Sunshine Golden Raisin Biscuits – another blast from the past

So I had another Marcel Proust moment last night.

A group of empty nesters had gathered in the home of a neighbor for our weekly Family Home Evening, and our hosts for the week were a delightful couple from the UK. They spread out a groaning board of goodies, chips, dips, cupcakes, fudge, and other treats… and something that caused a massive flashback for me.

Growing up in New York, my mother used to get these little flat biscuits filled with raisins that we simply called “raisin cookies.” I loved them – they were one of my favorite treats as a child. And then in 1969 I moved away from the city and never again thought upon them.

Until last night.

There they were, in all their glory. These were a currant version, but they were the same, the same, the same.

Our hostess graciously gave us a packet to take home, and I discovered they are called Crawford’s Garibaldi biscuits, and have long been a treat in the UK. I mean, long – with a history spanning 150 years.

After re-discovering these, I wondered why I knew of them, and it turns out that Sunshine produced a version of these which it called “Golden Raisin Biscuits.” When Sunshine was acquired by Keebler in 1996, the expanded “Golden Fruit” line was quietly discontinued, but apparently the later incarnation was nothing like the original.

Edit: Kelloggs acquired the Sunshine brand from Keebler in 2000. Pester them about bringing these back.

I’ve found several recipes that purport to be a fairly close approximation of the packaged version, and I’ll try one at some point – but for now, I’m delighted to know that these can still be had.

Now, if I can just convince Sara Lee to bring back their All Butter Frozen Brownies, (scroll down a bit) and get TGI Friday’s to resurrect Rockslide Pie. It astonishes me that there are no pictures out there – based on the number of other people who remember it fondly, I would have thought someone might have captured an image or a vintage menu.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

1956: The Oldsmobile Golden Rocket


I love concept cars. I don’t care how impractical they are, they fire the imagination. I remember going to a car show at the New York coliseum in 1962 or thereabouts and seeing one of these:

1963 Chrysler turbine car

It’s a crime that experimental runs of cars like this and the EV1 have been recalled and scrapped. I think it’s a gross disservice to the industry and the public. For an informative experience, watch “Who Killed the Electric Car.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Los Angeles: Odd Restaurants

The Zep Diner

Found at L.A. Taco

The Zep Diner was located at 515 W. Florence Avenue in Los Angeles near Figueroa. The Zep was open “all night” and was the “Home of the Hinden Burger”.

The Brown Derby

Operated from 1928 to 1980, originally conceived as an eye-catcher. More at Wikipedia.

The Encounter Restaurant

The Theme Building is synonymous with Los Angeles, and particularly LAX. It was opened in 1961, and after multiple renovations, one by Walt Disney Imagineering, continues to operate today.


In 1949, Sidney Hoedemaker founded Hody’s Restaurant Inc.  (Hody – as in Hoedemaker). Hoedemaker’s restaurants were all about service, efficiency, cheerfulness and courtesy. One was always greeted with a smile. The Hody’s at 3553 La Brea (at Rodeo) featured expanded service, circular drive-in and a sign pylon rising from the roof was designed by Wayne McCallister.

This restaurant was not so odd, but I include it because it’s where my father met his third and final wife, to whom he was married for 20 years. She was a car-hop in the drive-in section; I remember eating there a number of times and it was fun to have the girls come around on roller skates with our orders.

Vintage Toys I have Loved

Vintage Items I once owned and loved.

(And wish I still had… some of these suckers are worth real money.)

Mr. Machine

This was the grand-daddy of cool toys – for its era. You really could take him apart and put him together, and lo and behold, he still worked!

The Great Garloo (1961)

Garloo was awesome to a 10-year-old. He would bend over and pick stuff up, and you could steer him around with the wheel. Of course, the commercials made stuff like this look a lot neater than they were, but I remember this toy well, and he lasted quite a long time.

Ideal Astro Base

This one was tragic. What a cool toy… and I had one. But apparently mine was defective, and so back it went, to be exchanged for something else.

