News of the Week: 5 Rockwell Paintings, 1 Howard Johnson’s, and 11 Herbs and Spices

Norman Rockwell on Tour

The Four Freedoms
The Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech (February 20, 1943), Freedom of Worship (February 27, 1943), Freedom from Want (March 6, 1943), Freedom from Fear (March 13, 1943). A traveling exhibition of these paintings raised over $132 million for the war effort.

They’re not the originals, but it’s great to see that quality copies of five classic Norman Rockwell works will be on display at several federal courthouses in Massachusetts this fall.

Copies of “Four Freedoms” and “Golden Rule” will be on display at federal courthouses in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester. The paintings will first be displayed in Boston on September 23, and then in Springfield on October 6 and in Worcester on October 11.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, which inspired Rockwell to create that series of paintings. In the speech, FDR talked about the freedoms everyone should have: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

We should update that list with a fifth: Freedom from the Kardashians.

The Solo Hojo

Back in July of 2015, I told you about the last two remaining Howard Johnson’s. Come next week, there will only be one left.

The Howard Johnson’s in Bangor, Maine, is closing forever next Tuesday. That means that there’s only one Hojo’s left, in Lake George, New York. Let’s hope that somehow, some way, that location is able to stay open forever. I’m sick of iconic things closing or going away or changing.

RIP Gene Wilder, Jeanne Martin, and Marvin Kaplan

To put it bluntly, Gene Wilder was one of the funniest men in the movies. He was in a bunch of classic comedies, including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Producers, and Silver Streak. He also gave one of the all-time great performances in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which I think I’ve seen approximately 40 times.

Wilder passed away at the age of 83 of complications from Alzheimer’s. Mel Brooks paid tribute to his friend on Twitter:

Wilder passed away with his family holding his hand, listening to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

Just a few weeks after her son Ricci died, Jeanne Martin has passed away at the age of 89. She was the ex-wife of Dean Martin (Jerry Lewis was the best man at their 1949 wedding) and had a career as a model.

Marvin Kaplan did a lot of TV shows and movies, and I guess a lot of us will remember him as one of the gas station attendants (along with Arnold Stang) who gets into a big fight with Jonathan Winters in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He was also the voice of Choo-Choo on Top Cat and was a regular on the TV series Alice. Other movies he appeared in include Adam’s Rib, The Nutty Professor, and Freaky Friday, and he appeared in TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, ER, Becker, and MacGyver.

Kaplan passed away late last week at the age of 89.

11 Herbs and Spices

Was the secret “11 herbs and spices” recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken just published in The Chicago Tribune?

That’s what people are asking after reporter Jay Jones met with Sanders’ nephew Joe Ledington during a trip to the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky. Ledington showed Jones a family scrapbook that had a piece of paper inside that seems to have the complete recipe.

Ledington later told Jones that he now felt bad about showing the recipe. It’s not in his uncle’s handwriting, but he swears the recipe is authentic because he used to help his uncle mix the spices when he was a kid.

Of course, officials at KFC say the recipe is not authentic. The Chicago Tribune did a taste test with KFC they bought, and here are the results.

Here’s Colonel Sanders on a 1963 episode of What’s My Line? It’s rather confusing because by this time there were already 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations. Wasn’t his name and/or appearance known by people in 1963?

Maybe that fame came a few years later.

New Books

In addition to the nonfiction and fiction picks in the new issue of The Saturday Evening Post, here are a few other new books that might be worth your time:

Whistlestop, by John Dickerson

The host of CBS’s Face the Nation has a ridiculously entertaining look at important moments from election years past. The perfect thing to read during this crazy 2016 election, because you’ll learn that some rather interesting things happened in past elections, too.

Best. State. Ever. A Florida Man Defends His Homeland, by Dave Barry

Florida gets a bad rap — often from Dave Barry himself — but in his book he attempts to defend the Sunshine State. (Available September 6.)

