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"Lunch Bucket Paradise" And The Era Of Plenty

Everything seemed possible. The ingenuity that had won the war now lavished innovations on the home front. We were becoming new people in a new nation without even trying. The dangers were immense.

(This is the fourth excerpt from "Lunch Bucket Paradise," East Bay author Fred Setterberg's fictionalized account of growing up in San Leandro's Washington Manor -- Jefferson Manor in the novel. introduced his young alter ego. focused on the post-World War II prosperity enjoyed by working families. The third was about the .)


Walter Cronkite fills the television screen, intoning calmly about this and that, while dinner materializes on the new TV tables—the Swanson’s aluminum trays divided into bunkers of mashed potatoes, peaches, a carrotcorn- pea medley, and the succulent stack of chicken flesh and bones.

Look up from dinner and a mouthful of gleaming white teeth have taken over the screen. Their lips and tongue advocate for Colgate toothpaste with Gardol and its invisible protective shield.

Then a sultry blonde with a vaguely Swedish accent—or is she French, who can tell?—moistens her lips and sighs. “Take it off,” she whispers.  “Take it all off…”

When thousands of doctors across the country were asked if they ever recommended Milk of Magnesia, the overwhelming majority said they did.

Ajax is stronger than dirt. The National Cotton Council agrees.

Cheerios has Vitamin B-1 for Go Power!

Mmmm…Boy! Almond Joy! Indescribably delicious.

To wash down the grub, try a glass of Wink, Squirt, Tab, Teem, Tang, Sprite, Spark. Or Coke or Diet Rite or Pepsi or RC Cola. Try Barley’s grape, Shasta orange, Dr. Pepper. Get Mom to buy you some Dad’s Root Beer or Dr. Brown’s or Stewart’s or Barq’s or A&W or Mug. Make that Mountain Dew, Hawaiian Punch, or plain ginger ale.

Show me a filter cigarette that delivers the taste, and I’ll eat my hat.

For dessert, there’s Twinkies and Sno Balls and Hostess Chocolate CupCakes (and for a while, orange ones, too), or a Moon Pie or Scooter Pie, or an Eskimo Pie from the freezer, where you might also find a Klondike Bar, Nutty Buddy, ice cream sandwich, or plain ice cream, imitation ice cream, or ice milk.

A brunette with a vaguely Russian accent -- or is she merely German, who cares? — sits in the passenger seat of a silver Jaguar driven by a man who is obviously a spy. She tosses her chestnut tresses across her bare shoulders, turns toward the camera, and purrs. “If you don’t give him 007 -- I will…” She’s talking about 007, the bold new grooming aids that make any man dangerous. “They’ve got a license to kill -- women.”

On the television set, Walter Cronkite speaks calmly, reassuring the nation in drab, cozy tones about the arrival of US Marines on the shores of the Dominican Republic, our forces dispatched to quell the latest turmoil among people who can barely govern themselves.

(Publisher Heyday Books in Berkeley has offered San Leandro Patch readers a 30 percent discount off the $15.95 cover price of "Lunch Bucket Paradise." To order call 510-549-3564 (extension 304) or email orders@heydaybooks.com. Be sure to mention "PATCH" to get the discount.)

(Follow us on Twitter @sanleandropatch or like us at Facebook.com/sanleandropatch)

Tom Abate January 26, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Thanks, Fran. I think that if the book were written about today's San Leandro the title would be, "They ATE My Lunch Bucket"
Fran January 27, 2012 at 04:35 AM
And said lunch box would be made in china, no doubt.
David January 27, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Take your working class quiz. I scored a 52 http://www.scribd.com/doc/77349055/Coming-Apart-by-Charles-Murray-Quiz
Leah Hall January 27, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Girl friend, I feel you.
Craig Williams July 06, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I just started reading the book .It's very good. For an interesting related history of Oakland and the East Bay check our Chris Rhomberg's No There There or the interview about the book at www.kpfa.org/archive/id/18463

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