Growing up in Augusta: Priceless

Pages In Timeby Milt Huntington

Our family moved from Belfast to Augusta when I was a mere 10 years old. I knew Augusta was the capital of Maine, because every time we drove through town to visit out-of-state relatives, my parents would wake me up to see the State House dome.

The only other thing I knew about Augusta was the fact that it was the home of a mental hospital which, back then, was commonly called an insane asylum. I experienced a few nightmares before moving here about crazy people walking the streets. When our moving truck pulled up at our new home on Swan Street, my bicycle was the first thing to be unloaded. That drew the attention of the kids in the new neighborhood who would soon become my childhood friends.

I was small. My bike was a 22-inch affair compared with the 31-inch bikes most kids had. That seemed to fascinate the Swan Street gang with the exception of one guy who didn’t accept this new kid on the block. That was OK with me. I didn’t accept him either. He was a grammar school football hero who became bigger than life when he broke his nose. We got into a fight over some exchange of words, and a lot of fists were flying back and forth. I don’t remember any of them making a serious connection, and we never fought again. He became my closest friend from that day on.

What a neighborhood! A family with five kids lived next door. Down on nearby Gage Street, there was another family with five, plus another Gage Street boy who would also become a life-long friend. We played street hockey using a tin can for a puck; All-y, All-y Over, which involved throwing a ball over the roof of a house and Ring-A-Lebo which was sort of like hide-and-seek. We also played Mother, May I, which involved taking giant strides or baby steps when you remembered to ask: “May I?” and Red Light, a game where the person who was “it” shut their eyes and counted to ten while the others tried to sneak up and tag him before the “it” person said: “Red Light”.

We stole apples, broke a few street lights on Halloween and played football on the approach road to the new Memorial Bridge before it got paved. As a matter of fact, while the bridge was under construction, a few of us walked out on the steel work one night and made our way across the river. After making it safely to the other side, I remember remarking to my friends: “Hey! We beat the governor across!” A KJ reporter heard the remark and printed it in the next day’s news.

Swan Street was located right behind the Hartford Fire Station, and provided a neat short cut through its alley on the way downtown. The fire whistle sounded loudly every night at 9 p.m. to signify curfew time for the younger set. There were times when we would be cutting through the alley way when the whistle would blow and frighten us about ten feet off the ground. There’s no curfew anymore. I wonder why the 9:00 whistle continues to blow? Right beside the fire station, two nice men named Frank and Howard worked at a small shoe repair shop. We hung out there because we liked it when they teased us half to death. We thought we were kind of tough. They laughed and called us “pansies.” We were also firemen wanna-be’s, and pestered them a lot.
I always liked walking down Rines Hill when the trains passed under the bridge. Once, we stood there as a smoke-spewing locomotive went underneath. We were covered with black soot as we leaned on the soot-smudged railing, and we had to go home to get cleaned up. The marvelous old brick railroad station at the bottom of the hill would see some of us come and go from the Korean War. The next place down Water Street was Frank Turcotte’s shoe repair and shoe shine parlor where “Our Gang” would go on Sunday mornings after getting all gussied up for church or some such thing. Next to the shoe shine shop was the coolest store in town–the Depot News. A really nice guy named Joe Kaplan ran the place and provided a second home for all us kids who played his pin ball machine for a nickel a game. All the downtown merchants were good to us kids.

We always stopped at Joe’s on the way to the movies at the Capital or the Colonial theater to load up on candy bars. It was also the place to buy comic books. Between the Depot News and the Capital Theater was a nice little store that sold fruits and vegetables. When I was flush, I used to buy a quarter pound of cherries there to eat in the movie theater.

Next to the fruit store was Partridge’s drug store, where we pigged out on ice cream sodas and chocolate malts or milk shakes, often referred to as chocolate velvets. In my high school days, I would work there as a soda jerk. I even took two years of Latin at Cony High in preparation for a career as a pharmacist. Didn’t happen! My high school year book prophesized that my writing would take me far in the literary world. Yeah, right! All the Way to the Capital Weekly and Kennebec Journal, in Augusta.

