Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pic 'n' Save

After moving to the Riverside-San Bernardino area (real natives from that neck of the woods don't say "Inland Empire!" It sounds like you're trying to sell something) from Oceanside in 1966, we often went to a store in Fontana (which was on the site of a recently closed McDonald's Supermarket--no relation to the fast food chain). This was a store that sold things other stores couldn't sell. And this store had something else... FREE STUFF! I remember getting finger puppets that were absolutely free, even if my parents didn't buy anything!

The store, later I realized, was part of a bigger chain. Over the years, I came to appreciate it. I could get almost anything I wanted for pennies.

When I moved to Texas in 1989, I was surprised that there were several Pic 'n' Save stores in the Fort Worth area (I also refuse to say Metroplex!) But for some reason, after about a year, the store name was changed to MacFrugal. Nothing about the store had really changed except the name...

But remember this: Name changes never happen for no reason! What happened was there was a Pic 'n' Save chain in Florida and this cleared up the confusion of two chains with the same name. Never mind that there weren't any other Pic 'n' Save stores in Texas (that I knew of) besides the one chain I knew from California. Outside California, Pic 'n' Save was MacFrugal.

Fast forward about fifteen years. I was back in California and started noticing the signs were changing. Now it was Big Lots! This was more than just a name change. It marked the beginnings of a merger with a store chain from back East and this chain promised not to sell any junk. For that, you have to go to the 99 Cents Only Store or Dollar Tree.


Riverside's Osteopathic Hospital

I went to Google to look for 4295 Brockton Avenue. It's my birthplace. It was Riverside's Osteopathic Hospital until about 1961, when it became a psychiatric clinic. Years later, when my family moved to nearby Colton, it had become a secretarial college. That's what it was when I left California in 2006. It's also been the site of a bail bonds office. I don't know what it is now.

As a hospital, it was very small. There wasn't even a physician on duty. I was born at 1:15 AM, it was Saturday, but, to my parents, it was still Friday night.

For those who don't know, an osteopath is a physician who employs some chiropractic techniques. Most of my doctors have been osteopaths, but I've only known them to use "normal" medical practices.

Incidentally, Riverside, even though it's the largest city (312,000) of Riverside County, California, doesn't have very "urban" sounding house numbers. The hospital was located in the middle of the city.

Rooftop TV Antennas

Originally, cable television was for people who lived too far away from a local TV outlet to receive it with an antenna. Consequently, Barstow, California, had cable long before Los Angeles, Chicago, or even New York City!

As a student at Tennessee Technological University, living in the dormitory, a cable box came free with the room. Without it, the only channel we could pick up was WCPT-TV, channel 55, in Crossville. That station has long since left the air (1983). We didn't have any "premium" stations. We couldn't even get WTBS in Atlanta (today's TBS). But we could get two of the three network affiliates in Knoxville, most of the stations in Chattanooga, the lone ABC affiliate in Bowling Green, Kentucky (site of then arch rival Western Kentucky University), and everything that came on in Nashville. Since we were on the dividing line between the Central and Eastern Time Zones (but living in the Central), we had to think of the clock accordingly. The 6:00 news on channel 9 (ABC) in Chattanooga came on at 5:00 in Cookeville.

A few years later, the movie channels were added then the special interest channels. Today it's possible to watch everything on TV and never watch anything airing on the local stations. Since the channels can show nothing but commercials, it's not really worth watching most that comes over the air...

I can also tell you about how, in the 1970s, when there was a tropical storm in the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast from Los Angeles, we could get some amazing "skips." I can remember watching something on KNBC, channel 4 (Los Angeles) in 1975. The wind blew and we were watching a news broadcast from somewhere in North Dakota. The picture was absolutely clear! You can't get that with cable!

Ken-L-Ration Dog Food

My dog's bigger than your dog;

My dog's bigger than yours!

My dog's bigger

'Cuz he gets Ken-L-Ration;

My dog's bigger than yours!

North Oceanside Elementary School

When North Oceanside Elementary School was built in 1939, it was a state of the art school with everything every school is supposed to have. It was my first school I went there from September 1962 (Kindergarten) until May 1966 (third grade), when we moved to Colton (next city to San Bernardino, but not far from my birthplace, Riverside).

