A Kix Cereal Box-top and Fifteen Cents for a Genuine Atomic Bomb Ring!

I recall as if it were yesterday: I had collected a Kix cereal box-top, enclosed fifteen cents, and sent away for an atomic bomb ring! Promotions involving cereal box-tops were common back in the mid to late nineteen-forties, but this one was special – this one really tweaked my boyish enthusiasms!

The ad beckoned: See Real Atoms Split to Smithereens Inside Ring!

This mail-order offer dates to approximately 1947/48 when I was a seven-year old living in Chicago, Illinois. That would have been approximately two years after the world first heard of the atomic bomb and its use on Japan.

Within a week after mailing in my money and box-top, I began badgering my mother every afternoon: Did my ring arrive in the mail, today? I distinctly recall my agony-of-waiting as the elapsed time went well beyond three weeks. Finally, a little brown box arrived at our Wrightwood Avenue address, and I was beside myself with happiness as I unpacked the jaunty little finger-bomb with its polished metal nose and snappy red-plastic tail assembly which could be removed to reveal a glass-covered “viewing chamber.”

A small sheet of directions told how to condition the “radioactive” material inside the viewing chamber by exposing the ring to a bright light and then retreating to a dark environment (my mother’s closed pantry) in order to view tiny scintillations of light in the viewing chamber – the result of atomic activity.

I recall that the scintillations were there, for sure, but that they were not brightly visible. It took a bit of “peering” to reveal them.

Nonetheless, at age seven, I was thrilled with the atomic bomb ring-thing even though the more sinister aspects it represented were lost on me and, I suspect, on most Americans who were busily forging a new future after the devastation of World War II. Atomic energy and nuclear weapons had only recently been revealed to the general public; this little ring represented the excitement and mystery of the “new” technology in the eyes of the public.

I fondly recall sending for many such cereal box-top/mail-order offers when I was a kid: the excitement of ordering the newest treasure, and the agony of waiting for it to arrive are still vivid in my mind’s-eye even as I approach eighty years of age…and I am glad to still have such vivid recollections! Of all the mail-order offers I recall sending for as a youngster, none of them can surpass my fond memories surrounding the Kix atomic bomb ring. Sometimes, in life, little things can mean a lot.

Talbot’s Toyland Closing: One Last Look After Sixty-Six Years

This post is an epilogue to my previous post on the closing of our local toy and hobby store, Talbot’s Toyland. Sadly, the store’s demise comes after sixty-six years as one of San Mateo’s finest establishments, located since its opening in 1953 at the downtown corner of B Street and Fifth Avenue. Read my post from January 18, 2020 for background to the story.

Last Sunday, Linda and I were visiting our daughter and her family in San Mateo, California, the town north of here where I spent my teen-age years. As described in my previous post, two downtown San Mateo stores were my go-to places for all things in the hobby/toy category: Hobby Haven and Talbot’s Toyland.

Hobby Haven is long gone, although the historic Wisnom Building, erected in 1907 by one of San Mateo’s founding fathers, remains virtually unchanged today. Hobby Haven resided there for close to a decade, dating from 1953. Today, after serving many varied occupants over its one-hundred and twelve years, the venerable old building houses a Sushi restaurant!

Last Sunday, after saying goodbye to our daughter and her family, we traveled to
San Mateo’s downtown with two purposes in mind: to browse at B Street Books and to take one last look at Talbot’s before its doors closed forever. Immediately upon entering the familiar front door of the store, I was confronted with the sad reality. This venerable toy store, which, for all of its sixty-six years was brimming with the finest toys available, was now a mere shell of its former self.

The many shelves and glass display cabinets that were part of the store’s long history were now either bare or gone entirely from the premises. There were a number of last-minute shoppers in the store looking for a closing sale bargain, and there were also folks with cameras there for just one last look at downtown San Mateo’s iconic toy store – folks just like me.

Formerly the “doll corridor,” lined with brightly-lit display cases

As far as I could discern, there was little left of value to the last shoppers except for some huge stuffed animals which would require buyers with fat wallets and large homes. Apparently, the huge dinosaur inside the front door was not for sale! Good luck to the tiger and the buffalo in finding a suitable home.