Getting back to the movie theaters, the Capital provided all the B-Class movies, westerns and such in black and white. It did have a weekly serial, however, which drew us in every weekend without fail. The serials ranged from Superman to Flash Gordon to Tom Mix and The Shadow. The feature was often Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or the Three Musketeers, starring John Wayne as Stony Brooks and Bob Steele as Tucson. I forget who the third one was – somebody very funny, but forgettable. My first ticket at the Capital cost me 12 cents. What a shock one day when it jumped all the way to 20 cents. We used to horse around noisily a lot at the movie theaters, and it was something to brag about to get ejected at least once during our young lives.

Down at the other end of the street was the old Colonial Theater where Class-A pictures were shown. On Sunday, after week-long previews of coming attractions, we would be rewarded with musical extravaganzas starring Esther Williams, Bing Crosby or Jane Powell in living color or flicks like Casablanca, The Wolfman or war movies like Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. The Colonial played their movies continuously so we could sit through a good movie twice for the price of a single ticket.

Once in a cowboy thriller, an Indian chief, played by blue-eyed Jeff Chandler, stood in the middle of a pow-wow session, folded his arms and dramatically declared: “I walk away!” “Our Gang” had seen the movie once, but we stayed for a second showing to get back to that pow-wow scene again, when we stood in the theater, one by one, folded our arms and declared to the rest of the audience: “We walk away. People call them punks today. We were harmless “hooligans” then.”

On the way home from the Colonial was Ed Houdlette”s Drug Store which was known to have a particularly vulnerable pin ball machine. We hung out there a lot because Mr. Houdlette was also nice to us.

Water Street is what I like to call a street of dreams because it conjures up so many memories of shops and businesses that vanished with our youth. Remember the five- and ten-cent stores that anchored the center of down town Augusta – McLellan’s, Kresge’s and Woolworth’s. We had ‘em all. I was a stock boy and soda jerk for the Kresge operation, but it suvived anyhow for awhile.

Then of course, we had JCPenny, D.W. Adams, Chernowsky’s, the Army-Navy Store, Lamey-Wellahan, Montgomery-Ward and Sears & Roebuck. A jewelry store graced the corner of Water Street and Bridge Street – A.J. Bilodeau’s. Another one sat on the corner between Farrell’s Clothing Store and the post office. It displayed a sign with a picture of a diamond ring. The caption stated: “I came here to talk for Joe,” a popular World War II love song. Speaking of Farrell’s, it once boasted just a single aisle between two counters with a little space downstairs where I bought all my Boy Scout gear and a tux for the senior prom. Nicholson & Ryan Jewelers was always there, it seems.

Near the botom of Rines Hill was a liquor store where my father and grandfather liked to surreptitiously shop. They would always leave their change with the Salvation Army lassie who parked out front. Once, running an errand for my mother, I dropped some change into the lassie’s tambourine. When my mother questioned me about that, I replied: “That’s what Papa and Grampy always do.”

On the other end of Water Street were the beer parlors which gave the neighborhoods a shoddy reputation. Across the street was Allen’s Grocery Store. a fish market and Berry’s Cleaners. Depositor’s Trust Co. on Haymarket Square was on the ground floor of a six-story affair which is now the site of the Key Bank building. We’re talking ancient history, I know, but who can ever forget Stan Foster’s Smoke Shop next to the old Hotel North. He specialized in meals, smokes and some real great pin ball machines. Near the Depot News was Al’s Barber Shop which took care of ducktail haircuts and crew cuts in the early years. His partner and relative bought him out and opened Pat’s Barber Shop at the other end of Water Street near the lights.

Swan Street and Water Street have undergone a lot of change in the last 60-plus years or so. Downtown was the main thoroughfare to all those movies, and it was the pathway to Cony High before the new bridge opened up. Most of those downtown places are now long gone, but the memories (some a little fuzzy now) will remain forever. I wouldn’t swap those memories for anything. Growing up in Augusta was as good as it gets.

Read Part 2 here: Growing up in Augusta: Priceless (Conclusion)

Milt Huntington is the author of “A Lifetime of Laughter” and “Things That Make You Grin.”

Pages in Time: Christmas in Korea

by Milt Huntington

When I begin to reminisce about the Christmases-past, they all seem to blend together into a single memory of sparkling red and green. My Christmas in Korea in 1953 is a blur of khaki and canvas, homesickness and humor. I remember it well.

