MEMORIES OF EVERGREEN

    We didn’t have NCIS when I was growing up.  We didn’t even have TV.  TV didn’t come to town until I was in the 5th grade.  We had ‘The Shadow’ and ‘Dragnet’ on radio… and personally, I had THE GLOBE DETECTIVE AGENCY just across the street from my house!

    On the corner of Peabody and Evergreen, at 801, resided the Welchels, a middle aged couple who operated the detective agency from their home.  They were, wording it thoughtfully and respectfully, ‘different.’

    I live at 802 for the first 19 years of my live.  Mrs. Welchel was a semi-friend type of person, who ventured out of the house to shop, or for what ever purpose.  But I can’t say that I ever once witnessed him leaving the premises, or even venturing onto the front porch for that matter.  There were however, frequent ‘visitors’ there, who parked either in front of the house, usually, around the corner on Peabody.  The Welchels owned and managed the agency… these come and go ‘visitors’ were the legs and ‘eyes’ of the company.

       I was inside that house (front room only) less than 1/2 a dozen times, if that many. He was a large man, usually sitting behind that was to me a HUGE desk, that was always VERY CLUTTERED. On it were stacked with reams and reams of paper!  And usually, at least one cat was sitting on a stack of paper like a fully paper-weight.  

    I have memory of her that will never fade — of her standing at the front door and in a shrill voice, calling the cats inside… “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty”…. all strung out like that and run together as if it was one long word!

   Evergreen was truly a street with CHARACTER! 

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My First Airplane Flight

THE SUPER CONNIE

     My first airplane flight almost wasn’t.  Let me explain.

     I’ve always liked airplanes, models as well as the real things.  My first model was given to me by an older first cousin, years before I was capable of building it.  And, during the 40s and 50s our home in ‘Doodleville’ of south Jackson, MS was right on the landing pattern of Delta and Southern airlines flying into Hawkins Field. 

     Two weeks after graduating from Mississippi College in 1963, I was sworn into the 172nd Military Airlift Group of the Mississippi Air National Guard… and immediately shipped off to basic training at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas.  That trip was to be the very first airplane flight in my life… the flight that almost wasn’t.

     At that time the 172nd was flying the aircraft in the photo… the Lockheed Super Connie, the military version of the highly successful Super Constellation commercial airliner.

    I was really looking forward to that first flight.  It seems strange now, for someone who’d always loved all things flying, that this was to be my very first flight – at age twenty-two!  But that was how it happened.  And now, that exciting time had finally come! 

    One by one, the four powerful engines roared to life, and the whole airframe shook like a living being.  I’m sure I must have been grinning from ear to ear.  After a brief engine warm-up, we taxied out to the end of the runway.  Soon… we’d be airborne!

    The engines roared to full power and the plane lunged forward.  We slowly gathered speed, and within seconds we were really streaking.  Then suddenly, all four engines throttled back, the brakes began squealing, and we came to a squealing stop near the end of the runway.  The engines were shut down.  A few moments later the pilot walked back through the cabin explaining that ‘we’d had a slight problem.’  I didn’t consider not being able to takeoff as ‘a slight problem.’

    Soon, a truck came along side, and a couple of mechanics set up a ladder next to an engine on the right side.  They removed a few panels to expose the ‘problem’ motor, and began ‘tinkering.’  After about twenty minutes, they put the panels back in place, climbed down the ladder and had a pow-pow with the flight crew beneath the engine.  A few minutes later the mechanics drove off.  Our crew came back aboard and announced that were were going to ‘try it again.’  That was the exact words!

    Once again, the engines roared to life, we turned around, and taxied back to where we’d started… and, as the pilot said, we ‘tried it again.’

    This time, our take-off was a complete success.  After a quick climb out, we turned and headed toward Texas.  I was on my very first airplane ride!

    But that was not the end of the story.  The ride to Texas was somewhat bumpy… actually, it was much like a roller-coaster ride on a very old and rickety roller-coaster!  I was totally embarrassed when I became air-sick!  How dare myself!  I, the lover of airplanes, was air-sick!  How mortifying!  It was all that I could do to keep the contents of my stomach down.  When we landed at Lackland I was probably the only one on the base to be GLAD and THANKFUL to be down on the ground so that I could begin basic training!

    But that’s not the end of the ‘Bill got air-sick on his first flight’ story.