For those of us who are old enough and fortunate enough to have literally “grown up” since 1953 with fond memories of Talbot’s and the downtown of yester-year, the closing of this wonderful toy and hobby store is closely akin to losing a dear family member. Indeed, the life cycle of such stores reminds us that, no matter how noble the enterprise or the individual, we are all only booked, here, for a limited engagement

Talbot’s Toyland Closing After 66 Years in San Mateo: Another Victim of Internet Shopping

After sixty-six years in the same location, Talbot’s Toyland in downtown San Mateo, California is sadly closing its doors for good. But the closing is decidedly not good given that this is happening to what has long been the go-to toy and hobby store, here, in this high-tech mecca known as Silicon Valley.

When Talbot’s first opened its doors in 1953, I was a thirteen-year old lad in the eighth grade living within three miles of downtown San Mateo. Talbot’s Toyland quickly became my other go-to downtown location – a welcome addition to San Mateo’s long-time local hobby shop, Hobby Haven. Hobby Haven was owned and operated for many years by Howard Yonkers and his wife. Yonkers catered to all ages and ranks of model airplane builders and model rail enthusiasts. The Yonkers’ little shop was also located on B Street (and First Avenue), several blocks across the downtown from Talbot’s. Many were the occasions during those early years when I excitedly hopped on my bicycle with a few dollars in my pocket, cycled via the Third Avenue overpass over the 101 freeway (known then as the Bayshore Highway), and headed downtown. There were always plenty of desirable model airplane kits on the shelves at Talbot’s and Hobby Haven, models whose aura was literally “eating a hole in my young pocket.”

Talbot’s Closing, the Changing Nature of Downtowns,
and the Evolution of Our Shopping Habits

Talbot’s Toyland in the very early years

Downtown San Mateo in the nineteen-fifties was idyllic in so many ways. Even though my sister and I lived on the “wrong side” of the Bayshore Highway back then, our family of four realized we were fortunate to be so close to the downtown and the western foothills of San Mateo. Looking back in time from this new year of 2020 with the clarity of 20-20 hindsight, we could not have fully appreciated, then, just how wonderful life and living was in San Mateo in the nineteen-fifties – even for families like ours living on tight budgets with little extra money.

Today, I am constantly reminded of the stark contrast between present-day San Mateo and the downtown environs of my boyhood in the nineteen-fifties. One particular recollection surfaces every time we travel north to spend an afternoon, there with our daughter and her family. As was true back then, the two major streets leading to and through the downtown are Third and Fourth Avenues. At any time of the day, the traffic into town on Third and out of town on Fourth is continuous, fast, and heavy. Today, whenever we leave the downtown to drive home, we take Fourth Avenue for the short hop to the 101 freeway. I recall very well the days when I and a few of my friends played touch-football in the middle of Fourth Avenue with only an occasional passing car halting play! With so many more people living in and around San Mateo today, the days of motoring into downtown and casually swinging into a parking space in front of one’s destination are at once an amusing and troubling recollection.

Today, Talbot’s Toyland is closing after sixty-six years of exemplary retailing to the residents of San Mateo. Hobby Haven disappeared many, many years ago, and downtown San Mateo has, like so many now-older downtowns in the region, morphed into numerous hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants and food-bars. The images of the old, iconic downtown highlights remain only in photographs and the memories of those of us who were there back then: Stately old St. Matthews Catholic Church in the heart of downtown, Sherman Clay for pianos, music, and records, Foreman’s Camera on Fourth Ave. for everything photographic, elegant Blum’s Ice Cream/Creamery on Fourth Ave., home of the “banana-bonanza,” the venerable Benjamin Franklin Hotel on Third Ave., the San Mateo movie theatre right next to the Ben Franklin, Levy Bros. department store on Fourth Ave., the Baywood movie Theatre on B Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, to name a few. These were but a handful of the landmarks whose presence truly defined the nature of such an ideal, young, and prospering downtown.

It is fascinating for me to still occasionally discover a small remaining storefront, or section thereof, which awakens long-held memories of downtown San Mateo in her glory days. Central Park, located on Fifth Avenue and El Camino Real, is still much as it was back then. The spacious baseball field with its green outfield and its bleachers, known then as “Fitzgerald Field,” is virtually unchanged as is the venerable, black wrought-iron fence that has long separated the ball field and the park itself from busy El Camino Real. El Camino is that storied artery which traverses the better part of the San Francisco Peninsula, north to south. The name translated from Spanish reads, “The Highway of Kings.”

