Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week Five: The Valentine Party

Come to our house on Valentine night
At eight o'clock or so.
Dan Cupid will be there all right
With his arrows and his bow.
There'll be many lads and lasses here,
So watch for Cupid's dart.
The only thing you have to fear
is losing your fond heart.

That's right. Cupid's first name is Dan, apparently. Or it's an honorific. Or some kind of title. I've not been able to find out. I do know this: The "Dan" in Dan Cupid comes from William Shakespeare's "Love's Labours Lost," viz:

This wimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy,
This signor-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid,
Regent of love-rimes, lord of folded arms,
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents,
Dread prince of plackets, king of codpieces,
Sole imperator and great general
Of trotting paritors -- O my little heart!

As with a lot of the things Shakespeare wrote, this is about sex. But it's written in a Walls of Jericho type of code, at least to the modern untrained ear, so that takes the curse off it.

Now, you know, great entertainer that you are, that nothing says love like pink and white streamers strung from the ceiling as your guests play a rousing variation of . . . musical chairs:
Mixer: Heart Going to Jerusalem. This game is played somewhat like going to Jerusalem. Pin hearts on the window curtains or put them up with thumb tacks. There should be one less hearts than guests. While the music plays all march around the room. When the music stops, they all put one hand on a heart, and there must be only one hand on each heart. The person who does not have a heart to put his hand on must retire from the game and take his place in the center of the room. When the music starts again, the leader takes down one of the remaining hearts, and so on, until only one heart remains. If the game is continuing too long, the leader make take down more than one heart each time.
If you sense your friends are getting bored with this game, remove five hearts each time. Or simply skip this game entirely, since none of us are in the second grade any more. Find something s little more active, something to challenge your guests' manual dexterity:
Valentine Relay Race. Divide into two or more groups. About twelve to fifteen on a side is a good number for this relay. Each group stands one behind the other, facing three circles eighteen inches in diameter which have been drawn with chalk on the floor. Three Indian clubs or pop bottles for each circle have been dressed up with crepe paper to represent valentines or cupids. Theya re standing in the circles. When the whistle is blown, the one on the front of the line runs to the circle and stes the bottles out of the circle. He must leave them all standing up. He runs back and touches off the next one in front of the line and takes his place at the back of the line. The next one must place the clubs or bottles back into the circle. This continues until all have had a chance. The group that finishes first may give a yell and perhaps win a prize.
Perhaps a yell like "Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!" or "We're not in second grade any more!" And they're right. This isn't elementary school. This is an adult party. Time to get out the paste.
Making Valentines. Each couple is provided with some magzines, a tube of paste, a pair of scissors, and a cardboard of blank sheeet of paper. Each couple is to make a valentine, using pictures and words cut from magazines. A good prize should be given for the best one and another for the most comic one.
But what if the best one is a comic one? What if your guests eat the paste? And what if, by the time next Valentines Day comes along that print media is officially dead -- will your guests first have to search out appropriate photos and phrases on the Internet, print them out and then paste them up? Or will, by then, someone have invented an iPaste iPhone app? Those of you into this kind of technological marvel/crap, get on it straight away. In the meantime, we'll be indulding in living tableaux at our house, perhaps re-enacting Dan Cupid from Shakespeare's play:
Living Pictures. Make large frame about eight feet square. Decoare with valentine colors. Have lights in the fram so that other lights may be turned out except for those about the fram. Have some good soloist or a quartet sing some of the old love songs while others represent the chraacters and stand behing the picture frame. There should be a curtain drawn over the frame, and the curtain should be drawn after each song is finished. Some suggestions would be: "In the Good Old Summer Time," "Love's Old Sweet Song," "Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet," "I want a Girl Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad," "When You and I were Young, Maggie," "Let me Call You Sweetheart," "School Days," When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver."

An aside from the blogger: I absolutely love these songs. Not because they heark back to a bygone era -- I never saw that era at all; I was born in the early 1970s. But I love them because of their tuneful innosence. Try doing a living picture to some of the "love" songs we have today and you'd be very embarrassed. Make the whole Dan Cupid thing look pretty innocent, you would.

Aside aside, the only experience I have with living pictures is from "The Three Amigos," when El Guapo has his men posed in their weird little bacchinalian tableau. This game actually sounds like a lot of fun.

As does this one, though it introduces a few anachronisms between our world today and the world of the 1930s.
Heart Archery. Draw a large heart on a piece of cardboard about thirty inches square. Draw circles on the heart. In the circle near the center write "Heart Smasher." The ring next to center should be laveled "Lovers." The next circle should be marked "Somewhat Affectionate." The next circle should be marked "Indifferent to Love," and the outsice circle "Woman Hater, Man Hater." Bows and arrows can be purchase at a five-and-ten-cent store. If arrows with rubber tips are used, they may be touches to a rubber stamp or lampblack so that they will make a mark on the target. Burt cork will also do.
Okay, this game calls for some obscure tools" Burnt cork or lampblack. A rubber stamp. Little bows and arrows, of either the pointy or suction-cup variety. So just head down to the five-and-ten . . . you don't have one of those? Really? All you have is a soulless big box stuffed with crud made in China? It's sad, but the closest institution we have to the good old five-and-dime is the dollar store. And they're filled with the cheap stuff from China. Someone needs to invent a time machine just so we can play this game properly. I'd give up Cokesbury for a few weeks in the era of Woolworths, Dapper Dan pomade, tin lizzies and old-timey music. Must be time for a "O Brother Where Art Thou" screening again.

Now that we're bummed out by the gap of time that removes the authenticity of our party from the era of Woolworths "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," to the era of Wal-Mart and "I Want Your Sex," it's time to move on to refreshments. Cokesbury suggests the following:
At this season of the year, ice-cream companies and bakeries are making their products in heart molds. Serve ice-cream in heart mold and heart-shaped cookies or cakes. Another suggestion bould be cherrly Jello with shipped cream and cookies with white frosting and heart-shaped candies and this served with coffee. And attractive plate could be arranged with sandwiches cut in heart shape and a basket of candies served with hot chocolate with marshmallows or whipped cream. Kisses or taffy could be served with any of these and would be appropriate.
Sigh. ice-cream companies and bakeries, not the pre-fab stuff sold at the supermarket. Bakeries. We used to have one in town. We used to have several. My grandmother worked at one, and they made the best cakes and rolls. All from scratch. So delicious. Now our rolls come in plastic bags and our tomatoes come with the UPC label applied to them with a laser printer. I think I'm going to curl up on the floor, listen to these old-time songs, and dream a while . . .

