Life in the Pedestrian Lane

Gone, but not forgotten

Posted: Sunday, October 08, 2006

I tried to buy tooth powder the other day. Surely you remember tooth powder. It came in a flat tin can (yes — a real tin can) about the size of a baby lotion bottle. You shook a little into the palm of one hand and daubed a wet toothbrush in it, then cleaned your teeth with the slightly grainy concoction. It didn’t taste too bad, but some brands were definitely better than others.

This search mission was prompted because I needed to fly outside late in August and the Transportation Safety Administration had declared “no toothpaste” in one’s carry-on, along with no liquids, gels, aerosols or other harmful items (whatever that means). This has happened to me before. It’s like someone somewhere has a crystal ball that tells them when I have to fly somewhere then they throw a big monkey wrench into the works to make it as difficult as possible.

One time, security took a pair of very lethal scissors from my purse. They had blades about 1.5 inches long. I used them to clip threads. That was after the time they tore my carry-on apart looking for a “dart” that turned out to be the tiny screwdriver I use to repair my glasses. The very arrogant security guard almost confiscated it until cooler heads convinced him the most damage I could do with it was deflate his ego.

Another time, after a very fast packing to go visit my sick father, TSA in Anchorage found two pocket knives in my carry-on. Granddaughter No. 7 had helped me pack and thought I needed them, I guess. The guards allowed me out the gate to mail them home. The book store near security had envelopes, with the correct postage already applied, for sale, a product of the Swiss Army Knife Company. At least I knew I wasn’t alone!

I didn’t find the tooth powder. The clerk in the pharmacy — a woman at least 35 or so — commented that tooth powder would be a real handy item now, if they would start making it (like it is a new idea). So I Googled “tooth powder” and indeed they DO still make it. But not in brand names I recognize. Two of the Web sites I clicked said the product was discontinued and one was named “Greenfeet.”

This made me think about other things gone but not forgotten, at least by me:

· Date Bar Mix — produced by everyone’s favorite homemaker, Betty Crocker. I really like date bars. I even made some from scratch once. Let me tell you, making them from a box mix was much more satisfying, I don’t care WHAT Martha Stewart might say. Chopping sticky dates and mixing crunchy crust doesn’t compare to opening a box, adding a little water, putting it in a pan and baking. Besides, the box had a fabulous fruit cake recipe printed on it that I used. Friends didn’t even know it was fruit cake —they ate it and asked for more.

· Movie News Reels — The Eyes of the World news reels kept us visually aware of what was going on in the world in glorious black and white. The radio kept us up on the daily stuff, but kids didn’t listen to news on the radio. The news reels changed every week if you lived in a big town with a really-up-to-the-minute theater schedule. We saw our soldiers on V-J Day, albeit a few weeks later. And I can’t believe that was so bad. I am up to my ears with constant news coverage of things of little to no importance. Who cares which celebrity has the cutest baby, or where Paris Hilton got her last speeding ticket. I don’t even care which athlete is doping up again, or what politician said or did something stupid. Now, a politician saying something intelligent would be news!

· Real Comic Books — Actually, I whetted my appetite for reading on 10 cent comic books. These days, I’d even go for 25 cent comic books. What is it with a thin pulp paper missile costing an arm and a leg? A year’s subscription to Scooby-Do Comics is $19.99! I remember receiving Walt Disney Comics in the mail for less than $2 a year! Gasoline is the only other thing that has gone up that much in so few years (looking at the BIG picture here) but I haven’t heard anyone accuse DC Comics of having the U.S. in its economic claws.

This is where we bring in The Statler Brothers singing “Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott.” Come to think about it, I haven’t heard the Statler Brothers recently, either.

I’ll admit that toothpaste is ultimately better than tooth powder, but I’d sure like to see a good old Tales From the Crypt comic book.

Virginia Walters is a writer who lives in Kenai.

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