Brands of my kid-dom

Brands of my kid-dom web

I looked at the logo on the coffee cup I use a couple of times every week and started thinking about how some brands and people take me back to being a kid every time.

That elongated S for Studebaker transports me to the days I always rode in the back seat with my two brothers. Dad bought a succession of Studebakers through the 1950s and mid-60s, sold on the company and the trusted Werner dealership he favored. I remember how foreign the back seat of that 1965 Ford Galaxie felt.

There are few brands that feel so linked to my childhood – but there are a few.

Godzilla: The American version of this classic monster movie, starring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin, was ubiquitous on TV in those days. It feels like I watched it dozens of times before I was 10. “A trilobite! A three-winged worm that was thought to be extinct …”

Erie: The Erie Railroad had a branch that ran past our backyard. When it merged with the Lackawanna, we watched for the first sight of the Erie-Lackawanna logo on the freight engines and box cars that rolled past.

Neil Sedaka: The first musical artist that caught my ear. I remember hearing “Calendar Girl” on WKBW when my brother pulled that far-away Buffalo station in on his radio one night, and not long afterward “Little Devil” was one of the first in my thousands of musical purchases. I’m not sure I realized it was the same guy at first. Getting to interview Sedaka on the phone was one of the thrills of my grown-up career; he was charming and accommodating to this old fan boy.

Soupy Sales and Diver Dan were TV heroes; Two Guys was an early New Jersey version of the big box store (formal name Two Guys From Harrison), Forest Hills Factory Outlet was a must when we went on vacation in the Burlington, Vermont, area.

And while encountering my first Spider-Man in Vermont was a turning point, it’s the comic book Strange Tales that evokes the same feeling as the Studebaker S. Our parents always gave us a quarter to buy comics at the Milton IGA, and it was a tradition to pick up a Superman or a Flash or something to read at the cabin. One year I spent the whole 25 cents on Strange Tales Annual #1, a big fat collection of fun scary and science fiction stories. Imagine my glee a year later to discover the geniuses behind Strange Tales were branching out into superheroes. Actually, I take that back: I was a little disappointed that the lead story in Strange Tales Annual #2 was some guy who burst into flames and fought bad guys. I love those Serlingesque little tales better.

Spider-Man turned my annual comics vacation into a year-round pursuit, Studebaker stopped building cars, and Sedaka gave way to the likes of Tommy James and Creedence and Joni Mitchell. The boy became a man – actually, no, the boy just got older.


One Comment

  1. The first item that came to mind while reading this was “Blackjack” gum. Next were the shiny Chicago Northwestern passenger trains stopped at our local train depot waiting for the travelers to board. Long forgotten but pleasant memories.


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