Thursday, November 29, 2007

Memories -- Businesses Gone!

I am not talking about lost jobs here is Michigan, at least not for the most part, but things from companies I used to frequently see as a child, that few child today would recognize. Some live on as successor companies with new names, or are part of a conglomerate that has ended the name, and others are completely gone.

When I was about 6 one of my favorite toys was a large battery powered airplane that would run across the ground while its four propellers (!) spun and it gave off a sound like a large propeller plane. Sounds old but its logo and air line name was even older.

It was the same name that decorated a space craft in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Pan American was one of the first airlines in existence and dominated international air travel for many years, but died out in the 80s and faded from existence in 91. As I grew up it was a familiar icon and I flew Pan Am one time when I was in the military. Other airlines of course have come and gone, but Pan Am was for many years the premier airline of this country whose disappearance would have baffled people in the first half of this century. (Watch an old movie that includes a passenger plane from America and odds are, if they are being accurate for their time, the plane will say Pan American.

While there have been attempts to revive the name, the system is gone and gone forever. It not only doesn't go to the moon as Stanley Kubrick envisioned, but doesn't go anywhere.

When I was young we didn't refer to the Big 3 Automakers, but the Big 4.

American Motors.

American Motors? Remember them? I remember them a lot more clearly than I do the Packard or Studebaker (both of which faded before I was born though you saw a few of them when I was younger.) It's death as a company was about 20 years ago but it was a major player in America.

The Pacer? I almost bought one when I was 20. Perhaps it's a good thing I didn't. (Yeah, they were ugly, but the price was right!)

A portion of AM still exists but it is now part of Chrysler and the name is long gone.

Fast Food
Here's one I remember clearly but can't even find on the internet. It was a rival to KFC and when I was around 10 years old, give or take a few, you saw quite a few of them. They might have been regional company. It was called Chick N Joy and it's slogan was "Love at Fist Bite!". I can still hear the jingle in my head. It seems to still exist in small numbers in Canada.

Another lost chain, that was you saw a fair number of when I was in my teens and twenties, was a regional chain called Penguin Point which located in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, mostly in medium sized cities (which until the mid-70s were avoided by the large chains.) When the major chains such as McDonald's and Burger King started moving into medium sized towns, it spelled the end of most restaurants like this, though a few apparently still exist.

Come to think of it, I am only aware of one drive-in restaurant in this area, and it's considered a novelty place. I remember when every town of more than a thousand people had at least one.

Even companies are mortal.


Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

How bizarre. A stroll down memory lane. LAPD and my agency were the only ones to purchase the AMC Matador for a cop car in the late 70s. My Dad bought an American and I got to drive it for a few years. Further (and off-topic), I thought that the Checker Marathon would make a GREAT cop car!

I don't recall Chick N Joy. We have Church's Chicken, KFC, and Popeyes here in Fornicalia.


1:46 AM  
Blogger pete in Midland said...

Even more interesting than just looking at companies gone ... except those superceded by technology (buggy whip companies) ... would be examining exactly what did them in.
Airlines - PanAm, Eastern, Braniff, etc

call me irrational ... but the one factor they all have in common was unions.

The smaller drive-ins and local fast food joints were never able to compete with economies of scale and standardized quality. SOme of us love to experience the differences in food by hitting local restaurants when we travel ... but ... drive by any of the "standards" on the highway -- like Cracker Barrel -- and see the parking lots. People know what to expect and so that's where they stop.
It's not only Wal-mart that doomed "small-town" America ... but ALL the franchise places -- whether it be auto parts, ice cream or fried chicken.
And .. in the end ... who's really to blame? McDonalds? Or the consumer who'd rather have a 99 cent "ok" burger instead of a $4.00 mom-0an-pop-shop burger??

12:29 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

Never heard of Penguin Point, must not have been any over here on the west side.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I've never heard of Penguin Point either.

Drive In movies are another one that's gone, Shoprat. I actually miss those!

12:00 PM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

We had a 'Sambo's'. There were some 1200 spread throughout the US.
With the dawn of PC, the name was
compared to the Little Black Sambo
books we read as kids in the 50s;
long story short-Sambo's is no more. Sam Battistone, the founder, should have called his restaurants Sam's Club :)

8:16 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

I suppose the only thing that doesn't change is the fact that things change.

I haven't seen any Piggly Wiggly stores since the last time I was in Mississippi.

Believe it or not, I have an Uncle Sambo. LOL

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Penguin Point.... (Pigeon Pit) was a locally owned "chain" from the Northern Indiana area, but it paid for all but one us boys cars and dates... THere isa still one in Warsaw and one in Coldwater

9:03 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

BZ We have Popeye's and Church's as well

Pete Good point

Steve There were maybe half a dozen in the state and most of them toward the southern part

Gayle Drive in movies. Yeah I remember

BBI I recall the Sambo's nonsense quite well

LP Piggly-wiggly? Sounds familiar.

Skip It had good food too. Far better than McDonalds.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"Packard or Studebaker." Now you've made me nostalgic. My dad had a Studebaker in the 50s. I loved that car.

3:19 AM  

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