Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Zum-Zum-Zum, a Stein Song

In honor of National Tavern Month, we present the lyrics to "Zum-Zum-Zum, a Stein Song." Written by Oscar F. G. Day to accompany original music by Elmer Olson, this song was published in 1914 as sheet music by Minneapolis Brewing Company, to promote Zumalweiss beer. There was also a recorded version on a 78 r.p.m. record. 

Kind of a precursor to the radio and TV commercial jingle, it was a song that could be sung in the tavern while beering away the hours by the old piano. A pre-Prohibition classic. Minneapolis Brewing Company was best known as the brewers of Grain Belt beer until it went out of business in 1975. 


With your day's work completed,
With friends you are seated, 
In rathskeller, home or cafe,
What pleasure so pleasing,
From care your brain easing, 
As sipping the hours away

With joke and clear laughter, 
Who cares what comes after,
Dull care we have banished away

Each jolly good fellow,
Joins in with a mellow
“Here's ho” for it's time to be gay.


Zum Zum Zumalweiss
That is the music we all love to hear,
Room, room, room for good fellows
And welcome each one with a cheer

Let us join in a smile
For the beer that's worthwhile,
So here's to good old 
Zumalweiss and here's a health to all of us
With a laugh in each sip,
As it passes the lip,
That's the Zum Zum Zum Zumalweiss beer.

You may boast of your tipples,
Of champagne that ripples,
Or fizzes that fuddle your brain

Or urge of the bouquet,
Of sauterne or tokay,
Or sparkle of burgundy strain

Give me the pure shine and
The health from the stein-land,
That came when they taught how to brew

And I will be wiser
Than king, prince or kaiser,
Get wise to that Zumalweiss too.

(Repeat chorus)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fred is Dead: Recalling Flintstones Bedrock City

You've seen them on TV and in comic books. Now -- visit the Flintstones in their own Bedrock City at Custer, South Dakota, on highways U.S. 16 and 385.

You'll see Fred and Wilma - Barney and Betty and, of course, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. Visit the firehouse, the Bedrock bank, city jail, oodles of stores and The Bedrock Theatre, where you'll enjoy Flintstone films showing continuously. Dino is twenty feet high, perched on one of the many rocky ledges that add to the fabulous beauty of the sixty acres that comprise Bedrock City and camping area. Modern bath houses and rest rooms add to the comfort of campers and travelers and a drive-in and souvenir shop add to the enchantment of Bedrock. The cool dry nights and balmy days assure you a delightful vacation in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, just a short distance from Mt. Rushmore and the buffalo herds. Remember!! There is only one Bedrock City in America!

--1967 Flintstones Bedrock City brochure

Soon there would be another Bedrock City, in Arizona, plus two in Canada, making a total of four Bedrock City theme parks in North America. All of them are gone now, victims of changing times, licensing issues and new generations of kids disinterested in such schmaltz.

I never did make it out to Flintstones Bedrock City. It's a shame too. The original Flintstones-themed park in Custer, South Dakota was in a state that bordered my home state of Minnesota. But when my family went on a trip, at least when I was in tow, we either went up north or out to Wisconsin. Never west. Come to think of it, I never saw nearby Mount Rushmore in person either.

Being enamored with Fred and Barney from age five on, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it as a kid, and would have still gotten a kick out of seeing it as an adult. I heard about it when I was a kid. I knew some kids who had been there, some telling me it was pretty neat, others saying it wasn't all that good and I wasn't missing anything. Certainly it was no Disneyland. It was a roadside attraction, not a destination. It had cement "Stone Age" buildings and cement statues of Flintstones characters that weren't exactly to Hanna-Barbera's specs. Postcards feature employees posing in character costumes that look rather hideous, or shall we say, primitive.

