Category Archives: Childhood Memories
This Thursday, millions of American families will once again come together for the annual tradition of watching football and devouring as much tryptophan as possible. I too will put forth my own best effort in an eager attempt to fall into a deeper state of food coma.
For me, the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a particular favorite, especially while growing up. I have fond memories of my grandmother rising early Thanksgiving morning and beginning the process of stuffing the bird and making side-dishes. Aside from getting the turkey out to thaw the night before, nothing was ever done or prepared ahead of time. On the contrary, everything was done on the actual Thanksgiving day.
By mid-morning, every nook and cranny of our kitchen would be cluttered with empty bags or cans of vegetables and cranberry sauce. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be slowly winding down and I would be glued to our 19″ portable TV just waiting for a Kermit the Frog or Superman balloon to float down the streets of Manhattan.
Pies of many different varieties would be cooling on the stove and the smell of pumpkin and spice would begin to fill my senses. I remember looking outside of our kitchen window and seeing the last of the brown, wilted leaves falling from the trees and realize that the year was officially beginning to wind down. A feeling of home and family would wash over me as the cold winds of November blew across our little South Side Easton home. The heat given off from Nan’s all-day cook fest would be more than enough to warm a pilgrim army on their way to their own bountiful celebration. Looking back now, it surely WAS home.
As you can see, there are many things that I remember about the holiday. But as we all prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving 2013, and before I recall all the years I challenged my brother for wishbone supremacy, I’d like to share with you the five favorite memories I have about Thanksgiving while growing up.
5. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special: It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without ol’ Chuck and his pals. The “wedge” between Great Pumpkin (my favorite of the series) and Charlie Brown Christmas, watching this show was a treat. Snoopy duking it out with the chair was hilarious and making popcorn for Thanksgiving? Well that’s just sheer genius in my book.
4. Godzilla Marathons on Channel 9. Laugh all you want, but this was one of the highlights of turkey day for me. Godzilla was actually the predecessor to MMA if you really think about it. You knew that when the big guy met the Smog monster or some other nefarious creature, there was more to it than just a desire to kick the crap out of each other. No, those guys in rubber suits really wanted to kill each other.
For me, nothing compared to the idea of filling my plate mile-high with buttered mashed taters, stuffing, beans and one of the drumsticks from the turkey and then scurrying over to the tube to watch my boy go toe to toe with King Kong. Channel 9 out of New York used to run marathons of Godzilla movies all weekend long and it didn’t get much better than that.
3. The Peace Candle. The day after Thanksgiving is always the busiest shopping day of the year as hordes of crazy people line the stores to find an elusive $50 laptop. You know, the stores that only have two in stock at that price, but 600 people out to get it.
But Black Friday is also the night the 106-foot tall Civil War monument in the center-square of my hometown is lit up and transformed into a giant candle. Dedicated to all the men and women who served or are serving our country, it also represents one of the best meanings of Christmas: Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man.
2. Easton/P’burg Football and Bonfire. Unless you were born and raised in the area this one probably won’t mean anything to you. Every Thanksgiving morning for the past century, our high school football team and their cross town (actually cross-state) rival battle it out on the gridiron for football supremacy. And every night prior to the big game, Easton would light a huge bonfire at the high school to rally the troops. This is the one thing, aside from graduation that any student of Easton looks forward to their senior year.
It certainly wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this tradition and I remember listening to it on a crappy old AM radio we had lying around. Sometimes, even on the clearest of Thursdays, you could barely hear the game amidst the static of the signal, but it didn’t matter.
And now the number one memory I have about Thanksgiving growing up:
1. Family: Aside from the shows, the football, the parade and the turkey, my favorite Thanksgiving memories growing up are about family. The best ones being spent with my grandmother and disabled grandfather. He had suffered a stroke and due to his paralysis was unable to join us downstairs, so we would always bring Thanksgiving to him. Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent sitting on the couch next to him breaking bread (and if I was REALLY lucky, getting him to watch Godzilla with me).