Let me interject a sidenote here: The day after we settled into the Mount Slover Trailer Village in Colton, my mother was curious and went to the offices of the Colton Joint Unified School District to ask when school started in September. But school was still running... it was still running in Oceanside, too. The administration knew that some schools outside California have school years that end sometime in May. So they promoted my sister and me four weeks before the school year was over. But when they knew we were public school students, sitting at home, doing nothing except watching Sheriff John, they told us to go to U.S. Grant Elementary School as soon as possible. We still had three more weeks of school left! Bummer...

For the students at North Oceanside School, this would be their last year. The school was to be demolished to put in a new freeway to bypass Mission Avenue (California State Route 76). They would go across the San Diego Freeway (I-5) to North Terrace Elementary School.

We didn't keep much in contact with old friends in Oceanside and soon forgot them. But we'd go to Oceanside on the weekends... they had a very decent beach with no charge access. Parking was under $1.00...

Strange, we often went by the old school and nothing happened! It was closed but all the buildings were still standing, something like a ghost town!

Time passed by... I graduated from Colton High School in 1975... I went to three different colleges before dropping out in 1978... Then I joined the Army in early 1979, and was honorably discharged seven years later... I graduated from college, moved away to Texas for graduate school and work... I came back... And we'd go to the beach in Oceanside and nothing happened to my old school... until...

1995, we saw some earth moving equipment on one of our beach trips. About a year after this, we saw what you see at the top of this posting. My old school is where you see the palm trees on the right side. I think one or two buildings are still there. And it really wasn't a freeway... It is the San Luis Rey River Expressway. It has intersections and not on/off ramps.

Just think, it only took thirty years!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Shoes

Remember these? The toe was higher than the heel. And I actually owned two pair of them!

Helms Olympic Bread

"Toot! Toot!"

I remember the Chevrolet panel truck driving in the trailer parks I lived in, both in Oceanside, and Colton, California. It was a mobile bakery shop selling many varieties of breads, cakes, donuts, and pies.

Now maybe the Helms man is partly the blame for my type-II diabetes. After the driver/vendor was done with his route, he offered the kids all the donuts they wanted. He said otherwise, the truck would be full of ants and it saved time cleaning up the truck. I think each of us received 10-15 donuts, which we stuffed into our faces at once. Right after this it was dinnertime and none of us felt like eating!

Helms started in 1932. They were one of the sponsors of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. They provided white and whole wheat bread, as well as other bakery goods, in the Olympic Village. They were the bread providers for the US Olympic teams in 1932 (Los Angeles), 1936 (Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berlin), 1948 (St. Moritz and London), 1952 (Oslo and Helsinki), 1956 (Cortina d'Ampezzo and Melbourne), 1960 (Squaw Valley and Rome), 1964 (Innsbruck and Tokyo), and 1968 (Grenoble and Mexico City).

The founder and CEO of the company Paul Helms died on January 5, 1969. The company struggled to survive. But they managed to do a few gimmicks...

They provided bread for the Apollo 11 lunar mission (July 20-24, 1969). This was the first lunar mission and Helms was the first bread on the moon...

Sadly, though, by the time the astronauts came back to earth, the Helms Bakery was out of business...

Deposit Bottles

If I remember correctly, 6-16 ounce bottles were five cents, 26 ounce bottles were ten cents, and Mother's Pride (1 quart, the biggest size before the advent of PET containers) bottles were fifteen cents. In 1973, when the Colton High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band was raising money for our summer European tour, we raised a heck of a lot of money from collecting pop bottles from many of the citizens of Colton and Grand Terrace.

Remember what supermarkets looked like then? Just past the front doors were baskets and baskets of dirty returned empty bottles.

In October 1979 I left California for Berlin, Germany, for duty with the Berlin Brigade (298th Army Band) of the United States Army. At the PX and Commissary, all of the American soda pop was sold in 12 ounce cans. They said that's the way it always was and I was accustomed to it.

But when I returned to California in 1982, it didn't look any different than the US military stores in Germany. There was a huge void in the supermarkets. No deposit glass bottles. In time the space would be occupied by plastic bottles, but this marked a new era in beverage history.

25 years later, when I was living in Saigon, Vietnam, I bought some Tiger beer at the local supermarket in glass bottles. The price marked was 12,000 dong (about US $.80 then). But the cashier charged me 14,000 dong. The reason? I had to pay a 2,000 dong (12.5 cents) deposit. My girlfriend had left a lot of beer bottles in the house. So the next time I went to buy beer I took seven bottles to the store and didn't pay anything!

