Saturday, February 14, 2015



As always, it’s time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda Hill, on whose blog you can find the rules and other participants.

THIS WEEK’S PROMPT: attach(ed)

There are a lot of ways you can attach things to other things: glue, paste, mucilage, rubber cement, tape, staples, nails, pins, static electricity… You can’t find some of this stuff around anymore. It’s been years since I’ve thought about rubber cement or mucilage. We used to use rubber cement for art projects. It was good stuff because, even though it stuck paper to paper, it took a while to dry, so if you decided you wanted to stick part of a collage someplace else, you could lift the piece off and stick it elsewhere. You could then rub off the cement that was left behind with your finger. Sometimes we’d take the unneeded rubber cement and form it into little balls. They’d bounce, too. Drive the nun crazy, all these little balls of rubber cement bouncing around the classroom….

They wanted us to use rubber cement for art projects instead of glue, especially Elmer’s Glue-All, which would end up wrinkling the paper and making the project look like crap. There was this guy I remember who would eat Elmer’s Glue-All. Really, he’d pull the orange cap up and squirt it into his mouth. Wasn’t toxic, and didn’t cause brain damage, unlike rubber cement. Not a good idea to sniff that stuff.

Elmer and Elsie were anthropomorphic cartoon cows that were the stars of the Borden’s commercials. Elsie, anyway, would advertise the milk and milk products, like the ice cream. I don’t even know if Borden’s still produces milk and milk products. Haven’t seen Elsie in I don’t know how long. The commercials used to feature her little calf, who, like his parents, walked on his back legs and still managed to carry things with his hooves. For some reason, we never questioned that.

We had a Mystik Tape factory across the street from my high school (I think they tore it down and built condos there or something). Mystik Tape, incidentally, was a Borden product. Anyway, there was the Environmental Club at school, who on a fairly regular basis would march around on Happ Road protesting the pollutants spewed into the air by the plant. They were actually not bad, didn’t spew a lot. If it had been a steel mill, it would be a different story.

The Mystik plant, and my high school, and my family were all residents of Northfield, Illinois. It was part bedroom community, part home to mansions, and part industrial. I’d walk to school every day (a mile, uphill, barefoot, in the driving snow) past all of the nice houses, then turn the corner and I’d be in the industrial area, with the Mystik plant and the packaging company. Northfield was also the home to Stepan Chemical Company, a bowling alley, several really seedy bars, a shopping center that used to house the National Food Store until they closed, then it became this large strip mall that had a few specialty stores in it (there was a music store in the basement, as I recall), a few businesses in “downtown,” and Bess’ True Value Hardware store. My stepfather always wanted to get a job there when he retired (he didn’t live that long). Northfield was less a planned community than a place that was thrown together. I lived in a house in a part of town that had once been a swamp. We used to get mosquitoes really badly during the summer. But it was home, and as much as I hated it when I lived there, I guess I became rather attached to it.

Guess you didn’t see that coming, did you?

By the way, the author Libby Fischer Hellmann lives in Northfield, as does Ellie Foreman, one of her characters. If you want to see Northfield, read her books.

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