    My time in Texas included about a month and a half of basic training in San Antonio, and then on to technical school in Wichita Falls which lasted until the second week of December.  A holiday fell about the mid point of that time which effectively gave us three days ‘off,’ Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  We were allowed to travel only a hundred miles, which was great for those from Texas… but to Mississippi was much farther.  Taking a HUGE chance, I booked a flight HOME anyway.  (Technically, I was AWOL!

    My second flight would be with Delta Airlines.  And this time, I firmly RESOLVED that I would NOT get air-sick.  I willed myself not to.  And, to prove to myself that I would not… I tempted fate! This was in the mid 1960s, before the days of airline peanuts.  Back in those day, hot MEALS of REAL FOOD was served.  We also had a SELECTION!  So I chose FRIED FISH… and selected MILK as my drink!  And yes, I ate it all!  And no, I didn’t get sick!  Also… I’ve never gotten air-sick again!

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FOOTBALL HERO

EnochsArrow

    During my school days, I was a football hero!  Ok, I played football.  Alright… I went out for football.  But in my defence, I STAYED with it for the entire school year of 1954-55.  I also was awarded the coveted Enochs Junior High maroon and white football jacket with the big ‘E’!  The December 10, 1955 article in Jackson Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger attests to this.  I was counted in the number.   Maybe I was ‘last on the list,’ but I was on the list!

    The truth of the matter is: the letter ‘E’ on my jacket was not an award for Excellence on the football field, but a recognition of Effort on my part.  The coach pointed this out, saying that I never missed or was late for a practice… not one.  I’ll take that ‘E’.

    I wasn’t good at football.  I was too small and underweight for one thing.  During practice, I endured (to me) some rough treatment, often times to the great glee of my more macho teammates.  

    The bulk of that football season, I sat out most the games on the bench.  But one game, we were trouncing the other team by a very wide margin.  It got down to the closing seconds of the game, and we were on defence.  The coach had mercy on me, and SENT ME IN!  We held them with no advance, so with seconds to go, we we now on the offence.  I turned and headed back to the bench… but the coach yelled for me to stay in the game.  So, I played my second actual game play, this one on offence.  And then, the whistle blew, and the game was over.  I’d played a play of defence, and one of offense.  And that was total field-time experience in football.

     The truth:  I was not a fast runner, nor an acurate passer, so I was never considered for the backfield.  The ‘safest’ place for me, underweight as I was, was on the line!  I played right tackle!  Yes, I got ‘busted’ lots of time during practice, but knowing I’d not be ‘used’ in real games… I was best used as a practice dummy.  Oh well… this dummy still earned his coveted Enochs E.

     So when anyone asks today, ‘Did you play football in school?’  I can honestly reply, “Yes, I played Right Tackle.  I played offence and defence!” 

 

 

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IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO

2 CokeBill Murphy  2020    

I was young and impressionable at the time, hardly thirteen at most.  Impressions can be both negative and positive.  This one was a most positive impression, one that’s stuck with me all of my life.  

     It happened around 1953, the dawn of rock & roll.  Soft drinks were a nickle each, and came only in glass bottles.  When returned to the seller, you were paid a two-cent deposit on the empty bottle.

     On weekends, I worked in the Jitney grocery store that my father managed in Mart 51.  I did odd jobs around the store, keeping the shopping carts orderly, and bagging groceries.  I was also tasked with emptying the trash containers in the check-outs stands.

  I was emptying a bag of trash into the dumpster when I heard the distinct clink of glass.  “Oops, ”I remarked aloud, “Someone carelessly threw away a bottle.” 

     “No, not one, but two!” The remark came from Authur England, one of the store’s full-time employees.  “One bottle can’t rattle!”

     I stood frozen in my tracks, allowing this jewel of truth to sink in.  

    Almost seventy years later, when my grandkids and great-grandkids begin to bicker and fuss, most often as not pointing a finger and proclaiming, ‘They started it!’  I stop them with this simply truth: It takes two to rattle.

     Thanks Arthur, for sharing your wisdom!

 

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TEARS TO MY EYES

© 2020  Bill Murphy

The attached photograph was taken in the mid to late 1940s.  It was taken in my backyard on Evergreen, probably by my mother.  That’s me on the left: my cousin Terry Padgett in the center (about 3 years younger): and my cousin Pat Fairchild on the right (2 years older than me.)  I use this photo as an example to illustrate the following story.

This past Tuesday I made a mistake, and drove to my writer’s club meeting at 1:30, instead of the correct time of 6:30.  Oops!  So I decided to make the best of an ‘bad’ situation, and stopped by one of my nearby favorite local junk-tique stores. 