Although nowhere near the same now, I suppose I can still thankfully celebrate these “traditions” every year. DVDs can be put in and the football game and Peace Candle ceremony can be attended. But even though technology evolves and the participants in the football game change, one thing will always remain.
So, as you gather around the table to continue your own Thanksgiving traditions, my wish is that you be surrounded by good food, good health, good memories and most of all…family.
The other day I watched a video clip from director Peter Jackson’s upcoming movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; part two in a trilogy of films based on the classic 20th century novel by J.R.R Tolkien.
Jackson, as you may know, was also the director of The Lord of The Rings trilogy of films (the sequel to The Hobbit) which netted him Oscar nominations for all three, as well as the coveted Best Picture Award for the final film “The Return of The King”.
The Hobbit is one of my favorite stories of all time, and one of the few books I like to re-read every few years. Seeing this awe-inspiring video and realizing that the new movie was coming lit the fire for me, so I once again decided take the plunge. But as I dove into my worn, weather-beaten paperback copy of The Hobbit, I quickly became reacquainted with the same gnawing feeling in my gut that happens every time I read it (or any one of the other “Rings” books for that matter).
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy worlds with dragons, wizards and trolls. Perhaps it’s the chivalry of noble men with magic rings or the notion that good always triumphs over evil that keeps me coming back. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was consumed with playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up. In any case, I love stories about bands of brothers who stick together on a journey and see it through to the end.
And that’s where my problem with Gandalf comes in.
Gandalf is the wizard in the story who “nudges” poor little Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) on his journey with a bunch of dwarves to slay a dragon and obtain a ransom of wealth. Gandalf is one of those dudes who can pretty much destroy the whole damn world if he wants to. So why he seems content to send little people out on a dangerous quest is a mystery.
But it’s not the fact that he takes hobbits and dwarves off to fight dragons that upsets me. It’s the fact that Gandalf also likes to play “Now you see me, Now you don’t” that really pisses me off.
You see, Gandalf is one of those guys who likes to get everyone together, tells them how horrible the journey is going to be and even promises to go with them on what seems like an impossible quest. Then at some point early on during the course of the adventure, he conveniently pulls the disappearing act, and his 23 skidoo tends to occur just after an early battle. Gandalf will say something like: “Urgent matters to attend to, if you must know” or some other such nonsense. And no amount of tears or pleading from the little guys will make him change his mind.
What’s worse than Gandalf actually leaving the group is the fact that he somehow “magically” returns dozens of chapters later, just in time for the final battle and to obtain a share of the glory. Then all the way home Gandalf never has to leave again. Nope, travels with Bilbo every step of the way for months at a time. WTF?
As I finished the last page where Gandalf and Bilbo are laughing about their “adventure” together, I couldn’t help but imagine if something like that happened today. Suppose you and a team of others were building a state of the art high-rise building. Early on, your best crew member (Gandalf) leaves for no reason, but then comes back months later to hammer the final nail and claim he was a part of it. Instead of gold and glory, I’d be willing to wager Gandalf would be sporting a black eye.
Oh, you may have fooled the hobbits and the dwarves Mr. Gandalf, but not me. I’m on to you wizard.
I’m sure the last thing you’d probably expect to see me do is waste a blog post talking about some of the cars I’ve owned over the years. But, I’m very nostalgic (as most of you already know) and considering that it’s been more than a quarter century since I really came into my own as a solo driver, I decided to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about two of the first automobiles that got me around on the highways and byways of this land that I love.
After you first receive your official drivers license, one of the coolest things you can do is go used-car shopping with your parents. There are aisles and aisles of horsepower as far as the eye can see, and having a say as to what car you’ll be showing off at school is one of the most important social decisions any new conqueror of the K-turn can have.