The 5th Regimental Combat Team was perched in the center of Chiporee Valley, just south of the 38th Parallel. We were the members of the Honor Guard Platoon. The war had recently ended, and the responsibility fell to us to shine our boots, clean our rifles, press our khakis and guard the officers of the Headquarters Company. Highlighting the drudgery of it all was the assignment we had of greeting dignitaries when they arrived by chopper to meet the brass before entertaining the troops.

Photos of Milt Huntington in Korea in 1953. Photos courtesy of Milt Huntington

Photos of Milt Huntington in Korea in 1953.
Photos courtesy of Milt Huntington

The spit and polish made it all worthwhile when we stood at attention to salute the likes of Marilyn Monroe, General Maxwell Taylor, Chief of the Far East Command; Accordion Artist Dick Cantino, and Catholic Cardinal Francis Spellman. Our days were filled with close order drills and practice sessions, twirling rifles in a variety of salutes. Our evenings were spent walking guard duty endlessly on the slopes of Chiporee.

The Honor Guards were housed in canvas, nine men to a tent, including two KATUSAs, (Koreans Attached to the U.S. Army). Pak Bu Hong was an older man compared to all the rest of us. He could cook up a wonderful Korean stew on one of the two kerosene stoves in our quarters.

Kim Yung Sam was the other native. His ready smile and passable English made him a favorite among the Koreans in our squad. His pay was 37 cents a month, more than GI’s paid for a pack of cigarettes back then. Our leisure time was spent listening to music on the radio in our tent or playing tag football or basketball in the warmer months. In the winter, we did a little hunting of pheasant or tracking mountain lions in the snow. It was mostly boring, but we passed away the time playing poker and getting in debt or reminiscing about our lives back home.

Homesickness was the common disease, but it was never as bad as it was at Christmastime. I only experienced one Christmas in Korea, but it was more than enough to rack up significant memories. Ed Seary from New Jersey was a huge guy with a soft voice and kind demeanor. He hardly ever said a word, but oh, could he ever play a harmonica. I’ll never forget that Christmas Eve when he played Christmas songs as we sang along. Our little Christmas tree, cut from a nearby hill, was dectonorated with homemade paper ribbons and blue and silver Combat Infantry Badges (CIB’s). It looked pretty darn good.

We were getting more than a little maudlin that night when suddenly our lieutenant burst into the tent to order us out for a full scale “bug out”. That meant we had to pack everything we owned, clamber into a 2 1⁄2 ton truck and head the heck out of there. A few miles down the road, we stopped, turned around and returned to camp. It was only a “yellow alert” a practice session to see how fast we could retreat in the event of an attack. I think the higher ups wanted to keep us busy on Christmas Eve as an antidote to the insidious homesickness disease. What really helped later that night, however, was when our lieutenant gained our undying gratitude by bringing to our tent a case of gigantic bottles of Japanese Asahi beer. The guard duty was on a hill behind our camp. This was a lonely job, made more lonely because of this special time of the year. The stars were out, featuring the Southern Cross and the Big and Little Dipper. On an adjoining ridge opposite ours was a huge red pentagon-shaped insignia of the 5th RCT, lighted by spot lights in the night. It was almost Christmas-like, but it made me sad. I really wanted to go home. To make matters worse, music drifted up from a tent down below. Joni James was singing “Purple Shades,” one of my favorite songs of the day.

As I sighed and strolled along the ridge, I saw flames from a fire, and proceeded to investigate. A small band of Korean civilians and an English-speaking KATUSA were huddled around the fire, roasting something on a spit. “Hey, GI,” he yelled. “Come in by the fire, get warm. Have some chow.” Their kind offer was politely refused. They were woking a Korean dog!

I think back now on that Christmas eve so long ago and remember with fondness the guys whose experiences I shared. They included Joe Vrable from Ohio and Ron Stahl from Illinois who missed their girlfriends; Denver Arnett from West Virgina, who was the sharpest looking soldier of them all; Roland LaTaille, a really funny guy from Woonsocket, R.I; — Kaffenburger from somewhere else. I don’t remember his first name either, but we never used it anyway; the two Katusa’s; and of course Ed Seary and his harmonica. I can still hear him playing “Sleigh Ride” on that unforgettable Christmas Eve. As nice as those memories are today, I sure do appreciate the holidays at home. Merry Christmas, you guys, wherever you are.