Citizens' Band (CB) Radio

Breaker, breaker, one-nine...

This is Gassy Weasel...

I'm looking for a friendly soul today...

Give me your 10-20, but don't give me an 8-1.

I'm just looking for some jaw jacking. Maybe we can meet up the road for a cup of Joe.

Isn't there anyone on the air?

I don't hear anyone...

This channel is dead!

Forget it. If anyone wants to txt me, my cell phone number is...

Ponderosa Ranch

I loved the Bonanza TV series (NBC, Sunday nights, 9:00 PM/8:00 PM Central/Mountain, 1959-73). Here was a Western with very few cowboys... the Cartwrights were ranchers. In 1966, a theme park based on the series was put up in Incline Village, Nevada, overlooking Lake Tahoe (it wasn't far from Carson City or Reno). I went there in April 1975 and August 2004.

The ranch was great. It looked just like the TV show. I especially liked the family house (pictured here). I've often told people I want to build a replica of this house but I know I can't really have it.

It was the only theme park I know of that had its own line of liquor, a working saloon, and a working gambling casino... Heck, this was in Nevada. All those things are legal for adults past their 21st birthday.

I can't say much about the first time I went there but the second time I went with my (soon to be ex) wife and my parents. We took a week long vacation together in my parents' car. It was a bittersweet trip. My dad died shortly after my marriage of 20+ years ended in divorce.

And the Ponderosa shut down on September 27, 2004, my dad's 77th birthday...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hoagy's Petting Zoo

It was a pet shop with a zoo in the back of it. Located near the Rohr Aircraft plant (now Goodrich Aviation) in Riverside, California, you could buy exotic animals there (until the Humane Society deemed that animal to be unfit to live with humans).

The truth is I really don't know what happened to this place. I was last there when I was in junior high school. It was a lot of fun. I discovered I don't like unsalted peanuts (that's what was given to the elephants there).

I would love to hear from anyone who remembers Hoagy's Petting Zoo. The picture I selected for this page really doesn't do anyone any justice.

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour

I remember the Farrell's in Riverside, behind the Tyler Mall (corner of Magnolia Avenue and Hughes Alley). It just wasn't a good place to eat ice cream... the Reuben sandwiches... the unique soda pop from years gone by...

In time that Farrell's became England's Ice Cream Parlour. It became independent. Then I went off to join the Army and spent a few years in Germany. I came back AND IT WAS GONE...

The Farrell's chain survived many years after this. However, today there are only three left... One is in Santa Clarita (north of Los Angeles) and the other two are on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

If you are using the information I put in my old website about one being in San Diego... that one went out of business 3-4 years ago!


A little girl got excited when she saw the office device pictured at the left:

"Look what I found, Mommy. It's a computer. But it doesn't have a CPU. The keyboard is built into it. It has its own printer. And there is no monitor.

"Wow! it sure looks a lot nicer than Daddy's Macintosh Pro!"

ZZZZ Best Carpet Cleaning

Barry Minkow was a whiz kid. He got a few household supplies and started cleaning the carpets in his Los Angeles neighborhood when he was 16. He got to be so good he started advertising on TV and became wealthy at a very young age.

He was shown to be a model kid. Everyone was so proud of him. But he got involved with the wrong kind of people and money laundering. Eventually, he wound up in prison.

Today he works to help people understand that you cannot survive without being honest to anyone, especially yourself.

San Bernardino Valley College Indians

I was a student at Valley College in 1975 through 1976 and again in 1982. I played with the pep band, as the marching band had been disbanded two years before. We were the Indians. SBVC had been the Indians since 1927. The original nickname was the Wrens. It seemed strange to me then that the original nickname had been the wrens... I never saw any wrens. But it isn't that silly a thing... there are many wrens in the nearby desert...

Founded in 1926 as San Bernardino Valley (Joint) Junior College, Riverside Junior College (later known as Riverside College, Riverside City College, and now Riverside Community College) was twelve years older. Valley was always a bigger school with impressive athletic teams and bands. (The Valley College marching band was in the Tournament of Roses Parade long before RCC (Riverside Community College) even thought about being in it.