My very first car was a gray 1973 Toyota Corona wagon that my Mom purchased for $500 (along with some money I had made from working at McDonalds). It was 1986 and truth be told, I didn’t even care what kind of engine was under the hood. Four? Six? Eight cylinders? None of that nonsense even mattered to me. For all I knew, it could’ve had hamsters running in those wheel thingies for power (and if you must know, sometimes the car really did seem to drive that way).
As new drivers often do, I drove my gray Corona everywhere. Always looking for any excuse or opportunity to take it on some errand, whether up the street or across town. And considering that gasoline was around .89 cents a gallon at the time, it only made sense. Yes sir, once I became legal walking and bicycle riding went the same route as the dinosaur as far as I was concerned.
I still remember the very first day I drove it to school too. With my trusty neighbor Mike riding shotgun, we drove the back roads of Easton in the early morning sunshine. Windows down and the radio blasting Ozzy, we slowly made our way into the upper parking lot of Easton High School.
Once parked, we gathered our brown paper bag covered text books and made our way inside, making sure to give a salute to the poor unfortunates who had just arrived via the dingy, yellow school bus. It was the least I could do to let them know I still cared a bit for their plight.
Sadly, my beloved Corona began to deteriorate over the course of the school year. In December, the headlights just stopped working for no apparent reason. The following March, the right front fender began rusting off and peeling away. Fortunately for me, duct tape was the same color as my car and worked well to hold things together, but rust eventually would become my Corona’s worst enemy. At one point, the passenger side door would not open at all and in order to get in you literally had to pull a “Dukes of Hazzard” and climb through the window.
Shortly before graduation, the poor Toyota was involved in a wreck (would you believe I was turning into on coming traffic and someone just hit me?) Sadly, it was time to say good-bye to my beloved friend.
But that was when fate stepped in.
Because around that same time, my Aunt sold her well maintained 1974 Ford Torino to my brother. Bro had been driving the car for a few months, but started moving on to Mach 1 Mustangs and pick-up trucks. In a true example of brotherly love, he entrusted his beloved Torino into my care.
I was so in love with this car that I even had my picture taken next to it right before I went to attend graduation and get my HS diploma.
This car provided me quality transportation for many months post high school; being my trusty steed on youthful excursions to the mall and spending late nights parked at the Starlite Drive-Inn watching movies.
But one evening, while coming home from the mall with a bunch of friends disaster struck. I remember we were driving on the highway, just a few miles from home when I heard this blaringly loud “pop” and the engine light came on. The car was slowing down rapidly, and it felt as though I had just run over some huge piece of metal. I was fortunate to get the car off of the busy highway and onto the shoulder just as the engine completely shut off and would not re-fire. All of the love I once had for this car immediately turned into rage.
A day later, after the Torino had been towed back to the house, my brother freaked out on me. He just couldn’t understand how his well maintained 14 year old car had suddenly blown up without warning. He did some quick checking of things under the hood and then asked me the one question that to this day I still don’t have a proper answer for:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER CHECK THE OIL??”
Oil? OIL? I had driven the car for months and months and honestly, the thought of checking the oil level had never occurred to me. In my defense though, this was 1988 and you would think technology had developed enough to at the very least have a warning light come on to alert me that the engine was almost out of oil. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not a drop of oil was found in the engine and it had seized; blowing a piston into the crankshaft and destroying it completely. The car was dead.
The formerly “well-maintained” Ford Torino would now sit in silence on the hill outside of our home until I could afford the $300 to put a replacement engine into it. But even with the engine replaced, the Torino never ran quite the same again and, much like it’s predecessor, eventually went to junk car heaven.
I thought of this story again today (in November of 2013) when the “Maintenance” light came on my 2012 Toyota Corolla. Needless to say, I have a 15,000 mile appointment tomorrow morning.
I’m taking no chances.
Today is October 5th, 2013: My 44th birthday.
Truth be told, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve made it this far. Especially when you consider the fact that it was only yesterday when I was the youthful teenager laughing hysterically at my parents for being in their 40′s.
