Author Archive
Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Life cycle
Material

Wedding Cake— Top Tier

Title: Wedding Cake: Top Tier

Category: Food

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

The cake of the wedding is supposed to be served in primarily white icing and with few/no other colors included. The wedding cake is to be served from the bottom layer up. The top layer should not be served to party guests. The top layer of the wedding cake is supposed to be saved from the wedding, wrapped up, and placed in the freezer of the couple until their first wedding anniversary.

Upon the first wedding anniversary, the couple is supposed to eat the cake. Alternatively, the couple could also take a bite out of their wedding cake upon each wedding anniversary and continue the tradition until the cake runs out or spoils. The flowers adoring said wedding cake are supposed to be either all white or in the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses.

Context/Significance:

The wedding cake for married couples is significant for it’s religious implication of the first meal shared together. It is white so that it matches the color of the bride’s dress and sometimes hints at the bride’s personal preferences. For the most part, the wedding cake is meant to be white as a representation of the bride’s dress and presents itself as a virginal object. After the married couple cuts into the cake, the pieces are served to party guests and those in attendance of the wedding. The top tier of the wedding cake is saved for the bride and groom alone and is an object of food that the couple is meant to eat exclusively by themselves.

Personal Thoughts:

The reason behind the couple eating the cake upon each wedding anniversary is meant to symbolize the circular bond the couple has together and their “continual” commitment to each other. The circle of the cake tiers is similar the circular theme else identified in the wedding rings of the couple (Although a variety of cakes are served now-a-days in a variety of shapes and configuration).

Customs
Festival
Game
Gestures
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Homecoming Mums

Title: Homecoming Mums

Category: Clothing/Object

Informant: Rebecca Reinehr

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 21

Occupation: Student— Food Service Industry, Medical Group Volunteer, etc.

Residence: Austin, TX

Date of Collection: 4/14/18

Description:

Homecoming mums are worn by high school students and differ from person to person based on status, gender, relationship, etc. The practice is most common in Southern high schools- Texas in particular.

Homecoming mums are meant to be received as a gift from someone significant to the person wearing the object. An individual might receive a mum from the following persons: A friend, an organization, a parent/relative, a significant other (boy friend/girl friend), homecoming date, etc. A person is not limited by the number of mums they can give or receive and some people (women in particular) will often even make them for themselves if they want to be sure to have one for the day.

Typically, the age of the recipient and grade level will determine the size of their mum. Women’s mums are always larger, but Seniors mums are also usually larger than underclassman mums. Seniors mums are also sometimes made will all white ribbons, decorations, and flowers.

Mums are ornamental fake flowers that are usually around 6-8” in diameter and are attached to a back that has ribbons surrounding the flower on top, and dangling ribbons with  decorations and letters. High schools in the area will have custom ribbons made with the high school logo or mascot as well. These ribbons and materials can be bought at craft stores in the region and even larger nation-wide craft stores will seasonally carry these items in their fall season. An example of stress that sell these items include, but are not limited to: Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Grocery Stores, etc.

Mums worn by women typically have ribbons extending to a yard in length and are worn via safety pin over the heart. Men’s mums are approximately half a yard in length and are worn on their arm attached to a ribbon garter. These objects will often include materials that make them distracting and challenging to wear all day. Attached items may include: bells, whistles, mini-LED lights, trinkets, stickers, etc. Sometimes a person may receive more than one mum and will either attempt to pin them all to their shirt, switch them out during the course of the day, or pin them to their backpacks.

Homecoming mums are worn on the day of homecoming to class and then later to the game. These flowers are also usually worn to a pep-rally that day before the homecoming game. Each mum is expected to be personalized with inside jokes, hobbies, or resemble the receiver’s/giver’s personality.

Mums may also be given by a parent’s club of an activity or sold in smaller forms by a student organization. Examples of smaller mums are: Finger mums, hair mums, children’s mums, etc.

