Rich Galen

Speaking of tubes, in my lifetime you could find machines for testing the tubes in your Emerson radio in every hardware store which was right next to the shoe store where a sales clerk with zero training would stick your feet into an x-ray machine to assure your mother that your feet were, what, attached?

Cigarette smoking was not only acceptable, but encouraged as being sophisticated in almost every setting from college classrooms to executive board rooms; in movies and on television. The notion of smoking being prohibited at your desk at work much less in any restaurant or bar in an entire city was an absurd impossibility.

Being drunk was a common trigger for canned laughter in sitcoms. Dean Martin's act would have been not nearly as amusing today as it was back in the 50's and 60's.

There was no such thing as AIDS but there was the scourge of Polio. Photos of hospital wards filled with people - especially children - being kept alive in Iron Lung machines are still clear in my mind.

Mumps, chickenpox and measles were childhood diseases that just about every kid got from some other kid and, so, were immunized from that point onward. I never knew anyone with a peanut allergy.

Meals always included some dreadfully unhealthy mixture of eggs, meats, starches, gravies, and whole milk. A mother following the official government food pyramid back then would be the subject of a Law & Order: SVU episode today.

Given all that, I'm more than a little surprised I've gotten this far.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: An astonishing amount of make-work as I looked up links to almost everything listed above; another early 2008 bumper strip and a Catchy Caption of the Day which is … odd.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at