Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Swords & sandwich flags of the 1970s

I saw this ridiculous reminder of the 1970s on eBay and it spurred a nostalgic and fun conversation with Wendyvee of RoadsideWonders.

Nevco's Sandwich Flags are just that — little flags to place on sandwiches at gatherings so that people will know what's what. Because otherwise how would the people of that era have known the difference between a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a turkey sandwich?

These Nevco flags allow sandwiches to be marked as turkey, shrimp, ham, olive & egg, sausage, jelly, bologna, salmon, cheese or bacon, lettuce & tomato.

Think how many picnics and baby showers were saved by these flags!

Imagine your Aunt Ethel buying these at the A&P!

Wendyvee said, "My paternal grandmother would have been over the moon with these." Her grandmother also deployed both those toothpicks with the colorful plastic at the end (I learned they're called "frill picks") and those little plastic swords around the house. "Not on special occasions or anything ... just with a regular lunch or nighttime snack," Wendyvee added. "When I was little, I thought that this meant they were rich."

I have two recollections regarding the little plastic swords. First, I'd stash them away, thinking I could use them with my Star Wars figures. Turn Han Solo into a pirate or something.

Second, we got them when the family went to the Wagon Wheel in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. As I wrote in a 2018 post: "Our family went there often when we were living on Willow Street. Sometimes we'd have dinner there. I would get a Howdy Doody to drink and Adriane would get a Shirley Temple; they were both the same thing — 7 Up with grenadine, I believe. What I remember most are the arcade games and the jukebox. After we ate, Mom and Dad would hang out with friends at the bar and give my sister and I a supply of quarters for the small game room."

The Howdy Doody/Shirley Temple would come with a maraschino cherry pierced through by a plastic sword. 

On this topic, Wendyvee said, "I remember being on vacation at the shore when I was little. Even though I liked Shirley Temples better, I used to ask for a Roy Rogers just so that my drink wasn't the same as my sister's drink."

Wait, I asked, are these alcohol-free "cocktails" for kids different? First, I turned to Wikipedia. 

Roy Rogers: Cola, grenadine and a maraschino cherry. It's the boys' version of a Shirley Temple. It's possible that Rogers himself didn't drink alcohol, and so this was his drink of choice at business meetings.

Shirley Temple: Ginger ale or lemon-lime soda with grenadine and a maraschino cherry. Alternately called a Kiddie Cocktail.

I'm not, however, finding any references online to Howdy Doody being used as a Kiddie Cocktail name. Did anyone else get this in the 1960s, 1970s or early 1980s? Maybe it was only a regional thing, but I can't be the only one who ordered this as a kid. If so, at least it's recorded here for posterity. Let the historians of obscure history rejoice. Stick a Nevco flag that says "WEIRD" in this post.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

1974 Scholastic book: "Captain Ecology, Pollution-Fighter"

This Scholastic book by Tom Eaton, Captain Ecology, Pollution-Fighter (TK2651 of 1974), sought to use humor to help instill compassion and concern for the environment in schoolchildren who were too young to tackle Silent Spring

Captain Ecology takes on the topics like people tossing garbage from their cars, wasteful consumption, giant corporations, vehicle exhaust, smog, pollution-spewing factories, solar power and single-use packaging. He even takes jabs at the mindlessness of television, including the barrage of commercials urging kids to consume, consume, consume. Heady but important stuff for kids in elementary and middle school.

Tom Eaton, who died in 2016 at age 76, was best known for the comics and illustrations he provided for Boys' Life magazine for three decades, starting in 1984, including “The Wacky Adventures of Pedro,” “Dink and Duff” and “Webelos Woody.”

Boys' Life art director Joe Connolly said Eaton “never missed a deadline or made excuses. He is one of the most important contributors the magazine ever had.”

After Captain Ecology but before Boys' Life, Eaton did a comic strip called "Oliver Cool," which is highlighted in this 2021 post on the Who's Out There? blog.

In a 2005 review of Captain Ecology, Pollution-Fighter on Amazon, Andre writes: "I have fond memories of this book. It was in my classroom at Moultrie Middle School near Charleston SC in 1977 when I was in 7th grade and I read it frequently. It was a tough school filled with bullies at the time and this book brought me some needed relief. Basically, it's the somewhat comical adventures of a cartoon crime fighter who tries to protect the environment. Pretty amusing, as our man is often more well intentioned than successful. But near the end, the book takes a serious turn as our man closes by brooding about the fate of the planet. Worth a read for your kids and for you to have a discussion with them about when they're finished. If you like this, I would also recommend Tom Eaton's Book of Marvels that was also in my classroom at the time and that I enjoyed so much that I ordered it again 25 years later. Tom Eaton was a pretty underrated cartoonist who brightened up a pretty dark time in my life."

It's inspiring to see all the ways Eaton entertaining, encouraged and educated young people over the many years of his cartooning career.

Meanwhile, Captain Ecology wouldn't be happy this March 20 news. (Nor should any of us be.)
"The world is likely to pass a dangerous temperature threshold within the next 10 years, pushing the planet past the point of catastrophic warming — unless nations drastically transform their economies and immediately transition away from fossil fuels, according to one of the most definitive reports ever published about climate change.

"The report released Monday from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the world is likely to surpass its most ambitious climate target — limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures — by the early 2030s.

"Beyond that threshold, scientists have found, climate disasters will become so extreme that people will not be able to adapt. Basic components of the Earth system will be fundamentally, irrevocably altered. Heat waves, famines and infectious diseases could claim millions of additional lives by century’s end."