Remco’s Fighting Lady

The Fighting Lady was one awesome toy. To a kid my age, it was big. It had a plane launcher, a runabout, primary gun, depth charge launchers, and other stuff. I loved this one. More pictures here.

The Petal Camera

This one breaks my heart. If I had only known… this is exactly how mine looked, I think I paid $25.00 for it, and now they can be worth up to $5,000. *sob*

Wff ‘n Proof

This game of symbolic logic was first produced in 1961, I think – I acquired my copy at the NYC World’s Fair in 1964. I had it until the foam packaging that held the cubes crumbled into dust. I’m working on acquiring another copy one way or another.

The Digicomp I

This binary flip-flop computer kit was popular enough that one enterprising engineer has replicated it. It’s on my list of things to get. Again.

The Chemistry Set

This is not the exact set I had, but darn close. I don’t think mine had a radiation detector, but I know it contained a small glass jar of powdered uranium ore. It had glassware, small Erlenmeyer flasks, boiling flasks, beakers, the test tube rack, the alcohol lamp, measuring spoons, a scales, pipettes that you had to heat and draw yourself, and yes, I burned the living piss out of my fingers on more than one occasion – and no one got sued. Today’s chemistry sets have been castrated by lawyers until they barely have any chemicals worth sneezing at, or none at all.

This kit causes us to lament the general state of affairs we have come to thanks to litigiousness, chemophobia, and flagging scientific literacy.”

How pathetic is that? Another interesting article here.

Kevin Kunstadt: The Dolomites

“I took these photographs in August 2010 in the Dolomites — a section of the Alps located in northeastern Italy. The Dolomites are named for a type of carbonate rock that has a distinct pale rosy-orange hue. I have tried to capture the specific grandeur of this range, as well as present a document of the myriad ways in which people interact with and experience it for themselves.”

Visit Kevin Kunstadt’s home page.

The Hymnotron

Found at Techno Geek Toys, the Hymnotron: a device that looks like it could have been invented by George Ives (father of composer Charles), or Satan after a night of drinking Absinthe, whichever seems better to you.

“This instrument is designed to appeal to the devotée of spiritual music who is also familiar with binary math. In other words, it’s a niche product. The chords and inversions are selected by using combinations of the eight keys. When you select a chord the Hymnotron changes each note in the chord into just temperament to create intervals that are always perfectly in tune.”

A video demonstration found below. Contains some language, so be careful if you’re watching this in the parish office.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Dish

In 2009, during a 3-week sojourn to New South Wales, one of my “must-see” stops was the radio telescope in Parkes. The movie is an odd bit of cinematography which took certain liberties with its rôle in the Apollo 11 moon mission, but participate it did, and in a very significant manner. More at Wikipedia.

The Void has always fascinated me. I can remember being 11 or 12 years old, lying on my back with a friend on Fire Island, holding flashlights we had acquired at Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden, and shining our beams up into the sky, wondering if the light would go on forever and ever. Assuming nothing got in the way, anyone with sensors strong enough on a planet circling 31 Aquilae (49.5 light years away) might detect a few of our photons right about now.

Stars within 50 light years of Earth. Found at Atlas of the Universe.

As a result, being within driving distance of Parkes made this an absolute necessity.

The thing is big, and dominates the landscape as you approach it.

It’s even bigger up close, and in some ways more impressive than the large telescope at the NRAO in Virginia, because you can get closer to it.

Being a working telescope, it moved quite a bit during my visit.

They have a very nice visitors center with lots of things to learn about, some hands-on displays, and an AV presentation.

But this was my favorite part of the visit:

Beef and burgundy pie, at the Dish café: exquisite – I have never tasted better, although a friend of mine in Dubbo tells me there’s a pie shop I missed that does them one up. Next trip for sure.

And the scenery while dining was overpowering.