Mums are usually kept and hung on bedroom walls by high school students. Women will often compare mums in class and use it as an almost competition to see who can get the most.

Mums can add up in expense quickly. While all of the items individually are fairly cheap— the main flower only costing around a dollar or two. But as is the slogan for Texas, “Everything’s bigger…” the more trinkets, ribbons, and bells that can be fit on are better and considered more impressive. Small, simple mums usually cost around $40 where larger and more intense mums can range in the $100-$200 range.

Context/Significance:

Mums are a very specific tradition, popular only in Texas (and parts of Oklahoma) and are huge, ginormous corsages. The NCAA recognizes the University of Missouri as the official place of birth of homecoming. In 1911, Mizzou athletic director Chester Brewer encouraged alumni to attend the game, and he gave them incentive to attend by having a huge celebration around the game that included parades and rallies.

At some point not too long after this first homecoming celebration in Missouri, the tradition of a boy giving a chrysanthemum to his homecoming date as a corsage was born in Texas. For decades, mums were simple, comprised of just a small flower with perhaps a few ribbons.

In the 1970s, homecoming mums became more elaborate and have continued to grow to the mammoth size they are today. Now they include a huge flower (albeit a silk flower has replaced the real chrysanthemum as the centerpiece), tons of large ribbons, charms, bows, bells, cowbells, stuffed animals, perhaps the high school mascot, and even LED lights in some cases! Even guys have their own version of the mum, called the garter – an elastic band worn around the upper arm that has the same features as the mum only on a much smaller scale.

Personal Thoughts:

Mums are also not only worn for homecoming. Mums are sometimes given as decorations for the home. Before coming to USC, I made a USC themed mum to hang on our common room door in my dorm room. Expecting mothers may also receive baby shower mums that will hang on the door of the delivery room. These are often themed for either a girl or boy and have baby trinkets and ribbons attached (sometimes even baby toys or pacifiers).

My cheerleading team sold mums the week of homecoming and provided a service for gentleman to order mums from our organization to be delivered the week of homecoming. At the game, each cheerleader also received a mum to wear on their leg for the game as athletes are not allowed to wear mums on the field. The football team will often wear a small carnation pinned to their uniform. The presented homecoming court will also remove their mums during the half-time ceremony.

Personally, I also just love them. Upon graduating high school, I tallied up a total of around 12 large mums and a few other smaller mums that I pinned to a bulletin board. They’re a fun way to remember that year’s homecoming celebration, friendships, and interests over the past four years.

Image:

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Annotation:

For additional history behind homecoming mums, see:

https://www.themumshop.com/history-of-mums/

MLA Citation:

“HISTORY OF MUMS.” The Mum Shop, www.themumshop.com/history-of-mums/.

Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Material
Narrative
Protection

Ullr Skiing Medal

Title: Ullr Skiing Medal

Category: Magic Charm

Informant: Judith Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Lower 70s

Occupation: Hospital Research Receptionist— Homemaker, Nurse, etc.

Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

An Ullr medal is a tiny figure of an Scandinavian God known as Ullr that protects skiers from harm. The medal is worn around the patron’s neck and under the skier’s jacket.

Context/Significance:

Judith Keller says that she used to wear the Ullr medal when she skied as a young girl. Her Uncle made her wear it under her normal ski clothes along with her cousins.

According to some historic accounts, Ullr was unbeatable on skis, never losing a race.  Some believe the Aurora Borealis is the snow flying off the tail of his skis.  In Germanic mythology Ullr is the main ski god of the 19th and 20th century; his character helped to establish a feeling of common identity among skiing pioneers in Norway and Central Europe, who prayed to him to insure the earth will be covered with snow, protecting it from winter’s harm.

In the United States, ski towns throw parties and parades in his honor.

Ullr medals have been popular with European skiers for over 100 years; they wear them for protection from harm while on the mountain. These medals have become highly collectible.