I recall sitting in the bleachers of Fitzgerald Field and watching Dan Lacy’s varsity baseball team from nearby San Mateo High School play ball in Central Park. I myself roamed right field as a (very) occasional substitute outfielder on the San Mateo Lions summer league baseball team in 1955. I also recall seeing Howard Yonkers, the afore-mentioned owner of nearby Hobby Haven, fly his fantastic, U-control, dyna-jet powered, large-scale model of the De Havilland Vampire in the middle of the outfield, there. Yes, San Mateo still evokes many special memories!

Shopping Today in the Amazon Jungle

The changing nature of downtown in cities like San Mateo all-across the country can be directly attributed to the effects of internet technology. High-speed communications/inventory management made possible by computers along with the rapid delivery of goods made possible by high-speed, economical air travel have transformed the way we shop. The economy inherent in Amazon’s internet storefront has altered forever that quaint and comforting nature of the downtown “general store” and the personal touch to shopping which naturally devolves from a first-hand relationship with the proprietor and sales-people who own and operate the business. Big department store chains like Sears, J.C. Penny, Macys and the Emporium have fallen victim to the economy and the convenience that the internet offers shoppers. But everything in this world has its price, and for the shopper that means being largely on one’s own when it comes to finding the best product for the money or obtaining detailed information on a potential purchase. Unskilled, part-time, and generally uninvested labor now sparsely populates the cash registers of mall shopping sites. Good luck trying to locate anyone on the floor who really knows their merchandise. Often, there is no one in sight to even ring-up a sale!

Support Your Local Merchants!

My wife and I make it a point to do this on a regular basis. When browsing at our local bookstore, we often discover what looks like a must-read and, as often as not, we purchase the book there even though it might cost several dollars more than the same book on Amazon. No, we do not have money to throw around, and, yes, we often purchase from Amazon because, like most folks, we need to watch our spending. Buying from our local bookseller is our way of saying thanks: thanks for providing a cozy, downtown venue in which to browse, and thanks for putting before our eyes a book that we might otherwise never have discovered!

We patronized Talbot’s Toyland in recent years with the same attitude: trying to do our part to keep them viable in downtown San Mateo. Clearly, not enough folks had the same approach to buying. The last two years saw a distinct fall-off in “foot-traffic” in the store which was noticeable in a store as large and complete as Talbot’s. This past Christmas, we were in the store on a Thursday evening two weeks before Christmas buying a few gifts for our grandsons. We were virtually the only shoppers for the half-hour we were in the store. I knew, then, that the end was near for this iconic San Mateo landmark. The store’s closing was announced soon after the holidays. Seemingly, like a law of nature, all good things must end!

At play, along with the economics and shopping convenience associated with Talbot’s closing, there is also the undeniable fact that the favorite toys of today’s young set have changed drastically from the toys we seniors loved in our youth.

Above: a display case in Talbot’s hobby department taken several years ago. These exquisite die-cast World War II warbirds rather quickly disappeared from Talbot’s display cases as us old-timers who remembered them began to “die-off,” as explained to me by Talbot’s staff! These iconic propeller-driven airplanes were soon replaced on display by jet aircraft and star-wars type “galactic fighters!”


My World War II British Spitfire –
purchased at Talbot’s during the store’s transition to the jet-age!

The large World War I Fokker Triplane which hung there for years

Last, but not least, recent years found Talbot’s selection of Lionel electric trains to be a mere shadow of that in the earlier days – as pictured, here!

Sadly, the trend toward present-day realities convinced me long ago that Talbot’s ultimate demise was not a question of if, but a question of when.

Thank you, Talbot’s Toyland, for the great years and the fond memories!

Lionel Electric Trains: A Christmas Tradition

Looking back on my life with seventy-nine plus years of hindsight, I recall some very special times and experiences. Among the fondest of my boyhood memories are those connected with Christmas and electric trains.

I had my first electric train before I was two! It was a swell American Flyer set from the 1941 catalogue of the A.C. Gilbert Company. I believe there were two reasons why my financially strapped parents bought me a then-sophisticated train set at such an early age: my dad couldn’t wait for me to have one and World War II would not wait before steering many manufacturing companies like Lionel toward wartime production work. Toy train production ceased until 1945/46.

Although my American Flyer train set provided me with some of my most precious boyhood joys, Lionel trains controlled the lion’s share of seasonal sales. From its beginnings in 1906 as the brainchild of its founder, Joshua Lionel Cowen, the company maintained its leadership position by offering innovative and colorful toy trains and accessories – all supported by a brilliant staff of employees in sales and marketing. Lionel’s catalogues from the nineteen-thirties through the fifties are colorful collector’s items and persistent reminders of the glory-days of toy trains. A perfect example is the cover of the 1949 Lionel catalogue (pictured above) which thrilled the hearts of young boys while capturing the color and the joy of Lionel at Christmas-time.

