News of the Week: Gift Books, Automat Memories, and I Bet You Have a Lot of Leftovers

In the news for the week ending November 26, 2021, are Rockwell’s drunk Santa Claus, what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, what to read next, doctor dog, and more.

A Thanksgiving Dinner

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


Random Notes

Happy Friday to everyone not participating in today’s shopping madness.

The Columbia Journalism Review has a piece on the persistence of the Post and our 200th anniversary.

Norman Rockwell had to change the Santa in his famous Pepsi ad from 1965 because the company thought he looked drunk (Santa, not Norman). That little piece of information comes from this article on the “Home for the Holidays” exhibit now showing at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Sheila O’Malley has a really great essay at on the life and career of Dean Stockwell.

I don’t mind people who put up their Christmas lights in November. But sometimes you have to be careful you don’t put them up too early.

You know what I don’t understand? Cologne ads in magazines that don’t have a scented sample strip. I mean, what’s the point? I’m not going to have any idea what it smells like just because the ad has a picture of a guy on a motorcycle.

Something I learned on Let’s Make a Deal this week: the Empire State Building has 6,514 windows.

One of the great classic TV mysteries is why Perry Mason’s nemesis Hamilton Burger acts so cocky in every episode. He does know that he loses every single week, right?

A few weeks ago I linked to two great Christmas TV sites, Christmas TV Schedule and Mostly Christmas. Me-TV has a lot of holiday programming scheduled too, and here’s what they have planned. I had no idea there was a Christmas episode of Lost in Space. “Manger, Will Robinson, Manger!”

Read This!

In the current issue of the Post, Amazon senior editor Al Woodworth picks ten books you might like. Here are a half dozen more you might want to buy as a Christmas gift for someone you love (or yourself, if you’re the one that you love):

  • All About Me! by Mel Brooks. The subtitle of this memoir is “My Remarkable Life in Show Business,” and at 95 Brooks has a lot of show business stories to tell.
  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. The edition that Hesser edited ten years ago has been completely updated and revised, with 120 new recipes added.
  • Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks, edited by Anna von Planta. The author of such classic novels as The Talented Mr. Ripley left behind several spiral notebooks and diaries, and they were found by editor von Planta in 1995.
  • These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. The terrific novelist (and bookstore owner) is also a fine essayist, and this collection explores such themes as home, family, friendships, and writing. With a special appearance by Tom Hanks!
  • Capote’s Women by Laurence Leamer. Capote was a fine writer (his A Christmas Memory is a holiday classic), but maybe not the best person, as the women who considered him a close friend found out when he exposed their secrets and what he really thought of them in a novel.
  • The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails by David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum. This 900+-page guide was ten years in the making, and just might be the ultimate guide to not only making cocktails but also the history behind them.

Somebody Just Bought Napoleon’s Hat for $1.4 Million

It was Bryan Goldberg, the man who owns BDG, the parent company of such sites as Gawker, Bustle, Elite Daily, and Mic.

The Automat Documentary

We all have our ideas of what we’d do if we had a time machine, maybe stopping something terrible from happening in the past or finding out which lottery numbers will be the big winners. Me? I’d go back to ’40s or ’50s New York City and visit an Automat. There’s a new documentary about the popular chain of serve-yourself restaurants, and CBS has a story about it.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Quote of the Week

“You don’t own a TV? Then what’s all your furniture pointed at?”

—Joey, to a paleontologist, on Friends

RIP Robert Bly, Dave Frishberg, Wilbur Smith, Art LaFleur, Philip Margo, Keith Allison, Slide Hampton, Peter Aykroyd, and David Chute

Robert Bly was a poet who became a controversial symbol for men’s rights after the publication of his book Iron John. He wrote or translated over 50 books in his career. He died Sunday at the age of 94.

Dave Frishberg was a jazz pianist and composer who worked with many famous musicians over a long career. He might be best known to modern audiences for composing songs for ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock, including “I’m Just a Bill.” He died last week at the age of 88.

Wilbur Smith’s many adventure books sold over 140 million copies around the world. He died Saturday at the age of 88.