Personal Thoughts:

The medals are used by skiers as a token to ward off bad luck and bring protection to the wearer of the medal. The medals are apparently only produced “authentically” by one company and therefore exhibit the producer/consumer model we’ve studied of modernity in class. The medals claim to have a magical power that can protect winter sport enthusiasts. Mostly, these are used as an almost tourist item from the time spent skiing.

Annotation:

For additional history behind these medals, see:

http://www.ullrskimedals.com

MLA Citation:

“Ullr Ski Medals, Unique, Collectable, Custom Made Ski Medals. Ski Medals to Commemorate Ski Events – Ski Resort Events and Ski Resort Openings!” Ullr Ski Medals, Unique, Collectable, Custom Made Ski Medals. Ski Medals to Commemorate Ski Events – Ski Resort Events and Ski Resort Openings!, Ullr Ski Medals, www.ullrskimedals.com/.

Festival
Humor
Musical
Narrative

The Keller Family Song

Title: The Keller Family Song

Category: Music

Informant: Judith Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Lower 70s

Occupation: Hospital Research Receptionist— Homemaker, Nurse, etc.

Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

I DON’T LIKE YOUR FAMILY

THEY DON’T MAKE A HIT WITH ME

I DON’T WANT TO BOTHER SENDING MONEY TO YOUR FATHER

WHILE YOUR MA’S RELATIONS LIVE ON ME

I DON’T BELIEVE YOUR UNCLE JOHN

EVER HAD A COLLAR ON

YOU’RE A PERFECT LADY BUT WHEN I GET HITCHED FOR LIFE

I WANT AN ORPHAN

YOUR PA WITH A KNIFE

HAS THE TIME OF HIS LIFE

EATING PEAS IN THE GOOD OLD WAY

YOUR SISTER AND BROTHER THROW PLATES AT EACH OTHER

WHILE BABAY CRIES BOTH NIGHT AND DAY

THIS MIGHT ALL GO SWELL IN A NICE PADDED CELL

BUT IT’S NOT MY IDEA OF HOME SWEET HOME.

I DON’T LIKE YOUR FAMILY

THEY DON’T MAKE A HIT WITH ME

I DON’T WANT TO BOTHER SENDING MONEY TO YOUR FATHER

WHILE YOUR MA’S RELATIONS LIVE ON ME

I DON’T BELIEVE YOUR UNCLE JOHN

EVER HAD A COLLAR ON

YOU’RE A PERFECT LADY BUT WHEN I GET HITCHED FOR LIFE

I WANT AN ORPHAN

Context/Significance:

The Keller Family song is believed to have been invented by Julianna Keller’s Great Aunt “Doodles.” Originally known as “The Gableman Family Song” before transitioning into “The Keller Family Song,” the song was invented by “Doodles” during the time that she was a vaudevillian performer.

“Doodles” ran away from home when she was an early teenager and left at first to join the traveling circus. After performing in the circus as a bare back rider, “Doodles” moved on to later perform in vaudeville and presumably picked up the song there. The lyrics have adapted every little over time but many of the lyrics have been forgotten by most of the family— Only a few members have bee able to retain the full text.

It is believed that “Doodles” stole the song from one of her performances. The family likes this song in particular since there is an Uncle John in the family and they all point to him when the reference comes up. The family has sung this song once before when Julianna was at a gathering this past summer in Telluride, Colorado.

The song was typed up and provided by Judith Keller; The performer in the recording is Julianna Keller. The fragment provided is all that Judith and Julianna Keller were able to provide from memory.

Personal Thoughts:

The Keller Family Song is a “would-be” oikotype of a vaudevillian melody (if we knew which vaudevillian song it was specifically). The song has been passed down for through at least three generations and has adapted from its original invented version. The song is primarily sung at large family reunions or gatherings when segments of the family that aren’t usually connected get to interact with one another. Most members of the family know the song, but all only know specific parts and seem to rely on each other for remembering the full lyrics.

