News of the Week: Phone Booths, Dean Martin, and Turkey the Julia Child Way

In the news for the week ending November 19, 2021, are the usual — and some unusual — Thanksgiving stories, a rotary phone to talk to the dead, a marathon of roasts, and more.

Julia Child
(Courtesy Paul Child/PBS)

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Red Boxes and a Landline to Loved Ones

When was the last time you were in a phone booth? I don’t mean in a phone booth that no longer had a phone in it that worked, one that had been abandoned and hadn’t been torn down yet. I mean inside an actual working phone booth.

It’s been many, many years for me. Actually, the last time I used any type of pay phone was about 15 years ago, in the food court of one of the local malls. This was before I had a cellphone and had to call someone from the mall, for some reason that escapes me now. I don’t remember who I was calling, but I do remember it cost a lot more than the nickel or dime I was used to. The robotic operator’s voice kept asking me to deposit more money.

Most people don’t need a pay phone now — everyone has a smartphone, or at least a dumb one — but there are still around 100,000 pay phones in the U.S., believe it or not. I would guess that most of them aren’t the “booth” kind though.

The U.K. has decided to keep the 21,000 classic red call boxes still in existence, for emergencies and for areas where cell service isn’t that great. But they’re only going to keep the phones that are used at least 52 times a year, and they’ll have to be upgraded in a few years when the U.K. goes all-digital. And even if the phones are decommissioned, if a local community thinks the call boxes are still worth preserving, they can be “adopted” for a small price and transformed into something else useful.

If I lived in the U.K., I would use them once in a while even if I didn’t need to, just so these iconic structures wouldn’t disappear forever.

In other telephone news, CBS Sunday Morning has an interesting story about a rotary phone connected to a tree in an Olympia, Washington, forest. It’s not connected to anything, but people are using it to talk to loved ones they have lost.

Hey, There’s a New Documentary about Julia Child

It’s in theaters now. Here’s the trailer.

Uploaded to YouTube by Sony Pictures Classics

A Very Dean Martin Thanksgiving

I almost used the headline “Dean Martin Roasting on an Open Fire,” but that wouldn’t have quite made sense. Why would Dino be roasting on an open fire?

But he was the host of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, and on Thanksgiving you can spend the entire day watching a marathon of the show on Decades TV. Celebrities you’ll see being insulted by their famous friends include Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, Betty White, George Burns, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Klugman, and Joe Namath. It starts at 6 a.m. ET.

Speaking of Dean Martin, a new documentary titled King of Cool premieres tonight (Friday) at 8 p.m. ET on TCM.

Headline of the Week

“Does It Matter If I Eat the Stickers on Fruits and Vegetables?”

RIP F.W. de Klerk, Jerry Douglas, Graeme Edge, Gavan O’Herlihy, Don Maddox, Petra Mayer, Jonathan Reynolds, Joe Siracusa, Maureen Cleave, and Bettina Grossman

F.W. de Klerk was the South African leader who ended apartheid and later shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela. He died last week at the age of 85.

Jerry Douglas played the role of patriarch John Abbott on The Young and the Restless for over 30 years. He also appeared in many other TV shows and movies, like JFK and Mommie Dearest. He died last week at the age of 88.

Graeme Edge was the co-founder and drummer for the rock band The Moody Blues. He died last week at the age of 80.

Gavan O’Herlihy appeared in many TV shows and movies, but his main claim to pop culture fame is for his role as Richie’s older brother Chuck on Happy Days, a character who simply vanished early in the show and was never referred to again. He died in September at the age of 70.

Don Maddox was the last surviving member of the influential family band the Maddox Brothers & Rose. He died in September at the age of 98.

Petra Mayer was the books editor at NPR. She died Saturday at the age of 46.

Jonathan Reynolds was not only a screenwriter and a food columnist for The New York Times, he was a revered playwright. He died last month at the age of 79.

Joe Siracusa was the last surviving member of the Spike Jones Band. He later went on to have a successful career as a film editor for animated shows. He died Saturday at the age of 99.

Maureen Cleave was a pop culture journalist who conducted the infamous interview with John Lennon where he said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. She died earlier this month at the age of 87.

Bettina Grossman was a glamorous artist in the ’50s and ’60s who later became famous for being a longtime, eccentric resident of the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. She had so much of her artwork in the apartment that she had to sleep in the hallway. She died earlier this month at the age of 94.

A documentary about her life, Girl with Black Balloons, was released in 2010.

This Week in History

Supreme Court Confirms that Bus Segregation Is Illegal (November 13, 1956)

The decision stemmed from the Browder v. Gayle case, which challenged bus segregation laws in Alabama.

First Wendy’s Opens (November 15, 1969)

We can all agree that of the fast food places, Wendy’s has the best burger, right? Dave Thomas opened the first one in Columbus, Ohio.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Bell Telephone (November 18, 1961)

Bell telephone ad
November 18. 1961

Now if you want to avoid your family during the holidays you don’t even have to talk to them, you can just send them a text.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Julia Child’s Turkey, Pie, and Favorite Appetizer

Of course I have to list some recipes from Julia Child. What, you thought I was going to tell you how Dean Martin prepared his green bean casserole?

Here’s her recipe for Roast Turkey (which includes lots of butter and Cognac), and here’s her recipe for Cranberry Chutney. She loved Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cornbread, Sage, and Sausage Stuffing, and her Aunt Helen made a great Fluffy Pumpkin Pie.

And what did Julia like to serve as an appetizer before the big dinner? Well, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, of course.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (November 25)

The 95th annual event, featuring giant balloons, marching bands, Santa, and lip-synching singers, airs at 9 a.m. on NBC and is hosted by the gang from Today, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker.

The National Dog Show (November 25)

The annual show follows the Macy’s parade at noon on NBC.

Black Friday (November 26)

If you’re still celebrating Black Friday, you’re a little behind on things. Now there are sales all month and it’s called Black November. Which means that …

Buy Nothing Day (November 26)

… should now be called Buy Nothing Month.

Featured image: Courtesy Paul Child / PBS

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  1. The fact the last time I was in a phone booth was in 19-anything means it’s been a really long time. The ‘cove’ or ‘shell’ kind I still see here and there, but there’s no phone in it.

    I love re-runs of ‘Barnaby Jones’ (’73-’80) online and they use REAL phone booths a lot on the show; in each section of the decade. Having watched it when new but not seeing again until ’21, it doesn’t seem strange or old fashioned as it probably should, except for the clothes and hair styles. The people were much more aware of their surroundings, and engaged with life, not tech devices. Mm hmm.

    I’d love a couple of the cars from the show, Bob. Especially the sexy ’77-’79 Cougar X-R7 and Lincoln Mark V. If only I had a nice estate with plenty of room for classic cars, horses, a Doberman, Boston Terrier and American Bull Terrier. I don’t, damn it. Maybe these dogs will show up on The National Dog Show this Thursday. We’ll see.

    Speaking of Dean Martin, I think you should feature the chilling vintage ‘News’ feature link on ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’. Because it IS cold outside! There, it’s settled. I love the 1961 Bell System phone ad. That’s THE kitchen phone, alright.

    You DO touch on the topic of getting out of the Holidays there, sort of. I wrote comments on the supply chain breakdown Post feature that Covid’s giving the gift of getting out of doing things you really don’t want to do. So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key. If you’re already gone, then good luck.


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