You know you're old when you enjoy recalling your Senior Prom! Ah! Such memories! The girls in flowing evening gowns and the guys in Tuxedos! I guess the kids still dress up for the prom! My daughter assures me they do.
Girls have always loved adorning themselves in fine attire, but who created the Tux for the men? Very interesting story!
The Tuxedo burst onto the scene in 1865, thanks to trend-setting English Prince Edward VII, as an alternative of the more formal tailcoat. From his youth Edward had always been very clothes conscious, and set new trends in fashion. He popularized the Homburg hat and always had his trousers ironed, nautical style, flat to the seam.
Edward's mother, Queen Victoria, tried to live forever, because she didn't want this first born to be on the throne. To put it mildly, Edward was "on the wild side." He was an unruly child, and Victoria tried her best to tame him. At age twenty-two he married Princess Alexandra of Denmark, whom Victoria hoped would be his salvation. She wasn't. In his extra-marital escapades he was greatly helped by his wife's dignified "blind eye."
The Prince was cited in more than one divorce case and was having affairs with other women until well into his sixties. His mistresses ranged from French chorus girls, society ladies, and such celebrities as Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry. He had a great appetite for women, food, drink, gambling, and travel. Queen Victoria was appalled and confided to her Journal, "What will become of the poor country if I die?" So, she tried to live forever, but, of course, she couldn't.
Edward VII was King of England from 1901 to 1910, and surprisingly he served as a very conscientious King. He made every event an occasion of great pageantry and display, and he loved wearing his Tuxedo to all these affairs.
He died of heart failure, but not until he heard the news, "Your horse won at Kempton Park races."
My husband, the musician, owned three Tuxedos. They served as uniforms! After teaching percussion all day, he would put on the Tux and play a gig!
I was head of the Speech and Drama Department at Dallas Baptist University, so I made a lot of costumes for my productions. I also made costumes for my children who took tap dance lessons. I openly claimed I was a great costume maker. My son, Phil, who was six years old at the time, was in a dance routine where he needed a Tuxedo. At about the same time my husband announced that he needed a new Tuxedo. That day I went to the store to buy a pattern for a tux for my son. Pictured on the pattern was a man in a Tuxedo, but the pattern was marked, size 6. I got home, threw the pattern on the dresser. My husband come home and saw the pattern. He was in a panic! He thought I had decided to make him a Tux! "No! You're not! I will not wear a home made Tux!" he exclaimed. I pointed out that the pattern was marked SIZE 6. He was thrilled and immediately went out and bought a new Tux!
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you remember the first time you ever drove a car! I certainly do. It was a '39 Chevrolet. Daddy got stuck with it during the war. No new cars were made until 1946, and they were left over 1940's.
I was thirteen years old when Daddy took me to the long, wide, tree lined avenue leading from Mockingbird Lane to Dallas Hall, SMU. I drove up and down that avenue until Daddy thought I could make it on the streets of Dallas. Actually, there were not many cars on the streets of Dallas then. Nevertheless, why would he let me drive at such a young age?
My mother never learned to drive! She called Daddy any time she wanted to go anywhere! Now, if Daddy could get me a junior license, one that allowed an underaged driver to drive accompanied by an adult, he would have it made. Mother was an adult, and I could haul her around! This I did
Now, you Boomers and we Boomer parents had a whole different situation. In high school, one could take Driver's Ed. Yeah! I never had to teach anyone how to drive! If a kid passed Driver's Ed, he or she was given a license.
Now, some of you Boomers are taking away your parent's car keys. I know. I hear the complaints. In fact, I just paid a fortune to the eye doctor to make certain I pass the eye test for my driver's license in September.
No one wants to give up their freedom--a driver's license. This includes Vicki Wood! Who in the world is she? She was the first woman to drive in the NASCAR races. Yes, a woman broke the gender barrier in the 1950s and 1960s, and set a speed record of 150.3 miles an hour.
She was known as "the fastest woman in racing," and many men would not compete with her. Who would want to be beaten by a woman!
Vicki was born in Detroit and after high school she married in 1941. Her husband was killed in Germany during WW II. She then married "Skeeter" Wood, who took her to a "Powder Puff Derby," where she noted, "I could drive better than any of those women."
She then began to compete with men, winning the Daytona International Speedway Race, and then in her '58 Pontiac she taught the men a lesson by winning the 50 MPH safely passing event. She went on to win many, many honors.
On June 6, this year, Vicki died at 101 years. She loved the competition that went with race driving all the years in which she was involved. But, do you know what really got to her? She was furious at her children, and she refused to forgive them! They made her quit driving at 99! They took her keys!
