A Nice Feature from The Global Province Letter

A Nice Feature from The Global Province Letter

Posted by Global Province Letter on Nov 13th 2019

We have the Reading Glass best customers. 

Check out the article below, where we were featured a few years back. 

Thanks to

Just a Few Good Deals, Global Province Letter, 26 March 2014What This Country Needs Is a Good Five-Cent Cigar? Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, Thomas Riley Marshall, is best known for this quip, even though he was also an able public servant whose serious proposals, masked by levity, proved that better liquids ran in his veins than those that coursed through the body of the preachy Wilson. He’s a fella, like Harry Truman, with whom it would have been fun to have shared a drink.

We and our band of worthies at college never managed to come up with the five cent-er. But our Marsh Wheelings ran eight cents apiece which is pretty good since Marshall uttered his witticism decades before we got into smoking. We’d put a few Marsh Wheelings, pointy affairs, in our lapel pocket and head off to the Old Heidelberg for an evening’s frivolity. The trick was to order Ballantine Ale which went for 30 cents instead of a bottle of beer extravagantly priced at 35 cents. That nickel saved meant that one could toss down one more bottle during the night, the tasty ale overshadowing the watery beer to boot. On a lucky occasion one would spot Paul Pickrel, editor of the Yale Review, sipping Dubonnet with his dinner, ready to tell us that the rich owed it to the rest of us to be opulent and ostentatious. They should, he felt, avoid the Puritan thriftiness which is a fate fit for people on a budget. So we smoked and drank cheap while singing the praises of the rich.

Well, we are still in search of a five-cent cigar and other good deals. We present here a few for your inspection.

Try Me Coffee. About a quarter of century ago we were walking back through the French Quarter of New Orleans to our hotel when we spied a lady unloading a package or two from the rear of an old woodie (wooden station wagon). Turns out it was coffee and she was making a delivery to a café. I asked her if it was any good and she said, “But of course.” She was the proprietor of Try Me Coffee where a pound of its finest will put a lot of hair on your chest. The chicory gives it a real bite: it’s as strong as full-strength gasoline where somebody has forgotten to take out the lead.

Even today it does not cost that much more than we paid in ancient time—maybe seven bucks or so. And if you are in New Orleans, it is a hoot to go over and see its old fashioned roasters.

American Reading Glasses. You used to be able to go to your corner drugstore and get some sturdy eyeglasses off the rack which did not cost an arm and a leg and which even allowed you to decipher the print in cheaply produced paperbacks. No longer. The Rexalls and Walgreens put out flimsy eyewear running $15 or more. Do not despair. You can get the same Chinese glasses at Florida’s American Reading Glasses, but 6 pairs for $28.00. At that price you can leave them all over the house so you never have to hunt down your spectacles. Oft as not, when you call, you will get the owner Mr. Marshall Levin on the phone who will throw in some down- to- earth wisdom for which there is no charge.

Superior Nut Company. If you suffer from an addiction to crystallized ginger, you can come by it at the mall, just by walking into Williams and Sonoma and picking up a green tin. Of course, you will pay a pretty penny and we would say it is not of the highest quality. For $10.95 you can have the best Premium Australian Ginger Slices (1 pound bag) at Superior Nut. We have not tried Superior’s other offerings, but we will.

Steve King’s Today in Literature. Anybody with an ounce of sense in his head knows that America’s colleges and universities are fabulously overpriced, charging mega thousands for education and vocational training (much too heavy on the training) not worth, as said FDR’s mostly fun vice president John Nance Garner, a “bucket of warm piss.” (Some dainty editors often mistakenly quote him as saying “warm spit.”) Better to get a high class, low cost liberal education every day with Steve King. A professor in Newfoundland, he runs TinL as a one man band. We don’t know how we does it. As we remember, he only charges you something like $10 or is it $25 a year for daily shots of a wide variety of authors peppered with biographical detail, telling extracts of key passages from their works, and a host of unlikely historical tidbits

Ray De Voe’s Report and John Hotckis Ramajal Economic Notes. For $35 you can buy David Swensen’s Pioneering Portfolio Management. Ooops, like all boring books, it has now sunk to $21.26 on Amazon. He is the whiz who has made Yale’s endowment sparkle by emphasizing alternative investments and who, in effect, is tells you that you will make more money if you can buy financial products where the markets are relatively inefficient. But we recommend instead Ray De Voe and John Hotckis.

First off, they can write well—the rarest commodity of all in the financial community. Secondly, their publications will cost you nothing if you manage to get on their lists (otherwise, borrow a pirated copy from some Wall Street friend). Both provide commonsense lessons which will work for you whether you are buying stocks (which is what they are about) or other kinds of financial assets. DeVoe, the more amusing, is good at pointing out in some detail that most of the numbers we get from government and from financial analysts are puffed up and are often urging you to buy when you should be selling--and visa versa. Hotckis, an inveterate optimist, makes a continuing argument for quality which more or less goes like this: America has been in a period of economic expansion and will be for years to come. If you buy the bluest of blue chips and sit on them, you will make a potload of money without incurring the worry and transaction costs that Wall Street salesmen want to induce.

Less for More. For years and years we stayed the Swiss hotel in Boston which was the best deal in town, staffed by the best concierge staff. For a while, during its heydays, it was known as the Lafayette. Sadly the Swiss sold out and Hyatt took over. Prices shot up and, in our estimation, quality disappeared. We had to move on.

In other words, a good deal is hard to find—Boston, home of the Ritz, does not have a top luxury hotel at any price. All sorts of values are disappearing. The underwear at Brooks is thinner and not at all stylish, the butterfat has disappeared from most ice creams no matter how pricey, the double martini has long since taken its leave of the Yale Club, first class seats on our major airlines are cramped and the food in first is second class. And so it goes.

So, dear reader, if you spot a good deal, please let us know. We will cherish the news and pass it along.

P.S. Way back in 1953 Flannery O’Connor wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Ever since more and more worthy things have disappeared from our store shelves.

P.P.S. Readers of the Global Province will note that we have forever cited the Bests of Everything we can find, many in our Best of Class section. We promise to get around to publishing all these bests in one long compendium.