A close look at that cover will reveal an all-white box car on the middle track unloading small milk cans onto a platform. The “milk car,” with its trainman who deposits a miniature milk can on the platform deck at the touch of a remote-control button, was a post-war introduction which became one of Lionel’s all-time best sellers.

After retirement nineteen years ago, I succumbed to the magic of Lionel and bought several trains, accessories, and a significant assortment of track and switches – enough to satisfy my lifelong yearning for things Lionel. I recently bought the present-day version of the milk car to expand my collection.

While on vacation in the town of McMinnville, Oregon last October, I happened upon a like-new postwar Lionel automatic gateman (ca. 1946 – 1950) displayed with other vintage trains in a downtown antique store. I bought it for the bargain price of $37 figuring it would be a steal…if it actually worked. It works just fine!

My boyhood American Flyer train set had its own Lionel gateman, fashioned in brightly colored tin-plate just like my new acquisition. For numerous Christmases since 1942, my original gateman never failed to burst from his “shack” with illuminated red lantern swinging at the approach of every train. I still have that original gateman in good condition with original box and instruction sheet. A price tag on the box reads $3.95: now that is a real bargain! The Lionel gateman is Lionel’s all-time best seller: it has enthralled kids and adults for generations with the colorful action it brings to any train layout.

Joshua Lionel Cowen was a brilliant marketer of his company’s wares. He hired the best writers and illustrators for his annual train catalogues. Those illustrations of sleek, powerful trains thundering down the track were like a siren-song to young boys like me. Although well aware that my family could not afford to buy me the trains I longed for, nothing provided more pleasure than to sit at the kitchen table having a cream-cheese and jelly sandwich for lunch, a Lionel catalogue spread out before me: pure joy, then, and wonderful nostalgia, now!

The milk car and cattle car, pictured in the 1947 catalogue, are prime examples of Lionel’s creative manufacturing and marketing prowess.
In 1937, Lionel released their famous 700E Hudson-class locomotive. That engine ushered into the toy train business a degree of detailed realism never-before imagined. Die-cast engines now replaced the fanciful tin-plate trains of prior decades and signaled the merger of serious model railroading with the whimsical toy trains of the past. The 700E was featured on the cover of the 1937 catalogue.

Today, the core of Lionel’s business stems from older adults like myself who finally made their boyhood dreams a reality later in life. The high-end of today’s Lionel offerings features remote-controlled trains that not only chug, smoke, and whistle, but can be individually controlled on large layouts featuring multiple trains. The push of a button will enable selected conversations between the engineer and the yard foreman controlling traffic on the rails. This railroad chatter all emanates from the engine, itself. Lionel has kept pace with the burgeoning tech industry while providing impressive realism in its trains. Today’s catalogue lists Lionel’s top engines at well over $2000.

In 1990, Lionel issued an improved version of their famous 700E Hudson locomotive from 1937. I purchased a fine example on E-bay; it is the crowning piece in my train collection and a very handsome steam engine, for sure.

Today, Lionel still caters to the fancies of youngsters by offering lower-priced theme trains such as “The Polar Express” and “Thomas the Tank Engine.” Serious model railroaders are the reason Lionel is still on the scene after one-hundred and thirteen years of existence, however. Although the company has survived changing times (in the extreme) and changing management, it continues forward.

How many corporations have lasted for more than one-hundred years? Not many, if any. I for one am glad that Lionel is still with us and that the magic of toy trains going clickety-clack down the rails still resonates.

Precious are the many family Christmases beginning in the early nineteen-forties when my electric train was busily running around its large oval of track underneath the tree. In the early days, my train did not appear until Christmas morning (kudos to my dad for his late-night efforts on Christmas eve). After three weeks or so, the tree came down, the train was boxed and stored away, and I did not see it until the next Christmas. In hindsight, it seems almost cruel that my enthusiasm for playing with my train should be curtailed for a whole year. Times were different, then.


Alan and friend, Judy: Christmas, Chicago 1946

I can only surmise that our crowded apartment precluded the possibility of having an electric train underfoot apart from the special festivity of Christmas. Indeed, that practical reality served to reinforce my association of toy trains with Christmas. In those early years, I often thought about my train during the year, fully anticipating the joy to come when Christmas (and my train) would finally materialize, once again.

