Category Archives: Old times

1980’s GI Joe and WWF Birthday Party Napkins

Every year for Valentine’s Day, my mother still sends me a little package of chocolates and a card (love you, Mom!). This year she included a little something else. She found these while cleaning out some old drawers around the house, amidst some other party supplies. What a blast from the past…

WWF Party Napkin GI Joe Party Napkin

My favorite part of the WWF napkins (aside from Hulk Hogan looking a little like Sloth from The Goonies), is the fact that everything has a “TM” on it. WWF™, Junk Yard Dog™, Iron Sheik™…

And there’s G.I. Joe. Like almost any boy growing up in the 80’s, I loved G.I. Joe. Friends and I would set up epic battles in the yard and when that got tiring, we’d play the classic game of throw a figure up in the air and compete for the most painful-looking landing. The fine print in the corner of the napkins says “© 1986″ which is probably right in the middle of the 3-5 years I was in that phase. Sergeant Slaughter wasn’t one of my favorites (Storm Shadow v2 all the way!), but it’s hard to deny the impact of a “USA” tank-top and a guy with a whistle.

Celebrating Centenarians

You might remember that a certain relative of mine (my father’s godfather, and distant cousin), Ed Rondthaler is a 100+ year-old. Well, Genworth Financial has started running a new ad campaign celebrating the lives of centenarians, and the featured 101 year-old is none other than Ed Rondthaler himself. I’ve seen the spot during Monday night football, and it’s running on both the East and West coast, if not the whole country. You can also view the ad yourself by following these steps:

  1. Head to:
  2. Skip the intro.
  3. Click on “The Genworth Story” book at the bottom.
  4. Click on “See our centenarian advertising campaign” at the bottom of the first page.
  5. Click on the third television ad thumbnail (the guy with the beard).
  6. There he is!

It’s great hearing his voice (it’s been years since I’ve seen him), seeing him use a computer, and I still have fond memories of that powerful laugh of his. Here’s hoping I live to be 101 years-old and beyond!

The More You Know You Betcha Don’t Know

Remember those awesome NBC Public Service Announcements between Saturday morning cartoons, or the after school kids shows? The ones that always had that upbeat jingle at the end and the flying star trailing a rainbow. 30 second gems of wisdom, summed up with, “The More You Know”. Well, thanks to the wonders of the Internet tubes (and YouTube users who must have some very old videotapes lying around) you can relive some of those moments. Here’s what I found…

You can also view NBC’s current lineup of PSA’s on their official site. The one most worth mentioning is Donald Trump.

Of course YouTube is full of parodies too. I wasn’t impressed with too many and got tired quick, but I’m sure there are some good ones out there. I still think The Office did it all too well with their round of PSAs for the workplace.

Lastly, I came across two more clips from the even older-school NBC. Before “The More You Know” there was “Betcha Don’t Know”. These took a more scientific education angle than the life lessons we got later. I give you: Betcha Don’t Know Why the Sky is blue, and Betcha Don’t Know Zits.

Have you found any other classic “The More You Know” PSAs out there?

Time to start thinking about snow?

This summer has just flown by, and here we are at the edge of fall. A friend reminded me that yesterday was the deadline for the early season pass discount for Summit at Snoqualmie. I went snowboarding a few times this past winter and it finally clicked for me. I’m excited to go even more this year, so a season pass made sense.

The last time I bought a season pass to a ski slope was probably my last year of highschool, almost 10 (!) years ago. The little slope in my hometown, just a 10 minute drive away, was Ski Sundown. Check out the impressive trail map, and the whopping 625 foot vertical drop! Compared to Snoqualmie, it just ain’t much at all. And Snoqualmie is considered one of the smallest slopes around these parts! It’s hard to believe that Sundown can charge $200 more for their season passes compared to Snoqualmie (probably due to less competition in Connecticut, so Sundown’s essentially got a monopoly?)

