Oh, You Never Knew It! – Jan. 10

:: Most people naturally assume that the city’s first public vending machines were the chicken leg contraptions installed along Soldier Boulevard by the Vendmate Company in 1925. Not so! Predating even those beloved tin hulks were the Vend-O salt dispensers that first appeared in 1922 in front of the Oriental Library. Day and night, the image of irascible mascot Jacktar the Old Salt charmed passerby from sandwich boards with his slogan “Buy Some Salt!” Late-night carousers lined up after performances at the Opera Building, jostling for paper cones of salt. Alas! By 1923 vandals had hooliganized every last machine and Jacktar smiles on us no more!
- B. Grossblatt

:: The localized power outage that hit the 15-1800 blocks of Portage Street for a few hours Tuesday afternoon and evening caused some businesses to close early, but not Carson’s Tavern, at 1729 Portage. The taps were working and the barkeep knows math pretty well, so folks stuck around and the owner, Bud “Carson” Carlson, saw no need to shut down. It was kind of a nice respite­­- ­­no juke box, no beeping cash register, just a few folks sitting around the small place, reminising about power outages and disasters of days past, or just reading by candlelight. There weren’t many walk-ins, though, especially once it got darker outside. Says Bud- “Folks’d just look in the door or open it, ask if we were open, then look kind of confused and take off in a hurry. Guess they don’t like really dark bars.”

:: Many visitors to Calvinton are surprised to find that there isn’t a single bar in the tiny borough, or a single bottle of wine to be found in any one of the seventeen restaurants in its commercial strip. It’s the only “dry” part of the city, a condition of its annexation in 1913. The hamlet, at that time on the outskirts of the city, had been an early proponent of prohibition. So, when the city decided to expand the boundaries a bit, the town fathers would only agree on the condition that it would remain alcohol-free for all time. The city, eager to ease its access to Calvinton’s branch of the river, quickly agreed. As a result, you can’t find a drop of tipple in these few square blocks of the city, but don’t worry- its boundary streets form a ring of taverns and liquor stores eager to serve thirsty residents.
- R. White

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