Still working hard, in 2012 the Observatory received special signals from the Mars rover Opportunity, to simulate the Curiosity rover UHF radio. This helped prepare for the then upcoming Curiosity landing on August 6, 2012.

If I had another lifetime and a brain that was not math challenged, working with a device like this would be a wonderful way to spend a career.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Bonwit Teller: New York, ca. 1905

“West 23rd Street.” Home to Best & Co’s “Lilliputian Bazaar,” Bonwit Teller (“Women’s Outer Garments”), Waterbury Dental Parlors and Eden Musee. 8×10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co.

Found at Shorpy.

While walking in the streets of New York, something I did daily for years while growing up there, I passed a brass placard on the right side of a doorway that said “Bonwit Teller.”

That’s a name I was familiar with, and gave it no thought. On the left side of the door, however, in the same very distinctive font, was another brass plaque that said “Gunther-Jaeckel.”

What was that all about, I wondered. Were they seldom used first names? I had never heard them before in conjunction with Bonwit. Long before the days of digital photography and smartphones, and without my trusty Brownie in my hand, I was unable to capture an image, but it remains seared in my memory because it was peculiar. I never passed that particular spot again, at least not knowingly. And, given the absence of the internet, there was no way of ferreting out the story; as time went on, I began to wonder if I had imagined it. Had I been wealthy enough to be purchasing furs, I might have found out – but thanks to the infinite capacity of the intertubez, I at last have my answer.

1954 ad for Gunther-Jaeckel furs, 5 years before its acquisition by Bonwit Teller.

“In a gilded age when sables were a princess’ best friend, the nation’s best place to buy sables was Manhattan’s C. G. Gunther’s Sons. Founded in 1820 by a German immigrant associated with Fur Trader John Jacob Astor, Gunther’s not only combed Siberia for the finest sables, but bid in the London market for the finest ermine, sent its agents across Canada on the lookout for mink. Even men coveted the Gunther’s label. Gunther’s long operated the only men’s fur department in Manhattan, offering coats made of every kind of fur, from buffalo, favored by post-Civil War tycoons, to collegiate raccoon. But sables for the ladies inspired the legends. On Black Friday of the 1929 crash, Gunther’s delivered a $70,000 sable coat to a customer, needlessly worried about payment (the customer settled in 60 days). Later it sold a shopper two sable coats, one for herself and one for her sister. As a token of esteem, the shopper bought her maid a mink. The bill: $107,000. In 1949 Gunther’s merged with an other old-line furrier, Jaeckel, Inc., founded in 1863.
Last week Manhattan’s oldest fur store had a new owner. Walter Hoving’s Hoving Corp., which already operates 60-year-old Bonwit Teller next door and nearby 121-year-old Tiffany & Co., added Gunther-Jaeckel, Inc. to its string. In taking control of Gunther-Jaeckel, Hoving got more of the kind of elegant tradition he likes, also a challenge to his merchandising skill (Gunther-Jaeckel last paid a dividend in 1945). But fellow merchants figured he would soon figure out a way to fit Gunther-Jaeckel into his spreading operation. Pursuing a policy of aggressive expansion, his Bonwit Teller already has two suburban branches operating in Manhasset, L.I. and White Plains, N.Y., a third projected (in Millburn, N.J.), plus stores in Chicago, Cleveland and Boston. For the present, Hoving will double up on some advertising and promotional costs, knock out a wall or two to throw the main Bonwit store and Gunther-Jaeckel together.” (Description found at Bis Repetita Placet.)

Interestingly enough, Gunther-Jaeckel still shows up in random Yellow Pages business searches with an address of 10 East 57th Street, as listed on the advert above. That matches precisely with my memory – the fact that it’s right next to Tiffany’s, another Hoving Corp. property cements the image in my head. Sadly, the building where the plaques appeared is now gone, replaced by another new skyscraper.

This is where 10 East would have sat.

But in retrospect, it’s nice to know I wasn’t crazy, all those years when I wondered if I had just seen something that wasn’t there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.