Monthly Archives November 2012

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Cabbage Patch Riot: The Original Black Friday

By M Davies   /     Nov 26, 2012  /     Family, NEPA  /     3 Comments

**EDIT** Due to what has happened since I have published this post, I reneg my original stance. Looking back, a cabbage patch kid made me happy as a child, and if anything Elf on the Shelf has taught me that.  I appreciate all that the Mericle family has done to bring happiness to children in NEPA despite/inspite of what happened during KFC. I just want world peace.  Make love not war, children.  My family lived close to Main Hardware in my youth and it was always like visiting Disneyland.  Thank you for making my childhood slightly brighter.

 

Normally, I post an extended Black Friday recap to talk about the shopping experience with my family, but there isn’t much to tell that hasn’t already been said on Twitter.  I figured I’d try something different this year and flashback to a time in the Wyoming Valley’s history when there was a run on a must-have toy….the cabbage patch doll.

 

In 1983, I was a bald-headed 2 year old living in Hanover Township with just my Mom and Dad.  My brother wasn’t born until 1986.  For whatever reason, my Mom decided that a cabbage patch doll was the perfect gift for me to open on Christmas morning.  My mother had mentioned this to my Grandparents and my Grandfather (bless his soul) decided he would be the one to pick up the goods.

 

November 27 of that same year was actually the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  My Grandfather jumped in his car and headed over to the local Zayre’s department store.  If you are not from the area or not familiar, Zayre’s was along the same line as a K-Mart department store.  In the late 1980s, Zayre’s was sold off to the Ames Department store chain which eventually met it’s demise in 2002.

 

 

I would make an educated guess and say that the store most likely opened up at 10 or 11 am in the morning, as that is the normal hours of retail operation around here on Sundays.  When my grandfather arrived the parking lot of Zayre’s (which is now where current day Raymour and Flannigan is in Wilkes-Barre Township) he could not find a parking spot anywhere.  After driving around for several minutes, he eventually found somewhere to pull over.  He walked up to the store and there was a long line of people waiting to get in.  My Grandfather struck up a conversation with the people in front of him.  He didn’t understand what the line was for.  They told him it was for a cabbage patch doll.  My Grandfather then exclaimed that was what he was there for too!

 

After standing in line for a couple of minutes, my Grandfather ventured up to the front of the store to see what was going on.  Someone (an employee?) told him that they were giving out tickets for the dolls and there were only so many that they had – 200 I believe.  With that information in the back of his mind, my Grandfather knew he was not getting a doll.  He went back to the end of the line and decided to tell the people what was going on before he left.  Needless to say, they were EXTREMELY upset.  I don’t know whether or not this caused the riot, but I’m sure it did not help matters.

 

Last week, I started talking to a few co-workers that remembered the riot well.  I told them my story and they started teasing me that my Grandfather started the riot.  Rest assured, that didn’t happen.  My Grandfather is the most laid back, mild mannered person you’d ever meet.  He was only sharing information with people so that they wouldn’t stand in the freezing cold line only to leave empty handed.

 

Here is a video that I found on Ebaumsworld that includes some WNEP footage:

 

 

To sum up what is happening here…A Store Employee stood on a counter swinging a baseball bat to try to regain order of the crowd which included roughly 1000 people.  Eventually, as you can see from the video, he started tossing the dolls into the crowd.  This made national newspapers, magazines, and TV news shows.  If you are wondering, my Grandparents ended up finding me a Cabbage Patch doll elsewhere a few weeks later and no one was hurt in the purchase of the doll.

 

Even though this box says 1985 – I swear this is the doll I received (as disturbing as it looks):

 

 

Did I mention that my head was as bald as this doll’s was until I was about 3 years old?  I’ll have to dig up a picture of that somewhere.

 

Anyway, holding this discussion with my fellow co-workers caused me to be late to class last Monday night.  My teacher/former manager was not pleased with me as we had a test that night.  I started to explain to him why and he recalled what he remembered about the riot, mainly, how the Cabbage Patch dolls supply stayed stocked in the valley.  The Mericles!

