News of the Week: The ’Ber Months, Diced Cream Mysteries, and the Post Turns 200

In the news for the week ending August 5, 2021, are Jeopardy! rumors, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, a message in a bottle, OUR BIG BIRTHDAY, and more.

The masthead for the October 15, 1864 edition of The Saturday Evening Post

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Random Notes

My freezer broke last week. Called ten repair shops. Most didn’t even call back, but the one who did said he’d be happy to come fix it … in September. Since I wasn’t thrilled to live without a freezer for the entire month of August (what am I supposed to do, go without ice cream and Smart Ones Cheddar Potatoes and Broccoli like some animal?), another repair shop was called. Great guy. He came on Wednesday and fixed it in an hour.

I heard a great phrase this week for the first time: “the ’Ber Months.” Those would be the months of September, October, November, and December, my favorite months of the year, when everything turns cooler and gets back to normal. They’re certainly better than what I’ll call “the U months”: June, July, and August.

Did you know that France gives 18-year-olds $350 to spend on “culture”? Now, we can all debate exactly what that word means, but officials thought they would spend it on plays and music and art classes and books. Instead, many of them are buying comic books. (They should really subscribe to the Post.)

Someone needs to tell this woman (and the New York Times writer who wrote that article) about The Internet Archive. It would have solved a big part of the mystery.

And the next Jeopardy! Host Is (Maybe) …

If I were to name the best Jeopardy! guest hosts so far this summer, that list would include (in no particular order): Anderson Cooper, Mayim Bialik, David Faber, Buzzy Cohen, Ken Jennings, and Mike Richards. There were several people who were pretty good, but the worst hosts, clearly, were Levar Burton (sorry fans!), Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Bill Whitaker.

Variety is reporting (though there is no official word yet) that Richards is in advanced negotiations to take over as permanent host when the new season starts in September. Now, a lot of people on social media are joking that Richards will probably do very well in the negotiations because he’s already the executive producer of the show! But I really don’t think that’s how it works. Besides, he was quite good. He has the background too. He has not only hosted several game shows, he was executive producer on both The Price Is Right and Let’s Make a Deal for several years.

Happy Birthday, Tony Bennett

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has a lot on his mind these days, but I’m glad he found time to proclaim August 3 to be Tony Bennett Day. That’s, as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing.

Bennett, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, turned 95 this week, and has recorded a new album, Love for Sale, with his friend Lady Gaga. The album doesn’t come out until October 1, but the two singers got together this week for two sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night and Thursday night.

Here’s the first single.

Uploaded to YouTube by Lady Gaga

Something I Learned This Week

This is how my day usually goes: I’ll be watching an old TV show, say the “Ellie Comes to Town” episode of The Andy Griffith Show, and something or someone will be mentioned or I’ll see something in the background, a sign or a building or a street name, and it piques my interest. Then I’ll go online and research it for the next three hours as one link leads to another which leads to another which leads to another which leads to a YouTube video or a page someone has set up about that thing.

Like Diced Cream. Those words were on a sign behind the lunch counter at Walker’s Pharmacy as Andy and Ellie talked about how people should clear the air about each other and old lady Emma Brand (played by an actress with the fantastic name of Cheerio Meredith) sneaked into the pharmacy to get her medication, which turned out to be just a placebo, sugar pills, which is why Fred Walker, the pharmacist who was out sick for a few days, only charged her a dime.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, Diced Cream.

I didn’t know if it was something that actually existed back then or was something made up for the show, but it was indeed a real product. It was a square, single-serving ice cream treat (for those tired of boring round scoops) made by Arden Farms, though the fine print on some ads says the company was the Diced Cream of America Company. (I’ve also found ads that say the company was Highlander or Barricini — perhaps different companies made the same product.) The Gentleman from Indiana has more, including a nice ad and information on how the company got in trouble for price-fixing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they advertised in the Post at some point.

Message in a Bottle of the Week

Come for the beautiful dolphins, stay for the incredible find in a bottle.

Uploaded to YouTube by Andrew Berkowitz

RIP Carl Levin, Willie Winfield, Charles Connor, Joan Ullyot, and Alfie Scopp

Carl Levin served 36 years as a senator, from 1979 to 2015, the longest-serving senator in the history of Michigan. He died last week at the age of 87.

Willie Winfield was the lead singer of the ’50s doo-wop group The Harptones, known for the song “Life Is But a Dream.” He died last week at the age of 92.

Charles Connor played drums for such people as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Jackie Brown, Jackie Wilson, and the Coasters. He died Saturday at the age of 86.

Joan Ullyot was a doctor and runner who helped prove that women were indeed capable of running long distances. Her work helped get a women’s marathon included as an event at the Olympics. She died in June at the age of 80.

