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One Egg or Two?

One egg or two

One egg or two?

By RICHARD B. TOBIAS M.D.

1 Bn 393 Medics


     Remember the sales pitches of the 1940s and '50s? How the soda fountain counterman would hold up a fresh egg in each hand while making your milkshake and ask, "One egg or two?" Only the quick thinker could say, "None at all!" and avoid the ridiculous overcharge. Being in uniform was little protection against persuasive salesmanship!

     Did wartime cigarettes seem somewhat slimmer and softer than usual? Then along came the thought-producing "So round, so firm, so fully packed!" They weren't talking about our girlfriends were they? "Lucky Strike green has gone to war!" excused the money-saving simplified cigarette packaging, but didn't excuse all the emerging bastard brands, which somehow got into or C and K rations by demanding equal time with the big name brands. Remember Alligators? Twenty Grand? Ugh! Their quality rivaled Canadian yellow-leaf atrocities.

     "Want some whipped cream on that?" the soda fountain counterman would ask when you ordered a dish of ice cream. That gave automatic permission to add a maraschino cherry, at least, creating a comparatively costly sundae. Salesmanship? Akin to "Want the works?" on your hamburg - meaning pickle, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup, and Lord knows what else, making an expensive full-course meal out of a simple meat patty.

     The French brought each drink on a separate new saucer, your tab depending on how many; British biscuits - we called them cookies, whatever - were a tempting array on one's table, until the waitress carefully noted how many were missing as she included the per-each charge on your bill. You mean you didn't know? Tough stuff, buddy! Like the barkeep's careful suds-wiping before sliding your pint across the bar. Room temperature cider, bitters, war-time ale, porter, whatever - who could tell the difference? Prices? Just put a couple pound notes on the bar and hope for the best. Chances were, no change, a bit more recommended as a "tip" - strongly hinted although not demanded.

     Then how about that 15 percent "service charge" put on many bills - think that satisfied the server, waitress, maid? Who do you think got it? Think again, and ante up more!

     Let's face it - we American GIs were a bunch of yokels, for sure, ripe for the picking anywhere, at home or overseas. Sure we were appreciated, but more so was our money.

     Exceptions? Naturally, although not so obvious. Discounts sometimes, unbilled add-ons occasionally; appreciative gestures, USO facilities, hometown canteen hospitality - we often took advantage of such without thinking - or even thanking. We were entitled? Maybe so.

     That's now thankfully in the past, stimulus for memories. Never again, we say. Oh yeah? We'd behave the same as before, given the opportunity (and without the memories). It just seemed OK at the time. Still does.

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