. . . you did notice you got to use your whistle again, right? . . .

Oh yeah. Next week: It's time to ramp up the Valentines Day possibilities with Week Six: Famous Lovers' Party.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Sneak Valentine Party Peek

Cokesbury's Valentine Party is shaping up to be the oddest yet. This weekend, we learn that Cupid has a first name and that it's not what you think it ought to be. We also learn that friendship knows no boundaries -- meaning you're going to make them play musical chairs.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week Four: The Mother Goose Party

Just in case you're worried the last few parties have been a bit too sophisticated for your guests, Cokesbury brings in Mother Goose to the rescue, in this case, auguring her goose into the ground in a valiant yet vain attempt to bring life to your party. (These pictures, of an octagenarian mother astride a goose, always bothered me as a kid. Either she's a midget, or that's one of the biggest damn geeses I've ever seen. Either way, I decided, I never wanted to meet her in person. The Mother Goose with the goose clad in an apron and bonnet always seemed a lot less threatening.)

We begin, of course, with the invitation, which invites you into the wild, untamed world of Ogden Nash rhymery:

Old Mother Goose, when
She wants to wander,
Rides through the air
On her very fine gander.

She'll stop any place where
Her children will meet her;
SHe likes jolly crowds
To come out to greet her.

She'll meet all Endeavorers, who'll
Dress up just right,
And come to the Smiths,
On next Friday night.

Send the invitation, of course, with a list of possible costume ideas. Better yet, Cokesbury advises buying and ripping up a Mother Goose rhyme book and distributing the pages among your friends, so no one comes in the same costume. Why not just photocopy the pages? Oh yeah. No photocopiers in 1932.

So here's your first lesson. Which ones on the list are real Mother Goose characters, and which are the fakes?

Simple Simon
The Pieman
Old King Cole
Little Jack Horner
Little Miss Muffet
Bessie Bell
Mary Gray
The Little Man with the Little Gun*
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Diddle, Diddle Dumpling, My Son John
Little Tommy Tittlemouse
Little Polly Flinders
Wise Men of Gotham
Fat Man of Bombay
The Bachelor Who Lived by Himself*

*Not recommended for men with self-esteem problems.

Answer: They're all real, at least according to Cokesbury. Ten dollars to the first one to regale me with the tale of Tommy Tittlemouse.

Now, it's only natural that once you see all of your friends dressed as Mother Goose characters that you get them to do humiliating and embarrassing things while in their costumes. Cokesbury agrees with you. For your first activity, Cokesbury suggests a grand march so participants can show off their costumes. They do not, however, say to whom you're showing off the costumes, because it goes without saying that folks in the grand march, unless it's organized in a large circle, will only get to see the costumes of those in their immediate vicinity during said march. So I recommend taking the march outdoors, preferably on a busy commercial or residential street, so neightbors, businessmen and random passers-by can see the costumes and wonder what kind of freak show has invaded.

Now that the march is over, head back home for charades.

Of Tom, Tom, the piper's son, it is said (Cokesbury reminds us):

Tom, Tom, the piper's son,
He learned to play when he was young;
But all the tune that he could play
was "Over the hill and far away."

Which is not the way I learned it, but I am not as rich with Mother Goose as the folks of 1932. So Cokesbury continues:
So, Tom might also render this or some other number on a horn of some nature. Little Jack Horner might sit down in the corner and start eating pie. The Old Woman can ride her broom. The Queen of Hearts can display some tarts she has made. These are stolen by the Knave of Hearts. Mary ought to improvise some kind of a lamb which she drags around. The other Mary ought to be quite contrary. Little Boy Blue ought to blow his horn. Jack and Jill ought to have a plain and fall down. The old woman who lived in a shoe ought to spank her children and send them to bed.
The message here is not only do you want your friends to be embarrassed, but also belittled by giving them suggestions (and rather lame ones) on how to act out their parts. If the old woman who lives in a shoe neglected to bring her children, she might select volunteers from the audience, I suppose.

On to the next activity.

Blogger's Note: I make fun of Cokesbury a lot. However, this next activity actually sounds kind of fun. Which probably explains why I thought this book was such a lucky find at the thrift store in the first place:
Blackboard Relay. Secure a large blackboard and place it in one end of the room. The players line up in two or more columns facing the blackboard. At a signal form the leader [don't forget you have a whistle] the first one runs to the blackboard and writes a word and runs back, giving the chalk to the one in the front of the line. This one writes another word and one that will follow the first one written and make a sentence. So both lines continue to build a paragraph. A prize may be given to the side that finishes first and also to the side that writes the best paragraph. The prizes should be something that can be divided, like a box fo candy or bag of peanuts.
Again with the peanuts. At least they're real, and plentiful, this time.

Now, remember back to our first Cokesbury party? Remember the makeup kit and red cord you had for the tie-em-up and doll-em-up game? Get them out again because Cokesbury wants you to do that fun all over again. Boys are to "do up" the girls to resemble Mary Pickford, Colleen Moore, Nancy Carroll, or some other popular actress. (Warning: If you click on the Colleen Moore link, you will never, never, never want to go cross-eyed again. This lady has extremely limber eyeballs.)

One you get that image of Colleen Moore's dancing eyes out of your head (allow two to three years for this) you're ready to move on to your next Mother Goose game: Old Maid. Or as Cokesbury calls it, Poisoned Penny, viz:
This game will cause a lot of excitement and hilarity. A penny is given to one player in the circle and passed around among the players as long as music is played. The player who has the penny when the music stops must drop out of the game. No player must hesitate to take the penny when offered to him, but must take it and pass it on quickly. If the group is large, more than one penny should be used.
Whoosh. The party is over. Cool off your guests with either punch and cake, or hot tea and cake. Cokesbury reminds you that "as this party is not connected with any particular season, any refreshments that are convenient and within the means of the one entertaining may be served." So possum stew is obviously an option.

That's it for this week from Cokesbury, folks. Get ready next week for the Valentine Party which is celebrated on a holiday that, according to Cokesbury, is the day of the month of February "that is most conducive to having a good time." Take that as you will. And stuff it, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh! No Doily!

I'm so embarrassed. Forgot to write about he refreshments for the Automobile Party. Can't have people running about performing auto-themed games without a reward at the end. And since you've pretty much used up all the sandwiches and hot chocolate in the house for your last two parties, we're on to something new. Something Cokesbury calles "no-nox gas," or fruit punch spiked with grape juice, and "automobile tires," aka doughnuts. So refreshment-wise, you've gone from being frugal to absolutely cheap.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting You Ready for Mother Goose

Though it's true this Little Audrey cartoon hails from 1950, not 1932, I think it's pertinent in prepping us for the upcoming Mother Goose Party. It'll give you a few ideas for getting your costumes ready, for one. For two, it'll give you a peek at what making things look "cool" in 1950 was like. Not much different than today's attempts at coolness, I must say.

Week Three: The Automobile Party

On next Thursday night come to our blow-out;
Let's all be these and make it a knock-out.
It's an Auto Party -- and won't be joy ride!
So bring your husband, sweetheart or bride.
We believe this is all U auto know;
If we told you more, you couldn't wait to go.

As we introduce the Automobile Party, the last line of the suggested invitation poem is a bit anti-prophetic; I'm not sure I'd go to this party twice. But be prepared for hours -- well, at least an hour and a half -- of mirth involving cut-and-paste, peanuts, one per guest, and horn imitations.

First of all, of course, you're supposed to divide your group into four groups by automobile: Ford, Dodge, Buick, and Chevrolet, or as we know them today On the Brink, Bankrupt, Old Fart, and Insolvent. For decorations, well, the white-and-green crepe-paper you've had up for the last two soirees is looking a bit tattered. This time, spread out all the highway and city road signs you've swiped over the years. Cokesbury also suggests "favors of toy automobiles may be used." If you need any, any at all, let me know. I have two boys under 10 years old, thus, I have about 10,000 toy automobiles you could use as favors.

For games, Cokesbury says, bear in mind that what's offered in this book is far, far too much to cram into the 1 1/2 hours they suggest. So, as always, we'll pick and choose. Here's the first:
Auto Advertisements. Have cars cut from magazines pined on the curtains or other places about the room. Give each guest paper and pencil. As the names have been cut from the advertisement, he is to guess the make of the car. Give a prize for the one guessing the largest number.
Of any of the games suggested by Cokesbury -- and I have leafed through the book and read quite a few of them -- this is the one that shows the most marked differences between 1932 and 2009. Aside from a few makes and models, there is little overlap among the auto makes of then and the auto makes of today. To their Deusenberg, we offer a Hyundai. To their Pierce-Arrow, we offer Yugo. To their Hudson, we offer Toyota. Same planet, different worlds.

This next one is embarrassing, because it's very close to a game I've played with gusto at many parties. I credit an unfortunate collision between myself and another 300-pound beef with my trick knee. Here's the game:
Auto Fruit Basket. The names of makes of cars are given to the guests. "It" is the chauffeur. He calls the names of two makes of cars, and they have to exchange places. While the change is being made the chauffeur tries to get one of the places. If he succeeds, the one left standing becomes the chauffeur. When the chauffeur says "Auto turns over," all must change places, and the one who fails to get a seat becomes the chauffeur.
Auto Fruit Basket. Even the name is exciting. Or boring, depending on whether you think the other games Cokesbury proposes are any better.

Or not. Here's the next:
Filling the Gas Tank. Keep the same formation as in the preceeding relay. Each of the four groups face the leader. A peanut is given to each player and a vegetable dish placed about eight feet from the front of each line. Each player has one throw for the bowl with a peanut. Allow five points for each peanut that remains in the bow. If the crowd is not large, two or three peanuts may be given to each.
This is the kind of game wherein you really show off how cheap you are. One. Peanut. Each. Or three, if the crowd is small. Weed out unwanted guests for the next party by observing who eats the peanuts. You don't want those kind of frivolous, careless people at your next party, eating your party favors.

On to the next game, which could be made much more entertaining given the closure of 800-some-odd Chrysler dealerships and the more than 1,000 GM dealerships closing this year:
Putting Curtains on the Car. Secure from an auto dealer four large pictures of an automobile. Fasten these to the wall or draperies. Make a curtain of paper about the size of the front glass of the car. Have one of these for each of four contenstands. One contestnat from each group is blindfolded and given a curtain and told to put it on the car. The one who gets it nearest the right place wins.
Yes, you're entertaining your guests by, effectively, making them play Pin the Tail on the Donkey. So to make it more interesting, rather than borrow pictures of automobiles, borrow the automobiles themselves, as there are plenty of those lying around doing nothing much at all aside from filling car lots. Substitute paint-filled balloons for the paper curtains and suddenly your party is a lot more lively, if not also a lot more messy. Place a hedge fund advisor or bank CEO inside each vehcile and watch the line of paint-balloon lobbers circle around the block. This game might be best saved for the end of the party because it's during this game that it's most likely the cops will be called.

Now, on to testing your klaxon experience:
Sounding the Horn. Select one from each group. The elader migth say he wanted someone who could sing. They are then asked to tray one at a time to imitate an automobile horn. The one making the best imitation of a horn sound, in the estimation of the judges, wins a prize. A toy horn might be used for this prize.
Again, I have to say this sounds like the kind of boring game I'd force my guests to play at one of my boring parties. Maybe back then, with all the hoot-hoots, aa-oooh-ghaaas, boo-weeeeeps and whonks they had in individual car horns, each brand having its own, distinct sound, the game was much more entertaining. Today, the only horn I could replicate with any accuracy is that of my Toyota pickup, which makes a sound akin to the "Meep-Meep" of the Road Runner.

We need more horns like this today:

Now that everyone's all riled up from imitating the car horn of their choice, it's time for a more quiet game. Remember the cardboard card with letters on them that you've used for the last two parties? Get them out again and have your guests play:
Automobile Spelling Match. The four groups assemble on the longest side of the hall. Each one in the group is given a lettered card six inches square. Letters sufficient to spell all the names of cars pronounced should be given out. If there are too many letters to give one to each, give some two. The leader pronounces the names of cars, and each group tries to get its members in formation on the toerh side of the hall with the letters that spell the word pronounced. The leader pronounces the names of the following cars: Franklin, Pierce-Arrow, Rolls Royce, Paige, Hudson, Dodge, Lincoln, Buick, Nash, Austin, Cadillac, Essex, Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Oakland, Studebaker, Auburn.
Imagine trying that today. We've passed from the world when cars were named after people or places to cars that are named as the result of complex audience surveys, marketing analyses and general mutations of the alphabet. Try to have someone then spell Aztek, Elantra, Celica, Hummer, or, heaven forbid, Canyonero. Again, same planet, different worlds.

Whew. Your party is over. And, you know what, maybe we've learned something. Cars then are as much a status symbol as cars now, though there are mutations -- take the SUV set versus the hybrid set, a real lineup of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Maybe Babbitt, in Sinclair Lewis' novel of the same name, seems a bit foolish when he buys his automobile cigarette lighter:
The effect of his scientific budget-planning was that he felt at once triumphantly wealthy and perilously poor, and in the midst of these dissertations he stopped his car, rushed into a small news-and-miscellany shop, and bought the electric cigar-lighter which he had coveted for a week. He dodged his conscience by being jerky and noisy, and by shouting at the clerk, "Guess this will prett' near pay for itself in matches, eh?"

It was a pretty thing, a nickeled cylinder with an almost silvery socket, to be attached to the dashboard of his car. It was not only, as the placard on the counter observed, "a dandy little refinement, lending the last touch of class to a gentleman's auto," but a priceless time-saver. By freeing him from halting the car to light a match, it would in a month or two easily save ten minutes.

As he drove on he glanced at it. "Pretty nice. Always wanted one," he said wistfully. "The one thing a smoker needs, too."

Then he remembered that he had given up smoking.
But is that any more silly than hypermiling, attacking SUVs wiath paint because they're gas hogs, or, conversely, believing that driving a Prius is really making a dent in erasing your carbon footprint? I don't think so.

Anyway, that's enough out of Cokesbury this week. Next week, be prepared for a swing in 180 degrees as you go from the manly Automobile Party to the Mother Goose Party which, as you suspect, is another costume soiree. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Automobile Party?

Remember, now, that in 1932, the automobile was the iPhone, the MacBook, the whatever-widget that everyone had to have. And like our Macs, our PCs, even our Commodores and Ataris and Tandys and Texas Instruments, just about everyone was getting in on the business of making cars, just as everyone got into the business of making computers or social networks these days.

Autos were important status symbols in 1932.

Just out of curiosity, I thought I’d research a bit and find out the number of American-made autos one could choose from in 1932. The list is not short. And remember, these are car companies listed here, not brands held under the umbrella of only a few companies, as we have (OK, as we had) today:

Alma Steam
New Era
American Austin
American Bantam
Rauch & Lang
Stout Scarab
Detroit Electric
deVaux Continental

Remember still these are only the car companies operating in 1932 that are now defunct. Some were bought out by others. The odd one may survive as a brand sold by a completely different car company today. And there were hundreds – really, hundreds – more that did not survive through the 1910s and 1920s to see the light of day in 1932.

Americans were thus overwhelmed by the variety of choice in an automobile. Nevertheless, many chose to buy and defended vociferously their choices.

Sinclair Lewis used the automobile as a central character in many of his novels of the era.

In Main Street, Lewis uses the automobile to represent the new preferred leisure of the middle class, much as computers and the Internet are today:

Her liveliest activity now was organizing outdoor sports in the motor-paralyzed

The automobile and bridge-whist had not only made more evident the social divisions in Gopher Prairie but they had also enfeebled the love of activity. It was so rich-looking to sit and drive--and so easy. Skiing and sliding were "stupid" and "old-fashioned." In fact, the village longed for the elegance of city recreations almost as much as the cities longed for village sports; and Gopher Prairie took as much pride in neglecting coasting as St. Paul--or New York--in going coasting. Carol did inspire a successful skating-party in mid- November. Plover Lake glistened in clear sweeps of gray- green ice, ringing to the skates. On shore the ice-tipped reeds clattered in the wind, and oak twigs with stubborn last leaves hung against a milky sky. Harry Haydock did figure-eights, and Carol was certain that she had found the perfect life. But when snow had ended the skating and she tried to get up a moonlight sliding party, the matrons hesitated to stir away from their radiators and their daily bridge-whist imitations of the city. She had to nag them. They scooted down a long hill on a bob-sled, they upset and got snow down their necks they shrieked that they would do it again immediately--and they did not do it again at all.
In The Job, Lewis again mentions the automobile as a goal attainable by many through application of their skills in efficient work – and lays the groundwork for work that is accomplished not for the sense of accomplishment or fulfillment but for the acquisition of material goods and the maintenance of the lifestyle those goods bear with them:

A vast, competent, largely useless cosmos of offices [he writes, in describing the city]. It spends much energy in causing advertisements of beer and chewing-gum and union suits and pot-cleansers to spread over the whole landscape. It marches out ponderous battalions to sell a brass pin. It evokes shoes that are uncomfortable, hideous, and perishable, and touchingly hopes that all women will aid the cause of good business by wearing them. It turns noble valleys into fields for pickles. It compels men whom it has never seen to toil in distant factories and produce useless wares, which arenever actually brought into the office, but which it nevertheless sells to the heathen in the Solomon Islands in exchange for commodities whose very names it does not know; and in order to perform this miracle of transmutation it keeps stenographers so busy that they change from dewy girls into tight-lipped spinsters before they discover life. The reason for it all, nobody who is actually engaged in it can tell you, except the bosses, who believe that these sacred rites of composing dull letters and solemnly filing them away are observed in order that they may buy the large automobiles in which they do not have time to take the air. Efficiency of production they have learned; efficiency of life they still consider an effeminate hobby.
And finally in Babbitt, Lewis paints the auto as we recognize it today: As a status symbol:

“I don’t mean to say we’re perfect,” {Babbitt says]. We’ve got a lot to do in the way of extending paving of motor boulevards, for, believe me, it’s the fellow with four to ten thousand a year, say, and an automobile and a nice little family in a bungalow on the edge of town, that makes the wheels of progress go round!”

“That’s the type of fellow that’s ruling America to-day; in fact, it’s the ideal type to which the entire world must tend, if there’s to be a decent, well-balanced, Christian, go-ahead future for this little old planet! Once in a while I just naturally sit back and size up this Solid American Citizen, with a whale of a lot of satisfaction.”
Babbitt, ironically, laments at the end of his novel that his son does not aspire to become a Solid American Citizen, but rather longs to become a mechanic to work on automobile engines. The Solid American Citizen, obviously, is meant to drive and own and consume the products of commerce, not be involved in their production or maintenance, unless through supervision. That sounds altogether too familiar. Plus ca change, you know.

The Automobile Party, which we will examine Sunday, epitomizes the era and its fascination with acquiring the newly mass-produced goods the nation has to offer. Laugh at them if you will. Then look around your own home or apartment, and gaze in wonder at the junk you've accumulated. Then laugh at yourself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week Two: The Calendar Party

So, Who Wants to Shake Hands
with the Queen of Halloween?

Endeavorers, Endeavorers, listen here,
There are just twelve months in a year,
And on this coming Friday night
We'll find the best in each all right.
At our Calendar Party be sure to appear,
It'll be an evening remembered all the year.

Dress to represent the month in which you were born.

You heard right. This is a costume party. But because it's a calendar costume party, Your Host suggests the following costumes. (Hint: pray you were not born in March, April, or August.)

January: Men, Father Time; ladies, Snow Girl
February: Men, Abraham Lincoln; ladies, Martha Washington
March: Men, Irish boys with clay pipe and shamrock; ladies, Irish ladies
April: Men, fools with caps and bells; ladies, Easter angels
May: Men, baseball suits; ladies, May queen
June: Men, cap and gown (graduation); ladies, brides
July: Men, Uncle Sam; ladies, Liberty
August: Men, summer clothes (white) and tennis racquets; ladies, summer clothes with tennis racquets
September: Men, overalls; ladies, schoolgirls with books
October: Men, dressed as ghosts; ladies, dressed as witches
November: Men, football players; ladies, Puritan girls
December: Kings of the Orient; ladies, Mary

Showing up dressed as a Gregorian calendar, of course, would be completely gauche.

February's suggestions are especially intriguing; they imply either that Abraham Lincoln and Martha Washington had an interdimensional thing or that the notion that Mary Todd Lincoln was the world's only married spinster was alive and well in 1932.

Now that your guests are all dressed and those born in March are trying on their most wearying Irish accents, it's on to the games. You don't have to decorate, as the colors and decorations for the Calendar Party are the same as for the Watch Party you had last time; hopefully you didn't take them down.

Now, the games:
January. The leader will have cotton snowballs, which will be given to each group. A barrel hoop has been arranged to represent a holly wreath and a bell has been suspended in it. Every time a player throws the cotton snowball through the holly wreath without ringing the bell, it will count five points for his group.
Sound familiar? Yup, you played that game at your last party. Most of the fun from this one, of course, comes from explaining how you came across something as anachronistic as a barrel hoop.

There's more:
April. The leader will announce that somewhere hidden in the room is a five-pound bag of peanuts, and that a handsome prize will be given to the one who finds it. After they have searched for a few moments, the leader then blows the whistle and says, "April Fool."
This game begs several questions. Firstly, where in the name of heaven is anyone going to find a five-pound bag of peanuts these days? And secondly, couldn't you dovetail this game with a search for random Legos, lost keys, dust bunnies and other such items that get lost in places dimmer guests might search in looking for a five-pound bag of peanuts? And you also thought you'd only use your whistle at one party. Shame on you.
July. Have a blindfold test. Select one person from each group. Blindfold these who have been selected, and have them identify different articles by the sense of smell. Use cloves, potato, ammonia, Vick's salve, limberger cheese, castor oil, et cetera.
Anachronism upon anachronism. Cloves, check. Potato. Maybe. Ammonia? Vick's? Limberger and castor oil? Maybe we'd better have this party at grandma's house.
August. Apple relay. Slect four from each group, either men or women. Give the first one in each group a paring knife and an apple. The first one to peel theapple, the second must quarter it, the third cut out the core and the fourt eat the apple. Make a rule that number 4 cannot start eating until number three has finished cutting the core from all four quarters.
Modify this game just a bit by eliminating the eater at the end and you can easily trick your friends into getting your apples ready for bottling. Bottling? Sure, this party is outta the dawn of time anyway. . .
October. Meeting the Queen of Halloween. Have the Queen of Halloween dressed up as a ghost and steated on a chair under which has been placed an electric battery. On her right hand the Queen has a glove that has been wired in such a way that those shaking hands will get an electroc shock.
Juice it up, of course, for those party guests whom the rest have tired of. Or watch Abe and Martha dance to the tune of 220.
December. Decorate Christmas Tree. Have three small Christmas trees to be decorated. These might be stuck into pots of dirt. Provide each group with materials to decorate them with. Select one person or a couple from each group. They are allowed five minutes to decorate the tree. The person or couple doing the best job in the estimation of the judges wins.
For those thinking ahead, find a place to store the decorated trees for re-use at Christmastime.

Now comes the best part. This party is going to make you money. Evidently, the idea is to convince people to "buy" a day, a week, a month, on a calendar, so that the purchased portions of time are theirs in perpituity. Or at least the warm feeling they get when you write their name on their purchased day, week, month or year.

And that's it, aside from refreshments. Have any hot chocolate and sandwiches left over from last time? Dump them on your guests now, or substitute hot coffee or tea for the chocolate. That's your wild hair making your Calendar Party a smashing success.

That's it until next week and the Automobile Party. Toot toot!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wouldn't Ya Know

One week into the Cokesbury Party Blog and already a glitch. I have a retreat to go to this weekend, so it's not likely the blog will see a party update. I'll try my best, because I know everyone's on tenterhooks to read all about the Calendar Party. At least I hope you are. Hello? Anyone out there? Hello?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week One: The Watch Party

Okay, boys, get out the red cord!

The watch – it is a funny thing,
to never wash its face;
It doesn’t even scrub its hands.
What a shame and a disgrace!
And more about the watch you’ll know
When our watch party’s ended.
You’ll see the years come and go
And may meet your intended.

I must confess at first I thought this party, timed for early January, was meant as a New Year’s Eve bahseroo. I thought perhaps “watch party” was an early colloquialism for the kind of party that set revelers tipsy, awaiting the coming of the near year clad in lampshades and drinking bathtub gin.

It’s not quite that. Unfortunately it’s the kind of New Year’s Eve party I would host, or one that Lenny Leonard would host – remember, he didn’t even have a clock. Planned right, there will be watches and clocks here. They’re central to some of the games and stunts. As is a whistle, like those used as basketball games. Make sure you have one of those.

Here’s how Cokesbury introduces this one:
Watch Night is one night of the year when almost everyone expects to go to a party that will last until twelve o’clock and enable them with their friends to watch the old year go out and the new year come in. It would be well to have the guests come late, for it is hardly possible to keep everyone enjoying themselves together for more than two and a half hours. Invite the guests to come at nine or nine-thirty.
I have a problem with this. I, myself, am a dull person. Even being a self-confessed dull person, I’m fully convinced I could keep a group of people entertained on New Year’s Eve for more than 2 ½ hours, without breaking out my collection of rocks that look like pig noses.

Anyway, on to the rest of the party.

The invitation we already have – that bit of poetry at the beginning. Decorations: Crepe paper with bells of red and green, plus sprigs of holly, cedar and other evergreens. Here’s a great tip: “Cotton makes a good imitation of snow.” I never would have thought of that.

It’s a game you want? Well, when it comes to New Year’s Eve, only one game comes to mind. Spelling.
Letters should be printed with crayons on cardboards six inches square. These can be used for numerous other games in this book. If you have four groups [of people, into which you divide your guests as they arrive] you will need four sets of the following letters: J, A, N, U, A, R, Y, F, E, B, M, C, H, P, I, L, R, G, U, S, T, E, E, O, O, V, D. All these letters with duplications are needed to spell all the months of the year.
That’s right. Your first game will have people racing about your room at each blast of the whistle, holding cardboard letters and arranging themselves, like manic DNA molecules, to spell out the months of the year. This is the highlight of the evening, gamewise.

Next, resolutions. You write them for yourself. You write them for another in the group. Cokesbury advises: “It would be well to suggest that these resolutions be humorous.” So nothing like “Agnes ought to resolve not to be such a worrisome nag to her husband, Clarence.” That would be out of order and would stifle an otherwise pleasant evening, unless, of course, Agnes’ husband is Harold and the milkman is Clarence.

Next comes conversation, watch-themed:
Give each guest a card on which has been drawn the dial of a watch and on which has been placed the numbers on a watch face. Hang up a large cardboard on which has been drawn the face of a watch with movable hands. Below the dial of the watch has been written topics for conversation numbered 1 to 12.
You see where this is going. At the blast of the aforementioned whistle, conversation begins on the assigned topic, of which no examples are given. Each conversation is expected to last less than a minute, with each subsequent conversation given less time to complete. “The entire game,” Cokesbury says, “should not last for more than ten minutes.” This takes small talk to an entirely new level, especially if Agnes and Harold have left the party in a huff.

Next comes the Watch Trick, in which the host amazes, AMAZES! His or her guests with the following trick, involving a watch (or clock), natch.
[The host] asks someone in the group to decide on a number on the face of the clock. This may be done by groups, each group being asked to select a number, any number between one and twelve. The leader then tells the group to start counting [silently, it is explained later] with the next number after the one selected and count to twenty and stop. They are to count one number each time the leader touches the face of the watch or clock with a pencil or pointer. When they reach the number twenty, the leader’s pointer will be on the number selected by the group.

How is that done? The leader starts counting too and may move the pencil or pointer to any part of the watch or clock dial he chooses until he counts seven. Beginning with eight, however, the leader must start with 12 and follow the figures of the clock in the reverse order . . . until he is told to stop. Try this to convince yourself it works, and practice some before the party.
And then say to yourself that counting out the numbers on a clock face with a pencil or pointer is going to be any more entertaining than watching paint dry and astounding your friends except the moron who's seen this before and blurts out the trick at the last moment, unless of course you use a laser pointer, with which you could entertain the group more successfully by using its beam to entice the cat to leap off the back of the couch and into the wall chasing that funny little red spot.

Now that your guests are absolutely reeling from the magical pointing of the guessed number on the watch face, they’re read for watch-themed riddles. Here are a few, under the heading of “Some Things We Find on A Watch.”

(1) Breadwinners (hands)
(3) Something you should not take in vain (maker’s name)
(7) Caesar, Mark Anthony, and Brutus (Roman characters)
(15) Something of which every pretty woman is proud (face)
(17) Something to ride on (wheel)

This is the Cokesbury Party Blog’s disclaimer: If you try a themed party from this book, or even one of the games and stunts, they should only be attempted on friends who revel in the irony of entertainments from a bygone era or whom you wish to get rid of in a hurry.

And if that game doesn’t work, try “Current Events,” in which your guests will be encouraged, at the blow of your whistle, to discuss topics such as “the drought in the Middle West,” and “King Alphonso Abdicates,” with anyone in the room, hoping to be named as the evening’s “Best Talker.” For fun at your own party, try this with avowed disciples of Ron Paul, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and such and watch the game get so entertaining even the Quakers in the room are shouting at each other.

Once everyone’s calmed down and those who got too excited are sent outside for a brisk walk around the block in the snow, it’s time to tie someone up:
A couple is selected from each group. The man is given a box containing a red cord, rouge, lipstick, eyebrow pencil, and powder. The leader tells the man that he is to take the cord and tie the girl’s hands behind her, and then he is to take the make-up material and make her up as he imagines the girls of 1950 will make up. A prize should be given for the best in the estimation of the judges.
The Cokesbury does not advise making clown faces on the paintees or engaging in any unauthorized hanky-panky, and the Cokesbury Party Blog does not want to know if you decide to do anything exceptionally crazy.

Next comes the leaping over lit candlesticks (twelve of them). If you leap over one and it goes out, that’s the month in which you’ll marry. Unless you’re already married. Maybe that’s the month you fall into an adulterous affair. Cokesbury isn’t clear on the subject, and, frankly, with the trouble Agnes and Harold have had during your festive evening, it’s probably wise not to bring the question up.

Now this heady, hedonistic night is coming to a close. It’s time to “Watch the New Year Come In.”
As the New Year approaches, different groups will want to do different things. Church groups will want to have a worship service. Others will want to make a noise and shoot off fireworks. If the Watch Night chances to be on a leap year, the girls are privileged to propose to their loves at the hour of midnight.
Only one noise, mind you. Perhaps a simple blast from the host’s whistle.

One last thing: Refreshments. And what says refreshment better on New Year’s Eve than:
Hot oyster stew and saltines would make splendid refreshments. Another suggestion would be hot chocolate with whipped cream and sandwiches.
Whatever you serve, just remember to untie the ladies first. Unless you want to continue the evening with a little spoon feeding.

That’s it for the Watch Party. Next week, we continue in the boring theme of observing the passing of time with the Calendar Party, which is a costume soiree.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Book in Action?

The best way to enjoy The Cokesbury Party Book, of course, is to observe one of the parties listed therein in action. I have, as yet, not been brave enough to host such a party, because my wife and I already have the reputation for being among the most boring hosts on the planet, a reputation we don't need help shaping.

But are these parties boring? I don't know. From an ironical standpoint, they're at least darned interesting.

Sinclair Lewis, in his novel Main Street, walks us through such a party -- themed similarly to parties in the Cokesbury book -- given by Carol Kennicott at her home in the village of Gopher Prarie ostensibly to shake the town's denizens out of their party mold of bringing out the same old stories, the same old gags, the same old "stunts" that they trot out at any party, much like the midly entertaining uncle we all have who tells the same stories at every party he attends and gets laughs, because everyone knows the stories and loves their uncle too much not to laugh.

So here are bits of Carol's party, taken from Chapter 7 of the book:
"We're going to do something exciting," Carol exclaimed to her new confidante, Vida Sherwin. She saw that in the growing quiet her voice had carried across the room. Nat Hicks, Ella Stowbody, and Dave Dyer were abstracted, fingers and lips slightly moving. She knew with a cold certainty that Dave was rehearsing his "stunt" about the Norwegian catching the hen, Ella running over the first lines of "An Old Sweetheart of Mine," and Nat thinking of his popular parody on Mark Antony's oration.

"But I will not have anybody use the word 'stunt' in my house," she whispered to Miss Sherwin.

The grinning Bea brought down-stairs a pile of soft thick sheets of paper with designs of lotos blossoms, dragons, apes, in cobalt and crimson and gray, and patterns of purple birds flying among sea-green trees in the valleys of Nowhere.

"These," Carol announced, "are real Chinese masquerade costumes. I got them from an importing shop in Minneapolis. You are to put them on over your clothes, and please forget that you are Minnesotans, and turn into mandarins and coolies and--and samurai (isn't it?), and anything else you can think of."

While they were shyly rustling the paper costumes she disappeared. Ten minutes after she gazed down from the stairs upon grotesquely ruddy Yankee heads above Oriental robes, and cried to them, "The Princess Winky Poo salutes her court!"
I've got to admit that the second the Princess Winky Poo saluted her court, the part of the court that represented me would have taken a quick hiatus until the entire hullabaloo was over. Especially considering what happens next:
As they looked up she caught their suspense of admiration. They saw an airy figure in trousers and coat of green brocade edged with gold; a high gold collar under a proud chin; black hair pierced with jade pins; a languid peacock fan in an out-stretched hand; eyes uplifted to a vision of pagoda towers. When she dropped her pose and smiled down she discovered Kennicott apoplectic with domestic pride--and gray Guy Pollock staring beseechingly. For a second she saw nothing in all the pink and brown mass of their faces save the hunger of the two men.

She shook off the spell and ran down. "We're going to have a real Chinese concert. Messrs. Pollock, Kennicott, and, well, Stowbody are drummers; the rest of us sing and play the fife."

The fifes were combs with tissue paper; the drums were tabourets and the sewing-table. Loren Wheeler, editor of the Dauntless, led the orchestra, with a ruler and a totally inaccurate sense of rhythm. The music was a reminiscence of tom-toms heard at circus fortune-telling tents or at the Minnesota State Fair, but the whole company pounded and puffed and whined in a sing-song, and looked rapturous.
Soooo, anyone for Trivial Pursuit? Did people really have parties like this? Is this what made Prohibition such an unattractive thing? Of course, this takes place before Prohibition, if such a thing can be imagined. Yes, it's a conservative small town. But these are educated people, especially Carol, leader of the pack.

And remember, the party has a theme. Read on:
Before they were quite tired of the concert Carol led them in a dancing procession to the dining-room, to blue bowls of chow mein, with Lichee nuts and ginger preserved in syrup.

None of them save that city-rounder Harry Haydock had heard of any Chinese dish except chop sooey. With agreeable doubt they ventured through the bamboo shoots into the golden fried noodles of the chow mein; and Dave Dyer did a not very humorous Chinese dance with Nat Hicks; and there was hubbub and contentment.
Hubbub and contentment. That's the goal of any party, right? Now remember your host here (me). I must admit the best contentment from a party thrown at our house comes when the last guest has left and I can finally sop having a good time and start enjoying myself -- reverting to my hermit ways as my own hermit wife does the same thing. Why, a few weeks ago we did have a conversation. Via chat in Facebook. And our computers sit kitty-corner to each other in the study. So we're not the partying types.

And we do go to themed parties these days. Well, themed as we allow them to get. My favorite includes the theme of Adults Play Board Games in the Basement while the Children Wander Aimlessly Upstairs, Upset Bowls of Ice Cubes and Neglect to Clean them Up. The theme is getting together. We don't have board game-themed food. Thank Heaven. What kind of food goes with "The Family Business," a card game wherein each player represents a mob family out for blood against the others?

So did they have fun at these parties, like the parties in the Cokesbury book? Evidently so. Witness what was written in The Dauntless, Gopher Prarie's paper the week following the event:
One of the most delightful social events of recent months was held Wednesday evening in the housewarming of Dr. and Mrs. Kennicott, who have completely redecorated their charming home on Poplar Street, and is now extremely nifty in modern color scheme. The doctor and his bride were at home to their numerous friends and a number of novelties in diversions were held, including a Chinese orchestra in original and genuine Oriental costumes, of which Ye Editor was leader. Dainty refreshments were served in true Oriental style, and one and all voted a delightful time.

Tomorrow, we get to the first party -- a wild celebration of the New Year that involves spelling, make-up, bound women and oysters. But not in the way you'd expect.

Friday, May 1, 2009

From the Introduction

Obviously, we can't pursue this project in a vacuum. We need to know more about this book. So here, I'll excerpt a bit from the book's preface:
This book is intended to meet a need in the social life and recreation field for an entertainment guidebook that actually plans the party. Most books of this type are merely a collection of games and stunts. One must search through them to find the games desired for any particular occasion. They require much work in the selection of material, or one must be content with a miscellaneous collection of games and stunts that are in no way related.