Milt Huntington is the author of A Lifetime of Laughter and Things That Make You Grin.

Pages In Time: Those darn socks

by Milt Huntington

I’ve pulled off a lot of April Fool jokes in my day and always took sadistic pleasure in tricking my family members and friends. The best April Fool joke of all, however, was the one my friends orchestrated for me.

My wife and I were scheduled to attend a political event in Portland one night and were running a little late. We dashed into our hotel, frantically changed from casual to evening attire, and headed out to a nearby home for a pre-event cocktail party with friends.

I had changed clothing a little too frantically, as it developed, because I was wearing a dark suit and bright yellow socks. My dear friends were quick to let me know that I was fashionably incorrect. After some good-natured ribbing, my host got serious and insisted I borrow properly colored socks from him. My wife and other companions joined the chorus and became (I thought) a little too preoccupied with the stupid socks.

It got to the point where I stubbornly refused to change into basic black. When they became increasingly insistent, I got my back up, pulled off one lonely sock and replaced it with one borrowed black one – and that was that!

We arrived at the political event, donned our name tags and proceeded to circulate through the crowded gathering. Although the room was dimly lit, the very first person with whom I smoozed asked about my socks. Puzzled though I was that the socks were even visible, I patiently explained my stubbornness and silly insistence by wearing socks of many colors.
I moved on through the crowd and soon encountered Maine Sen. William Cohen for whom the fundraiser was staged. He immediately asked: “Milt, what’s the story with your socks?”

Chagrined, I repeated the whole chain of events on how it happened I wore socks of different colors–boring though the whole incident had rapidly become.

Senator Cohen then introduced me to a Congressman from California and a number of other dignitaries, each of whom were chomping at the bit to quiz me about the darn socks. Can you possibly imagine how boring it was to waste a whole evening at a cocktail party talking about your stupid mismatched socks!

When the evening came to a merciful end, I tore off my nametag and read on it what one of my so-called friends had written there: “Hello! My name is Milt. Ask me about my socks!”

Milt Huntington is the author of “A Lifetime of Laughter” and “Things That Make You Grin.”

Pages in Time: Mushy stuff from years gone by

by Milt Huntington

Fifty percent of the many responses I received from my newspaper articles come from senior citizens over 65 years of age. I know this for a fact because one of them told me so. Both responders agreed that they love all the mushy stuff from years gone by.

So, let us reminisce. Flipping back through the dog-eared pages of time, I found a piece about the home front in World War II. I told of air raid wardens, rationing of butter and gas, patriotic movies and buying savings stamps at school. Yes, there were no bananas, and we ate sherbet instead of ice cream. Contributing to the war effort by helping mother squish red dye into white margarine to make it yellow was a genuine source of pride.

Growing up in Augusta was a priceless chunk of my young life, so I described the beauty of early Western Avenue and the bustle of Downtown Water Street. Western Avenue was lined with shade trees back in the good old days, and it had a skating pond. It didn’t have a federal building or a shopping mall. You could actually cross the street without taking your life in your hands. Heck, you could even watch soap box derbies there or ride down the hill on your bike with your feet on the handlebars.

There was no traffic circle at the bottom of Western Avenue – just the intersections of State Street, Grove Street and Grove Street Extension. There was, however, an elegant yellow brick building – The Augusta House. The historic old meeting place played host to the rich and famous and was the site where many legislative measures were lobbied to death but often revived by mouth-to-ear resuscitation. Gone now – all gone.

To our young eyes, Water Street was the Broadway of the Capital City. There were Class “A” movies at the Colonial Theater featuring musicals with new Technicolor technology. The Capital Theater drew us in with the Class “B” westerns, vaudeville and cliff-hanging serials. The names of a lot of the flicks are beginning to fade from memory, but I remember well, and always will, the nickel candy bars, the Ju-Jy fruits and buttered popcorn. I also remember the 11-cent price of admission.

Thoughts of the old American Legion building by the little park stir memories of teen-age dances, football on the lawn, post-war suppers and playing pool with friends in that old front room. Those, indeed, were the good old days.

Still there at the top of Rines Hill is the Hartford Fire Station with all of its history and its bellowing  9 o’clock whistle. The beautiful train station at the bottom of the hill was replaced by a parking lot. Arlene’s Bakery and the aroma of doughnuts and pastries is still a tantalizing memory. You can’t get your shoes repaired or shined anymore at Turcotte’s.