The first Bedrock City park in Custer, SD opened in 1966, the year the Flintstones left prime time network television after six seasons. But the show became even more popular in syndicated reruns, usually running in late weekday afternoons to the delight of millions of children coming home from school. Myself included. In my home town of Minneapolis, for a time in the early 1970s, it was shown twice a day by independent station WTCN-TV Channel 11, mornings and afternoons, plus two back-to-back episodes on Sunday mornings. I wanted to hang out with Fred and Barney, and be their pal. In a way, I was kind of able to do that when I watched the show. But if I had been able to go to the Bedrock City theme park, I'd be able to walk into their homes, stroll down their main street and ride in their cars. I could have acquired inexpensive Flintstones merchandise at the souvenir shop, and I could have enjoyed the local cuisine, Bronto Burgers and Dino Dogs. Truly a three dimensional version of a one dimensional cartoon.

Here's a few postcards from the park in South Dakota, circa 1969.

"In front of a skyscraper under construction stand Barney and Fred waiting for their families to take a ride in their sports job (sic). They stand on the main street of Bedrock City, Custer, South Dakota."

"Stopping in front of the Souvenir Shop, Fred and Barney chat awhile before leaving for work."

"Pebbles rides the saber-toothed tiger to visit Bamm-Bamm at Barney Rubble's home."

A second Flintstones park opened in Arizona in 1972. It was smaller, but some say it was better. Two more eventually popped up in Canada, but they were fairly short lived. Over time, the parks were updated, but not too much. The twenty-foot Dino statue at the South Dakota park was repainted in different colors over the years. The cement character statues were replaced with fiberglass ones that were more to specifications, at the demand of the current owners of the Flintstones intellectual properties of the time.  The franchise had changed corporate hands a number of times over the years, eventually ending up under the auspices of Warner Bros, originator of the Looney Tunes cartoons.

The Flintstones continued to be seen in perpetual reruns on local stations, including WGN in Chicago and its vast cable network, well into the 1990s. Eventually, the show would become an exclusive of Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network, later being shuffled over to the Boomerang channel, which is seen on far fewer cable and satellite outlets. As this happened, the Flintstones began to fade from the public consciousness. Recent generations of kids have little clue and no curiosity about the Flintstones. There are still Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereals featuring Fred and Barney on the box, and Flintstones Vitamins remain the best-selling children's chewable, but that has more to do with the buying decisions of the parents than the demand of the kids, as had been the case when those products came out decades ago.

The Bedrock City parks in South Dakota and Arizona finally closed in 2015, and perhaps it's amazing they lasted that long. People lost interest, kids no longer care, and the current owner of the Flintstones intellectual properties, Warner Bros, had no interest in renewing the licenses to use the characters. The Stepford Children of today don't give a damn about such things. Same reason why Toys R Us and most other toy stores went out of business. If it's not an app they are completely lost and clueless. They're not even kids anymore, they are mutants.

An interesting and in depth history of the Flintstones theme parks can be found here:  https://www.theawl.com/2016/03/amidst-of-the-rubble-of-bedrock-city/

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What Goes Best With a Hot Dog?

"What goes best with a HOT DOG? Right...Beer or ale the way you like it...in those easy-to-open CAP-SEALED CANS!"

In the summer of 1940, a war was going on somewhere in Europe, and there was talk of some mad man taking over countries and slaughtering millions. But far away in the heartland of America, the main concern was rolling out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and especially beer. And Continental Can Company wanted to convince people that their Cap-Sealed (cone top) beer can fit best with summertime activity.

The year before, six and a half million of the 30 million cases of canned beer sold had been consumed in July and August alone. With a recovering economy, all indications were that 1940 would be the biggest season yet, and the brewing and beer can industries were gearing up to meet the expected demand. For Continental and the 83 breweries using cone tops, it was a matter of convincing consumers that theirs was the superior package.

Continental embarked on an aggressive print advertising campaign, paid for through a cooperative arrangement with those brewers and beer distributors using their Cap-Sealed cans. Lively two-page spreads ran in popular magazines such as Life, Collier's and Liberty, featuring people having fun and discovering for themselves the advantages of the Cap-Sealed can.

