It’s funny what can trigger a memory. A friend on FB today posted a few lyrics from the song “Convoy”, and I was immediately taken back 40 years.
Listen, you wanna put that Microbus in behind that suicide jockey? Yeah, he’s haulin’ dynamite, and he needs all the help he can get.
The singer of “Convoy”, C. W. McCall, is a man named Bill Fries in real life. He did commercials for Old Home bread, which is what actually launched his recording career. (I also found out today that they must have licensed the concept out — another friend saw slightly altered versions as commercials for “Kern’s Bread” in Kentucky.)
Old Home was a brand name for Metz Baking Company, which is where my dad worked. It was around 1974, so I was only 5 or so, but I can remember Dad and us younger kids going to watch a commercial being filmed once. It was summer, and hot, so we were out of school. I think I already had my glasses, so it was probably the summer after kindergarten for me.
My memories are bolstered by later seeing the pictures we had in the photo album: we got to sit in the cab of the truck, and we met C.W. McCall and Mavis, and the mother, and the dog Sloan.
I do remember I got a really nice, warm, cushy hug from the mother, and she held me on her lap for a while. I’m guessing I remember that because it was a rare thing for me to get such physical affection from a motherly figure.
I can also remember that Sloan the dog was supposed to eat a whole package of buns and try as they might, he wouldn’t finish the whole thing. After two or three packages of buns it became clear that this was a losing battle, as the dog was getting more full with each attempt.
You can view all 12 original commercials here. None of these spots seem to exactly fit what I remember. There isn’t one that has the mother AND the dog at the cafe. #10 is the closest one – at least the dog is eating a bun – but I don’t remember the poodle being there, and the mother isn’t in it.
But they could have been shooting footage for more than one commercial. I think the cafe itself was real — or at least the disused building was real — and out in the middle of nowhere. I also read one comment on youtube that said the two main actors were from Dallas. So it would make sense to film as much as possible in one day, for later use. By commercial #10 it was clear that the series was a winner, so the whole story arc would probably have been fleshed out by then, and they would have had an idea what scenes they would be needing.
Just a funny little part of my childhood with my dad. Part of my reality, my history. This was my Dad being a parent as well as an executive, taking his kids along to something fun because he had the chance to, like any normal parent would do. Giving Mom a break, a day away from the kids, even.
The Triumvirate version says Dad was “brainwashing” us younger kids with fun things, so we would take his side in The Divorce.
It takes a special kind of bitter vitriol to twist normal parenting into a brainwashing campaign, but you can’t say it’s not creative.