|There really aren't 20 mule teams inside. I looked.|
On the Stringam Ranch, electronic media was in its infancy.
We had one TV channel.
And that only came on for a limited number of hours per day.
Mom would park me in front of the TV just shortly before 10 AM, and I would stare at the 'Indian head' test pattern until the National Anthem.
And then, magically, The Friendly Giant would appear.
He read stories and played music.
Just for me.
Of course there were other programs. The Jack Benny Show. Leave it to Beaver. Lassie. The Wonderful World of Disney. Bonanza. Ed Sullivan.
And Woody Woodpecker, that always came on when I was supposed to be gathering the eggs. (But that is another story.)
Each memorable by itself. And each enhanced by the ads woven skillfully between and throughout.
I loved the ads. Those wonderful, amazing ads that, in 30 seconds or less, could convince me that now, thanks to the additive of the month, I could have cleaner wash.
Or whiter teeth.
Or better coffee.
We weren't actually coffee drinkers, but I was sold by the ad that asked, “How do you like your coffee?” and then answered by, “Why, I like my coffee . . . Crisp!”
How convincing were such ditties as, “You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!”
Inevitably followed by, “Mom, I want to brush my teeth!”
Or, “J-E-L-L-O!” Which was the immediate precursor to snack time.
I was mesmerized (and yes, I meant to use that word) by the ad featuring several pickles dancing around, singing, “You can tell a Heinz pickle, by its crunch!” and ignoring the jar, who implored them to get back inside before they got eaten up. And, after all of them were eaten, that same jar lamenting, “You can't tell a Heinz pickle nothin'!”
That was hilarious. And if something made me laugh, I had to have it.
We simply couldn't do without it.
Mom had to buy it.
Or make it. Or do it.
The Kraft ads with the smooth-voiced narrator and the wonderful scenes from the perfect Kraft kitchens.
Mmmmm. Mom could do that.
The housewives in the pretty dresses, pearls, pumps and a miniscule apron demonstrating everything from floor wax to cookware.
Well . . . my Mom always wore a dress, and an apron. And I had seen her in pumps and pearls whenever she and Dad went out.
But for some reason, I couldn't get her to combine them when doing housework.
“No, Mom, you have to do it this way! Like on TV!”
Moms are weird.
The Marlboro ads convinced me that I wasn't a real man if I didn't sm . . . okay, so I know I could never be a real man, but . . . never mind.
Mom was off the hook there.
She did buy boxes of Kellogg's frosted flakes because Tony the Tiger said they were “Grrrrreat!”
She didn't have to worry about Esso, though.
I had a bit of a problem with putting a 'Tiger in my Tank'.
I wasn't quite sure how Tony would feel about that.
She never bought me the tiny, little chuckwagon I so desperately wanted, that drove through the house carrying . . . ummm . . . whatever it carried. I confess, I never really got past watching the tiny little driver and team.
I begged and begged my Mom for the 'Five Pounds Thinner Girdle' from playtex or the 'Cross Your Heart Bra' from the same company.
And I couldn't understand why that made her laugh.
I also tried to convince her that she needed to be using Ivory Snow for all things 'baby'. And to add the power of the Borax 20-mule team to everything else.
Actually, I just wanted the mule team. I can't tell you how many boxes I opened looking for them.
Mom probably can.
Moving on . . .
We ate Campbell's soup on occasion and I tried to look plump cheeked and shiny like the Campbell's kids.
I also wanted the bowls they ate from.
She balked at that.
She did buy me Kraft Peanut Butter.
Oh, occasion, she tried to substitue some inferior brand that was on sale, but, inevitably that jar of lowly second-rate peanut butter went stale on the shelf.
I had seen the ads.
I chewed Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum because it had better flavour and wanted only Chiquita bananas because the girl had a neat hat.
'Carnation hot chocolate was frothy great – and – so easy to make'. And it went so well with 'Jiffy pop, Jiffy pop the magic treat. As much fun to make as it is to eat!'
Okay, I have to admit it.
Ads worked for me.
It's probably a good thing that we didn't have more channels.
Mom never would have survived.