Song:

Legends
Narrative
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Hell’s Half Acre

Title: Hell’s Half Acre

Category: Legend

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

Back when the Southern cattle drive was still active in the Central/Northern region of Texas, the end of the Chisholm Trail could be found at the end of town in Forth Worth Texas known as Hell’s Half Acre. The reason for the name is due to the activity that took place on this strip of land.

After a long and difficult cattle drive, cowboys used to bring their lives stock back into town right down the middle of Hells’ Half Acre. Exhausted from their journey but craving the company of women, these cowboys would hire prostitutes along the strip and eat, drink, gamble, and whore their way through town until they ran out of money.

Upon loosing the money that they’ve just earned, these cowboys would then be forced into going on the cattle drive again from where the train lets off. The land was nick named Hell’s Half Acre after all the misfortunes men had had on that very spot.

Context/Significance:

As the importance of Fort Worth as a crossroads and cowtown grew, so did Hell’s Half Acre. It was originally limited to the lower end of Rusk Street (renamed Commerce Street in 1917) but spread out in all directions until by 1881 the Fort Worth Democrat was complaining that it covered 2½ acres.

More than any other factor, urban growth began to improve the image of the Acre, as new businesses and homes moved into the south end of town.

Personal Thoughts:

At this point in time, Hell’s Half Acre is more full of hipster bars and coffee shops than cock fighting or bawdy halls. Tailored boutiques and tourist shops line a well kept and preserved cobblestone street, littered with the tattered remains of history. The cartel drive is still somewhat active and every morning and afternoon, specific time is set aside for when the cattle cross pastures through the street.

For a town once built by livestock, it’s not surprising that much of the area’s pride comes from it’s seedy past in the cattle drive industry. The town conspires together to maintain its fame and even labels it’s self as “Cow Town USA.” Whether it’s entirely true or not, the county sells and maintains its tourist industry under that marketable phrase.

Festival
Foodways
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Boston University, Trash Can Punch

Title: Boston University, Trash Can Punch

Category: Recipe/Food

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

“Trash Can Punch” is a mixed alcoholic beverage made in the fraternity houses at Boston University. The trash cans used are the large grey janitorial trashcans that are often used in cafeterias and janitorial carts. The trashcans are bought or cleaned thoroughly before use (one can hope). “Trash Can Punch” has no real recipe but follows the same general guidelines. There is usually a strong fruity component or flavor, and then a variety of different forms of alcohol. Each fraternity or house serving “Trash Can Punch” will usually have its own recipe and sometimes color. All guests are welcome to drink it at the party and is served by the host or resident of the house throwing the party.

Context/Significance:

Ms. Keller visited Boston University her senior year of high school to catch up with a friend and gain firsthand insight about the university as she considered where she might study after graduation. Her visit just happened to fall over halloween weekend and her friend invited her to go out with a group of them for the occasion.

When they got to the party, held at a fraternity house, Julianna asked where she could find drinks being served. The girls hosting her visit pointed to the trash can in the corner where it was filled close to the top with a sweet orange alcoholic mixture. When she asked what was in the drink, no one was really abel to tell her an answer.

One of the girls said they were made from recipes. That each fraternity house had their own mixture and color and was only served at their house in particular. Another friend agreed and that the remaining contents from the party was poured into a bucket and saved in the fridge for use at the future party as a base to go off of (kind of like a rue for gumbo or starter for sour-dough bread.) A separate girl told her that ht house will only fill the trash can half way and then as party guests arrive they bring alcohol with them to add to the trash can so no one can ever really tell what’s inside.

Personal Thoughts:

Sounds dangerous to me, but who am I to judge? This seems like a form of half passive bearers of tradition, half active bearers of tradition. No one is explicitly taught how to make “Trash Can Punch,” but underclassman seem to hear these stories of how it’s made and perhaps learn them from fraternity histories during the pledging process. When these students reach the level of upperclassman, they then attempt to make these recipes themselves and alter them themselves in the process. The recipes have undoubtably changed over the years but remain somewhat iconic to each fraternity in some way.