The shop is long gone along with Augusta’s shoe factories – R.P. Hazzard and Taylor Shoe.

You want to talk about change? Just take a look at Bangor Street. Whatever became of Hussey Hardware, Doc’s Lunch, Mike’s Lunch, Williams School, The A&P, Charlie’s Market and the Esso gasoline station?
I can still remember, with delight, the taste of a good steak at Hazel Green’s, a shrimp scampi at Al Biondi’s 89 Winthrop or First Tee on Water Street. I remember well how great the meals were at Ray Lammer’s Pioneer House. Nobody served up cheeseburgers like John McAuley did at his place on Outer Western Avenue. Then, of course, we salivated over the fare at the Roseland Restaurant on the Waterville Road and McNamara’s in Winthrop. The beer was also pretty good over a hamburger and fries at the Oxbow hangout in Winthrop.

Don’t even get me started about Island Park. Suffice it to say, the memories are many. All I need to resuscitate recollections of your own is to casually mention the revolving ball that left colorful squares on the dance floor below and the 21 Club that got us high on a bottle of beer. It was the site of my first date with the girl that I married.

For the beer drinkers in the crowd, I would be remiss in failing to mention Ray’s Dine and Dance in the lower end of Water Street and Duffy’s Tavern on the Bond Brook Road. Don’t talk to me about inflation. I remember when “dimies” went to 20 cents a glass. In some of those places and in most cafeterias, juke boxes were mounted on the walls over the tables. For the drop of a nickel, you could listen to Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board; Mel Torme, The Velvet Fog; Vaughn Monroe, Frankie Laine, Perry Como, Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Joni James and Doris Day. If you’ve read this far, you can easily recall the names of all the others who helped promote romances of the teenage years.

OK! That’s it for now. I’m beginning to tear up. I just hope that all my fans, (both of them), will think back on all the things that they remember if I’ve been successful in jump starting their memories again.

Milt Huntington is the author of A Lifetime of Laughter and Things That Make You Grin.

Useful Citizens Tour: Guided walking tour of Skowhegan’s North Cemetery

Pages In Time

by Melvin Burnham

Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center will be hosting a tour of the historic North Cemetery off Madison Avenue on July 29th at 10 AM. During this guided walking tour participants will visit with some notable citizens that proved to be useful in developing country, community, and business.   In her two volume history of Skowhegan, Skowhegan on the Kennebec, Louise Helen Coburn selected a few useful citizens that “may be regarded as representative of the human stream, which during the late 18th century and early 19th flowed eastward and northward to come to rest beside the Kennebec near Skowhegan Falls, and here to pause for a generation before flowing outward to the ends of the known world.” Many of these notable souls rest in the North Cemetery.

This tour visits many prominent citizens of early Skowhegan including Amos Mann and Asa Dyer.  Dr. Amos

Dr. Amos A. Mann

Dr. Amos A. Mann

Angier Mann practiced medicine in Skowhegan for many years preceding 1882. He evidently didn’t go to school until he was 15, attended Lancaster (NH) for one term and served as assistant teacher in that institute.  Being an unusual doctor, he was sometimes summoned as a last resort because he did things that no other practitioner would dare attempt. In some cases of indigestion he would prescribe “plenty of pork and beans and stuff the potatoes right to her.” Dr. Mann was interested in politics and did not hesitate to share his opinion in his newspaper entitled “Mann’s Family Physician and Down East Screamer.”  His home was located on the corner of the Dr. Mann and the Athens’ road.

Many of the homes and businesses in Skowhegan are constructed of brick.  Most of those bricks were manufactured by two firms in Skowhegan, one being owned by Asa Dyer.  Louise Coburn notes that Asa was the first settler on his considerable farm of 85 acres which ran eastward across the plains on what was considered upper Madison Street known as Dyer Hill. Mr. Dyer ran a brick-yard just behind his home and the business was later carried on by his sons, Chandler and Isaac.  Isaac Dyer, notable Civil War General, is also at rest in the North Cemetery along with his servant slave Morgan Ellis.