War with Japan, Peace, and Reconciliation: The Obon Society

We arrived home several days ago from a wonderful nine-day vacation trip visiting the north coast of Oregon. Upon arriving in Portland via Southwest Airlines, we rented a car and headed for the coastal town of Astoria.

We had several goals while visiting Astoria: chief among them was the desire to visit the terminus of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804. We were also aware of a fine maritime museum just inside the treacherous “Columbia Bar,” where the mighty Columbia River disgorges huge volumes of water into the Pacific Ocean. The “Bar” is justly known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” for the many ships lost in its treacherous waters. We were not disappointed in the quality of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

During our nine days of travel and exploration which ended back in Portland, we experienced many interesting places and sights including the mammoth “Spruce Goose” seaplane built by Howard Hughes in the mid-nineteen forties. The “Goose” remains the largest airplane ever built…entirely of plywood! It flew but once in 1947 – for a whole fifteen seconds! It has been in drydock ever since and is now on permanent display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum near McMinnville, Oregon. Fascinating and breathtaking are applicable words to describe the experience of seeing the Spruce Goose in person!

And, yet, the most absorbing and poignant experience on our trip occurred in Astoria, our first stop along the way. An exhibit at the Columbia River Maritime Museum documented the story of the Yosegaki Hinomaru and the Astoria-based Obon Society. The Yosegaki Hinomaru is a flag of Japan carried into battle by Japanese soldiers during World War II. It was tradition to have family and friends inscribe their well-wishes and prayers on the flag for the soldier carrying it off to war. Large numbers of these flags, like their owners, never made their way back to Japan. Many of these flags were captured by American troops and brought home as souvenirs of the war.

The Obon Society is a non-profit organization founded by a husband and wife team from Astoria. The society’s mission is to facilitate the return of captured flags to descendants of those who carried them off to war. This, to provide a final chapter in the decades-long reconciliation with Japan. The society has a moving exhibit in the maritime museum explaining their work and displaying many examples of the Yosegaki Hinomaru.

I found the display most moving and thought-provoking. Above, a young soldier is wearing a sash with his flag attached, surrounded by family and friends and about to leave home, possibly never to return.

Here, a very young soldier proudly displays his Yosegaki Hinomaru on his way to war.

Many are the yellowed photographs still lovingly preserved by descendants of American soldiers – images which depict these Yosegaki Hinomaru as spoils of war, taken from fallen Japanese warriors. For the most part, these unique and personal flags made their way back to the states and were tucked away in trunks stored in the attics of countless places like Akron, Ohio, Poughkeepsie, New York, and Indianapolis, Indiana. In many cases, they lay undisturbed and undiscovered in those locations for years until found by descendants curious about the contents of those old trunks in the attic.

Here, Iwo Jima marines display their captured flag. The sharp creases indicate the many folds necessary for its owner to carry it on his person into battle.

We found this exhibit by the Obon Society to be extremely interesting and moving – a totally unexpected experience as we worked our way through Astoria’s fine maritime museum. The images speak volumes to any discussion of war and the nature of humanity. After World War II, when tensions began to subside and travel/communications were greatly improved, many American fighter pilots who flew against the Germans wanted nothing to do with their Nazi counterparts at the various “reunions” of flying warriors from both sides which began to materialize. For some of these American pilots, it took a while for time to heal wounds and attitudes toward their former adversaries. Most of the Americans eventually acknowledged that their former Nazi enemies in the skies were fighting to protect the homeland, just as they were. Many of the flyers from both sides became fast friends while acknowledging their common humanity in the years that followed.

Most touching of all in the Obon Society’s exhibit was a short video presentation titled Yosegaki Hinomaru Tsukashima Return which chronicles the return of one warrior’s flag to the younger brother of its owner who never returned from the war. What a mind-bender it is to witness the emotional reaction of the flag’s new owner as he recognizes some of the signatures that were laid down so many decades ago. Tearfully, he says, “You have finally returned home!”

To the Obon Society: Well done! Your efforts and the work of other such organizations constitute the glue which can cement the future hopes of peace on this planet. Recognition that our common humanity is far more significant than our differences is the message sent and, hopefully, received by men and women of good will.

An Evening with Trumpeter Chris Botti

Last Thursday, Linda and I spent an evening with Chris Botti in concert. The venue for this performance was the magnificent outdoor theatre at nearby Villa Montalvo. We were blessed with a magnificent, warm evening and a convincing show of trumpet/musical artistry from this fine performer.