There were nine spreads in all, pointing out the convenience of taking the can along for picnics, outings, cook-outs, parties and other occasions, stressing that no special opener was needed, unlike other types of beer cans that required a "church-key" opener ("opens just like a bottle"). You could drink from a "clean, cap-protected surface," and there were no empties to return. No environmental regulations, either.Once you consumed the contents, you could simply throw the can into the outhouse pit, sink it in the lake, toss it into the campfire or add it to a pile somewhere, where excited collectors could find it decades later. One of the ads depicted a young man, with his sweetheart, letting his empty float away in a stream.

Continental put a considerable amount of market research into the campaign. They sent their men out to beer distributors and beer drinkers across the country to get their views on the package and how to market it. When asked, 2,032 distributors said they preferred the Cap-Sealed can to the flat top can. Only 102 chose the flat top, and 232 had no opinion. With flat tops, distributors had to handle the special openers, thus making the cone top more desirable. In addition, in nearly every survey taken, two out of three beer drinkers said they preferred the cone top.

The distributors and brewers were enthusiastic about the summer ad campaign and the local sales promotion that was given to them in their own territories, and they told Continental that the combination helped build package sales and volume.

The campaign paid off handsomely. In the first eight months of 1940, the distributors were reporting sales overwhelmingly ahead of those in all of 1939. The year 1941 also saw banner sales (until the U. S. entrance in the war put canned beer on hold). After the war, the Cap-Sealed can was eventually phased out, ending up being regulated mostly to automotive additives, and even those eventually went to plastic bottles. You can't buy anything in cone tops anymore, unfortunately.

But imagine for just one moment that it's the summer of 1940 once again. A beautiful day, kind of humid, but there's a nice breeze. The women are setting out food and talking, the men are playing a friendly game of baseball, the children are running abound. You get yourself an ice-cold cone-top can of beer, grab the opener and pry off the cap. Shhhhlock. A little bit of foam rises. You bring the metal surface to your lips and swallow down the wonderful liquid refreshment. Ahhh!.

Meanwhile, a war rages on in the rest of the world.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mysterious 1960s Korean Pop LP

I found this unusual foreign gem in the $2 bin at a record collectors' show in Minneapolis a few years ago, and had to snatch it up, even though I couldn't read a word on it except for "Oasis Records," "Seoul, South Korea," "High Fidelity," "Side 1," and "Side 2." Fine print on the back cover also references RCA and "Telefunken U-47," a type of microphone that Frank Zappa referenced on one of his records with sexual innuendo. ("You'll love it.")
On the front cover, a color photo of an attractive young Asian woman singer looking rather Westernized, wearing a halter top, bracelet and necklace with a flower in her hair above her left ear, a lit cigarette in her right hand, while standing at a microphone caressed by her left hand. A cloud of exhaled tobacco smoke hovers over her. That in itself seemed unusual, as I have heard that South Korean culture is quite conservative, and even now, women who smoke publicly are looked down on. The Oasis Records logo appears in the lower left corner, and a Shin Films logo in the lower right, suggesting it might be a movie soundtrack.

Listening to the record, the style was kind of early 1960s nightclub Asian jazz-pop, full orchestration, with kind of torch singer vocals, sung in Korean, sounding sweet and melodic. Not really a throaty smoker's voice.

After posting an image of the album cover on Flickr, someone commented, tipping me off that the singer's name is Jaeran Park (or Park Jae-ran), and the album title translated into "My Darling Has Passed Away, but His Song Still Remains." Upon further research, I found that she was born in 1938, and that this album came out in 1964, so she would have been about 26 years old at the time. She is actually well known in South Korea, putting out albums from the late 1950s until at least the early 1980s, and making numerous appearances on Korean television, some of which can be found on YouTube. The musical genre is called "K-Pop" in the trade, or Korean Popular. Apparently she also did some acting, which might help explain the Shin Pictures logo (wonder if the cover picture is from a movie). She looks a lot more conservative/traditional in most of the other images I have been able to find of her. The label, Oasis Records, in now an EMI subsidiary.