Ellis Morgan Freed Man

Ellis Morgan Freed Man

Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center strives to bring local history alive through guided tours and research assistance at the museum, history related presentations, and by hosting tours featuring historic Skowhegan. After the Useful Citizens Tour, there is one remaining tour

Gen. Asa Dyer

Gen. Asa Dyer

scheduled for this season and it is new.  Early Bloomfield Settlers, Tour of the Bloomfield Cemetery on August 12th at 10 AM.

Participants will meet tour guide Melvin Burnham at the cemetery gate and a donation of $5 per person is suggested. For more information: info@skowheganhistoryhouse.org.

Pages in Time: A parrot gives me the bird

page8pict1by Milt Huntington

We had just come from a Celtics games at Boston Garden and had decided to stay at King’s Grant just outside of Beantown on the way home to Maine.

We had stayed there before and knew the food would be good and the rooms comfortable and quiet. The Inn boasted a delightful cocktail lounge and live musical entertainment on the weekends. A small swimming pool in the lounge was centered in a jungle-like atmosphere. It was a little steamy, but all in all, rather pleasant.

Large columns were located around the pool to add to the atmosphere, and a wooden foot bridge crossed over what appeared to be a stream feeding the indoor pool. During the course of the evening we notice a large parrot sitting in a cage behind one of the columns. When we cooed “Hello” to the colorful bird, it would politely respond: “Hello! Hello!” We kept it up until the bird got sick of the routine and refused to speak anymore.

The next morning, I woke up a little early, so I decided to don my swimming trunks to take a dip in the pool. The place appeared to be deserted, so I had the pool to myself. After splashing around awhile, I sat in a chair to dry off approximately where we were the night before, right up against a column.page8pict2

It was at that point I remembered the loquacious parrot from the previous night. I leaned forward in my chair and peered around the column. Sure enough, there was the talkative bird half-asleep in his cage. “Hello!” Hello!” I cooed to my feathery friend in a high-pitched falsetto greeting. The bird didn’t move, but the man sitting on the other side of the column moved. Did he ever move! He dashed out of the lounge as though his bathing suit was afire. He stole one quick frightened glance at me over his shoulder as he pushed through the door and out of my life forever.

It was sometime later when I told my good friend, the late John Gould Jr. about the humorous incident. That was a mistake. It was a big mistake.

John Gould, a Maine paper industry lobbyist, would frequently go to great lengths in the interest of playing a practical joke. On one occasion, he casually asked me over to his house in Hallowell for a couple of drinks. It sounded like a relaxing way to end a day of lobbying at the State House in Augusta. Upon arrival, I discovered he had neglected to tell me a candidate for Governor of Maine was also there. As it developed, I wound up writing some of the candidate’s campaign speeches. The candidate lost the election and I felt partially responsible for having written a rather biting presentation near the end of the campaign. John assured me the candidate would not have done as well as he did if not for the speech.

A few years later John had moved to Washington to take a federal lobbying job with his company. I had flown down to attend a Maine State Society banquet, and responded to John’s kind invitation to stop by his house in McLean, Virginia, for a libation before we both headed for the banquet in downtown D.C.

When I arrived at John’s home, I couldn’t help but notice a sleek stretch limousine parked in his driveway. I didn’t find that too unusual. John’s company provided him such transportation on special occasions from time to time. John’s two sons were playing basketball in the driveway. I grabbed the ball and flung it over the limo. Nothing but net! Without so much as a word, I turned and strode into the house, knowing full well I couldn’t do that again in a million years. I hope I impressed the kids. It certainly surprised the heck out of me.

I entered the house, was warmly greeted by John and his wife, and got myself another surprise. John introduced me to the then current Governor of Maine. We all rode to the banquet in the big old limousine.

Now, getting back to the parrot. As I recounted before, I had unwittingly told John of my experience in the King Grant’s cocktail lounge. He couldn’t wait to tell the Governor all about it. Then John asked me about my plans for the following day and I told him I had an appointment to meet with Senator George Mitchell on Capitol Hill. He seemed to think that was wonderful.

That next day, I walked into the Senator’s office, and announced very formally: “Mr. Huntington to see Senator Mitchell. I have a 10 a.m. appointment. The receptionist and the entire officer staff broke into a falsetto chorus of “Hello! Hello!”

I guess you could say they gave me the bird!

Milt Huntington is the author of “A Lifetime of Laughter” and “Things That Make You Grin.”