Sunday, March 12, 2006
Prince Albert in the Can
Grandpa rolled his own. He bought cigarette papers and Prince Albert tobacco. Rolling by hand, without a cigarette roller, produced something that looked pretty shabby, but with his decades of experience it looked a little better than the marijuana cigarettes our generation rolled. I don’t recall what brand of papers grandpa used, but as I recall, the Zig Zag man was around long before the flower generation discovered him, but he wasn’t alone. Pictured here are a couple other paper brands: Bugler and Job.
Now, about Prince Albert and his can. It came onto the scene in the second half of the 1800s and was an integral part of life in places like Orlando well into the 1960s. Once empty the can took on a life of its own. There'd be lots of them around the house, or rusting along the roadside. The can had rounded sides, was sturdy, waterproof and just the right size to slip into a man's pocket. It was perfect for keeping buttons or small tools, or a few worms in soil. In a pinch it could hold a couple pollywogs in creek water.
Popular as Prince Albert was, in Orlando there was no hope of a crank call to ask if the grocer had Prince Albert in the can and then to blurt out "Well, you'd better let him out!" The phones were too serious a business in the 1950s and well into the 1960s. Few families had them and they were all on a single party line. (That's where everyone used one phone line, but each household had a different number of rings. Anyone could pick up the phone and listen, or talk, even if the number of rings signaled that the call was for another household.) Besides, Mr. and Mrs. Brown ran the only store and both would have known the voice of every kid in Orlando.