Alfie Scopp not only played Clarabell the Clown on the Canadian version of Howdy Doody, he did several voices for the classic Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, including Charlie-in-the-Box and the bully reindeer Fireball. He also appeared in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof. He died last month at the age of 101.

This Week in History

MTV Launches (August 1, 1981)

The first video to be played on MTV was, appropriately, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. The band consisted of singer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes. They both later joined the progressive rock group Yes. After that stint, Horn became a producer for many well-known artists, and Downes co-founded the band Asia.

I remember wanting my MTV as a teen. I watched it all the time, including some of the shows Troy Brownfield mentions in his piece. I don’t think I’d recognize it today.

First U.S. Theme Park Opens (August 3, 1946)

It was called Santa Claus Land, and believe it or not, it was located in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, “America’s Christmas Hometown.”

The park is still around. In 1984 it became Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, a name that is definitely a step down from Santa Claus Land, but the place now has more varied attractions.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: The Very First Issue (August 4, 1821)

The Saturday Evening Post
August 18, 1821

Tony Bennett wasn’t the only one who celebrated a birthday this week. The Post turned 200!

The cover above is actually from two weeks later, the August 18, 1821 issue, because we believe the first issue is lost forever (if you do happen to find it while cleaning out your attic, let us know).

Looking closely at this front page reveals many wonders. There’s a humor piece by “The Essayist” on his neighbor, whom he calls Peter Petulant; an admonition against Sabbath breaking; a preview of a solar eclipse that was happening in a couple of weeks; info about a lottery (the grand prize was $25,000!); and even an ad from subscriber Thomas Young, who wanted everyone to know that he had several items for sale, including tambourines and drums. Apparently if you were a subscriber back then you could have something printed on the front page. (Please note: we no longer offer this service.)

Two Centuries of Recipes

Since the very first issues, the Post and our sister publication The Country Gentleman have printed approximately 1,427,916 recipes. I’m now going to list them all, in alphabetical order.

Okay, I can’t do that (though you can read The Saturday Evening Post All-American Cookbook for free at the Internet Archive), but I can list a few recipes you might want to try. How about these Gooseberry Recipes and these Salads and Vinaigrettes from various issues of the Post in the 1800s? Here are 14 pineapple recipes from 1914, 30 dairy recipes from 1949, and 5 retro pie recipes from 1953. If you want something a little more recent, try Curtis Stone’s recipes for a cool-down summer or these slow cooker recipes from Emeril Lagasse. And of course I have to mention the recipe from the man who illustrated over 300 covers for the Post, Norman Rockwell’s Oatmeal Cookies.

You can probably freeze some of those recipes, but just make sure your freezer is actually working beforehand.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Lighthouse Day (August 7)

Congress approved this day in 1879 for “… the necessary support, maintenance, and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers …”

Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8)

I try to vary the holidays and events that I mention in this section — except for the obvious days like Thanksgiving and Christmas — but I have to mention this day almost every year. I mean, look at the name!

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  1. What a terrible time for your freezer to break down, but glad you found the right guy to fix it! Let me guess on the others: you either got no answer during business hours, or just the machine. Of course they didn’t/wouldn’t call back! Don’t ya just love the ‘chat boxes’ where they’ll get back to you in 1-3 working days?! 🙁

    It’s been soooo bad and sad in California with the fires burning the most beautiful parts of the state. Greenville was a wonderful 1800’s Gold Rush town. Kind of to this state what Colonial Williamsburg is to Virginia. I can only wonder how much will be burning during ‘the Ber Months’. I dread it. As far as ‘normal’ goes, that’s a nice fantasy. Human caused climate change is having the last word. Right now no more mosquito bites would be nice.

    If the French want 18 year olds to be exposed to ‘proper culture’ that’s a good thing, but it needs to be done in a such a way the funds will only go toward that, otherwise no. No carte blanche; that’s ridiculous.

    I currently can’t get ABC on my TV, and do like ‘Jeopardy’. I’ll see if I can’t get it on Hulu. Mike Richards seems like the perfect choice as the new permanent host.

    Thanks for the link of the new single by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. It’s wonderful! I saw some scenes of her with him from New York earlier in the week. They have a special, genuine bond. She’s very sweet and protective of him, which is beautiful.

    The ‘Message in a Bottle’ video was very cool even though the message wasn’t what I expected, but was funny. The fact they found it that far out in the ocean is pretty wild in itself. Even without hearing it, I have Sting’s song in my head. That’s okay, because I like it. One of my favorite ‘low key’ concerts was Sting and Sade together one time at the Hollywood Bowl. Definitely a Shangra-la beneath the summer moon.

    Last but not least IS the Post’s 200th birthday this week. The feature on it is great! It’s America’s only general-interest magazine and has this wonderful, accompanying website to enjoy every day. I hope the Post family can really celebrate it next August, if the fates allow. If not, then the next year. Plans B and C. We’re Americans and some of us still know patience is a virtue. Right, Bob?


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