I just so happened to see it there in the store window next to the Chinese fast-food restaurant where my colleague and I were picking up lunch:
A big, round, tan-and-brown can of Charles Chips.
“Look at that! I haven’t seen those in years!” I shouted, to my colleague’s amusement.
These tins were delivered by truck to our house when I was a kid, if I recall correctly. Like Dy-Dee Diaper service…only not taking something horrifically pungent away (I remember that, too, up until I was about four; I had a sister two years younger).
Instantly I was thrown back to the 1970s, beginning with this scene:
The sewing room that is supposed to be a dining room. Mama’s Singer sewing machine, threads, pins, patterns galore. The ironing board. Daddy’s shoeshine box and bench in the corner. The distinct scent of Kiwi shoe polish in hanging in this space…the Charles Chip can, long missing its lid, heaped to the brim with socks that had lost their mates. Mama calls it the sock box. How are there so many? The washer (that lasted over twenty-five years) ate them, maybe? Mama tries to keep socks matched by sewing a knot of thread in the toe tips, a different color for each pair… me, age seven, on the day of my baptism, walking down the baptistry steps into the surprisingly warm water, looking down at my white-socked feet, seeing the coordinating navy-blue knots…
All this, triggered by mere sight of a Charles Chip can after so many years.
I was there.
The Statler Brothers had a nostalgic song about things they remembered from their youth, entitled “Do You Remember These?”
Here’s what the Charles Chips started dredging up for me…see if any of you remember these, from the late 1960s to early ’70s:
The Archies cartoon (and the song “Sugar Sugar”)
Penelope Pitstop cartoon
Josie and the Pussycats cartoon
Rocky and Bullwinkle
H. R. Pufnstuf show
The Banana Splits show
The Addams Family (our family friends had a black lab named Thing)
The Wonderful World of Disney, Sunday nights
Family Affair and Mrs. Beasley dolls
The Wizard of Oz on TV once a year
Paper dolls, such as “Mod Maude”
Squirmles, the Magical Pet (a furry worm that “moved”)
Silly Putty for placing & peeling on the Sunday comics – so fun
The Pink Panther Show
The Partridge Family (how is it I can still sing every song?)
Donny and Marie
Avon ladies calling
Choco’Lite candy bars
Count Chocula cereal (back in stores now at Halloween!)
upper elementary girls wearing wigs to school
The Brady Bunch
Viewmasters and reels
Hippity Hop (ball with handle, for sitting on and bouncing wherever you wanted to go)
Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
rabbits’ feet (I am so, so sorry now, dear Rabbits)
and last but not least
Sonny and Cher
…these are just the first ripples in my memory. There’s a story surrounding each. There are more memories just below the surface, waiting to be stirred… so many, many more.
Funny, crazy, wondrous, strange, sweet slices of life. So long ago.
Seems fitting to end with this song (imagine me singing it with gusto around age five).
with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the monthlong Slice of Life Writing challenge