The other mystery would be, how did this copy end up in the United States, and ultimately in a $2 bin at a record collectors' show in Minneapolis?

A track from the album can be found here:
Another track from the album can be found here:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Facts About Fallout

With recent talk about nations expanding nuclear capabilities and a renewed arms race, we take a look at a booklet issued by the Federal Civil Defense Administration, issued in 1957 and directed at average Americans, called "Facts About Fallout."

Going back to 1945 with the end of the Second World War via the atomic bomb, there was always a looming threat that another nation with more sinister intent might turn the tables back on the United States.

The Soviet Union, although a U.S. ally during the war, soon figured out how to make its own atomic bomb, threatening the United States and democracies around the world, thus triggering what came to be known as the Cold War. With the Soviet threat, and U.S. troops battling communists in Korea in the early 1950s, there was serious worry that the Cold War could turn red hot and that U.S. cities could be the target of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. With the lives of millions of U.S. civilians at risk, legislation creating the Federal Civil Defense Administration was signed by President Harry S. Truman and enacted on January 12, 1951.

The government wanted Americans, who had lived through two world wars without ever seeing a direct attack on the homeland, to know that this threat was damn serious. Air and missile bases would be likely targets of an atomic bomb, as would major cities. The blast, heat and radiation would kill millions of Americans at or near ground zero of such an attack. Millions more would be injured or killed by radioactive dust — fallout — kicked up by the blast and blown to all parts of the land by wind, so no one was safe. A plan needed to be put in place, and a citizenry needed to be informed on how to handle such a dire situation.

Through the Civil Defense Administration, regional offices were set up, civil defense directors were appointed in communities across the land, informational booklets and posters were published, films were produced, and civil defense experts appeared on radio and television programs, to let John Q. Public, his wife and his children know how serious the threat was and what they can do to protect themselves.
"Facts About Fallout" (1957) describes what fallout is and how citizens can protect themselves, in layman's terms. Click the images to enlarge.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Squirt Soft Drink Subjective Color Acid Test

On July 25, 1967, television viewers with black-and-white TV sets were startled to see flashes of color on their monochrome screens for about ten seconds during a 60-second soda-pop commercial. A letter to a columnist in the September 14, 1967 Detroit Free Press asked, "Before I see an eye doctor, let me ask Action Line: Is it possible to pick up color TV on a black and white set? I SWEAR I saw a Squirt soft-drink commercial in color. Not pink elephants Green Squirt!" The image was described in the newspaper column as a red, green and blue sign that had flashed on the screen.

A viewer in Chicago told Popular Photography magazine (July 1968), "I saw pink! It knocked me for a loop...the letters S-Q-U-I-R-T looked greenish or light turquoise...and it kept up for maybe 10 seconds." (Meanwhile a viewer in San Francisco claimed he didn't see anything colorful.)
It was the national debut of an experimental television commercial using a special production process that would give the optical illusion of color. The commercial first aired a few months earlier locally on KNXT, the CBS-owned television station in Los Angeles, and viewers there were just as stunned. Squirt and its advertising partner Color-Tel Corporation of Los Angeles, at the time decided to make no prior announcement of this experimental commercial, preferring to see just how viewers would respond. And respond they did. Within hours, thousands of viewers were asking if they really saw what they thought they did, color on their black-and-white TV screens, according to Popular Electronics magazine (October 1968).

The burst of color was not "living color" (as NBC frequently touted in the 1960s), but something called "subjective color." The process was developed by James F. Butterfield of Color-Tel, a corporation founded in Los Angeles in early 1966. It gave the illusion of color by pulsating white light in a particular sequence for each color with a rotating device attached to a regular black and white TV camera lens. Butterfield had found in his many years of research that the human brain perceives colors through complex electronic codes. Butterfield was able to figure out the individual codes for the colors red, green and blue, and by pulsating white light in predetermined patterns with the device on the camera lens, could induce the brain of the television viewer to perceive color. Beyond that, ordinary monochrome equipment could be used in filming or taping, broadcasting and viewing.