 

From the CV:  Robert Mericle capitalized on 1983’s Cabbage Patch Kid craze while studying economics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After witnessing a customer free-for-all at a city department store that received a shipment of the sought-after but understocked dolls in November 1983, Mericle ordered 10,000 on credit and sold certificates promising post-Christmas delivery. After the Cabbage Patch coup, he formed a toy-distribution company that he operated through his college years.

Mericle then went into real estate, transforming a crumbling, abandoned shoe factory in Wilkes-Barre into the first local headquarters for student-loan processor Sallie Mae. He found a niche buying lots in the local industrial parks owned by chambers of commerce, building on them and wooing local and national firms to purchase or lease, often using government tax incentives as bait.

 

You may remember Robert Mericle in recent years for his participation in sweetheart deals in the courthouse/kids for cash corruption scandals.  You may also know his parents.  They own Main Hardware on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, home of Christmasland.

 

After all of the trouble my family went to for this oh-so-perfect Christmas gift for me, would you believe that I never played with it?  Growing up, I was more of a Tomboy and I didn’t play with dolls.  At all.  No barbies, no cabbage patch, no babies.  The closest I came to playing with dolls was She-Ra, and those were more of action figures than anything else.  My mother at one point questioned if I would ever have kids.  I guess we all know how that turned out.

 

After learning about these riots years later, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I didn’t play with the doll more knowing how much trouble everyone went though to get it.  Oh well.  I guess it would have been sold at an flea market or the Salvation Army at some point as I grew up.  I hope someone gave the little tyke a good home.

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Top 5 Christmas Commercials of Yesteryear

By M Davies   /     Nov 16, 2012  /     TV Rants  /     5 Comments

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep.  I’ve actually been awake since 2am, but now since Office Space is over I have nothing to occupy my thoughts.  So here I am.

 

I have been noticing year after year, the same commercials being recycled during Christmas.  I’m not sure what the thought process is behind this for merchants/product manufacturers.  Tradition?  Laziness?  Cheapness?  Maybe a combination of all three.  Here are some of the ones we have become accustomed to seeing throughout the holiday season.

 

Cheerios – Grandma Commercial

This was played the other day on WNEP – I remarked to my manager that this kid must be 20 by now.  I’m not that far off base – this commercial was created in 1990.  The actress in the commercial is Peggy Miley and the baby was 9 months old in the commercial.  This would make the baby 22 years of age today.  Can you believe it?

 

Campbell’s Soup – Let it Snow Commercial

Now granted, I haven’t seen this commercial on the air yet…but it is still early in the holiday season.  I do remember seeing it in frequent rotation last year.  I wonder how old the kid was at the time it was shot.  Maybe 7 or 8?  I learned through another blog that this commercial first played in 1995.  This would put the kid actor in his mid to late twenties.

 

Hershey Kiss – Bell Commercial

I did see this commercial air again this year.  According to a Google Search, the first time this commercial aired was in 1989.  In 1989 John Dunn was Brands manager for Kisses.  A new marketing campaign for Kisses was being developed, sometimes referred to as the Kisses “whimsy” campaign.   Working with Ogilvy Mather, a series of animated Kisses commercials were planned utilizing the tabletop stop-motion animation and CG product photography.  Source.

 

Ch-ch-chia! Commercial

You can count on the Chia Commercial to be back in some form this year.  For some reason the makers of Chia (who coincidentally are also the creators of the Ove Glove, Garden Claw, CSL, and the Clapper), Joseph Enterprises, only seem to ramp up their advertising campaign during the holiday season and during Judge Judy.  I guess that’s when they anticipate people to make the most awful present purchasing decisions.  One month out of the year must account for their entire revenue stream, so they don’t see the need to advertise for the other 11?  I’m just guessing.

 

And last but not least ….

 

Pennsylvania Lottery – Twelve Games of Christmas Carol Spoof Commercial

This commercial first started airing in 1992.  Rita has probably long retired and handed over the reign of her food truck to her children.  I would guess Joe is probably dead by now, but yet the commercial continued to play on.  I always had a problem with giving someone a lottery ticket as a gift for the holidays, unless they specifically asked for one.  Here’s my thought process:  If you give a ticket to someone and it doesn’t win them anything, you look like a cheapskate crappy gift giver.  If you give a ticket to someone and it wins something big, then you are kicking yourself because you just were holding a winning boatload of cash ticket in your hand and gave it away.  Giving is always better than receiving, don’t get me wrong…but when it comes to 100,000 dollars, can you honestly tell me that you wouldn’t be upset?  Please.  I digress.

