By now, you’ve probably figured out that I can be pretty crazy at times. A few years ago, I wrote a post where I owned up to some of the things that scared me as a kid:
I was scared of plenty of things, even a few strange things: water heaters (especially in the bathroom); EBS tests; public restrooms maintained by the Lien Chemical Company (a successful and no longer existing restroom sanitation service based in the Chicago area, who cleaned most of the restrooms along US Route 66 and, it seemed, the world); fire drills; and a host of other seemingly-innocuous things and occurrences.
One of the ways that I’ve learned to cope with these fears is to find things that remind me of these things that scared me. For example, there are a host of videos on YouTube of Emergency Broadcast System tests, which I now watch pretty freely and are almost a comfort, reminding me of happy times gone by.
I was browsing around on eBay one day and happened to run across this:
It’s a catalog from Lien Chemical Company, whose trademark scared me as a kid. (We’ve never quite been able to figure out how it started; I think I figured out that I was in a restroom one day and a strange man came in and said things that made me feel as though he wanted to molest me, but that’s just conjecture.) I saw this catalog and felt the need to have it. Turns out that the company had quite an impressive range of products and services.
eBay has a feature where you can put certain keywords in and be alerted anytime someone has something you might be interested in. I decided that it might be fun to start collecting ephemera from Lien. So far, my collection consists of the catalog, several uniform patches, copies of a couple of patents they applied for, obituaries from several of their employees, and my most recent purchase, a pocket diary from 1959.
It didn’t look like much in the pictures on eBay, but I figured for ten bucks, shipping included, who’d be without?
I got the thing last week and it’s really kind of a cool little book.
Inside the front cover is an advertisement that features a rather snazzy looking gentleman who might or might not look like your Lien representative and a general list of things you can get from him. On the facing page is a list of the addresses for their main office and branches. Whenever I see an old address, I go out to Google Maps and see what’s there now. In the case of their Chicago location, it’s now a green space.
Flip over to the next page, and there’s a more detailed list of the stuff Lien sold, along with their guarantee, signed by C. B. Lien himself, and a page where you can put all kinds of personal information.
Then it gets interesting: the pages that follow, before you even get to the calendar part, have information about
- the meaning of the names of the months of the year and days of the week
- a list of the legal holidays and other observances and which states observe them
- a list of wedding anniversaries (e.g. the 25th is the silver, 50th is gold, and 45th is the sapphire)
- points of Constitutional law
- the figures from the 1950 census
- table of distances between major US cities
- a list of states, their capitals, the year they were admitted to the Union, and rank in area (Alaska and Hawaii are missing, of course)
- time zone differences
- Roman and Arabic numerals
- etc., etc., etc.
This little book belonged to someone who wrote a number of cryptic notes in the calendar and other pages. I tried to figure out what they meant, and about went nuts.
Anyway, that’s my most recent purchase, and yes, I’m strange…