My band director at Valley was C. Paul Oxley. He was there from the 1950s through the 1980s. A studio trombone player in Chicago, an Army musician during World War II, and a high school band director in Tennessee, I owe a lot of my musical knowledge to that man.

In 2000 the students at Valley College voted to change the nickname of the school to Wolverines. Now wolverines don't even live in Southern California, except in zoos. The reason given for the change was that the term Indian was a pejorative term in describing the people who lived here before white people. Christopher Columbus called the people he saw Indians because he thought he was in Asia (and that's what they called Asians then).

No matter, in 2004, the entire musical program was wiped out so I wouldn't go back to that school today.

One thing many people against the Indians nickname protest is that the nickname demeans Native Americans. Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California, is the Apaches. For many years they abused that name. But in recent years, everything they do is approved by the tribal council of the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona.

There are those who say there are no Caucasian school nicknames. Here are five. I'm sure you can come up with more. I linked the schools. Enjoy...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Continental Trailways

There are people who will tell you that Continental Trailways didn't go out of business... it just got smaller.
It actually started out in 1936 as the National Trailways Bus System, a loose knit group of regional bus companies that could get people from one end of the country to the other. In time there were the local companies and the national system. They were the worst competition Greyhound had.
In 1987, the company (Continental Trailways, not the other Trailways companies) were taken over by Greyhound.
The thing I remember that they didn't go on the same routes. They went to Cookeville, Tennessee (Greyhound didn't, until 1987!) They had very unique buses. And the drivers drove a lot faster!

Betty Crocker Coupons

They came on everything that General Mills sold, even sponges and mops when the company manufactured cleaning supplies! First introduced in 1929, they were a way that household supplies and gadgets could be sold by mail at a savings. The big thing was Oneida pots and pans. You could also get some unique General Mills brand merchandise, like Cheerios bowls.

The coupons had expiration dates many years into the future. The Betty Crocker Catalog went out of business in August 2006 with everything in it being liquidated, with the coupons working until December 15, 2006, even though they had a date printed on them in 2012!

In 2007, the whole program was put online, though it isn't done through General Mills, but another company. Its website is here.

Cabazon, California

When you go from Los Angeles on I-10 and go past Beaumont and Banning in Riverside County, you will come across the town of Cabazon. It's on the right side of the freeway. If you are looking, you will probably look at the huge buildings on the left side of the freeway. The two outlet malls. The gambling casino. And the cheap gasoline. That's part of the land owned by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. They get a lot of money on that stuff.

Going further, you will see some life size models of dinosaurs, which were made famous in the movie, Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985), starring Paul Reubens. Those are Claude Bell's dinosaurs. There's a coffee shop in front of them. Most of the locals spend their time ignoring them.
There is still a sign that says, "Welcome to Cabazon."
But there was once a city of Cabazon that had its own gambling parlor (and a large liquor store which counted, among its many customers, my grandfather). It was incorporated in 1955 for the purpose of running gambling. But the town had more corruption than cities 1,000 times its size (Cabazon only had a population of around 1,000!)
In 1972, the city disincorporated, the only municipality in the state of California to do so...

Camp Fire Girls...

My sister was a Camp Fire Girl. My mother was her assistant group leader. I remember the meetings well. If I remember correctly, the ladder went:

  • Blue Birds (ages 7-8)

  • Adventurers (ages 9-11)

  • Horizon Club (ages 12-17) [their uniform had a nifty yellow blazer]

The organization is actually older than the Boy Scouts, having begun in 1910 by a physician, Dr. Luther Gulick. They would do things together with the Boy Scouts, at least until a group which began in 1912 as Girl Guides became the Girl Scouts in 1915. Actually, they followed the Boy Scouts a lot until the Camp Fire Girls went coeducational in 1975. Then they became the Camp Fire Boys and Girls. In 2001 the name was changed to Camp Fire USA.

Peter Paul Power House

In the early 1950s, my mother was a teenager who needed some money, so her mom (my grandma) told her to go on a TV game show. The show was called Beat the Champ and aired on KLAC-TV (now KCOP), channel 13. The whole point of the game was to build a house out of playing cards. The players kept building until the houses they were building toppled. Mom says she was pushed and her house came down first. She did win the consolation prize: a box of 24 Peter Paul Power House candy bars.
Power House was the only Peter Paul bar that didn't come in two pieces. It was one solid bar. And sometimes it said "Peter Paul" and other times it didn't. No matter. It was a great candy bar. Not too sweet. Not too chewy. But oh, so tasty. I haven't seen one in over thirty years.
Remember the Bob Lilly and Bubba Smith commercial?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Brew 102

It was the cheapest beer you could get. Most of us from the Los Angeles area knew this was the big brewery across the freeway from Los Angeles Union Station.

