Around the early 70s, Dan Gerber Jr, father-author-one time race car driver-son of Dan Sr,canned baby food pioneer, had at one time, a nice chunk of property on the north side of Fremont he dubbed, The Amazing X Ranch. Being from a small town with a population of about 3,500, it was kind of a big thing. As much because of how enormous and beautiful it was, to all the small town speculation of all the activity that was potentially going on behind the gate (I actually don't recall if there was a gate but this is my blog).
I was in high school at the time and an avid reader of Rolling Stone, which is how I was introduced impart to scribes like Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison and Hunter S. Thompson. Coincidentally, Dan Jr, was becoming an incredibly accomplished writer in his own rite. So of course, at some point, there was the inevitable town chatter that, oh, Jimmy Buffett was in town over the weekend or "Hey, am I nuts, I just heard the same thing about Peter Fonda." I mean David Crosby? Get outta here!
If it was true, it was just as validating to hear about it 3rd hand so that if my friends and I ever encountered kids from another town, we could casually drop names about our friends who knew friends who were cousins of, to help give us that much needed farm-town-cred.
The connection, if you're waiting, is the t-shirt. The Amazing X Ranch t-shirt was something I aspired to have as a kid because it was an identifier of a place only a small group of people knew anything about. It had that secret society element to it. And it was right here in our hometown. A lot like loving the Replacements, you wanted them to stay tiny, hoping you and only a small handful of others were the only ones cool enough to know about them.
Then there was that Fart t-shirt in the classic Ford logo that I so badly wanted, Mr. Payne.
Pictured above are recruits, Hunter S. Thompson and Bill Murray, of the Amazing X Navy.
I just walked in for a sec to squirt some awl on the gears. You know, prime the pump a little. It's time to start spewin' again. I got this other business going on. So some of this stuff will be in relation to "+" Superieur Brand Clothing. Hope to see you.
Okay, so I haven't posted in a while. Let's get that out of the way. And I know I've posted about mini-bikes before but this brought it back again. Not the gal pictured so much although that "do" she's sporting is somewhat remarkable. This looks like a Rupp. Owning a Rupp for me was like wanting a Mustang but could only afford a used Valiant or something. And I gladly took the Valiant. In fact I loved my 2hp, Tecumseh powered Penny's scoot. I rode the hell out of it. I rode it so hard the little square, vinyl covered, foam cushion that covered the little square piece of plywood underneath tore off. Then I rode it some more.
The Baby Head, while being an international icon, means a great deal to me. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that it's played a major role in my life, at least by association.
My folks were in there forties when my unplanned self barged in. An oops baby sure, and I'm incredibly okay with that because I'd obviously rather be here than not. That put the proud parents in their 50s while I was in junior high during the 60s. So watching Mad Men brings back memories of when Mom and Dad had their post-5 o'clock cocktails or weekend get-togethers on somebody's back porch while they parked me in front of what ever TV set they could find. As I owe much to the British for introducing me to Diana Rigg in a black, one-piece leather catsuit while crime fighting on The Avengers. That's obviously an image that stuck with me.
The 60s were just a great time to grow up in a small town. My brothers were in college then, during the war protests and the Kennedy's. And they brought home and inspired me with some of the greatest music of all time. So I figure I owe a lot to Gerber Baby Food and Fremont, where my Father hung his hat for many many years, for giving me the town and the life I rather like. And to my folks, who didn't do much in the way of protection.
By the time I was around ten, I unknowingly developed a sense of what I thought were normal, everyday staples in the household pantry. I had every reason to believe everybody drank and ate the same thing. Sure I noticed other products when my Ma hauled me off to the town Kroger store. Or the little IGA at the south end of the city limits, which was only used for last minute things she ran out of. But those products were surely meant for other people, people I didn't know.
We were pretty much Canada Dry Ginger Ale and 7-Up folks. And rarely had that unless somebody came down with an upset stomach, or as the odd "treat" with a scoop of ice cream.
Sure, we had the seltzers and club sodas as mixers for the neighborhood get-togethers. But if I had any sort of grasp for class differences at that age, to me, Coca-Cola was pretty white collar. Pop for the affluent.
Pepsi was, well, Pepsi. I didn't see the sense of it. Why Pepsi when there was Coke. I couldn't figure out who drank it or why. Samuel's, the town's largest restaurant, and where my Ma brought me for a hotdog when Pop was on business, served Coke. Case closed.
Tab was a little shi-shi. It was fairly new in the late 60s. I saw it in it's 6-pack carton in many a family's breezeway. Kind of a fancy, crappier Coke. Royal Crown? See Pepsi. And Towne Club? That's what big Catholic family's drank.
And then the town's A&W came along and broke the mold. Not only could you hoist this big mug of tasty root beer from over your Dad's shoulder as he hands it to you in the back seat (without spilling it), you can take that shit home in a plastic gallon jug.
Condiments? My Ma used Hellman's mayonnaise for most everything related to sandwiches. You knew immediately when you took a bite from a tuna sandwich at your buddy's house, that their Mom used Miracle Whip, and you weren't gonna finish that sandwich. Here is a helpful kitchen hint: When making tuna salad. Don't add so much mayo to it that it gets soupy. That's not good. Nor does it make for a pleasant presentation. And don't add foreign crap like pickles, pickle relish, onions or celery. Add those as seperate layers but don't muck up a good thing. Tuna and Hellman's. That's all you need.
French's yellow mustard. Nobody else came close. In fact, there wasn't anybody else. The same two issues for egg salad apply here. Don't add so much mustard and mayo that the egg chunks are swimming. And again, stop with the foreign matter. Pickles and the like. Keep it a clean egg salad and your family will keep coming back for more.
Finally, and for good reason, Hunt's Catsup. No need for it now, no need for it then. Hunt's will always suck hind teat to Heinz. Always!
I think silence isn't any more awkward then gratuitous small talk. If I try to engage in small talk, 9 times out of 10 I will wish I hadn't. Suffer in silence and you'll never have to bullshit anyone again, including yourself. But thisage old,dyed-in-the-wool, absolutely positively last resort period to break the silence, topic of weather concerns me. Downright scares the shit out of me. This ain't normal if there is such a thing. Now I think I'd actually be happy to discuss it with just about anybody at anytime because that's what you do when you don't understand something... at least until it gets boring or redundant.
As a kid, this was not my first choice for grub in Muskegon. Just wasn't exactly kid friendly. But when you don't even have a driver's license you go where the folks go. Burger King was happening back in the day because there were not so many around back then. Or US 31 Bar-B-Q. The Doo Drop was kind of fancy though. I think seafood was their big deal. They had those big, sweeping horse-shoe shaped booths. At some point though, many years ago, the swankiness disappeared along with the most of the industries that helped support the town.