Pink. Nostalgia. Shazam!

When one is in the grocery store, it is not generally expected that a wave of nostalgia will wash over one in the toilet paper aisle. It did though, when I saw this:

pink toilet paper roll

How great is that? I’d never really given it a lot of thought, but when I saw this I realized that I haven’t seen colored toilet paper in ages. When did it go out of style?

I did some quick research, and discovered that after its heyday from the 50’s through the 70’s, it started to lose favor because of the dyes perhaps posing a risk to the environment, and because it cost more to produce. So sad, I didn’t realize I missed it until I saw some in my local grocery store.

These rolls of pink loveliness (goes well with my sleep-deprivation bathroom wallpaper,


Find the cure, through wiping


no? That’s a whole ‘nother story for another day….) apparently passed the environmental protection censors because it’s all for a good cause — finding a cure for breast cancer. I’m sure it’s all biodegradable and healthy now, so don’t worry.

In my research I’ve discovered a whole new world of toilet paper aficionados — blogs, and web sites, essays and articles. TP is a bigger deal than I thought! By the by, aside from Wikipedia, your one-stop shop for TP talk would probably be Toilet Paper World (glow in the dark toilet paper, anyone? Got some Christmas gifts to buy?).

For me, this  product gave me an oddly nostalgic pleasure, just for a moment. I was talking on the phone to a friend while I was shopping, and when I mentioned the wall of pink toilet paper, she said that she’d had the same reaction when she’d seen it in the store. It spoke to me. I was happy to pay for it, and took it home.

Once home, though, that frisson of nostalgia petered out. I’m not entirely keen on the particular shade of pink, to be honest. And it kind of looks, well, weird.

Nostalgia, in fact, may depend precisely on the irrecoverable nature of the past for its emotional impact and appeal (cf. Linda Hutcheon in this essay). It’s weird to be nostalgic. I don’t feel old enough to be nostalgic, but I guess I am. Besides, it’s not really a function of age, is it? It’s more about the signifiers, iconic images that point to moments in our lives.

The following cavalcade of images represents signifiers that make me feel a frisson of nostalgia. Like the toilet paper, it would probably be a bit of a disappointment if they actually reappeared. Let’s keep them all safely in the past, where they will continue to give me pleasure.


blue portable typewriter

We had one of these... wonder where it went?


I remember we had one of these. In 5th grade I typed a project on “Australia” with it. It had a case (this is not the exact kind, but I remember it was robin’s egg blue), and you could carry it around.

I loved this typewriter, and even though I failed typing class in high school (sigh) it certainly didn’t hurt that I’d learned where the letters were by 5th grade.

Remember this? I once, over the course of a hot summer afternoon, drank an entire case of can of tab colathis stuff (with the help of my friend Trudy, by the way — not all by myself). That was back when you slathered yourself with baby oil and baked yourself in the sun. Good times, good times.

This particular can doesn’t show it, but remember those cool push top cans? They had two little push buttons, and they were great. Probably a choking hazard. In fact, I remember opening one with my teeth while on the merry go round in the local park. We used to make that thing go so fast we were in danger of flying. It was a lot of fun, but probably banned now, along with those push button can openings.


whirly death traps of fun



And these! Oh, remember these?

Wacky Packages! If I recall correctly, I had a large collection of these stickers on the headboard of my bed. I’m sure that my mother was happy about that.

There was a lot of great candy, back in the day.  I ate it while watching the Shazam/Isis Power Hour. Anyone remember what “SHAZAM” stood for?

Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.

If I recall correctly, Billy drove around in the desert in an RV, and talked to the above-


what a couple.


mentioned  Gods.  Isis was an ancient Egyptian superhero who was, for some reason, a school teacher in the modern day (I had to look on Google for that part — couldn’t remember it).

That ends my nostalgic trot through the years of my youth.  To end, some immortal words from the great bard, Lou Reed:

I don’t like nostalgia, unless it’s mine.

1000 Kms, more or less

Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith NH

Dateline, Meredith NH.

