Saturday, December 19, 2015
Some thoughts regarding Lillian Vernon Schoolhouse Frames
It's been a long time since we've veered into the truly trivial, and this seems a good moment.
Because really, you can only hammer so long on the inadequacy of the Republican presidential candidates, the angry aggrievement of the cops, the country's thickening miasma of fear, the wrecked circus train of various national woes, before it all gets too frustrating and repetitive.
Besides, what can be done? Not much.
Today's topic, I guarantee, will lead some to bold definitive, decisive action, at least for a certain kind of reader.
Lillian Vernon died last Monday. and if that name rings a bell, it is for what the New York Times called her "sprawling catalog business that specialized in personalized gifts and ingenious gadgets" in its fond send-off.
Lillian Vernon, the company, sold Christmas stockings and customized doormats, lawn furniture covers and throw pillows, wicker baskets and yard signs.
Not the sort of stuff I'd run to purchase, though, like everybody else, I flipped through the catalogues when they arrived. It was like sneaking through the window of a those small box homes you drive past and wonder about. This is where they get their stuff, their personalized place mats, their beach tote bags.
If that sounds elitist, I've said it wrong. All of our lives are small and human and poignant and proud in equal measure, whether you get your cluttered crap from Neiman Marcus or Lillian Vernon or Goodwill.
Besides, the Steinberg household proudly displays one item from the Lillian Vernon catalogue. Something we saw on display at the home of our friends in Naperville, and immediately purchased for ourselves, not once, but twice.
Which is the purpose of my post today. Not to make a political point, or to share an obscure bit of history. But to alert you to a product that you might want, if you are a new parent or know one. It makes a great gift—surprise, surprise.
Every year, every school in America takes pictures of its students. Parents don't demand the photos; they don't have to. They just occur. It's always been done, and nobody complains, beyond a wince at the price of things. Someone is getting rich off school photography. Still, it's a service. Time passes so quickly, why not force the tykes to comb their hair and look presentable once a year?
But what to do with that baker's dozen of wallet-sized formal portraits, from kindergarten to senior year in high school? They go into billfolds and purses, then drawers, then are lost, flotsam in the sea of time.
Enter the Lillian Vernon Schoolhouse Frame. It is not cheap, at $29.95, but it does the job of displaying the history in portrait form of your child's transit through public education. And considering the 13 photos they hold probably cost several hundred dollars, I suppose the additional cost isn't much more to guard and display your investment through the years. Ours have been sitting on our buffet for a decade and I'll imagine they'll be there for the rest of our lives. Then one boy, or another, or both, will hold it at arm's length, draw a sigh, and toss it into a box. Anyway, now you know about them. Please don't be one of those readers who complains if you have to read something that isn't gnawing on the Issue of the Day. Even noble Homer dozed.