards and bracelets, and then checks her post office box for the day’s mail. “I like to come in to chat and catch up on what’s going on around town,” she says.

The rural post office is an important fiber in the fabric of the community it serves, no matter how small. Like the 1980’s television sitcom Cheers – it’s a place where everyone knows your name.

-7ace04c55b93a896Mary Buttolph steps outside of the Mottville Emporium which houses the Mottville Post Office in Mottville, N.Y.

-7b4e1d275428835dThe Mottville post office shares space with the Mottville Emporium and Tea and Treasures General Store in Mottville, N.Y.

-6400045ea76176f4Owner and postal clerk Deb Holbein takes care of customer Ruth Klimek at the post office inside the Mottville Emporium in Mottville, N.Y.

This article first appeared in the April 30th edition of Syracuse.com America’s #1 Newspaper Website

 

 

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.

An Uncomplicated Christmas

Seatrs Christmas CatalogIt was the year 1961 and we were planning our Christmas shopping.

There weren’t many choices for us living in a small town in the Pocono Mountains of

Pennsylvania. In those early years much of our shopping was done through catalogs. We would get the big catalogs and also the Christmas issues from Sears Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward.

We would spend hours looking through those catalogs and try to decide what to get other family members. I had received many presents in my younger years from one of those catalogs. The presents were always delivered by mail. No UPS back in those days.

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Deserve A Glance Back?

Born In the 60s

Just finished reading two wonderful posts, America World Peace Keeper, by our very own contributor, Sally Edelstein, and Pushing America’s Reset Button by Maggie Van Ostrand. Both author’s reflect on our country’s “good old days,” when America garnered the respect of the world and was considered the Ambassador of Peace and when “Made in America meant the product might even outlast the buyer.”

There seems to be a lot of action on Facebook lately with postings like the image above, or this one:  “For Anyone who was born in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s…We are the last generation who played in the streets. We are 1st who played video games. We walked over a mile with no worries on being taken. We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else. We played from Atari to Nintendo. We are the generation of Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons and Captain Kangaroo. We traveled in cars without seat belts or air bags. We were taught to say please and thank you, and to have respect for our elders. We were taught to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and to lend a helping hand to those in need. We were taught to hold the door for the person behind us, say ‘excuse me’ when it’s needed and to love people for who they are and not for what we can get from them. We were also taught to treat people the way we want to be treated.” We did not have flat screens, surround sounds, facebook, twitter or computers. Nevertheless, we had a great time!”

Is it because we are becoming weary and frightened by the explosion of fast technology and the way the world may be headed, or are we just looking back through rose-colored glasses?  What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Graphic (not including words) by www.spreadshirt.co.uk

Our USA Summer Must Reads!

We realize there any number of noteworthy and popular summer reading lists – from a selection by the New York Times and Washington Post, to Publishers Weekly, Scholastic Times, and of course the “how to live your best life” selections from Ms. “O”. So we thought we would put together a shout-out of very fine books from our contributors that we thought should be a must read! (Click on the Page Cover and you will be taken to Amazon for easy purchase.)

A Piece of Her Mind By Amy McVay Abbott

Visit a universe where roosters crow 24/7 and The Rolling Stones perform unnoticed on the neighbor’s lawn. Journalist Amy McVay Abbott shares 35 of “The Raven Lunatic” newspaper columns in this romp that will keep you laughing from start to finish. Abbott celebrates Vince Lombardi’s birthday every December, and hopes forever whiter teeth and world peace. Put down your Smart Phone, enjoy a “hot oven meal,” and explore the world of “The Raven Lunatic.”

 

The New Orleans Way  By Liz Newman

Everything comes at a price. Love. Security. Even happiness. On the day of her debutante ball, Rosemarie Kuhn is heralded at “The Next Great Lady of New Orleans.” Despite her love for the lowborn private detective Michael Hennessy, she is betrothed by her mother to marry General George C. Boas. Spurned by the general and a false marriage certificate, she guns him down in front of his favorite tavern at St. Anthony Street. With her family’s income in jeopardy, her home is turned into a casino for high class patrons funded by the first families who brought The Mafia to the United States. As her love for detective Michael Hennessy grows, she is torn from her desire for him and the promise she made to her dying mother.

Giant Killers By Mark Barkawitz

Hidden behind dark sunglasses, long hair and a beard, a mysterious young man in shorts and sleeveless T-shirt runs the streets of a small town in Middle America. Store fronts are closed. The unemployed, like Darwin Charles, sleep on bus benches no longer on bus routes. The factory around which the town has grown, now struggles to stay open. So why has the runner returned when so many others are escaping? At the park, he meets Willy Wood, a fatherless little leaguer who, like his teammates, can’t catch the baseball. When pressed for information, the runner remains elusive, like the answers to the town’s economic woes. The novel tells the story of this fatherless little leaguer and his single mom, who find their fortunes changing when a mysterious stranger arrives.

 Mae’s Open Arms By Shelly Gail Morris

All she wants is a place to call home… and to be able to dance again. The summer before her junior year of high school Amanda has lost her joy in life. After not making the dance team, she’s engulfed in self loathing and bad decisions. One hot afternoon, during a bad drug trip, an old friend, Jered, rescues her. His nonjudgmental, blue eyes remind her of happier times, easier times, before her father left and her mother spiraled into a world of depression. When Jered takes her to his grandmother Mae’s farm, with her kitchen smelling of cinnamon and apples, Amanda wonders if she’s fallen into a bit of heaven. A peaceful feeling surrounds her, but she doesn’t feel worthy of love. Amanda longs to show her talented, generous side, but knows it will be a challenge with a high school full of drama and equally confused friends. Making the right decisions is never easy. Yet what she discovers in the picturesque setting of the farm will change everything for her, and for countless others. A poignant tale of dreams, change, giving back, and strength.

