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Matt Weinstock

January 11, 2008 |  4:52 pm

Jan. 11, 1958

Matt_weinstockd This is to report that progress has whacked away another footnote in the American credo, this time the Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn division.

Ralph Hopkins, who spends his weekends fixing up his desert hideaway, tried to buy some plain old whitewash all over Antelope Valley, with discouraging reactions.

When he asked for 10 pounds of it in one store, the young clerk looked at him blankly, as if he were a doddering old fool speaking poor English, and said, "You mean white paint!" Ralph said, "No, whitewash," but he didn't get through.

IN ANOTHER PLACE the clerk, aged about 30, had heard of the stuff, then cagily asked what he wanted it for. To lighten the inside of a 20x20 barn, replied Ralph. Oh," said the clerk, "then what you really want is Goosefuddles Synthetic Wonder Paint." Among other things, it injected vitamins into the wood by osmosis, smelled of heliotrope and, according to the clerk's mathematics, would cost him only $52.40 plus tax for his barn.

In the next couple of places, Ralph changed his tactics. He asked for calcimine, a mistake. The clerks recoiled as if he'd said a bad world.

Finally there was the old-timer who admitted he didn't stock whitewash anymore and suggested substitutes. At length, Ralph wheedled him into selling a sack of lime which he slaked in an old keg. For $1.25 made enough whitewash to administer several coats--without any aid whatsoever from the world of synthetics, but with considerable sadness.

1958_0115_ads_2 AS PRESIDENT of Chaos Unltd., I feel it is my duty to add what confusion I can to that which already exists.

Now and then at breakfast the pre-teenager in my keeping advises me of her dream during the night. Usually she is being pursued by a witch or a dragon or the villain in a horror movie. The other day she came up with something more original.

"We all went downtown and there was this submarine base," she began. [She didn't know exactly where, except it was next door to a large dime store].

"We tried to get aboard but the man said we had to wait two years. So we waited. Finally we got in and the submarine flew to Santa Monica, where it landed in the water, which was full of big fish."

Now this makes sense to me in a prophetic symbolic way. I've been wondering what those deep excavations downtown were for. A submarine base, of course. And that two-year wait--well, the parking lot situation is critical. As for a submarine that can fly like a guided missile, maybe that's what this country needs--more imagination.

Meanwhile, no more lobster bisque for Jane for dinner.

ARMCHAIR sailors everywhere will appreciate a classic incident reported by the Manchester Guardian in reviewing the recent disbanding of the royal naval volunteer reserve, known as the "wavy navy."

One time during WWII a corvette in mid-Atlantic plaintively requested a sister ship to indicate its approximate position. Came the radio reply, "Sorry, I'm a stranger here myself."

AS A BARTENDER, Joseph Gianguili of Pacoima is always bugged by the saloon scene in westerns in which the grim stranger buys a drink, fishes a coin out of his vest pocket and tosses it on the bar. What bugs Joe is that he never gets any change, whether it's for a shot of red-eye or he's setting up the house. Furthermore, he never looks to see if it's a quarter or a $20 gold piece.

Maybe this is the reason for so many high-budget westerns.

FOOTNOTES--Leo Shaw asks, "Have you noticed the falsies on the bumpers of the 1958 Cadillacs?" ... Had your redundancy today? Doris Hellman asks how about the license plate slogan, "Colorful Colorado"? ... James Reardon, blind multiple sclerosis victim, will be buried in Valhalla Cemetery after a funeral service at Jones & Hamrock, 731 W. Washington Blvd., at 1 p.m. today. Friends will contribute the costs.