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you have stories about the Highland Park Cafeteria.
In 1925 Carolyn Goodman opened a little restaurant on Knox Street, Dallas, Texas. She served homecooked meals and, of course, her eatery became a very, very popular place. She was fondly known as Mama Goodie or Miss Carolyn, and because of the many people coming regularly to her restaurant, she moved into larger quarters on the corner of Knox and Cole where she served thousands at that spot. She named it the Highland Park Cafeteria, and for years it was one of the most popular eating places in Dallas.
I grew up eating there often, and later I termed it my mother's "sorority house."
My children grew up eating there, and much later my son escorted his grandmother to her beloved cafeteria and told this story. "I took Granny to lunch at the Highland Park Cafeteria where she always selected a chicken leg, Jello, hot tea, (Don't forget the lemon!) and chocolate pie. We were seated, we ate, and then Granny asked, 'Is this my chocolate pie?' I told her it was. And it was then she exclaimed loudly, 'Hello, chocolate pie!' I held my laughter!"
My mother lived near Knox Street, so every day she would walk up to the cafeteria, order her usual, talk to the other old ladies that she knew, and walk home. That's why she lived a healthy life until she was 90 years old. When the weather was bad, she would call me and I would take her to the cafeteria and promise to pick her up in two hours. She had time to eat and socialize.
I was on the staff at First Baptist Church, downtown, so I could easily do this chauffeuring. One day I took mother to the cafeteria, let her out with this promise, "I'll be back in two hours."
Well, when I got back to the church, I got the call, "Emergency meeting for the staff." I went to the meeting, which lasted forever. I lost track of the time and didn't think of my mother. I looked at my watch. It had been over three hours! I rose to my feet and shouted, "I forgot my mother!" Dr. Criswell, our pastor, a real sweetheart, said, "Go, child. Get your mother."
I arrived at the cafeteria and there was my mother talking with one of her friends. She wasn't conscious of the added time that had passed.
"Oh, here you are. This lady and I were having the nicest conversation." You can see why I always called the Highland Park Cafeteria my mother's sorority house!
She disliked eating anywhere else. One day, we were eating at another cafeteria, which will remain nameless. There was a sign at each table. "This cafeteria is 50 years old!" Mother looked at the sign and said, "Yes, that's about right. I remember eating here. The food was bad then and it's still bad! We need to be at the Highland Park Cafeteria!"
We'll surely miss this cherished and beloved icon of Dallas!
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you can fondly remember your first pet! It was usually a dog! Right?
My first pet, a dog, was also my son's first pet! Here's the story!
My mother was in her 40s when I was born, thus she always called herself, "An Older Mother!" When I was about five years old I asked for a dog. Mother's response came quickly. "I'm an older mother. I can barely take care of you. I can't take care of a dog!" I promised that I would take care of the dog, but Mother knew that wouldn't work out.
I had a good friend across the street who had a dog. I suggested, "Please bring your dog to my house, and when my parents see how cute your dog is, they will get me a dog." She put her dog on a leash and we walked him across the street! I had high hopes.
We led the dog into the back yard where my father was tending his garden. The dog took one look at my father and bit him!
I don't have to tell you what happened then! We quickly led the dog back across the street, and I never got a dog.
Years passed. My parents came to see me and my two kids, Jill and Phil. Mother exclaimed, "You're rearing that boy without a dog!"
WHAT???? "You wouldn't let me have a dog!" She quickly responded, "I was an older mother and you were a girl. This boy needs a dog!"
I couldn't believe it, but my mother and father and Phil left to get a dog. I thought they would go to a pet shop and come back with a darling little critter! NO! They went to the pound! They came home with the ugliest dog I had ever seen!
"This is our dog???" I cried. Mother explained that Phil picked him out of the group of dogs that were on death row!
"Phil wanted him! Phil saved his life!"
When I recovered from the shock, I asked Phil, "What are you going to name him?"
I had this student at Dallas Baptist University named Ray Campbell. When I took my children to visit the campus, Ray always talked with Phil and they had an instant friendship.
"I will name him Ray!" Well, that was fine with me. And Ray, the student, was thrilled over Ray, the dog!
I want all to know that Ray was the smartest mutt in the world. He could sit up and beg, he could shake hands, and he could roll over and smile. I loved Ray!
Ray grew to an old age. When Phil was in college he came home and I, with tears in my eyes, told him that Ray had to be put down. He was so sick, he just couldn't live any longer. Phil took him to the Vet. When Phil returned I asked him, "What did you say?" Phil responded, "I said 'So long Ray!'"
