Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
By Liz Taylor
January 23, 1980
Mouse River Farmer’s Press, Towner, N.D.
The late Will Rogers, well known newspaper columnist and humorist, once said, “all I know is what I read in the papers.” His untimely death in a plane crash came about 20 years before television had invaded millions of homes. Had he lived to see this sometimes marvel, sometimes curse, he would have written volumes about it, and certainly would have had a job as a commentator, talk show host, or whatever. As it is, he never heard the word “now” stretched out by Washington bureaucrats into something so unwieldy as “at this point in time.”
It’s quite possible he would be alive today if he had had his ‘priorities in order’ and had not gone on that fatal flight to Alaska until a later date with a more sophisticated airplane, one equipped with rada, auto pilot, and so forth. AS it was, he did not say, when he departed on that final journey, “have a nice day.” He said goodbye to his friends, and that was that.
Thoughts about these “new expressions” brought to us through the wonders of television go through my mind quite often as I watch and listen to the “idiot box” or “boob tube.” Recently I was mesmerized, following the evening news, by a game show called the “Newlywed Game.” When TV critics speak of sex and violence I imagine this show covers both. There is quite a bit of sex talk on the show, and the violence no doubt follows when the couples get home and begin to berate each other for the things they have revealed on national television.
They reveal these secrets in front of a “live television audience” (as for myself, I yearn to see a ‘dead’ television audience). And they go through this ordeal to have a chance to win prizes, “Brand new, just for you, super exciting,” and then the prize is revealed. Quite often it’s a washer and dryer or refrigerator freezer. Super exciting? Hardly. I have a washer and dryer and a refrigerator freezer, and while I find them immensely convenient, I do manage to contain my excitement when I use them. They do come in handy when I’m suffering from any of the maladies curable by products advertised during the evening news.
From these ads, I gather the evening news is directed to an older or mature audience. One evening recently the products were: Milk of Magnesia, Excedrin, Preparation H, Geritol, and Pepto-Bismol, to name a few. I’m not kidding folks. Pay attention the next time you watch the evening news. And just to top…or bottom…it off, the spot saved for our local station recently was “Don’t miss the super bowl.” Well! How could we?
Ah, but there is truth in advertising! There is a weatherman on Channel 13, his name is Mark Ess, and through the wonders of television and the Popular Mechanics magazine he is out to sell you a “Blizzard Beater.” Here we have an honest man…not everyone I have talked to likes Mark Ess as a weatherman. Well, I like him. He does his job, as weatherman go, reads what is handed to him and comes to work every day. What more can you ask of a weatherperson?
And he is currently selling you a “Blizzard Beater,” a plastic box (available at Kmart for 88 cents), and a candle, some dried soup and instant coffee, a plastic flag for your antenna, and a piece of plastic and tinfoil called a space age survivor blanket…and all this for $14.95.
Why do I call this truth in advertising? Because Mark Ess, himself, comes right out on television and says for you to send him $14.95 and you’ll “get yours!”
By the way, if you don’t have $14.95, take an empty coffee can or two, some candles (or a kerosene lantern), a bag of lemon drops, some instant soup and instant coffee, and a couple of plastic garbage bags, and a book or two of matches, or bottles of ‘farmers matches’ and then take the change from $5 and have a party! Of course, this free offer doesn’t include a kerosene lantern, I only mentioned it because it’s better than a candle. In any event, for a few dollars, you can equip yourself with a homemade blizzard beater and not “get yours” from our friend, Mark Ess.
The Mouse River Farmers Press has had news items the past two weeks devoted to Towner’s two financial institutions, the Midwest Federal Savings and Loan’s grand opening and the third anniversary of the State Bank of Towner. And so it should be, for it was such a short time ago that Towner suffered the agony of no financial businesses whatsoever. That, of course, brings to my mind, what does it take to start a bank anyway? I’m ashamed to admit I had no answer to this question until son, Ryan, brought a book home from school last week entitled the “Pioneers.”
As I read this most interesting volume, I came upon an interview the author had had with a retired (millionaire) Midwestern banker. The banker, when asked how he happened to go into the banking business, replied honestly, “Well sir, I just rented this old, empty store building on main street and then I wrote the word “BANK” on the window. Sure enough, the first day a feller came in and deposited $250 in my bank, and then the second day a feller came in and deposited $300 in my bank. Well, by the third day, I had gained so much confidence in my bank…well, I put in$100 of my own money!”
NEXT WEEK…“What’s the Beef about the Beeferendum.”