 

I don’t know if you know this, but the Pennsylvania Lottery actually updated this commercial this year.  There are all new actors.  A new Joe, a new Rita…a new FIVE CASH FIVES soloist.  It’s….odd….see for yourself:

 

I don’t know how I feel about this new commercial.  Maybe it’s time to bring back Gus and Gabby.

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From the Mailbag: Miffed Mom Mouths off about Membership Dues

By M Davies   /     Nov 14, 2012  /     Annoyances, Mommyhood  /     4 Comments

It’s that time of year again.  PTO Membership Drive time!  I’m all about giving my children every benefit that I can to succeed, and if my membership dues allow them to have a book fair, go on a field trip or have an otherwise good time at school, you can count me in.  However, I noticed something this year that perturbed me.

 

My kids go to two different elementary schools within the same school district and I noticed that the PTO dues for one school were more expensive than the other school.  At Ross, I was able to join the PTO for a family for $5.  At Lehman-Jackson, they wanted $5 for a single person membership.  If you wanted a family membership it was 3 dollars extra.  Since my husband does not participate in PTO events, I decided not to make the splurge.  The membership is cheap in comparison to some other things I could buy that my children would get enjoyment out of….candy for example…

 

I decided to send a nasty gram to the offending school where the dues were more expensive:

 

 

A few weeks ago, I received the following email in my inbox:

Good Morning Michelle-

 

I was just finishing up the L-J PTA membership drive for the year and wanted to respond to your note that was on your membership form.  In reference to the cost in dues in comparison to Ross Elementary, L-J is a PTA that was established in 1976.  Ross Elementary is actually a PTO. (And I am no familiar with when they were started)  As per guidelines set forth by the National PTA, our dues are $5.00 per member. (That is actually their cost, and we are told we could ask for even more to make a profit in which we do not.)  You can visit the PTA website online to see where the dues are applied.  As a PTA, we have discussed over the last few years converting over to a PTO.  There is a process involved in order to do so in which we are currently looking into, but it isn’t as easy as just changing to a PTO without losing all of our organizations funds that were collected while being a PTA.  I hope I have been able to answer your statement about why the difference in cost and if you have any further questions about it, please feel free to contact me either by email or you can call me at XXX-XXXX. Thank you for joining the L-J PTA, and we look forward to your help during the school year.

 

Sincerely,

Name Withheld

Membership Chairperson”

 

Ok, so I didn’t realize there was a difference between a PTA and a PTO.  I just don’t understand why there cannot just be one type of an organization throughout all of the elementary schools to make life easier on everyone.  Does it really make a difference?  Just another thing to make my already complicated life yet more complicated.

 

Anyyyyyyywayyyyy…. I volunteered to be the website coordinator for the Ross PTO.  I’ve been working feverishly on that with my spare time (…what spare time…?)  The website is hosted though this company called “Digital PTO“.  You can register your PTO’s website for free using it.  It is a WordPress platform based system.  I guess if you are completely clueless about websites and blogging, it does the job….I just find the platform to be extremely frustrating and a rip off.  It is a hugely stripped down version of WordPress.  The free WordPress blogs have more customization than Digital PTO’s format.

 

What’s that?  You want to embed a Youtube video?  HAHAHAHAHAHA, what are you thinking?  That will cost extra.  You have a Google Calendar with important upcoming events that you want to display?  Yep.  That will be extra.  You’d like to create a custom header image with your logo on your page?  You guessed it, extra.  What a rip off!  Thankfully, the Ross PTO did not pay for any of the “extras” and I have been able to find HTML ways around the embedding in most instances.  I don’t think I’d feel comfortable knowing my membership dollars were going to that con-artist company.

 

Here are the fruits of my labor, if you care to look.  Just don’t mind my afterbirth:  http://rosspto.digitalpto.com/

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