It’s a little unfair to compare the two or to complain about Sundown, since I’ve got so many fond memories there. Since it was so close, we could easily go 3-4 times some weeks. There was the ski bus that took us straight to the hill from school, one afternoon per week, and almost every weekend we’d go for a half day, or some night skiing, or both. Some nights it was so quiet, you felt like you had the whole mountain to yourself. There were rarely lines for lifts, unless you went on a holiday weekend. But I also grew up skiing thinking that icy terrain and that horrible scraping sound under your feet was just normal conditions. Little did I know…

The days are getting shorter again in Seattle, which means only one thing… Winter isn’t too far away.

No lost time accidents here

The other night, Steven Colbert opened his show with a joke, “47 episodes with no lost time accident” and it reminded me of a job I worked where they kept track of those things.  One summer I had a temp job at Howmet Castings doing miscellaneous things and fairly often I had to walk out through the manufacturing floor to get to another set of offices.  There was a prominent sign near the entrance to the floor which said: “___ Days With No Lost Time Accident” and there was a number written into the blank spot.  When I started working there, I noticed the number was up around 150.  I was fairly impressed.  That’s a pretty long safe streak.  As I continued working through the summer, the number went up by 1 every day, reaching 200 or so.  But then a few days in a row I noticed the number wasn’t changing any more.  I wondered if someone had just forgotten to update the sign.  Another week went by and then I noticed the sign had finally been updated.  It now read: “12 Days With No Lost Time Accident”.  Oh.  What happened?  What was the accident?  For many people, I’m sure this sign was the only information they ever received.  I also found it rather interesting that instead of resetting to zero on the day it happened, they just let it slide for a few days before starting again.  I hope the guy’s OK.

Edward Rondthaler: One Old but Cool Relative

UPDATE – To see the Centenarian ad from Genworth Financial featuring Ed Rondthaler, follow the directions here.

It seems every year during the family gatherings around the holidays I learn something new, or rediscover some interesting tidbit about my family. This year my father mentioned our eldest relative, a cousin of my grandmother’s (I think), and also my father’s godfather, Edward Rondthaler. I remembered him most from family gatherings on the Connecticut shore almost every summer while growing up. As a little kid I thought he was a fascinating old man who told really great stories and jokes. When I was a bit older I visited him again with my family, at his home, and was amazed at how many books filled his old house, and was impressed that at his age he knew his way around a computer (in the days before Windows). I always thought he was an interesting man, but at the time I never learned much about his history.
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Feigning illness for morning gameshows

Everybody at one time or another pretended to be sick in order to stay home from school, or gave it their best try. My mother had a pretty good policy to thwart these mock-sickness attempts, and it simply consisted of taking our temperature. If after 5 minutes of awkward under-the-tongue placement, the thermometer didn't show a fever, we were going to school. I made a few unsuccessful attempts at pretending to be sick that were defeated in just such a way. But one morning when I tried the, “I don't feel well” and the thermometer was stuck in my mouth, I had an idea. When my mother walked into the kitchen to prepare my sister's lunch, I took the thermometer and held it up to the lightbulb of the lamp next to me. I was so proud of myself for thinking of this tactic. It was genius. But wait… What if it gets too hot and the temperature is too high to be believable? What if lit light bulbs are actually cooler than our internal body temperature? It might not work! I heard my mother returning and quickly put the thermometer back under my tongue. She reached down and pulled the thermometer out. I looked up at her with the best sick/tired/pleading look I could muster, plus a forehead full of nervous sweat, which I think helped my case. 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Success! I was staying home.
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Dreaming Nostalgia and Summer Camp

For the past 4 or 5 nights now I've had dreams of home, old friends and places I visited when I was younger. The longest and most vivid was a dream of the summer camp I used to visit during the summer. I had mixed feelings about the camp experience as a whole, and the kids I met there, but this dream managed to paint it all in the perfect light. The lake, the boathouse, the old cabins, dining hall, playing fields and the four-square courts.