There were a few drawbacks. The images were nothing at all like true color TV. It didn't have the intensity or range of colors. As the technology currently stood, the effect could only be used on still images. The "subjective color" could only be seen in about one-fourth of the TV screen area, and, because it relied on flickering light, there was a lot of flickering. It was also found that some people could not perceive the colors at all, yet some people diagnosed as color-blind could see the colors.

Nonetheless, Popular Science, in its August 1968 issue, saw many possibilities for the technology, particularly for special effects. "Color will appear in cartoons, commercials and special presentations. Polka-dots on a clown's suit will be seen as red flashing dots. You'll see the designs and lettering on a cereal box in pulsating green and blue. A girl will plant a kiss on a boy's cheek--and a red lipstick print will appear on your screen."

Popular Electronics (October 1968) went on to report, "Right now, Color-Tel engineers are checking into the possibility of using electronic color for such things as color radar displays, color computer readouts, and perhaps even color sonar pictures. It may be true that, in its present stage of development, Butterfield's process is nothing but a scientific curiosity — however, 25 years ago, so was television."

Popular Science predicted, "You can expect color on your black-and-white TV by this fall [1968]." But there was one giant flaw in that rosy prediction. By 1968, black-and-white TV was well on the way out. The vast majority of programming (outside of old movies and TV shows) were being broadcast in "living" color by then, and while most U.S. households still had black-and-white TV sets (color sets were big, bulky and expensive in those days), more and more homes were purchasing color television sets every year. Had James F. Butterfield perfected the process ten or fifteen years earlier, in the 1950s when 90 percent of television broadcasts were black and white, it might have had more of a serious impact.

Although James F. Butterfield had many patents to his credit before his death in 2013, it appears this experiment didn't go as far as the press of the time might have suggested it could. Color-Tel last renewed as a corporation in 1972, and we can not find any evidence of other "subjective color" broadcasts beyond the Squirt commercial.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reader review for "Terror Alert:1970" e-book

Fellow blogger Erin Brew offers this review of my newly published e-book, "Terror Alert: 1970." Find out more at

Terror Alert: 1970 offers a well-articulated introduction into a time many of us could not (or can not) grasp understanding of. It's one of those micro topics you might only briefly cover if you take a history class on the 1960s, as I did in college. One immediately makes comparisons to the nature of today's terror attacks vs. the year 1970 upon reading. And as far as Minnesota goes, well, personally I never heard of a string of such bombings! How is it that I missed that about my own home state's history?

The text transitions very nicely from introducing a specific terror threat at a Twins baseball game and linking it with one of the many summers of unrest due to the Vietnam war protests. But are such unexplained bombings linked to Vietnam? Further reading seems to prove confusion of the motives.

When you think of today's terrorists, you think of an outside enemy with fundamentally different ideals invoking fear and disrupting the daily lives of western citizens. We know who they are and why they want to harm our society. But in the case of domestic terrorists, no one seemed to know who or why. What were they hoping to accomplish?

Also puzzling is why certain companies were targeted that had nothing to do with what was happening in the news about war overseas. With an astonishing 400 bomb threats made in just part of the year, how did the public react? Today, we would think of the many violent gun crimes and hear people rally to do something to stop criminals from getting them. But what do you do about bombs? You certainly can't ban something someone will make at home and use to cause serious damage. That isn't rational.

I think these events happening in the year 1970 tells us something. That there was an alarming shift in our culture. It wasn't the nice, complacent 1950s anymore. Any sense of peace and unity seemed scarce with the ever growing “new left” political atmosphere at the end of the 1960s decade. What it comes down to is, who is to blame for these events? Individual actions? Or outside events that drove them to it? In the end, you, the reader must decide for yourself.