Once again, I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without, but I did walk and scan every aisle upstairs and down.  Just before leaving the store, I saw a small book on a table, a book that someone obviously, could live without.  The book measured about eight by twelve inches, and no more than a half inch thick.  PHOTOS in gold type was printed on the cover.  I couldn’t help but pick it up.

I looked at every page.

This was a photo album, a photographic record in black and white, of the warm and colorful life of a typical 1940s family.  Dress styles, hair styles, and automobiles gave away the dates of the photos.  I have no less than five similar albums among my family’s treasures.  And now this solitary book of family memories lay in a stranger’s hands, courtesy (or curse) of someone who could live without it.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I felt as though I was holding a sacred object, offered up as a sacrifice, on a sacrilegious altar. 

I came close to purchasing it, as if that purchase could/would right a wrong, and somehow restore this one-time treasure to it’s former valued status.  But as they say, life is life, what is, is… and nothing that I could do would bring joy, happiness, meaning and value back onto those smiling faces in the photographs.

Instead, I said a silent prayer for them, and walked away… as did the one who allowed this treasure to leave their hands.    

Call me a sentimental old fool… and I’ll answer.

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A Dog-Less Hot Dog

© 2019 Bill Murphy

I seem to remember some of the weirdest things, and at the strangest times. Such a childhood memory visited me this morning, and I wasn’t even eating a hotdog!

It happened during the early 50s. This was a time when children were taught, and thought, that all adults were like kings and queens, and were endowed with powers just below presidential status. In other words, we understood that respectful children were most often the happiest children.

My mother’s eldest sister lived next door to us on Evergreen. She moved there from Bogalusa when my uncle died. My mother’s brother, and his family live across the street.

My aunt had left dear friends behind in Bogalusa, but they stayed in touch, and visited one another as often as possible. My aunt’s friend had a daughter, 2 years older than me, and the same age as my female cousin Pat from across the street. Pat and Eleanor were fast friends… who on occasion, would drag me along on their outings.

During this pre-MetroCenter time in south Jackson, on the the spot that was to become MetroCenter, there was a sprawling miniature golf course, And right across the street was a root beer stand. Here, my memory fails me. Was it A&W? Dog ‘N Suds? Frost Top? Anyway, on that golf outing, Eleanor was hungry, so after a round of golf, we drove over to the root beer stand. Eleanor was the last to order, as her order was not a usual order. Her order was not on the menu, and therefore, by their reasoning, out-of-order. I was about to witness teen-rebellion in action!

Eleanor calmly told them that she didn’t want the ‘chili-dog,’ but what she called a ‘chilly.’ “What’s that?” she was asked. “You know, a chili-dog without the wiener on it,” she replied. “We don’t have those,” replied the adult voice. “It’s not on the menu, so I don’t know what to charge for it.”

The adult voice was probably not expecting what was about to come.

“If I was a mother wanting only a wiener for my child, how much would you charge me for it?” she asked. There was a long pause. The adult was thinking. “Twenty cents,” he finally replied. (The cost then of the chili dog on the menu was thirty-five cents). “OK,” began Eleanor, “That’s easy. You keep your twenty cent wiener, and subtract that from the thirty-five cents, which leave me with fifteen cents which I owe you for a my chilly.”

You really can’t say that Eleanor was ‘arguing’ with an adult, although it was a simple, but very calm, confrontation. The end result truly had no winner. The root beer stand made their money, Eleanor got her chilly, and I didn’t wet my pants during their exchange.

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Oh Little Town of Carterville

© 2019 Bill Murphy

I’ve always thought of myself as a city-boy. I was born and raised in Jackson, MS… not exactly Dallas or New York, but not tiny-town-country either.

In 2013, Carol and I retired from the 40 hour a week workforce, moved to the small town of Carterville, Illinois where most of our kids, and grandkids live, and began life anew as 24 hour a day retirees.

Carterville’s located midway between Marion (on, I-57) and Carbondale (on Old US 51), and about 50 north of the southernmost border of the state. It’s a very old coal mining town. Our main street downtown stretches for all of 3 blocks, and we have only 3 or 4 traffic lights… not exactly Mayberry RFD, but close.

We live within a half mile of a great junior college, where I’ve taken several courses, fifty yards from a golf course, 2 miles from a huge lake with great fishing, 5 miles from Kroger and Walmart… and only one mile from a Dollar General. Yes, we have all the necessary creature comforts.

