Monday, December 31, 2007

it's not meat loaf, it's chef boy-ar-dee enhanced meatload

Vintage Ad #434: Polpettoni Saporiti, Chef Boy-ar-Dee Style
As it's New Year's Eve, may we offer this fine dining suggestion from the wonderful folks at Chef Boy-Ar-Dee?

While I don't recall ever buying the Chef's sauce on its own, Amy and I devoured Mini Ravioli, Beefaroni, Roller Coasters, Mini Bites and all of their related canned pasta dishes. We loved canned pasta as kids, except for a misstep the Chef made involving "Papa Smurf's special sauce". Mom had to make sure one of us didn't receive more meatballs than the other. I probably lost most of my taste for Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee due to a disgusting university roommate who liked using it uncooked as a sandwich filling.

Ettore (Hector) Boiardi (1897-1985) was a restauranteur in Cleveland who found take-out requests for his sauces so high that he opened a factory in the late 1920s to keep up with demand. Boiardi's products hit the national market just as spaghetti and others Italian foods became popular in American homes - his kits offered a quick, tasty, economical meal. The line's eventual name was based on the phonetic pronounciation of his name.

Here's Boiardi pitching his economical spaghetti dinner in 1953, as discovered by RW-TV:

Source: Family Circle, December 1967 

Friday, December 21, 2007

season's greetings from mario's of bramalea

Vintage Ad #422: Season's Greetings from Mario's Staff
As part of a Bramalea Town Centre flyer celebrating the holidays, we recently discovered this gem of an ad for the mall's salon. We think it was a nice gesture ti include a line for each employee, allowing potential new clients to zero in on who they'll choose for their first visit (though we'd like to know why Stella was good as gold).

There were a few employees who missed the photo shoot and didn't make the final ad. Our crack research team has discovered the lines that would have been used for these unfortunate souls.

MORGAINE - Our resident mystic will tell your fortune as she curls your locks.
SHEMP -This hair expert is no stooge.
BRUCE - Because laws enforcing stereotypes about those working in hair salons dictate that we have at least one employee named Bruce.
HEPZIBAH - A professional since 1916, let her 60-plus years of experience guide your hair through any time period. She will surprise you!

Source: The Toronto Star, December 7, 1977

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

try a winter warmer - a dr. pepper boomer!

Vintage Ad #341: Winter Warmer
Now that winter's here (OK, officially it's still a day or two off), it's time to dust off seasonal drink recipes for your next soiree or ski trip. The fine folks at Dr. Pepper developed "the Boomer" to warm your spirits. Only your digestive system will determine just how devilish this concoction is.

As one commenter noted when I posted this ad on Flickr, all that's missing are happy sweater-clad skiiers (it's hard to tell just what the stickman skiier on the right is wearing).

Source: Playboy, February 1966 

Friday, December 14, 2007

shufflin' off to buffalo, art deco style (2)

Previously: City Hall
After leaving City Hall we wandered around downtown for a few minutes, noticing the utter lack of life and ominous black smoke belched by a building close to where we parked. After lunch at a diner further up Main Street, we initially intended to check out the Darwin D. Martin complex designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Unlike City Hall, there appeared to be a lineup and we suspected we might not make one of the last tours.

Buffalo Central Terminal
We headed to the Buffalo Central Terminal. Located east of downtown,the station was opened by the New York Central Railway in 1929 and remained in use as a passenger station until Amtrak pulled out in 1979. Two decades of neglect and stripping of artifacts by various owners followed until the site was turned over to the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation in 1997. Since then, Volunteers have gradually restored the site. There's a long, long way to go, though the work to date gives a sense of how neglected the site was.

Stone and Broken Windows (2) Lower Area
We started by exploring the perimeter of the station, which combined ornate architecture and smashed windows.

The New York Central Railway Back Entrance
The back entrance to the main hall, which did not quite prepare us for what lay inside...

To Buses & Taxicabs To Street & Buses
To Train Concourse
Ticker Booths (1)
The three of us could only come up with two phrases to describe the terminal:

1) "Wow..."

2) "Holy shit!"

Imagine going on an archaelogical dig of a giant train station in the far future or after an apocalyptic event. It was a hard feeling to shake, combined with all the other ghostly sites we'd seen earlier in the day. Definitely one of the most awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen.

The Union News Company
Restoration work on a news kiosk. Another one was used as a booth for volunteer information and souvenirs.

Filiing Drawers
Furniture found in the former baggage check area.

The terminal has found all sorts of interesting uses in recent years, from artistic gatherings to weddings. Posters promoted an upcoming Halloween party. I suspect the transfer to the volunteer group was made just in time, or else the site could have decayed further to the state of ghost terminals like Detroit's Michigan Central Station.

