Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"... and now, a word from our sponsors."

Oh, sure, you remember the Tower News … that paragon of journalism and pride of the Fourth Estate.  If that’s the way you remember it, you’ll also recall the Pulitzer Prizes that adorned the trophy cases at Third & Main. 

OK, let me take off my rose-tinted glasses and stop in for a reality check.

Once upon a time, the newspaper was printed in-house, but by our time that chore was farmed out to a local printer.  The subscription rate was $1.05 per year or $.15 per issue.  So much for any discount for the seven-issue year.

The name of the school newspaper is a tribute to the most notable architectural cue on the first Fairview building at the corner of Fairview Ave. and Catalpa Dr.

Bingo, it had a tower.  Golly, you’re quick!

About the only other reference to that building that was any part of our school days in the early ‘60s would have been the one Rookwood ceramic fountain that was on the hallway wall in between the office and room 101, Miss Herbst’s room.  Shhhhhh … remember … always whisper when you say her name.

No doubt Mr. Longnecker and Miss Folger felt all warm and fuzzy whenever they walked by.   I mean the fountain, not Miss Herbst’s room. 

Now, if you’re still riding this train of thought, let’s pretend you also rememberer the small advertisements for local businesses that found their way onto the bottoms of the pages toward the back of the paper.  As part of the process, students on the Tower News staff had to go out into the world and beat the bushes to convince business owners to buy ad space.  You could make a good case for some of the businesses wanting to market themselves to FHS students and their families.  Some were a bit of a stretch to imagine how they would benefit.  Still others just wanted to show their support for kids getting their feet wet in the real world.

The Tower News was first published in 1925 and it is interesting and fun to look at these ads as a bit of a time capsule for our Dayton View neighborhood, people’s interests and the evolution of the local business community.

Two examples from the ‘30s show us enterprises that still managed to be there for us in the ‘60s.

These early ads also give you a chance to remember when telephone numbers were only six characters long and began with the first two letters of the name of an exchange, like RAndolph, TAylor, ADams, BAldwin or FUlton. 

Brawley’s was a drug store that also dated back to pre-war Dayton View …  located at the corner of Salem and Malvern Ave.  Just inside the front door were greeting cards and school supplies on the left and periodicals on the right.  Next on the right was the candy counter with the lady who took your money, followed by one of those spectacular white ceramic metal display cases with roasted nuts.  On back on the left was the soda fountain with its ten or so red swivel stools.  Along the very back was the pharmacy.

I just wish I could remember the name of the family that ran Brawley’s.

circa 1934

Now here’s something interesting.  We all rememberer the Mascot right across Hillcrest from school, but can anyone think back to before they were born when apparently there was a different business there?

Yeh, me neither.

So that you folks who lived up north and didn’t make it down to Salem Ave very often don’t feel left out, we’ll throw you a bone here. 

And now back to us normal people.  Here are two mainstays of the commercial world out on Salem, west of Philadelphia Dr.

Miami Hardware was run by Fairview parents, and it was where you went before there were any big boxes.  You name it; they had it.  They had paint, appliances, tools, nuts and bolts, glass, patio furniture and every sort of home repair gadget imaginable.  They also did repairs on things like windows and screen doors.

My favorite thing there was the giant machine that tested radio and TV tubes.  So when your enormous mahogany monster went on the fritz, Dad or Uncle Mike could remove the back panel, pretend he knew what he was doing and take all the tubes there to be tested.  There now, your vertical hold is all better. 

Pantorium Cleaners, was just across Litchfield from the early-‘50s Kroger’s that started the Miracle Lane ball rolling and unless I miss my guess, it’s still there.  They did dry cleaning, laundry, alterations and could lose or crush just about any button made by man.

I have two vivid memories of Pantorium Cleaners.  1) Have no doubt that many a brain cell was killed by the solvent they used for dry cleaning.  Whatever it was made carbon tet tame by comparison.  On a bad day, we could smell it on the way to school. 2) One day my Mom and I were coming home from downtown on the bus and someone hurled all over the back of Mom’s nice green coat.  Lucky eight-year-old Dan had to put the coat in his bike basket and take it to Pantorium.  Pity, I was unable to get the Guinness Book of Records people to document the amount of time I held my breath that day.

Speaking of Miracle Lane, that was the first experience most of us had with a shopping center.  It had two clusters of buildings and by and large did away with the need to go downtown as often.

The Metropolitan and Vernon’s Shoes were two Miracle Lane businesses that would occasionally advertise in the Tower NewsThe Met was owned by a Fairview family.  By the way, does anyone know what “the bold look” was?  Vernon’s Shoes was in the smaller part of Miracle Lane back toward Prescott Ave.  It’s claim to fame was the fluoroscope machine that allowed you to X-ray your feet to see how your shoes fit.  

Yeh, that was well before any link to leukemia and birth defects was established. 

Most of the companies that advertised were small and did not have camera-ready art for their marketing program, but once in a while something a bit classier came along. 

And far and away, the most ads were for hair and beauty businesses.

And for the April issue you could count on several spots for tux rentals.

Oooooo, price war!  Perhaps cleaning was $.50 extra?
Now, if the trip to the hairdresser or the formal wear outlet wasn’t the answer, perhaps a more basic approach was needed.

Of course, after-FHS educational opportunities ran the gamut.

Passion pit?

And since no one who was old enough to drive had hardly any gas in the tank, oil in the engine or air in the tires …

How better to close than with the dealer’s choice award …

(Eat six yeast donuts before you go to bed and
 your stomach will wake up an hour before you do!)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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