Tobe Frank: The things we find!

To be frank, I’m amazed by some of the things we find occasionally.

The other day I was looking for something in the missus’ sewing box (it’s too hard to explain what it was so let’s just go with ‘something’ OK).  Those things are the female version of a bloke’s tackle box right? All manner of crap, both useful and useless.  Half of it I’m sure you’ve been conned into ‘absolutely can’t live without it’.  Completely essential to hooking that prized fish or getting that interlocking hem just right.  I’m sure both boxes could be almost emptied and it wouldn’t make a difference to the end result… Fish specimens that wouldn’t satisfy a small cats hunger pains, and replica clothing lines that simply end up doing a better job of polishing the car than their intended purpose of making you look good.

Anyway, among all the all crap that I came across, was a small tin filled with even smaller buttons.  It wasn’t the buttons that interested me so much as it was the tin itself.

Pictured here, you get a priceless reminder of the simplicity and candour to which products were marketed in the past.  I can just hear Don “Thunder Throat” LaFontaine’s booming voice broadcasting,


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Think Nyal Figsen, the gentle laxative.

For those times when your stool stalls at the starting line!


I mean, it’s just so simple… A tin of laxatives for constipation.  Easy right?  No second-guessing.  It’s all there in black and white.  No getting it mixed up with a tin of rock candy.  Nowadays it’d be a bottle of Dulcolax… I mean who knows what that’s for?  Dullness?  Cholera?  Where’s the instruction manual?  Sounds more like a brand of paint than a laxative.

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It’s funny though how marketing, branding and all things selling has taken on a very sophisticated, contrived, often misleading bent.  I mean coffee used to be coffee, not freeze-dried, organic, fair-trade, 100% Arabica green blend coffee.  Is it still coffee or is it something else.  The tins used to be big so ‘COFFEE’ could be emblazoned on the side of it in the largest possible font.  Now it needs a large tin just so it’s got the space required to explain what the hell it is.

But I digress. I just love stumbling across a piece of history, an old memory, a favourite photo… Something that you just haven’t seen for ages.  Sometimes I get so sidetracked by my discoveries, that I forget what I was doing in the first place… Like a fetching a fresh towel for the missus whose angrily drip-drying in the meantime.

It kind of reminds me of the time when I worked in a bakery when I was a young lad.  Well, I didn’t so much work in the bakery as I did clean it on my way home from school… Had to earn a living so I could keep my brothers in Uni, at least that’s what I tell the kids and grandkids… Yep sacrificed my afternoons just so they could go and study law and pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, I was throwing the bags of rubbish into the big industrial bin one day and I noticed a pile of magazines in the bin.  I also noticed a nice big pair of boobs staring back at me from inside of one of the magazines.  Hello, what have we here?  My Albert Einstein sized discovery was in fact waste product from the newsagent next door.  Piles and piles of girlie magazines that were now outta date, simply tossed in the bin, bound for the dump.  Well bugger me, those girls have never dated in my mind!  So I did what any normal teenage kid would do… I looked over my shoulder, coast clear. I took a big breath and dove into the bin with all the style and grace of a buffalo being run off a cliff by a pack of hungry Indians.  I grabbed two copies of each magazine I could find, one for me and one to on-sell, stuffed them down my pants and got the hell outta there.  My best mate, who shared the bakery job on alternate days, was amazed when I told him of our haul.

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A month later same thing, only this time it was Miss April!  Bonanza!  Soon we had a little racket going where we’d flog as many copies as we could, although I guess in hindsight we were just lessening the burden on the land fill (our use of tissue may have counter acted that… hmmm).  One for me, one for my mate and the rest for the black market at school.  Business boomed.  We coined the term ‘bin diving’ as our code for our new found activity when talking on the phone.

My old lady must have worked it out one day though.  I went in search of my stash and couldn’t find it.  I searched high and low to no avail.  All I found was a note… From the old lady…  Which read,

“I don’t mind you reading these things, but if you do it in my house I’ll grab you by the ear lobe and walk you down for confessional with Father Stephen faster than you can grab a hand full of tissues!”

…or something like that anyway.

Ahhh, the things you find!