I was too young to drink the stuff, so I can't tell you what it was like. I do remember all those cans. My grandfather loved it. He was an alcoholic who drank beer for breakfast, wine for lunch, and the hard stuff for supper... He did get on the wagon and lived the last 15 years of his life soberly, though he died of cirrhosis.

Now that I drink beer myself, I've always been curious how this Brew 102 tasted.

Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway

My dad went to work for the Santa Fe Railway in 1961. Historically, that's interesting because the railroad was started 98 years before by Cyrus K. Holliday. But we're not really into that kind of history on this site because that has very little to do with anything that happened later.

The railroad was a good job for a family man. One of the fringe benefits was a passenger train pass. When we lived in San Diego (and Oceanside, about 40 miles north) we often took a trip to Los Angeles Union Station. We'd walk to Chinatown to Philippe's Original to have a French dip sandwich. Then we'd ride home. Olvera Street is across from there. We lived in San Diego until 1962 and then in Oceanside until 1966, when we moved to Colton. Colton, which is near San Bernardino, is close enough to drive in less than an hour.

In 1971, passenger service was stopped on all major U.S. mainland railroads, with the exception of the Denver, and Rio Grande Western, and the Southern Railway. Eventually, those two railroads gave in (and actually faded away, as they were absorbed by the Union Pacific and Norfolk and Western lines). Watching the new trains of Amtrak was fun at that time, since they hadn't bought or repainted any of the rolling stock. It was sad in that there used to be seven trains (or more) between Los Angeles and Chicago. Today there are only two. A few years ago, there were three, with the Desert Wind going through Las Vegas, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, where it hooked up with the California Zephyr.

My dad had his problems with the railroad, as well as his health. He retired at the age of 63 in 1990 and died in 2007.

The Santa Fe Railroad died in 1995 when it merged with Burlington Northern.

So much for old Johnny Mercer songs!

Enco Gasoline

The East Coast had Esso gas stations. For those who don't know, Esso stood for the letters "SO," as this was formerly the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. In California, Texas, Michigan, and even Florida (isn't that on the East Coast?), as well as some other places, we had Enco. It was the same Humble Refining Company that owned it. Actually, I found out that the company was not allowed to use the Esso name in certain jurisdictions, so they used Enco.

What did the name stand for? Who knows?

Enco, like Esso, had the free road maps that folded differently than any other gas station. I used to collect maps like that. It was neat. I had hundreds. Today kids have to buy those things!

I do remember that in 1969 the Enco acquired the Signal gasoline company. There was a service station in my neighborhood owned by a man named Elso. He owned a Signal gas station located in front of Jay's Country Boy Market. As a Signal retailer, it was simply, "Elso's Service." When the company became Enco, the station was now Elso's Enco. Cute. A few years later, when Enco became Exxon, the station became Elso's Exxon.

But, even that gas station is gone. It was bulldozed to make a bigger parking lot for Jay's Country Boy. And now, even Jay's Country Boy is gone.


Those of us who grew up in Southern California in the 1960s remember the big Ts sticking up at most shopping centers. We had one in Colton, at the Mount Vernon Shopping Center. The T itself was an amazing thing. We never thought the day would happen that all those Ts would be taken down and the chain would go out of business.

The chain was actually one of the newer ones, having been started in 1952--actually it was part of a chain known as Fitzsimmons, which started in 1930. It didn't last, though.

The chain went out of business in 1984, though most of the stores were long gone before that time.

Ecuadorian Sucres

You really have to feel sorry for the Republic of Ecuador. The country has gone through its share of coups de etat and other problems. It was the first really poor country I ever visited/lived in. I saw things that I never thought existed anywhere.

Most Americans who know about radio communications know about HCJB, the Voice of the Andes. I spent some time there, mostly getting in missionaries' ways. But, being fluent in Spanish, I could get everyone a bottle of Coke at 3:00 in the afternoon.