That was it! I cried and cried. I never wanted another dog!
For other great dog stories I suggest you read any of the James Herriot books. He was the loveable Vet that wrote about his experiences.
Dr. Phil Woodall was our Vet. I met his wife some time ago and asked about Dr. Woodall. His wife said he retired. He knew all the kids and all the dogs and when those grown kids began to bring those dogs in to be put down, he was ready to retire.•
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you remember Kookie Edd Byrnes, star of 77 SUNSET STRIP. I was sorry to read his obituary, January 12, 2002. He was 87 years old.
Edd was best known as Kookie on the private-detective series, 77 SUNSET STRIP, which ran from 1958 to 1964. He played a hip parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub who helped out with cases. He was known for his hipster lingo, including the catch phrase "Baby, you're the ginchiest!" When he wasn't making wisecracks, he was lovingly combing his well-greased hairdo.
"Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" was a novelty record he recorded with Connie Stevens. It sold more than one million copies and rose to Number 4 on the Billboard Chart.
He became a teen idol who received 15,000 fan letters a week. This was at the height of his popularity.
But Edd began to complain about his contract. He felt he should have a bigger part, so he walked off the show.
Still longing for bigger parts, he signed with Warner Brothers and worked steadily, but never achieved the fame of his Kookie years.
He appeared in dozens of movies and episodes of several TV shows. The last big moment came when he appeared in the movie GREASE with John Travolta.
All this time he was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.
In the late 60's, the dinner theatres were all the rage, and Kookie came to Dallas to appear at Granny's Dinner Theatre on Coit Road.
My agent called me and told me I had a part in a play at Grannys--I was to play Kookie Edd Byrnes' mother! We were the same age, but I was used to playing the "character" roles. I cannot remember the name of the play, but I do remember that Kookie drew large audiences for all the four week run of the play.
I was teaching Speech and Theatre at Dallas Baptist University, and one afternoon, I took Kookie to class! The kids were thrilled to meet him. He was a delightful guest.
My daughter Jill, 12 years old at the time, asked if she could go to the play one evening. Plays in those days were suitable for children, so I got Jill a ticket. It just so happened at that performance at intermission a man in the audience died. He was hauled off, and the audience insisted the show must go on!
After the show, I came from backstage to get Jill. She was standing at the table where the man had dropped dead. Loudly, Jill exclaimed, "Look Mother. Look at this table. Alcohol and cigarettes! You smoke! You drink! You die!"
I always scared my children to gain control. After all, THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM! Here was living proof.
Yes, as I read Kookie's obit, I had memories of the TV show and of the Dinner Theatre production. And I couldn't forget that he and I are the same age! Praise the Lord! I'm still alive!
You Know You're Old When...
December 2019/January 2020
You know you're old when you can remember Lucy, the Vitameatavegamin Girl. That routine was one of Lucy's best. She finagles her way into making the commercial for this cure-all. Now, those cure-alls were cure-alls, because they were 50% alcohol. Naturally, Lucy gets loaded while making the commercial. What fun!!!!
There is a new book out, THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES by Tom Standage. This book tells of the making of beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and soda water. In the chapter about soda water, the cure-all is explained. In May of 1886, John Pemberton, a pharmacist who lived in Atlanta, Georgia, invented a drink, which became Coca-Cola. But, before that, he was a tinkerer who was really looking for a cure for headaches.
He was an experienced maker of what was called "patent medicine." These quack remedies were hugely popular in the United States during the 19th century. These pills, syrups, creams, and oils were generally triumphs of advertising over pharmacology. They were harmless, but most of them contained a large amount of alcohol or sometimes, opium or morphine.
There were Medicine Shows that traveled the country presenting comedy acts, singers, orators--all who promoted the medicine, the cure-all.
There were several of those patent medicines that I do not recall. I do NOT remember Paw Paw Pills to Coax your Liver into Action! Then there was Dr. Moore's Indian Root Pills that made you feel terrific! Then there was Dr. Kidd's Elixir of Life that claimed to cure EVERY KNOWN ailment! Just one dose of Dr. Kidds and "rheumatism, neuralgia, stomach, heart, liver, kidney, blood and skin diseases disappear as by magic."
Then there was St. Jacob's Oil, which was said to remedy "sore muscles." Big money was spent on advertising. The patent medicine business was among the first to recognize the importance of trademarks and advertising of slogans.