She Made Me Laugh: My Friend Nora Ephron, by Richard Cohen

The Washington Post columnist writes a love letter to his close friend. He calls it a “third-person memoir,” and it includes interviews with Tom Hanks, Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, and many others. (Available September 6.)

The French Chef in America, by Alex Prud’homme

The co-author of the Julia Child biography My Life in France follows up with a sort-of part 2, where he talks about Child’s success on television and how she changed the world of cooking. (Available October 4.)

Young Frankenstein: The Story of the Making of the Film, by Mel Brooks

It’s odd timing, but to celebrate the life of Gene Wilder, you could pick up this book that goes behind the scenes. (Available October 18.)

This Week in History: VJ (Victory Over Japan) Day, 1945

It’s celebrated on August 15 in the United Kingdom, because that was the day of the official surrender by Japan, but it’s officially celebrated in the United States on September 2, the day the surrender agreement was signed.

This Week In History: The Death of Princess Diana, August 31, 1997

The night Princess Diana died I was watching MSNBC. I went to bed but woke up a couple of hours later and decided to turn on the TV again for some reason. That’s when I saw anchor Brian Williams announce her death to viewers.

September is National Rice Month

Like a lot of people, I make a lot of rice in the fall and winter. So I guess it’s good that September kicks things off as National Rice Month.

Here’s a recipe for Chicken Rice Roger, one of the great recipes in my favorite cookbook, Peg Bracken’s The I Hate To Cook Book. And here’s one for Red Rice Stuffing with Dried Fruit. We should include a recipe for classic arancini (or rice balls), and here’s a video where Martha Stewart shows you how to make the perfect white rice. That’s right, PERFECT! Because it’s Martha Stewart.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Newspaper Carrier Day (September 4)

It’s celebrated on a Sunday this year, but even if you don’t get a paper on Sunday, make sure you give your carrier a little something extra this week. It will surprise him or her, and you’ll also be supporting print!

Labor Day (September 5)

Was it McGuire or Maguire who came up with the idea for the holiday?

NFL season starts (September 8)

The Carolina Panthers play the Denver Broncos in the first game of the season, which airs on NBC at 8:30 p.m. Here’s the full schedule.

News of the Week: Supermarkets, Stamps, and SPECTRE

A&P Files For Bankruptcy


I’ll be honest: I didn’t even know A&P grocery stores were still around. We had one in my hometown that I visited regularly as a kid, but it closed many years ago. There’s a Walgreen’s in that space now. The chain is actually still around in the Northeast, but this week the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A &P) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in five years and have 120 of its 296 supermarkets lined up to sell to other supermarket chains, including Acme Markets, which plans to turn 76 of the stores into Acme stores. A&P tried to find a buyer for the entire company in 2013 but couldn’t find one.

In addition to operating stores under the name A&P, the company also runs Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Superfresh, Best Cellars, Food Basics, and The Food Emporium locations. I swear that I didn’t even know that Waldbaum’s was a real place. I heard it for years on Everybody Loves Raymond and I thought it was just a made-up name for Wal-Mart, the way TV shows often use a name like FacePlace to stand for Facebook.

The history of A&P is actually quite fascinating. If you’re interested in the history of supermarkets, that is.

New Stamps!

IgorGolovniov /
IgorGolovniov /

The Atlantic asks, “Can Design Help the USPS Make Stamps Popular Again?” I don’t know if lack of good stamp design is the problem the United States Postal Service is facing (there are many), but new cool stamps certainly can’t hurt.

The new stamps are called Summer Harvest and are produce-themed, with pictures of tomatoes and watermelons and cantaloupes. They look like the colorful labels you’d see on old food crates. Stamp collecting has always been one of those things I wanted to get into but I feel like I missed my chance when I was 10 years old. Sure, it’s never too late to start something but starting to collect something that there is so much of now seems rather overwhelming. But these stamps look beautiful.

