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...