The camp was broken up into 4 villages (by age), and each village had about 8 cabins, with 8 kids and 2 counselors in each. Each village had it's own four-square court and each court fit into an overall hierarchy of popularity and social prowess at the camp. The lowest rung was the oldest village's court, probably because it was quite a trek to get to, and besides, the majority of the camp was intimidated by all the big kids. Next was the youngest village court. It was slightly smaller than the others and on a wooden platform. Many people returned to it for a trip down memory lane. The second-tier court was the second youngest village, and the top tier court was the second oldest (Frontier Village) court. This was a large, concrete court, in a prime location. It was right along the main road through the camp, and it was close to the swim area and boat house. During lunch breaks and free time, the waiting line to get a chance at square one would wrap around the court and even past some of the cabins. Boys would feel like superheros if they could make it to the fourth square and hold the position for an entire length of the line.

The Bold and the Innocent

This story of the guy divorcing his wife via text-messaging has made the rounds on the internet lately. Today, via Metafilter, this story shows up in the Guardian about the 15 cruellest break-ups in history.

The first thing that popped in my head was my heart-breaker in 6th grade. This was the era when weeks were considered long-term, and “going out” meant occasionally kissing on a dare during lunchtime. Well, I'd had a crush on this girl (J) for a long time and finally got up the courage to ask her out one day, and to my surprise, she said yes! Less than a week later, we'd kissed! Roughly 3 weeks went by, I'd kissed her 2 more times than I could count with both hands, and I was psyched. This was going places. Then one fateful day the following conversation took place during lunchtime:

J's FRIEND: Hey, C (that's me), would you dump J, if you found out she kissed another guy?
C: I dunno. Maybe.
J's FRIEND: C'mon, would you? If she kissed someone else?
C: Yeah, I guess.
J's FRIEND: OK then, J kissed someone else.
C: OK then, I break up with her.
J's FRIEND: There you go, J.
C: Wait, were you serious?
J's FRIEND: Yeah
J: (shrugs)
C: So are we broken up now?
J's FRIEND: Yeah
C: J, did you kiss someone else?
J: No
C: Well, then will you go out with me again?
J: No

An entire life lesson (or two, or three) in less than two minutes during 6th grade lunch. After that dramatic moment at the table, we all gathered up the most disgusting food from the day's lunch and put it in a ziploc bag to make barf.

The Truck of Patience

I can't remember what the trigger was, but the other day I was reminded of a highschool history teacher of mine, who had a very peculiar tactic for managing anger at the class. (Coincidentally and tangentially, Izzlepfaff! has a humorous look at some gradeschool memories today)

So, this teacher was known to be one of the toughest, strictest and scariest history teachers in the school.
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Urinal puck hockey

At the summer camp I went to while growing up, each cabin used to have a certain chore they had to do each day. One of the chores on rotation was cleaning the bathroom/shower facility, which we called the “automat”. Chores (in this case, automat duty) came before the regularly scheduled cabin activities for the day. Well, one day when our cabin had automat duty, our counselors had the idea of combining our chores with our cabin activity. We played urinal puck hockey. We were split into teams of four, with the counselors as goal-keepers, and we were each armed with a broom, and shin-guards. One fresh, light-pink urinal puck was placed on the floor of the largest section of the automat, and the game began. To answer the most common question… No, the urinal puck does not stay in one piece for very long. It shatters quite easily, and flakes continually peel off. It usually lasted for a few goals, but a hard slap-shot or two and that would be the end of it. As young boys, at summer camp, we were still genuinely excited by the novelty of the concept. Until, of course, we realized that we had to re-clean the entire automat after our game.

Why Escapism?

Why am I constantly searching for an escape, or a way to reinvent my reality? What is it about science fiction and fantasy worlds, or superheros and altrered realities? My entire life has consisted of pretending. When I was young, I would spend afternoons after school in the woods with my buddies, wielding sticks as swords, or squirt guns as lasers and we'd create the most incredible adventures for ourselves. I would watch action movies and recreate the adventures through elaborate set-ups of my toys all over the house. In a way, I was the typical boy growing up, but I never really grew out of it. I discovered books, more movies, and computer/video games where I could imagine more worlds and participate in more adventures. This part of me has still not given up. I watch a ton of movies and I continue to imagine. In fact, my ways of escaping this world have almost increased since I was younger.