by Anura Guruge
This morning watching MSNBC we discovered that ‘Old Spice‘ was back in circulation due to a very cute and clever viral video on YouTube. Deanna just loved it — though nearly all of her experiences is mainly with daughters.
What amused me about this new interest in ‘Old Spice‘ was that of late, and by that I mean the last 3 months (or so), I have been occasionally using ‘Old Spice’ as an aftershave. A few months ago I, with a penchant for collecting old bottles, saw an old, classic ‘Old Spice’ bottle, more than likely at the (ever delightful) Alton dump swap shop, and picked it up. It was not empty. It was nearly full and it smelt authentic and ‘good’. Well aftershave doesn’t spoil plus I have very thick skin. So I put the bottle on my bathroom sink and use it — not every day, but maybe a few times a week. I have used ‘Old Spice’ in the past but I was never into it — much. I wasn’t that enamoured with its smell.
For as long as I can remember ‘Faberge Brut‘ was my goto aftershave, definitely in my 20s, 30s and 40s. The green bottle, with the suspended badge, was very much a part of my life. I, of course, remember the ‘tall’ brown box, just like in this image. I think the Brut had to do with me having been a ‘Diplomatic Brat‘ in the 1970s. There are certain things whose prices are kind of upside down if you can get them ‘duty-free’ at true, diplomats-only prices — ideally from a specialized store (such as in the UNESCO building in Paris) or from a specialized catalog. Brut must have been ‘cheap’ duty-free, as was good caviar. When I was attending University in Swansea in the early 1970s I could get caviar for cheaper than I could buy cans of sardines. So I would have bottles and bottles of caviar sent to me. I think ditto for Brut.
I had really not given much thought at all to my affectation for Brut until I got an e-mail, in 2001, from a lady who wanted to determine whether I, like her, had worked for Wang, at the iconic Wang Towers in Lowell, MA. She had seen me on the Internet and was trying to place me. Her description of me was: ‘were you the guys who always wore a three-piece suit and smelled of Brut. Us secretaries always knew you were around from the Brut …’. To begin with I was mortified. I had not realized that Brut had become a trademark. Then I started laughing. Well, that had to have been me. The three-piece suit reference alone was a dead giveaway. At that time I lived in three-piece or double-breasted suits from London. So, after I got that e-mail I went and checked. I didn’t have any Brut! Next time I was in Manchester I stopped and got a bottle.
I don’t have any Brut right now either — and that is OK. Deanna used to get me men’s fragrance, usually ‘Perry Ellis’. I think I still have three bottles, of light blue stuff, in various stages of use, in the bathroom. Yes, women have told Deanna that her husband smells good. I am glad — though I am also known to take the occasional shower, whether I need it or not.
During the last 5 years or so, old age having crept in, nostalgia played a major role in my life. I used to remember the Bay Rum they used to put on my head, in Ceylon, after a hair cut. I always liked the smell of Bay Rum. Very robust and masculine. I went looking for Bay Rum. Of course, thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can find anything. I have been using this ‘Ogallala‘ (and what a name) ‘Bay Rum‘, from this blue bottle, for the last few years. I can use it on my hair and on my face. Twofer. I really do like the smell. Yes, I also have a bottle of ‘Brylcreem‘! Yep, this nostalgia thing has bit deep. I am the retro man, 1950s all over again.
I have NEVER relied on aftershave as an astringent. As I once heard, famously, slapping your face alone does as well. I am sucker for LOTION. For 40 years, without fail, day-in, day-out, I used ‘Oil of Olay‘ original on my face. I still use some form of lotion on my face everyday, without fail. I can’t face the day without it. So, the lotion takes care of the skin conditioning. So, for me, the aftershave is just for the smell. For now, I am cool with the Ogallala Bay Rum. But, now that I am thinking of it, I will have to get some Brut and start buying some old, iconic Brut bottles on eBay.
…by Anura Guruge
I moved to New Hampshire in the Fall of 1986 BECAUSE of the motto!
I was living in Maryland (having come over from Britain in February 1985 (for what was my second stint in the U.S.)) and had been offered a job with Wang in Lowell. On one of the trips up to Lowell I saw a NH license plate and knew that I had no choice. I had to live in NH because that motto struck a chord. I was hooked. I could relate to it.
I still love it. I even adopted it to be mine: ‘Think Free Or Die‘, as you can see on my Web site.
I will, however, readily confess that despite my obvious fondness and affinity I had never bothered to check up on its origins or history. I am also sure that it wasn’t a topic covered in depth in my 2-day ‘Granite State Ambassador‘ (GSA) training class in 2001.
So, I was taken aback, when reading in my AARP Monthly Supplement for September (and getting even more convinced that I am ready to shortly keel over) an article about the battle ground states for the November election I saw a claim that the ‘Live Free Or Die‘ had only come to be in 1945. Wow. I had assumed that it went back to the 1860s, post U.S. Civil War. Since I do not take everything I read as Gospel I Googled it. Wow. They were right.
1945 — during the midst of WW II. The State Emblem came to be at the same time. I learned a lot in a very short time.
It comes from the American Revolutionary War, as opposed to the Civil War. It was coined by General John Stark, supposedly NH’s most famous soldier in that war. He wrote it, in July 31, 1809, as a toast to be given at a Battle of Bennington anniversary reunion dinner that he could not attend due to poor health. His toast was: Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.
I kind of remember seeing that there had been protests against the motto — especially its appearance on ALL NH non-commercial license plates. I now found details. As you could guess there are those that find this battle cry too incendiary, especially the part about the dying. Per the U.S. Supreme Court, as of 1977, you can cover up part of the motto on license plates … possibly even the whole motto, though in 27-years of living in NH I don’t recall ever seeing a covered up motto.