On the way to work last week, I was taking in the scenery on Route 422, as I have done countless times, when I noticed something was missing.
Now, you can see something only so many times before it blends into the background. But a gigantic neon clown isn't easy to ignore. After growing up in Warren and working here a number of years, the iconic sign outside Nannicola's Wholesale became a commonplace landmark.
The business has been closed for some time, but the jolly clown with the disproportionately long legs remained a fixture outside. Sadly, at some point since I last went down 422, someone took down the clown.
I have trouble imagining someone dismantled the gigantic orange striped clown and just dumped it into a landfill. I'd like to think he is living out his days juggling in someone's man cave, or in a neon graveyard not unlike retired Las Vegas signage, where he at least has friends with whom to spend his days rusting.
Why is a gigantic, vaguely terrifying clown such a source of tender memories? Because like any child of the 80s, I watched a lot of television. Not brain-rotting amounts of television, but enough to have created indelible memories of local advertising. After all, there was a lot of good stuff to watch back then. Smurftastic stuff. But in between all the Smurfs and ALFs were commercials.
First, let's pay our respects to the mother of all local jingles: NNNANNICOLA'S. NNNANNICOLA'S. NNNANNICOOOLA'S. Sorry about the caplock, but you really can't capture the essence of the commercial without it. An announcer repeats the name in a frenzied, loud manner, a sort of advertising Tourette's. That's it. No information about what goes on inside. Although once when picking up candy for a marching band fundraiser, I wound up a novelty jack-in-the-box before my mom could stop me, and an obscene object popped out of it. I later assumed it was meant for a bachelorette party. So besides giant clowns and inappropriate jack-in-the-boxes, Nannicola's legacy will be that of a loud, shouting guy.
Next, we head to nearby Sharon, Pa., to the Winner! The Win-ner! The world's largest, off-price fashion store! Such a catchy little tune. I noticed about a year ago that the Winner jingle master tape seemed to have been lost, since the commercial was playing a tinny, lo-fi version. And then, they did the unthinkable and re-recorded the song. I guess times have to change, even for the world's largest off-price fashion store.
A few doors down is Helen Freed's. She didn't have a jingle, but I will always remember her big hair and welcoming pitch, urging us to all come down to her store for our formal attire. I only went once for my cousin's wedding, but I saw no sign of Helen and her glamour. I used to make my mom crack up doing my Helen Freed impression.
And of course Reyer's, in beautiful downtown Sharon! I always got that one mixed up with Reisman's, Reisman's, downtown Niles. I might still have that one wrong. YouTube yielded no results.
We all know if the Colonel had Buena Vista Cafe's recipe, he'd be a general. And when the hungries hit, hit the Red Barn. No brainer. I can't live without my Dairy Mart. Campus Book and Supply has the books I need for the price I can afford. Zuzolo, Zuzolo and Zuzolo has a family of lawyers for your family, and a smooth jingle to boot. And Remnant Room, they got the deals for you. The Carpet King looked kind of like WKBN anchor Tom Holden.
Every Christmas, you know that it's the Kraynak's time of year (Sharon, again). And that the Sheely's kids will have a new song-and-dance number. In the summer, Burnett Pools - they got it all. But first get a base tan at Tropitan. Tropitan, Tropitan. In the furthest reaches of my memory, and from Cleveland, lies Garfield 1-2-3-2-3 Aluminum Siding.
I know I'm forgetting a bunch, and I could go on all day. I guess 'tis nobler to read about commercials than to watch them on television? So, consider yourselves classy, like Helen Freed.