Mr. Botti is no longer new to the musical scene, but he represents something rare today: a popular trumpet player who stands apart, one who reaffirms the beauty, the grace, and the versatility of this magnificent instrument.

From the era of the nineteen-twenties through the nineteen-seventies, the musical scene was peppered with trumpet/cornet icons, memorable players who popularized the instruments to a fantastic degree. I am talking about names such as Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbeck, Harry James, Randy Brooks, Bobby Hackett, Ray Anthony, and Al Hirt. Of course, the wild popularity of the big-bands beginning in the nineteen-thirties provided unparalleled opportunity for the great lead trumpeters and drummers (like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich) to show their stuff and shine as they “drove” the band, together.

With the great shift away from big-bands and their economic woes that began in the late nineteen-forties, vocalists and small groups came to the fore. The trumpet lost its “home” as the lead instrument in the great bands, and began a slide from public view, excepting the many great modern jazz players like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. But modern jazz has never been the popular “cup of tea” that the big-bands represented, and the trumpet virtually disappeared from the public’s view in the nineteen-seventies as rock-and-roll and its electric guitars presided.

So, Chris Botti represents somewhat of a “Lazarus act” for the trumpet, and I am glad to see it. He has a unique style which balances a strong jazz inclination, with a distinctly lyrical sensibility to his playing. Technically, he is a “force” on the trumpet, very much in command of the instrument and all its possibilities. And when Mr. Botti cuts loose on some of the wilder numbers, he blows the roof off, so to speak. He commands the stage and the respect of the other performers in a good way, driving and encouraging them to give their all – and they do!

We enjoyed the evening as did the audience; I left the venue assured that Chris Botti is, indeed, a force on the trumpet and pleased that the instrument has such an able and popular spokesman, once again.

Somewhere, Harry James is smiling.

Get America Moving Again: Reform Campaign Finance!

Yesterday, I watched day two of the Democratic debates in Detroit, Michigan. My overwhelming conclusion? Despite two debates with twenty candidates sparring over the best ways to solve the many problems this country faces, all but one candidate literally could not or would not see the forest for the trees.

The candidates stand during the national anthem on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The candidate running for president of the United States who enunciated clearly the single most important problem we face was ironically the most unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. That candidate was author Maryanne Williamson, on day one of the debates.

In the middle of a discussion over gun safety in this country, she was asked by CNN moderator Don Lemon: Ms. Williamson, how do you respond to this issue of gun safety? She responded:

The issue of gun safety, of course, is that the NRA has us in a chokehold, but so do the pharmaceutical companies, so do the health insurance companies, so do the fossil fuel companies, and so do the defense contractors, and none of this will change until we either pass a constitutional amendment or pass legislation that establishes public funding for federal campaigns.

But for politicians, including my fellow candidates, who themselves have taken tens of thousands — and in some cases, hundreds of thousands — of dollars from these same corporate donors to think that they now have the moral authority to say we’re going to take them on, I don’t think the Democratic Party should be surprised that so many Americans believe yada, yada, yada.

(SIGNIFICANT APPLAUSE)

It is time for us to start over with people who have not taken donations from any of those corporations and can say with real moral authority: That is over. We are going to establish public funding for federal campaigns. That’s what we need to stand up to.

We need to have a constitutional amendment. We need to have — we need to have legislation to do it.

I have heard candidate Bernie Sanders espouse similar viewpoints in the past, but Ms. Williamson’s remarks during these debates stood alone…and tall.

Many promises and good intentions were bandied about among the candidates in Detroit. Here are just a few:

-Reform our health-care system.

-Crack-down on powerful pharmaceutical companies which charge Americans outrageous prices for critical medicines.

-Reduce fossil fuels within ten years to protect our planet from climate change.

-Rein-in the military/industrial complex in this country which has played a role in some of our unnecessary and unwise involvements, abroad.

-Abolish assault weapons and enforce effective gun registration.

The list is long, but I ask the candidates: Do you truly believe any necessary, constructive change can take place when congressional members are largely bought and paid for by the lobbyists who (very successfully) influence legislation on behalf of their powerful clients? Come on, candidates, get serious! Follow the money. Legislate that all campaign finance for government office be taxpayer-funded and strictly regulated.

The pay-for-play system prevalent in our government, today, places us precariously on the slippery-slope leading to a completely corrupt government. Never, has that been more evident.