All photos taken October 14, 2007. Full set on Flickr More stories from the day's adventures at Squiddity. - JB

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

lubrication is a matter of timing

Vintage Ad #410: Lubrication is a matter of timing
Just because a lot of people I know could use an unintended-by-the-advertiser (maybe) cheap laugh this month...but if you're really interested in industrial-grade petroleum products, read on.

Source: Time, March 13, 1972 

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

christmas 1975

First Christmas With Child
To mark the holiday season, a shot from my first Christmas, though some may argue I was around for Xmas '74 in embryonic form.

This is a typical family scene from the first quarter-century of my life - Dad and I (or Amy when she arrived on the scene) doing something that amuses Mom. I'm pointing at something, perhaps training for my childhood habit of pointing down any road I wanted to explore on family drives. We lived in this house through my early teens, with the same layout up until we moved.

The Santa ornament in the foreground hung on the tree for years and still swings on Amy's tree. This tree lasted for three decades, until the colour coding on the branch wires wore off...which weren't really necessary towards the end, as knew where each limb was supposed to go.

Putting up the tree began with a trip into our large, slighty musty crawl space, where the Christmas decorations were buried back behind boxes of preserves, old football yearbooks and cheap mystery novels. The tree's location varied over the years - here it's in the upstairs living room, since my grandparents visiting from Toronto slept on the sofa bed in the basement. Usually we played our small handful of Christmas records while putting up the tree, featuring the good, bad and ugly of seasonal music. I would wake up around 3 a.m. to poke at whatever Santa brought, usually sneaking a chocolate coin and turning the TV on as quietly as possible. Mom and Dad probably knew I was up but left me alone to have my fun.

Photo taken in December 1975 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

first steps into the snow

Pink Tower (2)
Scenes from a Psychogeography walk through the Financial District after the first major snowfall of the year.

The CN Tower in purple/magenta/pink mode, contrasted with fully-lit offices on the south side of King Street.

Eternal Flame of Hope (2)
Outside of Metro Hall, we gathered around the Eternal Flame of Hope, first lit by various dignitaries in 1996. The wind tried to snuff out the flame, but a hissing sound indicated this gas-fueled light wasn't going down without a fight. No fingers were singed while testing how close one could get to the fire. Further east, an Enbridge team was working on a steaming manhole, the likes of which I've usually seen only in Detroit.

Illuminated Walkway (1)
We wound our way down to the Bay Street entrance of Place (I'm still not used to the name change). Atop the illuminated walkway was Vibrant Communities in Focus (warning: link goes to Photosensitive site in general), an exhibit of works highlighting the effects of Ontario Trillium Foundation grants over the past quarter-century. I think my camera pulled through in capturing the lighting - I like the effect on those walking through the exhibit.

Brookfield Place Ceiling Lights Big Christmas Balls
Like most of the office towers we passed, Christmas lighting had been erected in Brookfield Place. Most of the group looked in awe at the sparkling lights hanging from the ceiling.

Cereal Under Glass
Seeing a fast-food stand that specializes in breakfast cereal, like this branch of Cerealicious in Royal Bank Plaza, feels odd, as cereal tends to be the ultimate in lazy cuisine. If had the room, this set-up would work fine in my kitchen, given the number of boxes sitting above my sink.

Amuse-O-Matic Centre
Over in Union Station, we quickly discovered the video arcade in the lower level. The 70s style letting in its sign provided a hint of some of the vintage games we discovered inside. Not since my days of leering over hardcore players while waiting for my Saturday morning bowling league to begin have I seen games like Burger Time and Gauntlet available for play.

Doctor Who Pinball (3)
A detail from a Doctor Who pinball game, one of several cult property tie-ins. The art for the Patrick Troughton-era grouping on the left looks to have been copied straight from a late 1960s production still.

Bopping Along
Among the newer games we were quickly hooked on was Dance ManiaX, which required a combination of dancing and air drumming to play. It also featured a duck springing forward from a cuckoo clock to the strains of Doodah!. Three tried it and quickly got into the game's groove.

Come As You Are...
The evening wound down at Jack Astor's at Front and University. As it was Grey Cup weekend, we saw numerous fans, including one with a scooped-out watermelon tightly affixed to his head (the effect of which reminded me a little of a Kids in the Hall character). Drawings, such as this one of Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, hung throughout the restaurant. A caricature of Dubya above our table was unusually critical for a chain restaurant, criticizing his lack of movement on global warming issues.

Full photo set on Flickr. All photos taken November 22, 2007