Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Trip to Mars

This jingle almost backfired on the Burma Vita company:

Free!  Free!
A trip
To Mars
For 900.
Empty jars.Burma Shave

The manager of a Red Owl grocery store in Appleton, Wisconsin, decided to take them up on the offer.  He stacked Burma Shave jars in the center aisle of his store and when a customer bought one, emptied the shaving cream into a carry-out carton and saved the jar.  He wired Burma Vita and to ask where should he ship the jars.  An exchange of silly rhymes followed; i.e., “If a trip to Mars you’d earn, remember, friend, there’s no return.”  But Arliss French persisted and at last the Burma Vita Company accepted the shipment of 900 empty jars and sent Mr. and Mrs. French to the German town of Moers (pronounced “Mars”), with all expenses paid.  The publicity was great for both Red Owl and Burma Vita, the couple had a terrific time – the town put on a festival just for them – and years later the Frenches were still sending Christmas cards to the Odells (owners of the company).

I have the most amazing sister-in-law.  When she found out that it would cost $200 each to change our return airline reservations from England, she offered to pay Becky’s fee.  Becky is traveling with me, but on a very limited budget.  The original reservation for return was April 5 – and that’s Easter Sunday.  It was making us sad to think we’d miss attending Easter services at Westminster Abby because of a foolish mistake (I didn’t realize Easter fell on April 5).  I can stand the expense, but I couldn’t pay it for both of us.

We have a singing cat.  What she’s singing is odd, and not a recognizable tune.  But there are a lot of different notes in it, it’s loud and sometimes there are almost words to it.  I understand this is a sign of senility in cats, that they will abruptly and for no discernable reason, break into something like, “Ah-row, rah ah ah ow, wah!”  Sometimes there’s also a “low,” or a “now,” but never a phrase.  Her singing voice is very different from her ordinary voice, which is a tentative and high-pitched “Ee-ah?”  This is a sturdy alto, surprising in a cat who weighs less than six pounds.  If I call her name, she stops for a while.  She’s seventeen.  Many years ago we had another elderly cat who would stand at the bottom of a three-level staircase at three o’clock in the morning and call, “Allo?  Allo?” until one of us would get up and go down and scold her.  One time I lost my temper and got up, grabbed a broom and chased her all over the house.  That stopped it for a couple of days, and then, “Allo?  Allo?” came the cry.  We had another cat, a youngster, and he bailed off our bed and ran down the stairs and hushed her.  I don’t know what he did – there weren’t sounds of combat – but I can imagine him hissing, “Stop it, stop it!  Don’t you remember what she did last time you woke her up?”  He went down many times after that to put a stop to her calling.  Bless his little heart – and hers, too.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Your cat sounds adorable, Monica--and I'm sure she actually sounds adorable in person!

Anonymous said...

Could you put a fictionalized version of her in a future book?

Betty Hechtman said...

Interesting about your cat singing. I hope it really isn't a sign of senility.

Monica Ferris said...

Looks as if we aren't going to be able to change our flight reservation. I've now been informed that it's $300 each to change - plus the fare has gone up $600. Each. So never mind.