Saturday, April 01, 2006

ARKANSAS TRAVELERS

Don & Paula Windsor Thompson

It's been a while since we wrote you. We just got back from a mini-vacation in Las Vegas. What a zoo!

We enjoyed the parks in the area. Went to Death Valley and the Armagosa Opera House at Death Valley Junction, plus Red Rock Canyon (we were in snow), and Valley of Fire.

Sorry to hear of the passing of Ernie Simpson. We didn't know him but he and I exchanged a few e-mails at the time of his retirement. Paula and I are big contributors to cancer research.

Here is an extract from today's Ardemgaz. Bubble gum was one of the treats I enjoyed during Searcy school days. I still get Double Bubble gum. I think it's made in Canada. I remember how hard it was to get during and just after WWII. I still remember the day Billy Davis was able to get a quantity from a relative who ran a store. He sold it for a quarter a piece. Nice profit!

Paula and I hope you will find some time to keep up the journal. We understand what an effort it is and I would not want to take it on myself.

We enjoy reading and contributing to the memories of Searcy Yesteryear..

Don’s attachment:

Bubble gum's 'Bazooka' hearkens back to Arkie— Ron Wolfe

Arkansas' part in the history of bubble gum is a mouthful. Here's the story to chew on:

One of the 1930s' most beloved entertainers was Bob "Bazooka" Burns from Van Buren. He was famous for playing the odd horn he invented — a gas pipe with a funnel on the end. He called it a "bazooka."

In World War II, the Army developed a portable rocket launcher that sort of resembled Burns' horn. It, too, was called a bazooka.

And then, after the war, the Topps chewing gum company came up with its brand of bubble gum called, what else? — Bazooka! "It was named after the humorous musical instrument which entertainer Bob Burns had fashioned," is Topps' official account.

The brand name also gave rise to the name, Bazooka Joe, the kid star of the little comic strip that came wrapped around the gum.

It still does. Bazooka Joe looks hipper now — he rides a skateboard — but he still sports his mysterious black eye patch. Nothing tells how Joe lost his eye, but it may have been in the bubble-gum war that broke out when Topps challenged the market dominance of the Fleer candy company's Double Bubble gum.

Fleer invented bubble gum in 1928. Or, specifically, a 23-year-old accountant named Walter Diemer did. The company had been in search of a marketable bubble gum for years. It had to stretch way more than regular gum. It had to make a bubble. But it couldn't be too sticky. It had to peel cleanly off a kid's nose.

Diemer's job wasn't bubbleblowing, and his background wasn't chemistry, but he nonetheless found the right formula. It made him a big puffer in the gum business.

People have been chewing bubble gum, blowing it, popping it, and stepping in it ever since.

Tom Pry

I’ve been stepping in it all my life.

Gum, too.

I’m not giving up the Searcy Yesteryear site yet, at least not until after July 1st, when the Class of 56 (my class) holds its 50th Reunion. That’s my plan, anyway, assuming I’m even invited to the reunion. The committee doesn’t speak to me. Must’ve been something I said.

As for Bob Burns … he was the first Arkansas humorist to achieve a national reputation, thanks primarily to radio. One of his favorite subjects was mosquitoes. He told of the night he woke up in bed and heard two mosquitoes arguing. One wanted to eat him where he lay, the other wanted to carry him back to their nest and dine on him. It was finally decided to leave him where he was because “.. if we carry him back to the nest, the BIG mosquitoes will take him away from us.”

He also told the story of the guy who read someplace that honey bees and mosquitoes were natural enemies, so he imported a batch of bees. Unfortunately, something went wrong with his plan and the two species interbred. He said the resultant offspring had a stinger on both the front AND the back “… and the thing could get you coming and going.”

Burns was also the guy who said he saw an Arkansas mosquito prong a Grayhound bus “..and that bus swole up so bad it couldn’t get through the toll booth!”

Have a nice week.

2 Comments:

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