APRIL 02, 2007

by Kelly

I was rummaging around at my parents' house the other day looking for some of my old elementary school mementos. We have a couple of article ideas that could use such items. While looking over a bookshelf in my parents' bedroom I came across a shoebox. The shoebox was mostly filled with random family photographs spanning from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, but I also found some other amusing, somewhat absurd, and decidedly daft items. Let's explore...

Proving that not quite everything is already on the internet, behold the first ever internet appearance (I checked) of the recipe for something called Fry-litables:

Copyright 1980, this appears to be teaching us to fry our vegetables and chicken in some concoction that involves Sunlite Sunflower Oil, McCormick's Season-All seasoned salt, and Wheaties Yes, Wheaties cereal. I don't recall ever being forced to eat this. Thank god. Maybe I shoved this in the shoebox myself so my mother wouldn't make it. Who knows? Remember kids, "Be creative, try Fry-Litable method on fish and other foods you fry." Must have gone over like gangbusters since, as I said, this will be the first post about it on all the innernets!

There were also two of these old Nestle Crunch wrappers in the box:

The fact that there are two Nestle Crunch wrappers indicate that I was, in fact, going for the Personalized Pencils Gold here. And it had to be me. It is hard to read, but the bold writing in the yellow section indicates the offer expired December 31, 1981. My sister was not yet born, and I'm sure my father and mother could care less about having pencils with their name on them. That leaves 8-year-old Kelly, who was not allowed to use pens at her elementary school, as the sole pencil-coveter in this scenario. Holy crap! Mailing and handling for ten pencils was only 20 cents! What a different world we live in now. Unfortunately, one needed four wrappers and $1.20 to own these nifty writing utensils. And I clearly ran out of time. Damn.

This is the first of several postcards I found thrown in the box:


It's from the HITCH-INN POST MOTEL in Libertyville, Illinois. Apparently, my grandparents (my mother's parents) stayed there in August of 1976. It appears this motel is still operating (or was recently) - I cannot find a website for the motel itself, but it is listed in several motel search engines. I also found this postcard listed on eBay (no one was buying yet) and on someone's postcard archive site. My grandmother didn't write anything notable on the back of the card other than that they heard so much that day they "were slap-happy tonite." The caption on the back of the postcard reads,

"68 Large comfortable air-cond. rooms, with color T. V., carpeting, and free coffee. Visit our Tin Lizzie Lounge, Antique Car museum, game room and Rustic Banquet room. Par 3 Golf Course. Joan & Earl Young, Owners."

The odd capitalization, grammatical errors and quirky spacing are all theirs - I copied it verbatim. Grandma also said they "ate in the lounge tonite." The Tin Lizzy Lounge? Looking at the front again, that room on the top left is so 1970s! I was alive through most of that decade, and even though I swear I don't remember it at the time, it does seem that throughout the decade the world was swathed in a film of very stark orange.

(2017 UPDATE: I am sad to find that the HITCH-INN POST MOTEL was demolished in 2007.)

This next postcard is from a place closer to home and very near and dear to our hearts:

Santa's Workshop in North Pole, NY! I think every upstate NY kid born in the late 60s or early 70s was issued a ticket at birth for this attraction, as it seems we all went there. Of course, if I did I don't remember it at all. This postcard was sent to me by my aunt, in August of 1976, under the pretense that it was actually my cousin writing to me. For a three-year-old he had impeccable cursive handwriting. The caption reads,

"Santa and Donder, one of his lead reindeer at Santa's Workshop, North Pole, NY."

It then goes on to say the same thing in French, most likely because this attraction is located close to Montreal. Interesting, from what I can tell "Donder" and "Donner" are pretty much interchangeable in the Santa legends.

My Aunt My three year old cousin indicates they got a cabin for $10 that night. Again, my how times have changed!

I believe these next two photos came from a stash belonging to my father or his parents. There is no copyright date, but I am almost positive they are from the 1950s:


The photos are from Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, NY. As they are stamped with the Enchanted Forest logo, I have to assume they were bought by, and not photographed by, my grandparents. There are probably quite a lot of these scattered around my parents' house. If I find more, I will post them. Enchanted Forest is now a waterpark, but they did retain some of the old nursery rhyme buildings and statues. In fact, I was just tickled to find the Paul Bunyan statue above displayed prominently on the front page of the Enchanted Forest website. Click the link above to see for yourself! How awesome is that?