Now, I do remember so well, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. I remember it because I had an aunt who was taking it for relief from all the miseries that came during a women's "change of life" time. My mother made fun of this aunt, because she was still taking Lydia Pinkhams's when she was 75 years old! Mother often commented, "I think she has gone through the change by now!" Why would she keep taking it? Don't forget it was 50% alcohol.
I have never forgotten Hadacol, the cure-all of the late 40s and early 50s. This elixir was created by Dudley J. LaBlanc, a Louisiana State Senator, who had no medical knowledge whatsoever. He complained to his doctor that he had pain in his foot and elsewhere. The doctor sent him some Vitamin B, and LaBlanc did get some relief. That's when he decided to create a vitamin packed cure-all with added alcohol, and he came up with the name Hadacol for his creation. What LaBlanc lacked in medical knowledge he had in promotional ability, because he got several stars, including Lucy, to promote his product.
He also organized show troupes to tour Texas and Louisiana for the Hadacol promotion. When I was a student at UNT I auditioned to be in one of the show troupes and was accepted. I told my mother, "I'm going to tour Texas with the Hadacol Troup." Her answer came quickly. "No, you're not! Show troupes are filled with 'common' people." That was the worst thing you could be according to my mother was "common." "Besides," she went on, "You would get 'ruined.'" So, I didn't get to go on tour. I went to summer school!
What happened to Dudley J. LaBlanc and Hadacol? Well, he didn't keep good books, so he went bankrupt. END OF HADACOL!
Because I went to summer school, I graduated a year early! That was not "common."•
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you remember the first chocolate candy bar you ever enjoyed! Now, for us oldies of World War II, we remember that we didn't have chocolate to enjoy. It all went to the armed forces. But you Boomers, you had it all! No shortage of anything for you!
I bring forth CHOCOLATE because I just returned from a glorious cruise with Celebration Magazine to Cozumel, Mexico, and George Town, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Jamaica, and these are the places where the Spanish in the early 1500s discovered CHOCOLATE. Cortez and his Spanish conquistadores had never tasted this fabulous drink made from the cocoa beans that flourished in this part of the world.
Needless to say, they were impressed and took the cocoa beans back to Spain with this order, "Share with no one." These beans were so valuable, they were used as currency in Spain.
Eventually, someone from Switzerland acquired some of the beans, and as the years passed, the French, the Germans, and the English had CHOCOLATE! This didn't happen over night.
But there was no CHOCOLATE in the United States! And, just think, cocoa beans grew on this continent!
However, in 1893, at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the US was celebrating 400 years of Christopher Columbus--1492 to 1893--the creators of the fair were running late!--the Germans brought over CHOCOLATE for their display. I collect souvenirs from this fair and they are all misdated--1492-1893! Seeing that, always makes me feel good. Even the great run late!
There was a gentleman visiting the fair who was in the caramel candy business, the truly fine candy of the day in the US. He tasted the CHOCOLATE and immediately decided to sell his caramel candy company and go into CHOCOLATE. He bought a CHOCOLATE plantation, a dairy, and a sugar plantation (Sugar grows in the area too!) and sewed up the whole scene. His name--Milton Hershey!
He created a town in Pennsylvania where he made his CHOLOLATE candy, and today the company is turning out the greatest CHOCOLATE candy and continues to make millions of dollars.
But there is another great story of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Hershey, Kitty, could not have children. The Hersheys decided to adopt some children. She went on to adopt 100 children from the streets of New York City--little waifs, who had nothing. They were taken to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she built a home for them. There they were given a life. They had only one thing to do--be nice! They were required to keep their rooms, do their homework, be polite, work on the farm, behave! That's it! They were to do their best! That's what is required of all of us. They were given a home until they graduated from high school, and then they could go to the college of their choice! I know a gentleman here in Dallas who is a graduate of SMU, courtesy of Hershey Chocolate!
In other words, when you buy Hershey Chocolate, you're supporting the Hershey home for children.
Eat chocolate and take tours and cruises with CELEBRATION MAGAZINE. You have the best then!
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you remember purchasing Travelers Cheques, opening a Christmas Club Account, or being given a toaster for opening an account at your local bank.
I use to travel a lot. I've slowed down some, but I couldn't turn down a cruise with the Celebration staff and friends this August.
But, rest assured I travel today with a credit card that is accepted anywhere, so I don't need Travelers Cheques for any tour.
However, between 1891 and 1991, Travelers Cheques were very, very popular. American Express developed a large-scale international travelers checque system in 1891, when the CEO of the company, J. C. Fargo, had trouble in small European cities getting funds from his "line of credit." The system took off in a big way and really flourished until about 1991, when credit and debit cards were the acceptable way of purchasing items anywhere.