Our initial plan was to leave early Sunday morning. We spent much of Saturday waiting. We aren’t good at waiting, and it finally dawned on us that we were allowed to leave whenever we wanted to. A flurry of activity, and we were out of the house and starting down the driveway by 4:15 pm.

In keeping with our intention to drive the blue highways through New England, we took the “scenic route” to Truro, and then set Saint John in our sights as our destination for the evening. It was a pretty drive, gorgeous day with storybook fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky. As the sun went down, and we got a bit crankier, we drove into the outskirts of Saint John. Lots of construction, exits that were blocked, loads of traffic…. arrgh!! On top of it all we felt slightly poisoned by the bag of chips and kettle corn we were eating (and the weird fizzling Skittles we ate… kind of like soap, but oddly entertaining). Crankiness ensued.

I guess it started going downhill when we couldn’t decide if we wanted to find a hotel in the downtown or on the west side (to ease our leave-taking the next day). By the time we realized that downtown was probably a good idea, we realized that the exits were blocked by construction and we were then pushed along through a toll that Mr. 761 resented mightily, and into a fairly unsavoury part of the city. Mr. 761 could wax on for days about ineffective signage etc., but I think it comes down to poor research (as in, well, none) on our part. If we’d done some advance planning, we wouldn’t have spent the night in the Country Inn and Suites (“sounds quite swanky, until you realize the country they had in mind was Belarus” said Mr. 761). It was, well, serviceable. One of the tv’s was a bit temperamental (had to warm up), the room had a slight odor, and there was no shampoo, but it was okay. For a late dinner we went to the non existent hotel restaurant Sobey’s down the road and bought a weird collection of food that struck our fancy. We then ate it in the room, with plastic knives and forks we cadged from friendly Steph, the night clerk (who was, oddly, still there at 10 am this morning when we left).

Really, I kind of liked it. No pictures because in my haste to leave Berwick I left my SD card in my laptop, which I didn’t take (Mr. 761 brought his). Dang, I hate when I do that.

Today we (okay, I) slept late till about 8:30. We considered eating the continental breakfast at the Country Inn but it was not appetizing, nor was there enough room for us to even be able to reach the mini-box of cereal on the shelf. I drank an apple juice and we left, waving at the large people in their nighties, smoking on their “patio” behind the hotel.

Beautiful day, happy people. We’ve driven through Maine at a fair clip, but it didn’t feel rushed. We were going to stop in Bangor, but it looked closed today so we continued on to Lewiston/Auburn (sort of a twin city). Mr. 761 had an excellent Best Bitter and an even more excellent “Blueberry Courage” Beer from a little brew pub. Home-made shepherd’s pie and flaky and wonderful fish and chips filled us up.

I found a store and bought an SD card and a better map, and we were off again. We decided

Lake Winnipesaukee from our window

to stop in daylight today, and chose Meredith NH. I’m very glad we did — it’s a gorgeous little place. The hotel we chose, really the first we saw, is called The Inn at Bay Point – one of 4 in a loose complex around Lake Winnipesaukee — a lake which is not only beautiful, but fun to say. The Inn has what we’ve decided is “upscale tourist kitsch”, which is perfect.

Lamps shaped like boats, and comfy sitting areas on the porches and a nice quirky inn keeper. We’re considering a walk around town, but can’t decide. Considering the restaurant

downstairs, but may instead choose room service. Mr. 761 went out and got himself some beer for the room and brought me back the best ginger beer I’ve ever had: Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer.

We haven’t stopped for any antiques or yard sales (saw only a few, the whole way here). Well, we tried to stop at an antique store in Maine, but he took down the Open sign as we drove into the parking lot. Sigh. I’m sure we’ll see more tomorrow.

Am very happy for text messaging today — daughter sent a picture of a dress she got to go to a dance, and it was so nice to be able to see it. It made me a bit sad that I hadn’t been there to help, but even if I were at home at Box 761 I wouldn’t have been able to…. she’s away at work all summer. It didn’t bother me until today, when she sent me that picture, and I wonder now if the fully empty nest next year will be as great as I thought. Something to come to grips with this year, I guess.  I miss you, kid. Have a good time at the dance!

Tomorrow’s route is more blue highways, from here to Rochester NY.