The next sets of pictures were found in some envelopes shoved in the box. They are from Marineland Florida, probably from the 1950 or 1960s (they're not marked) and appear to be from a set that was taken apart long ago. What you see underneath each photo is actually the caption from the back. I put them together this way to save space. The photos themselves are actually more like postcard weight and are about 3 inches wide by 2 inches high.

Where is Marineland located again? Dang it, they never tell you! Haha. And what I wouldn't give to see porpoises "sing" a duet...(as they do in the open sea)! Anyway, I believe these to also be from my father's family. They were always going on crazy family trips, according to the photos I've seen. Here is the best, most Project-Absurd-worthy (and my personal favorite) Marineland photo...

A dog in a tutu riding a surfboard pulled by a porpoise!!! Does it get any better than this?!

The following is the front and back of a picture envelope from an old store in my hometown, probably from the mid 1970s:

In the family picture on the right, what is all over the floor? Ashes from Dad's pipe? Nice he's smoking that pipe in the little girls' face. She looks as if to say, "...can't breathe...need...inhaler..." Too bad they couldn't afford furniture. And the little boy seems to be wearing a sweater with shorts - at least on the one leg (?). Are those what the youngsters running around playing stickball used to call their "short pants?"

This is an old valentine I found in the box. I have no idea how old, but probably 1980s-era:

You're just dying to know the answer aren't you? Should I scratch it? Should I? Why do I have a feeling I'll someday regret this? Ok, the answer is...

A hot dog.

I can't believe I fell for that.


Ooh, good for one print! 25 cents per print? This was probably from the 1970s. Ladies and gentleman, I think I found the one item inflation hasn't effected: photographs!

This postcard was in the box for no reason I can come up with. It's not used, it's not relative to anyone I know, heck, it's not even interesting. And that's what makes it rule. Its total randomness. Its randomnosity. It's...

a postcard of the Post Office and General Store in Stuyvesant, New York! Stuyvesant isn't even near where I grew up. I'm no car expert, but judging by the ones in the picture this postcard dates from the 1950s. It's probably from my father's parents and one of their trips. I don't know - I just can't figure this one out, folks.

This next item needs no introduction:

In fact, that one necessitates a post of its own. I shall not elaborate further. Watch for that post in the future.

This is a book commemorating the Rochester, NY Lilac Festival, which is still held:

I can think of almost nothing (other than, possibly, an Evergreen Tree Festival) that would make my body hate me more than a lilac festival. Lilacs being among the most pungent flowers on Earth, guaranteed to make my asthma and hayfever fierce from a half mile away. You will never see me there, kids.

What box of random stuff would be complete without extremely expired coupons?!

They all expired 15.5 years ago, on December 31, 1991. I was probably home from college for winter break. My sister, who is now 25, was in the fourth grade. We had a different dog then. No one had a DVD player yet. Heck, no one had a computer, much less the internet. The world was a different place (I'm sensing a theme here) filled with "MINUTE Rice Rice-ipies" books and Fruitful Bran cereal. On a side note - I do miss Cracklin' Oat Bran - that stuff was good to snack on. Does anyone remember Fruitful Bran? I feel like I should make a Nut & Honey joke (*groan*). Maybe they still make those cereals, I don't know... By the way could that cereal coupon be any more complicated? I hate complicated coupons. And you're lucky if you can get one cereal for $3.00 nowadays. That would be a good name for a band...Complicated Coupons. No it wouldn't. Can you tell I'm getting tired?

The last item I'll show you commemorates the bicentennial. We really made a fuss didn't we?

Yes, even our photo envelopes were commemorative! I love it - "great moments make great pictures." Yes, just as our forefathers George Washington, Paul Revere, and Betsy Ross showed us with their wonderful crystal clear full-color photographs of  the Revolutionary War! If you want to know the difference between Ektachrome and Kodachrome, I suggest you consult Wikipedia.

That's about it for Stuff Found In A Shoebox. I hope you found it both entertaining and enlightening...or something ending in "-ing."

(Posted 04/02/2007)