On the way to the beach the other day we passed Bordentown, NJ. That prompted B to ask, "I wonder if that has anything to do with Borden milk. Remember Borden's milk?"
"Sure," I replied. "Elsie the cow. We got it delivered to our front door every morning when we were kids."
And that got us reminiscing about the brands we knew as kids that are no longer around. Or maybe they still exist somewhere (as does Borden; I checked) but you just don't see them anymore. B pointed out that milk companies are fairly local, so Borden's must have only been around the New York area. As was Korvettes discount store, which became Caldor's. Both long gone. And Bradlees in New England. Then there was Schrafft's, the restaurant and candy maker. Did you ever go to a Horn & Hardart automat?
But we also recalled the cars. Pontiac and Oldsmobile. Studebaker. My parents had a Studebaker when I was a little kid. Later on we had a Nash Rambler. So did B's family. We recalled the push-button transmission, and just how awful that car was. But as teenagers we didn't care. The car got us around . . . as long as we didn't have to go uphill.
What about the airlines. Pan Am was the first to fly regularly scheduled jets across the Atlantic in the mid-1950s. But then I remember a friend of mine getting laid off from Pan Am, in the mid-1980s, when it was jetting toward bankruptcy. There was TWA, Eastern, Braniff. Remember Laker? All gone.
B wondered if Tang is still around. "I used to love Tang," she said wistfully. I don't know about Tang, but I used to guzzle 7-Up like a camel. When was the last time you drank a 7-Up? Then I suddenly found myself singing . . . Brusha, brusha, brusha ... new Ipana toothpaste. But now that we're older, we all use Sensodyne ProNamel, since our teeth are sensitive and our gums are receding.
Magazines. Whose family didn't subscribe to Life or Look, or the Reader's Digest or Saturday Evening Post?
I remember Christmas, circa 1965, when we got a Polaroid instant camera. Who among us didn't type their term papers on a Smith Corona? Or spin a Decca record on a Motorola or Garrard record player? But these are more changes in technology than simply brand name.
Of course, many more brands are still with us, and have outlasted all
the vicissitudes of history. My dad ate Wheaties every morning for
breakfast. You can still find Wheaties on the grocery store shelf. After
we got rid of the Studebaker, my parents drove a Buick for years. Buick
is still around. Apparently Buick has actually made a comeback and is now once again
considered a good car.
The VW bug went away and then came back, as did
the Ford Thunderbird and Ford Mustang -- although the latter may have been a mistake. The
Mustang had many fans; but it was a cheap car that tended to fishtail
when rounding curves or corners.
So I guess we've made some progress. Remember "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should"? Now you've got to look under a rock to find a Winston. Or a Kent, a Lark, a True, a Tareyton, a Chesterfield or Old Gold.
And today the cool car is a Prius or Tesla with seatbelts and airbags, instead of a Corvair or Ford Pinto -- either one of which could explode and send you to a place where you no longer have to bother with brusha, brusha, brusha.