Mad Men Memories

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I, like so many other Baby Boomers, am addicted to the Sunday night show on AMC. If you can get beyond the fact that they smoke incessantly and drink even more, it is really a great walk down Memory Lane.

Personally, it brings me back to a time and a place that I have sort of mixed feelings about, but I still like going there. I was a tween and then a teen in the ’60′s.

During that time I went from a short a-la-Twiggy Vidal Sassoon haircut to cutting Cher “bangs” and letting my hair grow almost to my waist and sporting a headband a-la-Buffy Ste. Marie (whom most of you probably don’t even remember.)

I love the fashion on Mad Men, I love to see the old cars, the packages of food, the black and white (and then color) TV programs that they watch.

Growing up my big treat was to get chocolate pudding to snack on while watching I Love Lucy (…and it was made from scratch atop the stove, with Mom stirring it the whole time so it didn’t burn. None of those little plastic containers you can get now…the real deal was made in a Pyrex® custard dish!)

I still watch I Love Lucy on occasion, but I’ve had to skip the chocolate pudding unless it’s fat-free and I can find light whipped cream.

So, this week Mad Men had Don Draper, the sleazy Ad Exec (in case you’ve been living in a tree for the past few years and didn’t know who he was) go off on a sort of fact-finding mission to a Howard Johnson’s upstate NY. He drags along his “newer model” bride who really isn’t all that into it.

Well, just seeing that orange roof brought back scads of memories, because growing up in Queens, HoJo’s is where we went after the movies or a teen dance at the local parish. They used to boast 28 different flavors of ice cream (Baskin-Robbins was just a glint in the eye then) and I was slim enough to try most of them. I don’t think they do that any more but there aren’t that many HoJo’s left. The chain has been swallowed up by Wyndham Worldwide (of the resorts fame) and as a promo right now, they are offering a free night’s stay if your name is Don Draper, but only at select hotels in the chain.

This is really quite amusing, because if you watch the show as I do, you know his name isn’t really Don Draper. That’s the name he took to get out of the army when he was wounded in Korea and regained conciousness with the real Don Draper dead next to him.  He swapped dog tags and identities in one feld swoop.

So, I don’t know if you can find a loophole with the Wyndham people by producing a false ID as Don Draper on the grounds that the character is really not who he says he is and therefore you don’t really have to be Don Draper either. It hardly seems worth the effort to get a room with them for one night, for free.

The HoJo revisit brought back memories of other things that aren’t what they used to be or just don’t exist. Like Wetson’s.

Wetson’s was a burger chain in the New York City area pre-McDonald’s saturation. They, too, had clowns as spokespersons. In their heyday there were 75 of them and then the Golden Arches appeared and Wetson’s went down. I recently read they are trying for a come-back, which poses the question, “Why?” What this country doesn’t need is yet another hamburger chain!


And who remembers Tang the “astronaut drink?” and Junket Rennet Custard, not to mention the Campbell’s Soup kids and Jell-O molds your Mom made for a “special occasion?”

Then there was Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, which you could either stretttttcccchhhhh until it was as big as you were or crack it into pieces. (I can’t imagine how something that plyable could be good for your digestive tract. I wouldn’t be surprised if at my next colonscopy the doctor finds some of that in there with the Dubble Bubble chewing gum I swallowed over the years.)

Kraft Caramel fudgies were little individually wrapped dark chocolate caramels. Candy in my local movie theater was either 6¢ for a small bar or 12¢ for a large one and the most expensive thing you could buy was a bucket of butter pop-corn, which had real butter on it.

As I so often discuss dieting, this stroll down memory lane would not be complete without reminding you of two great innovations in the ’60′s: Metrecal (the liquid supplement to help you lose weight) One of my favorite ads for it had someone putting a fork and knife into a bowl of the strawberry flavored stuff with the caption over it “The Metrecal Steak”…yuk! and then there was “Sucaryl”…the sugar substitute which I think turned out to really not  be good for you.

So, I will continue my Sunday night ritual of tuning into Mad Men and despite the fact that the entire cast of characters is completely despicable, I wouldn’t dream of missing a show…any more than I’d miss a pistachio ice cream cone at a Howard Johnson’s anywhere.

And if you’ve been there, what was your favorite flavor? If you watched Sunday night, I’ll bet it wasn’t the orange sherbet!

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One Response to Mad Men Memories

  1. Bonnie Mercer says:

    Thanks Judy, for the stroll down memory lane.. Since I am a bit older than you, I enjoyed some of these things as a young adult. Made me laugh also. There is a string going on FB right now of “do you know what this is” with pictures of things from the past. If I can figure out how to do it I will repost some of them.. I particularly identify with the one of the old wringer washing machine. Somewhat like the one I had a very personal encounter with as a young person and still have the scars on my arm to prove it. Guess I love all this stuff because it is who we are and is what helped us get to where we are on this God given journey of life this side of Heaven.
    Love everything you share.

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