Art LaFleur was a prolific character actor who played Babe Ruth in The Sandlot and appeared in Field of Dreams and the Santa Clause movies. On TV he appeared on shows like Home Improvement, Matlock, ER, The Practice, and M*A*S*H. He died last week at the age of 78.

Philip Margo was a singer with the doo-wop band The Tokens, known for their number one song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (he sang the “wimoweh” parts). He died last week at the age of 79.

Keith Allison was a member of Paul Revere & the Raiders and also played and recorded with Sonny & Cher (he played guitar and harmonica on “The Beat Goes On”), Ringo Starr, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, the Monkees, and Harry Nilsson. He died last week at the age of 79.

Slide Hampton was an influential jazz trombonist and arranger. He won two Grammy Awards, was a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, and taught at several universities, including Harvard and DePaul. He died last week at the age of 89.

Peter Aykroyd received an Emmy nomination for the one year he was a writer and actor on Saturday Night Live. The brother of Dan Aykroyd also wrote songs for such movies as Coneheads, Spies Like Us, and Dragnet and created the TV show PSI Factor. He died last week at the age of 66.

Stephen King once called David Chute “the best film critic in America,” and he was one of the first writers to really push the work of King, John Woo, John Carpenter, and John Waters. He died earlier this month at the age of 71.

This Week in History

President Franklin Pierce Born (November 23, 1804)

Pierce is one of those presidents that a lot of people forget about, but he was the first one to put up a Christmas tree in the White House, in 1856.

Doctor Who Premieres (November 23, 1963)

The first one to play the doctor was William Hartnell, and 12 more have played the role since.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Dr. and the Dog (November 21, 1953)


When a lab experiment goes wrong, Dr. Andrew Marcus is accidentally turned into a dog. Along with his medical practice partner Dr. Lawrence Braeden, the only one who knows what happened, the two travel around the country making house calls, curing sick people and maybe solving a crime or two along the way. Dr. and the Dog, this January on NBC!

Thanksgiving Isn’t Over Yet!

If you have left over …

And if you don’t have any leftovers for some reason (or if the last thing you want to do for the next few days is eat turkey), let’s go back to the Automat and make their Baked Macaroni and Cheese or their Pumpkin Pie and Cup Custard.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Hanukkah Begins (November 28)

and ends on the evening of December 6.

One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (November 28)

The duo teams up for one final concert on CBS starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Cyber Monday (November 29)

This comes three days after Black Friday, which is now Black November, and two days after Small Business Saturday, which is a month before Super Saturday.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. So Pepsi-Cola thought Santa looked a little sloshed for their 1965 Christmas print ad? Maybe; but just a smidge, that’s all. Considering all the work he has to do on Christmas Eve, I can understand why he’d need to get good ‘n schnockered before riding all night on that damn sleigh. Good grief, Bob!

    Nice anti-gluttony cover Rockwell did for Life (not LIFE) magazine. I want to check out Dean Stockwell’s earlier works. He was an excellent, versatile actor. I forgot about that new version of Perry Mason discussed in June 2020. It seems like a long time ago. I wondered how the re-boot fared. Not well if 2 out of 3 comments were against it.

    I swear I’d never heard of ‘The Automat’ restaurants before Jane Pauley’s report here. It’s astonishing. It sounds futuristic from the concept and the name. The closest thing I can recall to that are vending machines where you can buy sandwiches. We had one in the break room at Robinson’s years ago. I never used it, but some people did. The prices were around $1.25 I think. You’d put in the letter/number, then the money, and slide over the plastic door.

    I used vending machines occasionally for Skittles, Starburst and Grandma’s mini vanilla cookies (by Frito Lay). One day I looked at the ingredients and realized they could have come out of a chemist’s lab. Grandma, my foot!

    Hopefully everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Mine was drama-free for a 2nd year in a row. Yes! No sloshed (kind of) mother-in-law embarrassing me at a table of 10, then getting my face slapped attempting damage control for something her Boston Terrier did!

    This time with great friends, where one of the sons and his mom are chefs!! Amazing amaretto (main ingredient with other spices) cranberry sauce, pureed yams, and gravy to pour over the turkey. Christmas is looking good. Everyone’s been vaccinated, of course. Just got my booster shot on the 22nd.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *