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Roman Holiday McDonald's Style

It was a cool October in 1992 when my family ventured across the Atlantic Ocean to visit the roads travelled by the most well known man on the planet, Jesus. But that was only have the story. I had made plans to retire early -- mid-50's. Having a good paying job working for Mitsubishi Global Custody and qualifying for my first credit card from American Express was going to be my path to see the world before I was too old to enjoy it. I studied the travel brochures and the typical tourist sites were burned into my mental catalog of "must sees". I was raised by a single parent and all her hard work was going to be rewarded by a special vacation, even if I had to come back and start all over again from the bottom of the word processing pool. The credit card was going to pay the airfare, hotel and ground transporation, but my mom taught me to be careful with money. Except for the local Jeno's pizza restaurant, italian dining seemed very expensive. There was no doubt some creative planning was going to have be done for us to enjoy ourselves. We packed lightly and made sure to leave room for small canned foods. It was more important to experience the thrill of being in the foreign land than sampling foods that probably tasted the same as what was available in the States. Boy, were we wrong. The thrill of touching ground, smelling that lovely aroma of gastronomic delights from a pizza oven or local wines or fresh vegetables in the salads, sitting at street side tables outdoors and hearing traditional music in the background made all that budget consciousness fly out the window -- but only for the first night. That first night we served ourselves a grand delight. I do like me some New York pizza, but there was no comparison. It must have been the water. We did visit the local McDonald's, but it would not have made sense to go so far for a Big Mac. We learned to glean from the continental breakfast in the morning and squirrel something away for later. We will never forget having walked the paths of the apostles, seeing the Colosseum, visiting the Sistine Chapel and gazing with our actual eyes at the ceiling images, visiting Venice and walking around on planks to keep our feet from getting soaked, taking a gondola ride on the Gran Canal, visiting the little glass and leather good shops over the canals, or photographing the Leaning Tower of Piza. Thoughts of the roman ruins and ancient temple columns will always be treasured memories as will the McDonald's and our fabulous tour guide and traveling companions. The trip was worth every charge.

Tuesday is "Paper" Day

For as long as I can remember, the weekly grocery flyer insert or advertisement was a highly anticipated piece of reading material in my house. The retailer's choice of what stocked its shelves was the starting point of creating the grocery list for what would replenish pantry items for the week. My mom has never liked reading, but Tuesday was "Paper" day. Our local paper was published by The Wave Publishing Group and delivered in a rolled bundle tossed on the lawn in the early mornings. Nobody better touch that rolled gold. Otherwise, you would hear that plaintive wail, "Somebody took my paper." I can still remember the look on my mother's face on the few instances when it would happen. It was as if she had been cheated out of lottery winnings. When she did have her paper in hand, she would check what we needed before making a trip to ABC Market on 54th street. That's another story. My mom's memory is not as reliable as it used to be. But you know what she still looks forward to on Tuesday? The grocery ad flyers. And now there are several stores printing ads. She is not a fan of driving anymore in her old age and with COVID I do the shopping. She makes sure I have looked through the "papers" too before I make my grocery list and go shopping. When did this grocery store advertising all start? The oldest publication in a Library of Congress searched, pulled up a paper from January 18, 1879, in "The News and Herald" of Winnsboro, South Carolina. Page three lists grocery items under the heading, "Fresh Goods! Just Received" posted by D.R. Flenniken, "All of which will be sold cheap for Cash." The second oldest grocery ad is from March 29, 1901. "The Goodland Republic" newspaper in Goodland, Kansas, on page three there is an ad for a store called, "J.B. Penn." The ad is for sweet, fresh, home cured hams and bacon. One paragraph reads, "Don't forget to contract ice early in the season with J.B. Penn, as he is the man that has ice all the season through." In the same column, J.B. Penn's competitor C.M. Millisack (that name seems made for marketing) invites shoppers, "Bring your price lists to Millisack's grocery department and compare goods and prices." No, my mom was born some time after 1901, but her grocery buying habits follow a long history of responding to ads published by the local grocer and shopping what stocked the shelves there. I will always remember that Tuesday is "Paper" day.

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