1. A “Puzzling” Thing!

    I WAS AT one of my favorite thrift stores in lovely Rosemead, California recently, and I’m not going to mention the name because frankly, I want to save them the embarrassment. Oh yes, it’s going to be one of those posts!

    There I saw a jigsaw puzzle for sale, and knowing how much the missus and I enjoy getting out the ol’ card table and working a jigsaw puzzle on a Saturday night, I thought, sure, maybe this might be something I’d like to pick up.

    So I bought it.  And here it is:

    Above: The Whitman Junior Guild 63 Extra Large Interlocking Pieces Jigsaw Puzzle, #4429, in original box, circa 1960s.

    I don’t know if you can see in that upper-right corner, but this baby originally retailed for 49¢ American. But you’ve been smoking puzzle glue if you think I was about to pay that much for it. No, you’ll notice above the AW in JIGSAW a handprinted “10¢” – a much more reasonable price for this.

    –That is, if it was complete.  As it turns out, a very big if, and yet, I don’t want to give anything away!

    Anyway, we’re poring over this for puzzle, Mrs. P and I, for the better part of three consecutive Saturdays. This wasn’t any 24-piece “baby” puzzle. Interlocking sixty-three individual puzzle pieces, especially when you’re bombed on cheap gin mixed with root beer schnapps (Why? Why?!), arguing, and in my case, dodging the occasional heavy glass ashtray, these things take time. Finally, we’re in the home stretch and something’s not quite right. There seems to be two pieces left but three open spaces in the puzzle. What gives?

    Well, we look on the floor. We look in the puzzle box. We look under the table. Someone bangs her fat head on the bottom of the table coming back up and nearly knocks the entire thing over, which would have gone right into the Hummel shelf. Have another drink! Jesus!

    Eventually, after more hollering, we realize we’re missing a piece. (Yes, we checked the back of her sweaty legs).

    Here’s the monstrosity we were left with:

    Every time I see that enormous gaping hole on the left side it just enrages me all over again.  Goddamn it!

    Would it have killed the old bags at the thrift store to quit bitching about the edema in their vericose vein-twined cankles for two minutes and count the damn puzzle pieces before putting this out on the sales floor? It’s not like this was a 2500-piece Milton Bradley Big Ben we’re talking about here. And the box doesn’t say “Around 63 or So Pieces.” It says “63 Pieces!” And how many pieces were in there? Sixty-Expletive-Deleted-Two!

    Sixty-Two!

    Which makes me wonder who the boy and girl were. They’re probably in their fifties now. Gee! Makes ya feel old, huh? And the dog? Long dead. Sorry.

    So if you’re either of the two kids, email me! I speak for all of my readers when I say we’ve been wanting to know how appearing on a 1960s jigsaw puzzle might have changed your life. What kind of doors did it open? And, if I may, did it present any sort of unexpected challenges?

    Posted by on May 24, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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