Golden Haze By Larry W. Fish

A family from Pennsylvania is having a great life until tragedy comes into their lives. They are hit with struggles when an unlikely angel shows the powers that will put their lives back together again. The family decides to move south to North Carolina hoping that the mild winters will be easier to deal with. The struggles in Pennsylvania were nothing compared to what they would be facing in their new home. It didn’t take long before the happiness turned to sadness and tragedy. What was going on in their house was tearing them apart. It was putting their little angel to the test, making them all wonder just how much more she could take. How much more could the family take? The terror and the fear continued building up and it was a question as to whether it would reach the breaking point.

 Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton

Anyone who has ever lived in a small town certainly knows that secrets are sometimes not so secret. Susie Duncan Sexton has lived her entire life in a small town—indeed, in the same house where she grew up. As an adult, she taught at the same grammar school that she attended as a child, and many of the relationships she cultivated while growing up, including her marriage, have endured over the years. Always one to document the present and offer her sometimes unorthodox ideas and opinions, Susie Duncan Sexton has tickled the keys of her trusty old typewriter for nearly five decades, and now that venerable machine is ready to reveal its secrets.

This book may be about small town life, but the ideas contained within it are expansive. The written accounts of the life of a ‘smart and sassy small town girl’ are as urbane as those of any city dweller. From ’50s and ’60s nostalgia to modern-day values, and from the drama and insight of America’s great books and motion pictures to politics, religion and animal rights, Susie Duncan Sexton’s ‘secrets’ always hit the mark with unexpected candor and a unique perspective.

How To Get Lucky At Your Prom

Though Prom season is newly over, we just had to post this wonderful essay by our contributor Sally Edelstein. Was it really that way?

Pretty and popular, Patty Barnes was one Lucky girl.Not only was this perky senior voted her High School Prom Queen 1952, the honor came with a gift of a carton of Lucky Strike Cigarettes. Her steady, Rick, a hulking football playing -ROTC- National Honor Society- dreamboat, always knew Patty was one smokin’ gal; like Lucky Strikes “so round, so firm, so fully packed and easy on the draw.” Her yearbook said it best: “As a student and as a ‘personality’ Patty Belongs!”Big Party- Gay Time! After the whirlwind rounds of graduation festivities attending 15 dances, 20 Coke parties, 12 teas, 8 luncheons and 5 barbeques, winding down with a soothing cigarette was a most welcome break for pretty, popular Patty. Does a Girl Who Isn’t Pretty, Stand a Chance to Have Fun?

Vintage Listerine Ad 1950

But then there was poor Babs Johnson. The only date she seemed to have were with her musty old history books.

She read all the magazine articles and took all their advise on becoming popular. Eagerly she joined all the school clubs, taking a job behind the scenes as a prompter for the senior play, timer for the swim team, pianist for the school operetta and assistant in the library. But, she often wondered, does a girl who isn’t pretty stand a chance to having fun? It was only after Dee Dee D’Angelo offered her a Lucky Strike cigarette in the girls bathroom that Babs wised up and saw the light…lighting up could really light up her life. After that she made sure to light up a Lucky whenever the gang was around and it wasn’t long before Babs was wearing her steadies gold football on a thin chain around her neck. Be happy…go Lucky!

American Chronicles

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

The first reaction I had when looking at the photos photographer Brian Goldman sent for consideration for the cover of our Spring issue was, “they look like a Norman Rockwell painting.” And you know what – lots of other people … Continue reading

“In Your Easter Bonnet”

Whitman Chocolates Easter Hat

Easter is always such a joyous time. Of course there is the deep religious significance, and this year there seems to be a abundance of biblical portrayals on television. My best memories of Easter, of course, were as a child. Not only was there a feast of food, and the traditional St. Joseph’s bread that our mother would lovingly make, but it was the anticipation of it all. It was the traditional search for the perfect Easter bonnet. Yes, we did that back then. Before the Second Vatican Council in the late 60s, it was mandatory for women to veil their heads in the Catholic church. At Easter, all women and girls would mark the occasion by wearing their finest Easter bonnet.

After the Second Vatican Council so many things in church changed. Of course as kids we didn’t really realize what was happening – all we knew is that we could finally understand what was being said at mass because it changed from Latin to English. We also got to see who our priest was – he no longer had his back to the congregation – he could actually face the people. Before the Second Vatican Council, we couldn’t touch the host, the priest had to place it on our tongues.  After the council, Catholics could hold the host in their hands, and it could even be administered by lay people.

With our newly elected Pope Francis, change seems to be in the air again. Habemus Papam! The first Jesuit. The first pope from the Americas. There seems to be an absolute  joy spreading out from Rome to the rest of the world. The feeling, an irresistible one, is a feeling of comfort that we have a new man. “You know the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome,” said Francis I, the freshly elected pontiff with a little laugh, as he stood on the balcony in front of the faithful. “It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. But here we are … ” I am hoping that our newly elected Pope Francis will tread in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and preach peace and fellowship to all.

A Happy and blessed Easter to all.

American Made

American Made by Dave BarnhouseWarm memories of those old country stores that are still sprinkled across our land. “The country store was a social gathering place in rural America and offered a wide array of merchandise – groceries, hardware, clothes, medications. In this delightful image a young couple on their motorcycles have stopped by for a cold soda. As a boy admires their powerful machines, two old-timers sit on the porch, intent on a leisurely game of checkers. Mom and Pop load up the pick-up and get ready to head home.” Continue reading