This has been an especially hectic summer for aid organizations in many parts of the world as they deal with some of the worst flooding in memory. Consider the campaign to help people evacuated last month in Bacau County, Romania. In addition to finding shelter and providing meals and changes of clothes for the victims, the campaign has had its hands full with donors. Why is that a problem ? Because of the items contributed, 10 percent have turned out to be totally impractical. Cartons of china ornaments, for example. And here's a particular favorite: an evening dress and high heels . Said one volunteer: "We can't refuse people who bring items for the flood victims, even if they're useless.... But we can't send them to those who need help, either."
As a concept, the TV dinner turned 50 two years ago, a landmark that stirred memories again with the recent passing of Gerry Thomas. Thomas came up with the idea while employed by Swanson & Sons, a food-supply business in Omaha, Neb. When the company found itself challenged to get rid of 10 railroad cars of unsold frozen Thanksgiving turkeys, Thomas saw the potential in marrying a fast- growing, TV-watching culture with heat-and-serve meals. Not surprisingly, the first Swanson TV dinner consisted of turkey (with cornbread dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and buttered peas). As for what people may have been watching as they ate, the following were 1953's top 10 TV shows, according to the rating service Nielsen Media Research:
1. "I Love Lucy"
3. "Author Godfrey's Talent Scouts"
4. "You Bet Your Life"
5. "The Bob Hope Show"
6. "The Buick-Berle Show"
7. "Author Godfrey and His Friends"
8. "The Ford Television Theater"
9. "The Jackie Gleason Show"
10. "Fireside Theatre"