News of the Week: Bewitched, Mispelled Werds, and the Past and Future of the Gerber Baby

In the news for the week ending June 10, 2022, are spellers good and bad, Gerber babies lost and found, black cows, ballpoint pens, and more.

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Random Thoughts

Standing now counts as exercise. Which I guess means that lying down is the same as stretching, blinking is the new sit-ups, and reading this column is the equivalent of taking a multivitamin.

I don’t know why anyone would deface the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery from Bewitched, but someone did this week. They caught the person, though, and cleaned the statue, so it’s as good as new.

If you live in Australia and you’re expecting lettuce in the burgers you get at KFC and instead get a “cabbage and lettuce blend,” would you be unhappy? A lot of customers are because the restaurant chain has had to temporarily replace the lettuce due to floods. But I bet cabbage is good in burgers, though probably not if you aren’t expecting it. I love mashed potatoes but I wouldn’t want a scoop of them replacing my vanilla ice cream.

June 10 is National Ballpoint Pen Day. Someone once asked me what my favorite apps are and I told them “pen and paper.” (Here’s my favorite, if you’re curious.)

Wait … they have burgers at KFC in Australia?

The Scripps National Spelling Bee

This was one of the more intense competitions yet (though they’re all intense because these are kids we’re talking about, spelling difficult words on live TV in front of millions), with the winner being decided by the first-ever “spell off” in the bee’s almost 100-year history. The winner was 14-year-old Harini Logan, who beat 12-year-old Vikram Raju by correctly spelling 22 words correctly in 90 seconds (Raju got 15 right) in the final round.

Some of the words Logan spelled correctly during the competition include tauromachian, charadriiform, moorhen, and pullulation, which actually got Logan briefly knocked out of the contest until she was reinstated after an appeal.

Logan also beat my spellcheck because it doesn’t even recognize charadriiform.

Everything Is Controversial Now, Even the Gerber Baby

What happens when a big company has a contest to pick a new “spokesbaby” for their baby food? Parents get very, very upset (though not at the babies, thankfully).

RIP Ann Turner Cook, Marion Barber, Jim Seals, Linda Lawson, KK, Brad Johnson, Ken Bode, Alec John Such, Paul Vance, and Shelby Scott

Ann Turner Cook was the original Gerber baby (no, it wasn’t Humphrey Bogart or Elizabeth Taylor). She went on to become a school teacher. She died last week at the age of 95.

Marion Barber was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. He died recently at the age of 38.

Jim Seals was half of the pop duo Seals and Crofts, who had such songs as “Summer Breeze,” “Diamond Girl,” and “We May Never Pass This Way Again.” He died Monday at the age of 80.

Linda Lawson was an actress and singer who appeared on such shows as Perry Mason, Peter Gunn, Ben Casey, Adventures in Paradise, That’s Life, and ER. Her only album, 1960’s Introducing Linda Lawson, is fantastic and one of my favorites. She died last month at the age of 86.

Uploaded to YouTube by Linda Lawson – Topic

KK — real name Krishnakumar Kunnath — was one of Bollywood’s most popular singers. He died last month at the age of 53.

Brad Johnson was a former Marlboro Man who appeared in such movies as Always and Flight of the Intruder, as well as TV shows like Soldier of Fortune, Melrose Place, and CSI. He died in February at the age of 62.

Ken Bode was a journalist for NBC and CNN and a host of public television’s Washington Week in Review. He later became dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He died last week at the age of 83.

Alec John Such was the first bass player for Bon Jovi (he played on their best song, “She Don’t Know Me”). He died last week at the age of 70.

Paul Vance co-wrote the Perry Como song “Catch a Falling Star” and the novelty song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.” He died last month at the age of 92.

Shelby Scott was a reporter and anchor for WBZ in Boston and was famous for the many times she went out to report live during snowstorms. She later became the president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She died last week at the age of 86.

This Week in History

Shopping Carts Introduced (June 4, 1937)

My supermarket just got new carts and I’m a lot more excited by this than I should be. They made their debut at the Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma, invented by owner Sylvan Goldman and mechanic Fred Young. June 4 is now celebrated by some as National Shopping Cart Day.

Judy Garland Born (June 10, 1922)

The actress and singer would have turned 100 this week, and Turner Classic Movies is celebrating by showcasing the star for the entire month of June.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Garden Pests (June 4, 1932)

That time of year has started, and I think I have every single one of the insects depicted on this J.C. Leyendecker cover in my house.

National Black Cow Day

It’s today, the 10th. A Black Cow is a float made with root beer, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and a cherry. It’s not to be confused with a Spotted Cow, made with chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt; a Black and White Soda, made with milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water; or a Blue Hawaii, which is made with vodka, rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice, and sweet and sour mix.

It’s also the name of one of Elvis Presley’s better movies.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Flag Day (June 14)

Take our Flag Day quiz to see how much you know about the history of the American flag. I guarantee you’ll do better than I did.

U.S. Open (June 16-19)

The golf tournament takes place at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. You can watch it on NBC, Peacock, and The Golf Channel.

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  1. Great column. We’ll written, fun to read . Thanks. Why replace the Gerber Baby? Is nothing sacred?

  2. The statue of Elizabeth Montgomery is as beautiful as she is. Also the way she’s posed IS quintessential Samantha Stevens, her signature role, right down to her left hand up in the air. It’s comparable to the 2nd statue of Lucille Ball in that regard. Thanks for the news link where we get a really good look at it again, restored!

    Why anyone would want to deface it is beyond me. Why do people do any of the destructive things they do nowadays that make no sense? I’m glad it’s alright now, but am concerned it could be a future target for worse damage the way things are going against statues period, in recent years. She’s obviously not immune either. Geez!

    What’s going on with the Colonel in Australia sounds weird; sorry. Not the cabbage substitute, but the fact it’s a burger joint at all. Guess I’m behind the times; I thought KFC stood for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Whatever. They’ve been disappearing in my area. OH! Just got a KFC pop-up ad right now!

    The Gerber baby link was only up for a few seconds then disappeared because I’m not a subscriber. Ann Cook passed away; sending good thoughts to her family, but this should have no bearing of a stupid corporate decision to replace her image. If it ain’t broke (it isn’t) don’t fix it!!

    Seals & Crofts were incredible, a perfect fit in the singer/songwriter (early) section of the 70’s. ‘Hummingbird’ was great too. I really enjoyed ‘Where Flamingos Fly’ by Linda Lawson. She was really beautiful. I honestly can’t tell if the album cover is artwork or photography; not unlike some of Rockwell’s much later Post covers.

    Great Leyendecker choice! I’ve started getting mosquito bites around my ankles, and hands this week. Well stocked on calamine lotion. Last Sunday evening I got a bee sting on my inner left index finger while at the drive-thru at McDonald’s! Just glad it wasn’t a poisonous spider. It didn’t hurt long and I treated it with alcohol once home. It was just that occasional Happy Meal. Under $6, for a nice controlled snack portion. Not bad for 2022.


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