Did I mention our wild-life? We’ve had several deer in our front yard, an owl perched on the stop sign at the corner of our yard, once had to wait before turning unto our driveway until a skunk ambled off… and had to evict 3 possums from inside the house! (A workman forgot to secure the crawl-space entrance!)

But to me, the stop sign at the end of our short little street proclaims Carterville perfectly. It’s not a city beautification project… just wildflowers doing their own thing… on very public property. Locals keep the foliage from covering red hexagon area.

I believe I’ve adapted rather well to small town living, in Oh Little Town of Carterville.

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Peter B. Green

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Who was your favorite teacher? Who was the most memorable, the most unusual? Who was the one most likely NOT to succeed as a teacher today? For me, that could only be Mr. Peter B. Green, 8th grade science, Enochs Junior High, Jackson, MS.

Mr. Green made school FUN! Mr. Green made life fun. I apologize for the poor quality of the WWII era B/W newspaper photo, but it clearly illustrates Mr. Green’s quirky, mischievous grin. That’s how I remember of him. It’s the only photo I have of him.

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Today Mr. Green wouldn’t last a day in a public school classroom.

1950s classrooms were far different from what they are today.  More expectations were placed upon students. We were expected to pay attention, participate in class, be punctual, be respectful, study, succeed and of course, obey the rules of the classroom/teacher. In Peter B. Green’s classroom, it was understood that he was the teacher, and we were the students. If we wished to live and do well, we accepted our ‘place’ in this ordered, classroom society, where authority was recognized, not challenged. Amazingly, we were happily comfortable in this setting.

Mr. Green had a strong arm and a long wooden paddle. His ‘board of education’ was about 18” long, with a broad, flat business end. It was designed so as to leave neither scars nor bruises. Yet it could inflict a maximum amount of pain per square inch.

There was a firm belief in the 50s that pain was undesirable. It was also believed that students who did not follow the rules, and then received pain upon their softer hinder area for breaking afore said rules, would be deterred in the future from breaking said rules again. Amazingly, this simply cause and effect principle worked 99.9% of the time. It’s a lost art today.

Yes, I sometimes pushed the .1% upper limit. Or would that be ‘lower’ limit?

Rule #1 was the simplest rule of all. BRING YOUR SCIENCE TEXT BOOK TO CLASS. It’s amazing how many students often ‘forgot.’ The book-reminder ceremony was simple: Step back to the doorway, face the hallway, bend over and place hands on the knees. Hold still and receive your just and deserved reward – a single, powerful swat on the seat of knowledge – ‘sending you on the way’ to retrieve your book. I can’t vouch for Mr. Green’s racial beliefs, but I do know that he wasn’t a ‘sexists.’ Boys and girls alike received the SAME book-reminder-retrieval sendoff.

LEAVING an errant book (or gym shorts/tennis shoes) earned a different reward.

Mr. Green surely checked under every desk, every class period. He always knew from which class period a particular item was left. After we’d been given a reading assignment, and our heads dutifully bowed in study, he’d retrieve the offending object, then taking careful aim, throw it at the culprit who’d left the offending item/items. I know this because I peeked. I’d never wanted to miss this ceremony, and witnessed many a pair of tennis shoes bouncing off unsuspecting heads!

Believe it or not, no one ever called the school board, parents, or police.

Did I mention that he really was a great teacher. In addition to teaching us awe and respect for authority, he also taught us the awe and wonder of science. I always looked forward to his class, even test days! Until… One day it became my turn to be on the receiving end.

At the time, I dabbled some with 8th grade level writing, and wrote a clever little poem about Mr. Green. It described his untimely passing on. Not making the heavenly grade, he descended into the great fiery below. I mentioned that he was issued a pitchfork.

But I made the insane mistake of passing the poem around in class.

You guessed it. The gleeful work of Bill the Poet was intercepted. Strangely, he didn’t say a word. I was terrified. I could only imagine what wrath I had kindled inside him.

The next day, I crept into class, literally shaking in fear. Still, No reaction from Mr. Green.

Shortly after class began, he gave us a multi-page reading assignment. Oh no!

I propped my book on the desk like a drive-in theatre screen, to give me some small degree of forward vision. It’s a good thing I did.

Over the top of my book – I saw Mr. Green, fire in his eyes and a devilish grin on his face, marching toward me – A PITCHFORK in hand!

Quick as a flash, I jumped from my seat, and dashed for the door, Mr. Green in hot pursuit. Down the hall I ran, and out the school building door. He was still after me. I ran across the school yard, across the street in front, and into Poindexter Park across the street from the school.