The parties in this book are planned around a central theme or idea, and this idea is carried throughout the evening. Most of the parties are so full that many of the games and stunts will have to be eliminated. This is done so that the social leader will have a large number of events from which to choose and may pass over those he does not wish to use. The writer is willing to guarantee that if all plans are carried out as suggested, any party in this book will furnish entertainment for two full hours. The games and stunts are arranged so that an active game is followed by a mental or quiet game. Guests at a party will very soon become bored with too many consecutive mental or active games. By interspersing them this can be overcome.

The parties are planned so that they will fit into the different seasons and months of the year. Beginning at the first of the book, the first four parties are thought to be suitable for January, the next four for February, and so throughout the book. Outdoor parties such as the Gipsy Party and Aquatic Party are planned for the summer months.
Whew. Sofar, of course, this sounds pretty conventional. A bit boring, actually. It does sound like a book that would appeal to the conservative, those worried about entertaining without wanting to offend even inadvertently. But there's more. The next two paragraphs really epitomize a rather interesting 1930s ethos -- the desire to make money at everything one does. Observe:

One will find many ideas for pay parties. Among these are: Selling the Calendar, the Circulating Pig, King Neptune's Carnival, Measuring Party, Cootie Party, Fifty Party, Hart Dice, Box Supper and Cake Walk, Street Carnival, Vanishing Party, and Minstrel Show.

The Minstrel Show, given in the concluding chapter, has been used sucessfully a number of times. Three times it has been put on by a local civic club and netted in excess of one thousand dollars at each performance. Three times parts of it have been use at Young People's Conferences as an evening's entertainment for the whole group.

Yes, minstrel shows. This is not a politically correct book and does not come from a politically correct time, as judged by this portion of the book's cover illustration. But in reading the preface, it's clear that this book is meant to present familiar material, material that will not make party attendees feel uncomfortable -- a phenomenon Sinclair Lewis would have been vary familiar with, as he satirized it through the absolute conformity of his character George Babbitt and through the character of Carol Kenicott, who fought against such "comfort" and eventually succumbed to it out of despair. The book does dare introduce new ideas, but not without another American ideal: Thorough testing and vetting for "practical value."

I should mention I do not intend this blog to be a place to mock. Rather, this will be a place to ponder the world of 1930 and make comparisons between the 1930s and today. I believe we'll find many of the attitudes remain prevalent, even among those who believe themselves to be moving into edgier material. Read on:
Many of the games used in this book are quite well known. Very likely you will find most of your favorites, with variations or in a different setting. The many new games and entertainment ideas have come from the actual experience of the author in teaching among Young People's Conferences and other work among Church and civic groups. All new material has been thoroughly tested after very careful selection for its practical value.
Tis introduction also begs the question, who is Arthur M. Depew? Luckily, his book obliges:
The author of this book, Mr. Arthur Depet, is the pastor of the First Christian Church of West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a successful pastor in planning social life programs with his own church young people. He has also had a wide experience in planning good times for civic organizations. During the past four or five years he has taught the course on Social Life and Recreation in the summer Young People's Conference at Daytona Beach, Florida. In this capacity he has had unique opportunity to enlist the active co-operation of a host of young people, and to evaluate their reactions to the program materials contained in this volume, as well as to appriase their skill in the leadership of these social life activities.
Yes, from simpler times.

So, let's have some fun. Next week, the first party: The Watch Party.

What's All This?

Say hello to the Cokesbury Party Book; published in 1932 by Abingdon Cokesbury, publishers of religious books in New York City and Nashville, compiled by Arthur M. Depew. A lucky find at the Deseret Industries Thrift Store in Rexburg, Idaho. Who knows how it got there. The DI, as we call it, typically has lots of books, a fair number of them religious and a fairer number of them of the trashy romantic novel type. Occasionally, a rare gem. It was there I found a copy of Ivy Ruckman's "Melba the Brain," a book I loved in childhood -- but this copy was signed by the author, making it even more rare. And then there's this book.

But a blog about the book?

Definitely. First of all, it's a time capsule of sorts, giving we moderns a peek into the lives of those who lived on the cusp of the Great Depression, between the great wars, during the presidencies of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This book was published 77 years ago. A lifetime. But it may as well be a thousand years, because the world of today resembles only marginally the world of then. Then, technology and the might of the city was only beginning; today, technology and the city, for good and evil, bring us both dream and nightmare.

There's more. I've long enjoyed the novels of Sinclair Lewis, the great Minnesotan whose novels, like those of John Steinbeck, encapsulate the formation of the United States as both a great power and a great user and abuser of men. It is in this era that the likes of Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Rochester, Buffalo, and cities of the like rose from the grasses and lakeshores to become powerhouses of manufacturing, of commerce, of education and fledgeling liberality.

And leisure. Then arose the American Leisure Class. To which this book was targeted.

There is some humor to be found in this book, humor to our modern eyes. Who, for example, would host a party themed on the life of George Washington, featuring a game in which the host hides a number of hatchets throughout the house for the guests to find, the winner finding the most hatchets? Try that today and you either worry about having an axe murderer in the midst, or someone fussy about not wanting to play with hatchets in the first place.

There is a connection to the past. In Lewis' Main Street, heroine Carol Kenicott attended many a party themed along the lines of those in the book. Even hosted one herself. And all the time felt the fool. But went along with it because that is just what you did.

So over the next year, I'll read the book and post party tips from it. Accompanied with what I hope will be humorous commentary on the elements of the tips, and why they may appear humorous -- or indeed offensive -- to our modern ways of thinking. We'll delve into the arcanity of the Mother Goose Party, Newspaper Night, College Field Day, Stunt Night, and Gipsy Night. And we'll imagine what it was like to live back then, to play back then. And think about how we play today and how people in 77 years may regard what we considered amusing.

I hope this is a fun journey. I know I'm looking forward to it.

Entering Betaland

Folks, this is going to be an experiment. I might have time this weekend to get the Cokesbury Party Blog rolling, and I might not. I think it'll be worth it, if only for people who are fascinated with the world of the 1930s, the world of Sinclair Lewis and the odd little ways in which those worlds collide with our own today. Please stay tuned.