Oh, and read the comments on The Atlantic article, where you’ll find people who are absolutely flabbergasted that people still use the USPS. Seriously? Even with email and social media and online bill paying, how can people and businesses not use snail mail?


The full trailer for the next James Bond film, SPECTRE, was released this week:

Looks great, right? The Bond trailers are always well done and the movies are always entertaining. But a suggestion for the next film: Maybe it doesn’t have to be about some painful incident/secret about Bond’s past? Every single Daniel Craig 007 film has followed the same pattern (something happened in Bond’s past, he goes rogue, he’s out for revenge, is he too old, this time it’s personal, etc.). Maybe this could be the end of this particular storyline and we can get to some standalone movies?

SPECTRE premieres in the U.S. on November 6. I’m in line for it right now.

The Problem with Gawker

Five years ago I wrote this about Gawker: “I think we can all agree that Gawker is a terrible web site run by terrible people who write terrible things.” Things haven’t changed at the gossip site since then. If anything, it has gotten worse, and everything sort of imploded this week.

First they put up a story (ordinarily a link would go here but I don’t want to give them any traffic) about a publishing CEO who may have attempted to hire a gay escort, then when the web and social media and Gawker commenters (when even Gawker commenters shake their heads …) freaked out about the sleazy, pointless post, management and Gawker Media head honcho Nick Denton decided to take it down. This, of course, irritated the editorial staff at the site and two of the top editors quit in a huff. How dare the “business side” interfere with the “editorial side”?! What about journalistic ethics?

First, it’s all business side. This is the way publications have always been. Second, maybe the management wouldn’t have to have gotten involved if the editors didn’t approve the post in the first place. Somebody had to be the grown up, though honestly, everyone is acting as if this was “out of bounds” for Gawker when in reality they’ve been publishing stuff like this for years.

Just before resigning, one of the editors not only rang up a $550 lunch bill at expensive NYC restaurant Balthazar, he posted a picture of the receipt on social media. Because his resignation was all about ethics. *Cough.*

The Last Howard Johnson’s

Howard Johnson's advertisement from the June 27, 1964 issue of the Post.
Howard Johnson’s advertisement from the June 27, 1964 issue of the Post.

A&P isn’t the only American business institution that might be going away. Did you know that there’s only one Howard Johnson’s left? Now, the fact that there actually is one Howard Johnson’s left is the surprise. I’m sure many thought the chain had gone out of business entirely. In the mid-1960s, Howard Johnson’s generated more sales than McDonald’s and Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken combined.

But there’s one orange-roofed restaurant left in the country and it’s in Lake George, New York (there’s another Howard Johnson’s in Bangor, Maine, but it doesn’t have the orange roof and will probably go out of business soon). The New York Times has a feature on the restaurant and CBS Sunday Morning went to the location to interview the owner. Rachael Ray worked there when she was a teen.

Howard Johnson still has a chain of hotels though. It’s part of the Wyndham Hotel Group, which also runs Ramada, Days Inn, and Travelodge.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

The debut of Bugs Bunny (July 27, 1940)
The wise-cracking rabbit made his official debut in the Warner Bros./Merrie Melodies cartoon A Wild Hare.

Plane crashes into Empire State Building (July 28, 1945)
A B-25 Mitchell bomber got lost in fog and crashed into the 79th floor of the New York City landmark, killing 3 crew members and 11 people inside the building.

14th Amendment adopted (July 28, 1868)
Here’s a complete history of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution from the Library of Congress.

NASA created (July 29, 1958)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was initially called the National Aeronautics and Space Agency when first proposed.

Premiere of Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie (July 29, 1928)
The short was the official debut of Mickey Mouse and was directed by Walt Disney, who also provided the voice of Mickey.

President Lyndon Johnson signs Medicare bill (July 30, 1965)
You can read The Saturday Evening Post feature “Medicare: Headache or Cure-All?” from 1967, along with other articles on the American healthcare system.