By this time I was winded. Deep down, I reasoned that in all probability he wouldn’t actually run me through with the pitchfork. Probably he wouldn’t. Maybe.

I stopped. He didn’t spear me. Whew!

We walked back to class side by side, laughing together most of the way. I think he even remarked about the cleverness of the poem.

It was one of those rare moments in life that one can never forget – when you’re glad to be alive, and you’ve just experienced an event that is truly rare, memorable, and totally unbelievable. And yes – that pitchfork chase actually happened.

Thanks Mr. Green!  And as Bob Hope said and sang, Thanks for the memories!

 

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Hey Boy, Don’t Run!

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 1.21.47 PM copy© 2017 Bill Murphy 

My e-Mail and model airplane building buddy that hails from the great state of North Carolina is on a fitness regime. In addition to being enrolled in a quite active RUNNING class, he also participates in local running events. So, in addition to our regular e-chats concerning model airplane plans, building, and flying – he’s also keeping me abreast of his exciting life of RUNNING.

And Dave is quite close to my own age. Shame on me.

But I do have a few interesting, even exciting running stories myself. My stories, like Dave’s, may be from yesterday – but not yesterday in a literal sense!

I’ve said before that it’s no small wonder that I survived childhood. My childhood friend Buddy Gorday and I were always ‘daring’ one another to attempt some hair-brained stunt. ’I’ll bet you can’t jump that!’ And off we’d go. I can remember crashing into more than one hedge or fence at full tilt, because I really COULDN’T jump it! But I tried.

But once – I didn’t try. I chickened out instead.

I probably have LEGS today because I refused to be dared to jump onto a rolling flat car on a local freight – and ride it from one crossing to the next. (That would have entailed running.) Buddy wasn’t with us that day, as a group of us walked home from Enochs Jr. Hi along Terry Road. A slow freight was crossing Terry, heading into town. If I remember correctly, one brave (dumb) soul actually did it!

So, I’m a WALKING chicken today. But that’s OK with me.

At Enochs we did LOTS of running in gym – and I proved to be especially fast on the shorter sprints. I was usually FIRST in my gym class. I’m sure you find that difficult to believe today. But that was then. The coach wanted me to try out for track, but I’d heard too many horror stories about how physically taxing ‘track’ was. I never cared for taxes.

Across the street from Enoch was Poindexter Park. The park was our playground and gym field. There was little grass on the side of the park closest to the school. We kept it worn down. This lack of grass cause erosion around the large trees which bordered the park. Because the park itself sat a bit higher than the street, most of the trees had huge, exposed roots near their base. One day, during football practice, I was running downfield, chasing after the ball carrier. Just as I reached him, a down-field blocker from the runner’s team threw an illegal block on me – CLIPPING. My feet went out from under me, and, running full speed, I handed tail-bone first onto one of those roots! Ouch! And I mean ‘ouch‘ in its truest sense. It HURT! I limped for days.

Oh, the title of this piece. That came from the public Swimming Pool which at one time was in Battlefield Park. Because it was a concrete pool, the concrete apron which surrounded the pool could get a bit slippery when wet, which it usually was. Running at the pool was forbidden. The lifeguards would bellow at us, “Hey boy – don’t run.” We heard this so often that it was forever ingrained in our psyche. It because a part of our very vocabulary. If we were, say, at the drive-in theatre, and while walking to the concession stand, we happened to see someone we knew, in a vehicle and in a passionate embrace with their girlfriend – we’d approach the vehicle and scream loudly – “Hey boy, don’t run!”

‘Run‘ assumed many meanings.

In the mid 60s, in basic training with the ANG/USAF at Lackland Air Force Base, we ran every day. The running track required 5 laps to make a mile – so we began with 3 laps and worked up to 5 – and then 6. Some poor guys had difficulty managing 1 or 2! This was SUMMER – IN TEXAS – and it was HOT. A few days it was deemed TOO HOT for PT. (But just a few).

I remember literally DRAGGING my exhausted frame back to the barracks, and stumbling into the shower. These were ‘communal’ showers, designed for mass-showering of 18 or more. No one cared. It might well have been male AND female in that shower! Like I said, no one cared. We were beyond exhaustion. No one was interested – in anything but COOLING OFF – of REST – of blessed RECOVERY! Most didn’t even stand – we simply LAY where we dropped!