I suppose there’s a certain sense of immortality you have when you’re younger that lets you make fun of your elder’s age without fear of retribution (or karma ever catching up with you).
Little did I know.
When we’re young, the whole world seems to be filled with endless possibility, and I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the chance to break free and start my future. The only problem was, that future always seemed like it would never get here.
Last night, I stumbled upon my 1980 Easton Area Middle School ID Badge under a pile of old memories and immediately recalled the day I first received it. Although I didn’t care much for the goofy grinning picture of myself on the front, I do remember it was what was printed on the back of the worn, laminated card that really caught my attention.
For the first time, I saw the words “YR GRAD-87″ and believed that the year of my high school graduation (1987) was so very far away. To this shy, cheesy-grinned, eleven-year old boy, seven years seemed like seventy and the idea of me one day living in the year 2000 was equivalent to being in a Star Wars movie. It was impossible for me to even comprehend it ever happening.
Fast forward, and here I am celebrating a birthday twenty-six years post graduation and nearly fourteen years beyond 2000. A brand new century. When did I close my eyes and wake up a middle-aged man? Back in 1980, it seemed like all I had was time and now, it sometimes feels like time is running out. Why just the other day, I was given the sad news about a high school classmate who had unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43.
If what you’ve read so far sounds a bit depressing or makes you feel old, I apologize. This post wasn’t meant to bum you out.
On the contrary, 2013 has actually been one of the best years of my life. In just these last few months I’ve been able to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do with a dear friend – write and publish my very first book.
In addition to that, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write articles with many of the artists and performers I admire most. A pipe dream for the little boy you see in the above picture.
I’ve also made a conscious decision to start doing something different for my birthday every year. Beginning this October, I’ll be using my age number as a benchmark to do something to help others in some way. This year, I decided to use the equivalent of my age (44) in dollars and use it to hopefully put a smile on a sick child’s face.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll take the “45″ and divide it up into hours; donating my time over the course of the month to volunteering or raising money for charity. Then maybe at “46″ I’ll donate forty-six signed copies of my #1 New York Times Bestseller (hey, it could happen) to a charity auction. Nothing is too small and anything is something.
Which got me to thinking, what if every one of us did something similar? How about instead of just receiving well wishes and birthday cards for making it through another year, what if every person used their own special day as an opportunity to do something for the greater good? Instead of making it a day all about ourselves, what if we made part of our day about helping someone else? One day set aside that you’ll always remember (I mean, how could you forget? After all, it IS your birthday). What better feeling can there possibly be than knowing you made this world a better place, and did it on the day you were born!
Here are some ideas of things you can do to really “celebrate” your birthday:
1. Volunteer a few hours of your time at a local food bank/soup kitchen/animal shelter.
2. Walk (or run) in a marathon to raise money for research.
3. Spend part of your day gathering up unused clothing to donate to a needy family.
According to my calculations, most good work would be done on September 16th (the most common birthday) and the least, February 29th (leap year).
As for me? Well, you can add candle #44 to that birthday cake. This year, I’d like us all to imagine a world where someone is doing something to help someone else, every single day of the year.
Impossible? Maybe. But then again, that’s what I used to think about 1987 and 2000 too.
Don’t Forget to check out the Doodle Book Contest! Click Here For Details!
In life, there are only twelve months to any given year. A dozen different containers of days divided up evenly into four seasons. Each month, its own thing of beauty. Each one a chance for new beginnings.
I’m sure at some point along the way, when all of these months first got together, there must have been arguments over which of them should be considered the greatest.
I can already picture January bragging about the fact that he’s always been first. The first month to ring in a new year. The first month where resolutions are made. Then February would chime in about being the lover’s month; April would mention something about “showers”; May would talk about Moms and June would talk about summer and being the month that most weddings occur in.
And I’m quite certain December would eventually state his case for being great because of the whole Christmas thing.
