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!