When I was there the exchange rate for the sucre (the Ecuadorian former monetary unit) was 100:1. That was 1983. I kept watching that number get higher and higher over the years. This 10,000 sucre note you see on this page, issued in 1988, would probably just buy a bottle of Coke.

In 2001, Ecuador gave up with the sucre and the U.S. dollar (or dolar estadosunidense) became the legal tender. At least you don't have to go to a money changer there now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Warner Brothers Studio Store

This was a souvenir shop where clothing, toys, office supplies, and other paraphernalia with pictures from Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, MGM, and DC Comics (including Mad Magazine) could be purchased. It began in 1986 selling a few books and toys. The stores grew and became a huge chain. It soon spread to Asia, Australia, and Europe.
In 2001, the entire chain went out of business in the United States and in 2004 overseas (there might be a few left).
In 2006, the chain was reborn in China. There are now outlets in Hong Kong and Macau.
For those of us not living in those areas, there is this site.

Burger Chef

It started in 1954 in Indianapolis and became number 2 to McDonald's in a short time. Frank and Donald Thomas created an inside Flame Broiler to make barbecued hamburgers indoors. The idea became quite popular and spread to the East and West Coasts.
They were the first chain to sell hamburgers without condiments so that customers could make their sandwiches the way they wanted them. This is still used in the Roy Rogers chain.
The company was purchased by General Foods in 1968.
They were the first chain to offer a child's meal, which they called the Fun Meal. When McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal, Burger Chef tried to sue but lost in 1979.
In 1982, General Foods sold the chain to the folks that run Hardee's.
For all intents and purposes, Burger Chef went out of business in 1992. However, one outlet in Cookeville, Tennessee, was able to stay Burger Chef until 1996. The name was changed to Pleaser's and it went out of business in 2002.


The Plymouth Division of Chrysler Motors began July 7, 1928. It was to be the competition to Chevrolet (General Motors) and Ford.
For most of the time of Plymouth's existence, the line was nothing more than stripped, cheap (you know you never use that term in advertising!) versions of the more impressive Chryslers. It was also in the shadow of Dodge, which Chrysler bought a few weeks after the inception of Plymouth.
Plymouth eventually got some of its own livery, however it was not always looked as favorably as history makes it look.
Probably the best thing the company did was link arms with Warner Brothers cartoons to create the Road Runner sports car in the late 1960s. The Barracuda was also a very favorably received vehicle.
But many of its line were low priced versions of Chryslers. The last successful Plymouth was the PT Cruiser (PT for "panel truck"). Marketed as a Chrysler outside the United States, after the division died, it became a Chrysler soon thereafter.
Plymouth died after the 2001 model year.

Berlin Wall

It was erected three days after my fourth birthday around the city of West Berlin. It seems that the freedom of access between East Berlin (as well as surrounding communities of the German Democratic Republic) and West Berlin was threatening the surrounding nation's survival.
The Berlin Wall was a very important part of my life. From October 1979 until January 1982 I was one of the Allied service members who guarded the sanctity of the free world in West Berlin. Never mind that I was just a tuba player with the 298th Army Band, but I was there and it made me very proud and proud of my country to do what I was doing there.
The Wall came down on October 9, 1989, eight days after the birth of my second daughter.


It was a tremendous idea. You could fly from Newark (which is actually closer to Manhattan than John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Los Angeles for almost nothing. Prices for this route would range from $29.95 (if you didn't mind flying in the middle of the week at 3:00 AM) to $149.95 for a normal day flight. Checked baggage was $3.00 per item (they were the first airline to make this charge.

Then there was the menu. Food service was not free. A can of soda pop was 50 cents. A brownie was 50 cents. Even a bag of peanuts was 50 cents. It was not unusual to see passengers bring lunchboxes on board.
One of the secrets to how this airline was able to do things so inexpensively was that fares were collected in the air. There was a cashier at the terminal who checked that passengers had cash or valid credit cards (with enough money on them). Then these were collected once the plane leveled out.
Known as Greyhound of the air, PEOPLExpress's terminal at Newark (New Jersey) International Airport looked like a Post House in the middle of the United States.
The airline started in 1981 and was bought out by Continental Airline in 1987. It didn't go broke, as some folks may have thought. This was an idea that worked but it had the competitors scared to death!