Just before we left Lackland, the instructor told us that he’d lied – the track was actually a quarter mile around. We ran more than we thought.

Because Jackson is so close to Vicksburg, I’ve made innumerable trips to Vicksburg National Park in my life. On the west side, there’s a steep hill which overlooks a bend of the river. It’s a high hill, and like I said, steep. In those days, there was no fence or barrier – not at the top, not at the bottom, not in the middle. You see what’s coming.

“I bet I can beat you to the bottom.”

I can’t remember who won. In fact I can’t remember too much about that run downhill. One minute we were running, and the next – everything was an insane blur as we tumbled end over end downhill – in unplanned for cartwheels. Again I ask, how did I ever survive childhood?

1960 was the year of my first marriage. I had the chance to run then, but I didn’t and should have. Like that hill at Vicksburg, I blindly forged ahead. And like the hedges I crashed into earlier, I later found myself asking, ‘What on earth possessed me to do that?’

Running can definitely have it’s ups and downs.

I do most of my running today from in front of the TV to the supper table!

 

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Our Evergreen Playboy

JohnsonSmith74

© 2017 Bill Murphy

Years before the bunny-magazine hit the news stands, the boys of Evergreen Street had our own ‘play boy’ magazine. (Calm down – this is a squeaky clean story.)

It was not a magazine actually, but a catalog – a catalog right out of Aladdin’s magic storehouse! It overflowed with all manner of exotic and exciting items to thrill, inspire, and educate us. This wondrous publication was the Johnson Smith Catalog, which gained almost Biblical respect among the boys of the neighborhood. (The illustration at right is not from a 40s edition.)

This was the late 40s and early 50s. We were school boys then, grade school, junior high. Cokes were a 5c, and bubble gum a penny. Everything in the Johnson Smith Catalog was dirt cheap! We always had enough change in our pockets to order that next ‘gotta have’ item.

For only $2.50, shipping included, I ordered a telescope kit. What came in the mail was only two glass lens, and a single page of instructions. But I was NOT disappointed. Actually BUILDING the thing was the major part of the fun. The telescope body was made from a section of round, aluminum rain-gutter pipe, almost 3 feet long. The movable focusing scope was a piece of metal electrical conduit. The ‘seat’ for the eye-piece lens was an empty wooden sewing thread spool supplied by my mother. But guess what? When finished, I could actually seen the craters on the moon!

Then there were the crystal radio sets. Years before battery operated transistor radios, for $1 (or less) we ordered crystal radios. They were not much more than a small pea-size glass-like crystal, a small coil of copper wire, a thin wire ‘whisker‘ which sat onto the crystal, and a short metal rod inserted through the copper wire coil. It came with a one-ear ‘ear-bud’ head phone, and an metal alligator clip fastened to a long wire. To listen to your favorite radio station all you need do is: set the whisker on the crystal, attach the alligator clip to a metal pipe (most schools had hot-water radiators for heat, with lots of metal piping), move the metal rod to the right position to tune in your station – then LISTEN! Remember, there were NO batteries, NO outside power source. Unfortunately, there were teachers who caught us listening to the radio in class.

I ordered the ‘learn to throw your voice’ kit, fortunately BEFORE ordering the ventriloquist dummy.

There was the disappearing ink, fake ink spill, fake vomit, fake doggie poop, whoopee cushion, miniature ‘spy‘ camera, and my favorite – ITCH POWDER. (It really worked!)

No doubt, there were very few male 12 year old Johnson Smith customers who did not order the X-Ray Glasses. They were a huge disappointment. It was enough to warrant a letter to the Better Business Bureau.

The frame of the infamous X-Ray glasses was nothing more than two pieces of cardboard glued together to hold in the ‘X-Ray’ lens. X-Ray lens – yeah, right! Then ‘lens’ were nothing more that pieces of BIRD FEATHERS! The false-advertised X-Ray vision was created when one eye, looking through the bird feather saw a shadowy silhouette of the cute girl in front of you, and the other eye saw the same silhouette, but slightly off to one side. Where the two shadowy figures merged in the center, your eyes/brain gave you the fuzzy impression of viewing a skeleton. Bummer.

Amazingly, Johnson Smith is still alive and well (and selling X-ray glasses), although the cost of a single item is more than 6 months worth of my orders way back when. And the catalog is in color now, and on-line. Oh, and now they’re more truthful in advertising, admitting that the X-Ray vision is only an illusion. Peggy Sue – you are now safe from prying eyes!

Things just aren’t like they used to be. Oh well.

 

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