I was rummaging in my desk the other day, and lo and behold, I found some Traveler's Cheques. How could I have possibly missed them? They were the same as cash! I rushed to my bank and presented them to the teller, who said, "Haven't seen these is a while!" I immediately asked "Are they good?" She told me to sign them and I'd receive their cash value. I was so excited. This was money from heaven! In fact, I plan to give the money to my church! Why not! It's money from heaven.
While I was at the bank, I asked the teller if she ever read the comics. I didn't give her a chance to answer, because I went on to tell her of the latest episode of CRANKSHAFT, the cartoon about the school bus driver who hates kids. Mr. Crankshaft was banned from his bank, because he caused trouble there. He came in with his Christmas Club Account. The young tellers didn't know what it was. He explained that people use to save up for Christmas, and then when Christmas shopping days arrived, they had the money in their Christmas Club Account to pay for all of their purchases. "What a unique idea!" exclaimed one of the young tellers!
I still have a toaster that I got when I opened an account at one of the banks. In bygone days, customers expected gifts!
Those days are over! But we remember--in the case of bygone days, there were also Green Stamps one could redeem for great awards!
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you can remember seeing a SODA JERK at a Soda Fountain! Now, you Boomers probably do not know what I'm taking about, unless you happened to frequent the Highland Park Pharmacy on Knox Street. There was always a soda fountain there, but it's gone now. The building was torn down. It's called progress!
I just recently read that writer Jack Kerouac, singer Patsy Cline, and artist Andy Warhol all worked as "soda jerks." The name developed with the soda. The spigot of carbonated water had to be "jerked" in a certain manner to make the soda fizz. Soda fountains blossomed in the 1930s and 1940s, but they were a thing of the past by the late 1950s.
The most famous Soda Jerk in the world was Wade Morrison, who came to Waco, Texas, from Virginia in 1885 and bought the Old Corner Drug Store. He was in love with a Doctor's daughter in Virginia and the doctor didn't think he was worthy of a doctor's daughter. After all he was a Soda Jerk. The doctor suggested he leave!
Now, he owned a drug store and a pharmacist, Charles Alterton, who was working for Morrison created a drink that everyone craved! It was truly special. Many, many people came in for this special drink. R. H. Lazenby tasted it and decided he would bottle it in Dallas.
"What will you name this great drink?" Morrison was asked. Former Soda Jerk, Wade Morrison, said, "I'll name it after the doctor who threw me out of Virginia, Dr. Charles T. Pepper!"
This story cannot be proven! But as I always say, "Don't let the truth interfere with a great story!"
The next time you're in Waco, don't stop with Chip and Jo, the Fixer Uppers. Be sure to visit the Dr. Pepper Museum. It opened in 1904 in Waco and the fine displays will tell you all of the great stories about Texas' favorite drink, Dr. Pepper.
You Know You're Old When...
You know you're old when you remember Looney Tunes from Warner Brothers. You may have seen them on the movie screen or the television screen. Whatever? But do you remember those great characters?
Well, those characters were born in Dallas!
A young man by the name of Fred Avery was a student at North Dallas High School, corner of Haskell and McKinney Avenue. I graduated from North Dallas Hi! Many people ask me, "Why is that school named North Dallas? It's almost down town." Well, when I attended North Dallas, it was actually in North Dallas. Mockingbird Lane was considered the end of the city!
Nevertheless, in the 1930s Fred Avery was a student there. He was an artist. In fact, in the art room of North Dallas High, Fred drew a cartoon of a rabbit and the rabbit said, "What's up, Doc?"
One evening, Fred was at White Rock Lake observing a duck who was splashing in the water. He thought, "What a Daffy Duck?" Fred later drew a duck in the art room of the school.
When Fred graduated from North Dallas, he went to the Dallas Morning News and inquired about a job as a cartoonist. The powers that be told him he wasn't any good!
This spurred Fred on to other goals--Hollywood! There he was accepted as a fine cartoonist and eventually created Looney Tunes with Warner Brothers. Because he was from Texas he was fondly known as Tex--Tex Avery, one of the most well known cartoonist in the nation.
I must admit, his creations are not exactly politically correct today. If you remember Porkey Pig stuttered. "That's all, folks!" Sylvester the Cat, lisped! "Suffering Succotash!" But they were funny in a polite way!
Tex died in 1980 remembered as a the great cartoonist of the golden age of American Animation.
Warner Brothers sent a cartoonist to North Dallas High School who drew all of the Texas Avery cartoons on the walls of the school. They are there to encourage the students that they too can fulfill their dreams. It's America! The sky is the limit!