Friday, May 02, 2008


I had the pleasure of bringing home a bunch of cassette tapes from our trip to Memphis last August. My sister had asked me to transfer them to CD, as I was trying to transfer other old ones into digital format. One of those cassettes featured a celebration of my Uncle Tommy’s 25th birthday in 1952, two years before I was born. It was such fun to sit there and listen in on my uncle, aunt, parents, all who were young adults at the time, fool around with the tape recorder, cracking jokes, and doing generally silly things. My maternal grandfather even joined in, as he was an old hand at “broadcasting,” since he used to have a radio show earlier in life.

Uncle Tommy at that time was apparently fascinated with a commercial for Ajax cleanser. Here’s how their jingle went, and a little paragraph about the ad campaign:

Use Ajax (ba bum)
The foaming cleanser (ba ba buma bum bum)
Cleans pots and pans just like a whiz (buba buba buba buba bum)
You'll stop paying the elbow tax
When you start cleaning with Ajax
So use Ajax (ba bum)
The foaming cleanser (ba ba buma bum bum)
Floats the dirt right down the drain (buba buba buba bum)
So use Ajax!
Ajax Pixies - Three energetic pixies who cavorted about kitchens and bathrooms cleaning dirty surfaces with Ajax Cleanser. Created by the Sherman & Marguette Advertising Agency for the Colgate-Palmolive Company, these three pointy-eared personalities were TV's first animated commercial mascots. Their Ajax Cleanser commercial also introduced TVs first jingle "You'll stop paying the elbow tax, when you start cleaning with Ajax." The pixies (a fat, a thin and a tall pixie all under three-inches in height) interacted with live-action shots and piped such scripted lines as "Foams as it cleans," "Cuts grease fast" and "Floats the dirt right down the drain." The commercials were accompanied by a bouncy "Bum, Bum, Bum, Bum Bum" musical score written by Joe Rines. Ajax "the foaming Cleanser" debuted on television with its three animated pixie mascots in 1948 and continued through the 1950s.

So on the tape, Uncle Tommy took the microphone around and had everyone present sing a shortened version of the Ajax jingle, changing the word “drain” to “dwain.” I know, it doesn’t sound like much entertainment these days, but the participants were obviously having a blast. Every time I think of drains, I think of this jolly family party in 1952.

And when do I think of drains? When I consider how I use my time and with whom I spend my time, and what impact this is on my life. Ever since we started to simplify, how to spend my time has been a major concern. It’s bad enough to waste money (and we have certainly done our share), but to waste time is worse. Time is so limited, and on top of that, we have no idea how much we have allotted to us. The older I become, the more acutely aware I am of the fact that I’m on the top of the hourglass and most of the sand is at the bottom now.

My desire is for energy, because I still have so much I want to accomplish in the coming years. In reality, though, it’s easy to watch all that potential energy float down the drain like the dirt in the jingle. So I am constantly examining my life, trying to identify the people, things, activities, and thoughts that drain me. That is where I need to make changes.

I told one of my friends the other day, who was thinking she needed to spend less time on the computer and more time in uplifting and productive activities, that on her deathbed she will not sigh and say, “I wish I’d spent more time in chat rooms on the Internet” or “I wish I’d spent more time on the computer” or “I wish I’d spent more time watching TV and living life vicariously.” What will I say? If I died today and had time enough to reflect before the event, I would say: “I wish I had spent more time with family. I wish I had spent more time in God’s beautiful, amazing, natural world. I wish I had had more patience, been more considerate, been more loving and forgiving. I wish I had not allowed so many negative people and thoughts, worries and anxieties in my life that drained me so much that I had little energy to devote to things I love, like my quilts, my music, and my books. I wish I had used my time more effectively to make the world a better place.” I’m not saying that we have to make decisions about what is good versus what is bad; I’m only saying we have to make decisions about what may be good versus what is better - what may be an adequate, occasionally enjoyable way to spend our time versus what is the best and most uplifting way to spend our time. And that, my friends, may be different for each of us. We are each answerable to our own idea of how to live our own life.

We are going through many changes at work, many of them quite challenging. I have a co-worker who is unfortunately looking at everything negatively. She is a sweet person, but easily discouraged, and life is weighing her down. Now, I’m not a pollyanna by any means, but I have learned in life that a positive attitude is energizing, and a negative one is draining. There is certainly enough negativity in the news these days, and I am not trying to make light of the fact that the economy is in serious trouble, energy prices and grocery prices and the war and everything else can be enough to make one want to hide away from it all. There are surely times I want to complain and whine and wring my hands in frustration. I have found that the more negativity I surround myself with, the more worried and anxious and drained I become. Having a “positive attitude” is so cliche, I know, but I believe it contributes to energy, contentment, and productivity.

We can’t avoid completely the drains in our lives. But we can minimize their effects by staying aware of who they are, where they are, and how they subtly infiltrate our activities and slowly suck the life out of us. If anything goes down the drain, let it be negativity, complaining, anxiety, confusion, and regret. Then the drain becomes a friend instead of a saboteur. You just have to know exactly what you want to see float out of your life.


Joy said...

I'm getting off the computer right now.

Cuidado said...

Me too.

Anne Skumsnes said...

Hi Carol
I´m so impressed with your blog, I think you write so well! It is certainly a big step between what we think inside us and what we are able to espress. You do it so well I think!

I have a blogg too, but I really haven´t started it. Thank you for sharing your thougts and good look to master those dark thoughts in your mind.
Love from

Kathy Nicholls said...

What a great story about your family. You are so right about the things that drain our energy and the need to refocus. As you know, it's been a real challenge for me lately. This just reminds me of what's important. And now I believe I will not spend all day at this computer today and do something that's amazing and enjoyable! Thanks, Carol, for sharing this one.