Gestures
Humor
Initiations
Life cycle
Material
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

The Red Lady

Title: The Red Lady

Category: Folk Object

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

The “Red Lady” is a large red bong used by a select group of the theatre community at Trinity Valley High School in Fort Worth Texas. None of the students know the exact origin of the object, they believe that it was purchased by the school’s theatre department for use in one of their shows many years ago. The “Red Lady” has been passed down from senior to senior in the theatre department as the years have gone by. The “Red Lady” is given to a trusted member of the group and it’s their responsibility to care for and keep the secret of the object— While still maintaining its hiding place on school property.

Context/Significance:

Ms. Keller was fortunate enough to have earned the “Red Lady” her senior year of High School and was abel to share this story with me. She said she earned it because she was known for smoking marijuana and for being an excellent “chill” actress of her senior class. When it cam time for her to graduate, she then passed the bong down to a rising upperclassman.

 

Personal Thoughts:

We had something similar at my high school on the cheerleading team. The senior captain was in charge of the “spirit stick” all throughout the year and for maintaining the level of excellence that our team had achieved that previous year. I wound’t say a “sprit stick” and a bong are extremely similar, but they could be used as motifs to describe the same sort of seniority earned possession.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Stonegate Mansion

Title: Stonegate Mansion

Category: Legend, Ghost-Story

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

Stonegate mansion was owned by a businessman in the early 1970s. One evening, the owner of Stonegate discovered that his wife was having an affair. Overcome with anger he took out his aggression on his wife and daughter, killing them both. Upon hearing the cries of his employer, the Stonegate’s butler ran into the scene hoping to save her. Quick to hide his crime and appease his emotions further, Mr. Stonegate then murdered the butler as well. All of the murders took place in the upstairs parlor.

The mansion was later turned over to the state before it was sold to a private company that renovated it and now lents it out for parties and celebrations. The owners keep all parties exclusive to the first floor. Owners and visitors alike say that evil spirits haunt the second and third stories, warning people to keep away from the area of the infamous crime.

Context/Significance:

Stonegate Mansion is located in Fort Worth Texas. Known for its architectural design, The Stonegate Mansion features more than 12,000 square feet of gleaming hardwoods, marble floors, soaring ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook majestic oak trees and immaculate landscaping. The Stonegate Mansion is spacious enough for groups of up to 300, but intimate enough for parties of 20.

In 1972, Cullen Davis spent $6 million to build the five-bedroom, 11-bath mansion with an indoor pool and a 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) master bedroom. In its prime, the luxurious, contemporary home of courtyards, tunnels and balconies at 4100 Stonegate Blvd. was decorated with more than 100 oil paintings. The mansion was designed by Albert S. Komatsu and Associates.

Explaining its darker past, in 1976 a man in black, wearing a black wig, shot and killed two people there. Three witnesses described Davis as the shooter. But in a trial in Amarillo he was acquitted of the killing of his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Andrea Wilborn, who was murdered execution-style in the basement. Prosecutors also later dismissed charges related to the killing of former TCU basketball player Stan Farr, who police found dead in the kitchen, and the wounding of Davis’ estranged wife, Priscilla, and her friend Gus “Bubba” Gavrel. Davis’ oil-based business empire later crumbled. He moved out of the mansion in 1983 and declared bankruptcy in 1987.

 

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve never been to Stonegate mansion, but my roommate had her Senior Prom in one of its ballrooms. She says the estate is gorgeous and home to many celebrations in the area. The mansion doesn’t advertise the ghosts online, but she says that the stories are common knowledge to those who live in the area.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
Proverbs
Signs

Respecting the Penny

Title: Respecting the Penny

Category: Proverbial Phrase

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

“ The man that does not respect the Penny, does not deserve the dollar.”