Not one to brag or voice his discontent, October would just smile and watch the others bicker. For you see, he (much like I) already knows which month is the greatest.
October is the GREATEST month of the year, and here’s why:
1. October is National Breast Cancer and Rett Syndrome Awareness Month: Thirty one days in which to raise funds and awareness to help find cures.
2. Columbus Day: It’s the day America was discovered….. DUH!
3. Oktoberfest: Time to get your drink on.
4. October is the only month where Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry cereal are all readily available in stores. THAT alone is cause for celebration!
5. For baseball enthusiasts, October means only one thing: The World Series.
6. October is the month when fall colors are at their peak. Sure, the Autumnal Equinox “technically” starts in September, but leaves are still green for the most part in September. And by November, the foliage has turned into a dull, brownish color. For those of us in who live here in the northeast, the best days of all are actually when the weather is overcast with a threat of rain. Seeing bright-colored shades of red, yellow and orange leaves beneath the gray sky is one of the most beautiful sights there is.
7. Halloween. Nothing more needs to be said. The final day of the greatest month of the year is the only day where it’s OK to get dressed up and scare the shit out of people. It’s also the only day of the year where you can go walk the streets and beg for candy and not get arrested. Trust me, I’ve tried.
But the absolute real reason October is the greatest month of the year does not lie in days of awareness, cereal consumption or trick or treat. No, October is the greatest month of the year because of what happened on the 5th day of it back in 1969….
I was born.
Earlier this year, Michele Quinn and I released our very first children’s book, “Doodle”. Shortly after it’s release, we decided to donate all profits from the book to the daughter of Michele’s friend, who was ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. 100% of the monies we received as profit were used to help offset the family’s medical bills as well as raise awareness of Aplastic Anemia; the disease the daughter had been diagnosed with.
Now it’s time to put out a call to all faithful readers of this blog. Michele and I are nearing the final stages of completing our next book, Doodle Meets the Pound Pup – a rhyming story that centers around topics that aren’t discussed much, but ones that are very important.
In order to help us decide which Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization to donate proceeds from sales of the new book to, we need to hear from you!!
If you know of or represent a worthy Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization, we’re asking you to please write in and tell us which organization you feel is most deserving, but even more importantly… why you believe so. We’ll choose one entry that we feel best explains their cause to receive our donation.
The winner of the contest will also receive two signed copies of the new book; one for you and one for the winning shelter or rescue group!
If you don’t have an organization to nominate, please consider sharing or Tweeting this article so we can get the word out.
More information on “Doodle Meets the Pound Pup” as well as a release date will be made soon. Thanks in advance for your help!
John Carpenter’s Halloween is the scariest movie ever made. I know, that’s a bold statement for someone like me to make, but one that’s nonetheless appropriate.
For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past thirty-five Octobers, Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers; a psychotic murderer whose been institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister.
Fifteen years after his initial confinement, Myers manages to escape the institution and begins stalking bookish teenage girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends while his doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) chases him through the streets of his hometown.
From the opening credits to the climactic final confrontation between Loomis and Myers, Halloween holds the coveted spot as my greatest horror film of all time and for good reason. Unlike many of today’s horror films which rely heavily upon the use of over the top death scenes and gallons of fake blood and gore to sell its scare, Halloween’s scariness stems from using it’s audiences own imagination to instill that fear upon themselves.
Whether it’s the innocence of Laurie Strode; the subtle, yet highly effective use of camera angles and jump scares; the “shape” standing visible and then suddenly disappearing or the eerie theme music playing at the most (in)appropriate of times, it’s the vulnerability and fear of the unknown that causes us to not only be afraid of the monster, but also to honestly consider whether or not this actually could be happening.
I’ll always remember how excited I was whenever Halloween was coming on, but to this day still find it uncomfortable watching those opening credits (even in broad daylight) and being forced to recall my own childhood fear of the bogeyman and the dark. As a youth, whenever the glowing pumpkin and creepy intro music came on the screen announcing the film was about to begin, that was always my cue to close my eyes and cover my ears until after the credits were over.
In celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Trancas International have just released a special 35th Anniversary Blu-ray version of Halloween. This new 35th Anniversary package includes an all-new HD transfer that was personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer, Dean Cundey, as well as a new 7.1 audio mix.
But the real “treat” of this package has to be the brand-new, feature-length audio commentary by writer/director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis, discussing the film with fresh perspective all these years later. Available in a collectible limited-edition book-style format, the package also includes 20 pages of archival photos as well as an essay by Halloween historian Stef Hutchinson and specially commissioned cover art by Jay Shaw.
Want my advice? Grab some popcorn, turn down the lights (never completely off, of course) and skip past the opening credits. Because thankfully, modern technology allows us the opportunity to do so. (Five Stars)
I can’t say that I remember it as if it were yesterday. Heck, I was just on the verge of turning four on September 20th, 1973 and about the only thing going through my mind at the time was probably wondering whether or not Sesame Street was coming on anytime soon. Although I have no personal recognition about that day in particular, I still feel as if I were somehow there.
It’s hard to believe that forty years have passed since the lives of Jim Croce, Maury Muehleisen and four others were tragically cut short when the twin-engine plane in which they were traveling crashed shortly after takeoff. Croce and Muehleisen had just finished performing a show in Natchitoches, Louisiana and were en route to another show in Sherman, Texas when the crash occurred.
As I look back now, I wonder if Jim and Maury were aware of the impact they were going to have. Because I can still remember the very first time I ever heard their music.
It was sometime in the mid 1970′s when my father took me and my brother on our first overnight camping trip to a place called Camp Hugh Beaver.
At the time, I recall being extremely excited about going camping; that is until after we had actually arrived at the campsite and the realization of being away from home hit me like a ton of bricks. From that moment on, I immediately wanted to go home and let my father know it every chance I could, through both tantrum and tears.
Dad initially ignored my pleas, but by the next morning just couldn’t take it any longer and finally gave in to my childish demands. Shortly after breakfast, we packed up our things and began making the long drive home.
Why do I remember this you ask? No, it’s wasn’t because it was one of the many times I was being a spoiled brat (although I was). Rather, the real reason I remember this so vividly is because on the drive home the song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” came on the car radio…and I was mesmerized. I distinctly remember asking my father who it was that was singing the greatest song any seven-year old had ever heard in his life and finding out all about Jim Croce.
Dad told me all about Jim and his other great songs like “Time In A Bottle” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”. How Jim had appeared on television shows and how his songs and stories related to the “common man”.
Then he told me about the plane crash and how Jim and his lead guitarist, Maury had both died. In the naivety of youth, I didn’t really understand what he was saying to me at the time. I thought Dad telling me that Jim and Maury “died” just meant that they went away and would eventually be back. Sadly, it wouldn’t be long until I discovered what death really meant and realized that we (the world) had lost two of the greats.
Less than two months after Jim and Maury’s untimely deaths, Croce’s “I Got A Name” album was released. Songs like the title cut (which still gives me chills listening to it to this day), “Workin’ at the Carwash Blues” and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” only remind me of what could have been.
“I Got A Name” is also an apropos title, considering the names Jim Croce & Maury Muehleisen won’t soon be forgotten. Sure, it may have been the last album from two guys whose careers were only beginning to take off, but here I am still thinking about them and their music, forty years later.
Since I assume many of you are already wondering what you should get me for my birthday next month (October 5th), I’ve taken the liberty of posting my list here in order to give you an early jump on your shopping duties.
Unfortunately, none of these items can still be found in stores, so you’ll have to poke around on E-bay in order to find them. But in an effort to help you in your search, I’ve already scoped out and gone through the trouble of pricing these items in order from low to high, so you shouldn’t have any concern over whether or not you’re spending enough. But when you think about it, can you REALLY put a price tag on a gift?
