Monday, March 18, 2013

Ephemera Connections!

My best friend/sister Jen and I were having a very in-depth discussion the other day about the Internet - or, namely, how it has completely changed the landscape of our lives.  It has touched everything - how we're entertained, how we read, how we watch TV, how we shop, how we socialize - the list is endless.  And even though my husband makes his living off of the Internet (he and his brother own a website development company), I would be lying if I told you that the conversation was optimistic and rosy.  It was not.  We were sitting in a bookstore at the time, prematurely mourning its demise.

Fast-forward to Saturday night - I had been gone all day to a class in Milwaukee (I was a student this time!) and was checking my e-mail when I returned home.  Well, what follows not only made my night, but my entire week!  Here, paraphrased, is the fun e-mail:
"Hello. My name is Larry and I live in the town of Darien, Wisconsin where your Cheez Korn Kinx bag was made. My mother (who is 83 years young) had been telling the story for years about when she was in school, they would walk across the street to where the Korn Kinx were made and fill their 3 cent paper bags with fresh warm Korn Kinx. We are currently in the process of researching the history behind the Korn Kinx and stumbled on your blog showing the bag. My mother found it first but her dial up connection is very slow and she wasn't able to follow the link to your web page. She was so excited to actually find an image of the bag as it proved that her memory of calling them Kinx wasn't faulty. The name was changed in about 1940 to Korn Kurls when Melbourn Reed bought out his competitor Edward P. Wilson who had been called back to active duty in WWII.
Both men worked together at the Beloit, Wisconsin company Flakall, where the raw material was accidentally produced from a machine that made flaked animal food. Yes, they are the original cheese flavored puffed and flavored snack that all others followed. Because Flakall patented the process, all Cheetos, cheese doodles, Chee Whees, etc. were licensed by Flakall of Beloit. You quite possibly have the only remaining bag in existence and it carries some historical significance. PLEASE take good care of it in its original state if you can. Edward P. Wilson's son is still alive at 92 and I spoke with him last week. He told me stories of how he worked for his dad at Flakall in 1939 when he was 17 and how his dad brought home some of the puffed corn to their kitchen and all the flavors his mother tried before she came up with the cheese flavoring. The Wilsons baked their Korn Kurls, whereas Reed fried theirs in butter. Anyway, I was wondering if you could scan the front and back of the bag and send me the image for our research project. The Wilsons are very excited that someone after all these years is interested in telling their story which might have been lost to history. Edward Wilson told me that he eats cheese puffs every day and he had a bowl of them next to his chair even as we spoke."
*GASP*  Isn't this INCREDIBLE!!  All because I happened to write that post and feature this bag:


Well, the minute I finished reading the message I drafted one of my own, which I will share with you:
"Oh my gosh - your e-mail made my night!!  What a wonderful story!!  See, now THIS is why I write my blog.  I firmly believe that these little bits of "throwaway" ephemera MATTER.  And as your story attests, many times these little bags and doodads and whatnot actually have important historical significance! 

Larry, I would love to scan the bag for you, but I would actually like to do something else instead - can I send you the bag?  I want you to have it.  I can tell how much it means to you and your mom and the Wilson family, and it would give me much pleasure to give it to you - it's the VERY least I could do after the lovely e-mail you've sent me!  :)

All I'll need is your address and I can have it in the post on Monday morning.  :)

Thank you, Larry (and please thank your mom, too!) for reading the blog!!!  I'm THRILLED that you found this particular post and that it might help you out!"
Larry and I exchanged a few more e-mails with addresses and the like, plus another fun surprise which I will post as soon as I hear the outcome.  Isn't this just so fun!?!?

So - from the bad part of our Brave New World, to one of the best parts - there is NO WAY that this could've happened if it weren't for our Internet.  But because of one little post, I am now reuniting a family with a little slice of personal nostalgia.  Like I said in my e-mail to Larry - THIS is why I write this blog, and I'm so grateful that we live in an age where I can connect with folks who feel the same as I!


12 comments:

  1. Fantastic story, Mel! You are so connected to what you are doing with your life and I am proud of you! Carry on doing your blog and bringing history to life for all of us; some more than others!

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    1. Oh, thank you, Suze! I haven't been posting as often (ACH!) but it only takes one story like this to further my resolve that EPHEMERA MATTERS! :D

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  2. What a wonderful story! How fun, to be able to connect personal history to that little bit of ephemera. Mel, you made my day.

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    1. Oh, how nice, Anne! I'm so glad you liked the story! I mailed the bag yesterday - when I hear anything bck I'll do a follow-up story! :D

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  3. Generosity is always its own reward, Mel. Great story. Robin Kinney

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    1. Oh Robin - you should be saying this about yourself, you know. You're the most generous person I know! If anything, I was just paying your generosity forward! <3

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  4. A wonderful story and brilliant outcome. I just knew there had to be something important about the 'net'.

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    1. Thanks, Jo! It is great when you can find the good in a VERY rapidly changing world! :D

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  5. Well done Mel - your story made me smile :)

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    1. Thanks, Jewels! But when you have a story like this, the writing comes easy! :)

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