Context/Significance:

The phrase comes from Julianna’s great Uncle and is thought to be an originally German proverb. According to the source, the proverb means: A person should value the little things so that they can appreciate when larger things happen. The phrase implies that a person should be appreciative of all things that happen to them and take nothing for granted.

Personal Thoughts:

This proverbial phrase is something that can be heard when talking about small occurrences in an insignificant way. It can be used as a retort when someone acts inappreciative of something nice that happens to them.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Waverley Mansion

Title: Waverley Mansion

Category: Legend, Ghost-Story

Informant: Evan A. Lewis

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 80s

Occupation: Retired— Radio Broadcaster, Laundry Mat Owner, Koren War Vet, etc.

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/08/18

Description:

After purchasing the mansion for renovation around the early 1960s, Mrs. Snow began noticing strange and abnormal occurrences around the house. Sometimes when passing by the grand hall and lower ballroom, Mrs. Snow noticed the faint sounds of music and conversation coming from the empty chamber. On a different occasion, Mr. Snow was working in the back fields of the home when he noticed the figure of a confederate solider on horseback riding across his property.

The most striking tale of ghosts on the property stems from a story from Mrs.Snow and other visitors who’ve come to experience the estate. When Mrs. Snow was working on the second floor in the upper dining room, she heard a young girl’s voice calling for her mother. Believing the voice to belong to one of her own children, Mrs.Snow walked over to the column staircase to look down for the child. When she looked over the balcony, she saw no child but continued to hear the voice coming from the same location. On several other occasions, Mrs. Snow could hear the voice of the girl calling for her mother and once saw her looking down from the balcony down to her.

As history recalls, Waverley mansion once served as a make-shift hospital during the course of the Civil War. Mrs. Snow believes that the ghost of the little girl belongs to a child who might have passed away from illness during the war and her soul is trapped haunting the mansion in search of her late mother. Mrs. Snow and women seem to be the only people who ever encounter the voice of the little girl ghost. The central location of the girls activity stems from the second story bedroom just off of the central staircase.

Mrs. Snow believes that this must have been the bedroom that the girl was kept in and has since kept the bedroom vacant and the bed made. Patrons to the estate and The Snows themselves have both seen the impression of the little girl’s body made on the comforter. Mrs. Snow has walked up to the comforter and smoothed it out only to have the impression of the body re-appear hours later.

Context/Significance:

Waverley mansion is a Southern plantation home located in Columbus/West Point Mississippi directly 10 miles outside of West Point. The plantation is settled around acres of cotton and includes such artifacts as an abandoned house, family graveyard, a collection of exotic peacocks, gardens, orchards and livestock. The mansion was constructed in the mid 1850s and later bought in 1962 by the Snow family and has since been renovated to its original glory. The house fell into disrepair upon reaching the end of the Young family line in 1912 before being purchased by the Snows.

The mansion is claimed to be haunted by a collection of ragged spirits. While almost all of them are declared harmless and welcoming by the Snow family, more than one person has claimed a supernatural experience on the property. The house is now open for tours most days of the week save for holidays and religious celebrations.

Personal Thoughts:

As many of these Southern ghost stories seem to go, I grew up immersed in the experience. Since a young age, my family has been making road-trips and visits to the heartland of “Dixie” for the sole purpose of familial exploration and reconnecting. My mother and grandfather (both hailing lineage to the location) have made a point of visiting these historic landmarks of the region.

The main take away I got from visiting Waverley was how sad and lonely the property feels despite the visits it receives from locals and tourists on a daily basis. I haven’t visited since I was around the age of seven, but I remember the peacocks and tapestry filed rooms almost perfectly. While I never saw the ghost myself, perhaps I was too young and distracted to pay attention to such things, I do not doubt the ghosts existence. I live for the ghost stories of the South that developed during the turn of the 20th century, and feel that they hold a special place in my heart due to their historic and ageless appeal.

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