I now present to you the Five Best Presents you can get me for my birthday. Things I received as a child and would love to see again.
Chutes Away ($45) Ah, nothing beats looking through a scope and dropping plastic parachutes from a plane into fox holes on the battlefield as it spins around in circles.
4. Magic Window by Wham-O ($100) You want to talk about mindless entertainment? Look no further than this plastic circle filled with different colored sand. You maneuver it around and the sand magically transforms into different patterns. Let’s see the X-Box Kinect or Wii try to top that! Hours of fun here.
3. Weeble Haunted House ($300). Since there’s no Count Chocula action figure, this is the next best thing. Who ever invented the Weeble was a true genius. They always wobbled but never fell down. I love the glow in the dark ghost.
2. Mego Spiderman ($400) It just wouldn’t be my birthday without a visit from good ol’ Spidey. I’ve had several different Spidey action figures over the years, but never an original Mego one. So, please do what you can to make a 44-year old boy happy this year!
1. Stretch Monster ($800) – C’mon, you know I’m worth it. Stretch Monster was the coolest thing ever. Much better than Stretch Armstrong. I suppose that’s why I’d only let my sister play with Armstrong. She’d NEVER be allowed to touch my Monster. Me and Stretch Monster were tight. We did everything together. Right up until that one day when he fell on some rocks and bled out.
That syrupy stuff inside him got all over, and no amount of band-aid or bandage could save him. To see him again this year would be the ultimate!
Christmas came early this year. Or is it Halloween? Well, in either case, my inner child is doing one heck of a happy dance this morning. As most of you fellow cereal connoisseurs already know, The Monster Cereals have been my absolute favorite ever since I was but a wee lad. I still remember how cool it was to go with my mother to the local Food Lane and see my homies sitting there on the shelf just waiting for me.
Not only did the boys get me through some rough hunger spells growing up, but I also attribute the psychological benefits of having breakfast with a monster with helping me to overcome my introvertism. (Ok, I made up that last part).
Sadly, my beloved Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry buddies were exiled to the latter part of the calendar year; only making their appearances on store shelves now when the weather gets cooler and monsters and trick or treating become all the rage.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do ravage local supermarkets and Target stores every September to stock up on as many as I can for the winter, and always lament the boys taking an extended vacation starting November 1st. But much like seeing the first robin in spring, I always look forward to that first box of Boo on store shelves every Autumn.
But this year will be extra special.
A few days ago General Mills (the ones who magically brought my cereal hombres to life) decided to do something special for the fans and this year are bringing back two more monsters; one of which has been MIA for more than thirty years. Just when you thought breakfast in the fall couldn’t get any better, Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy will be joining the Holy Trinity of Cereal this year!
Fruit Brute (or now, FRUTE Brute for you politically correct people) was discontinued in 1982 and is considered by many collectors to be the most sought-after vintage cereal box. Not only because Brute’s a cool wolf who wears colorful suspenders, but also because the box was used by director Quentin Tarantino in his films “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.”
Yummy Mummy, no stranger to succumbing to the endangered sugar list, has been gone for more than two decades himself. His triumphant return will mark the first time in history that all five boxes of Monster Cereal will be available at the same time.
When asked to comment on the return of the childhood favorites, Julie Anderla, integrated communications senior manager at General Mills had this to say: “The love for the Monsters that we make available each Halloween continues to be huge and the passion for all of them across social media is incredible. We’re bringing back Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy in an effort to give our fans what they asked for.” Can’t argue with that.
But WAIT!! – It gets even better!!
As part of a special promotion with Target, all five monster cereals will be housed in their original retro art packaging!!! So it will indeed be like those days of yore when a young 44 year-old boy sees his childhood friends on the shelves, looking exactly as they did way back when.
I tried to find a way to properly express my emotion for the return of this quintet, but I decided to let Dinosaur Dracula explain how big this news really is in his review of the “new” cereal. Thanks dude!