Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page -> Bunab -> Comments
January 11, 2005:
Today I gathered up my prized Bunabs and took them to the office to share with a coworker who is from Mason City and knew Al Crowder. He had no idea that Al was the Assistant to the President for the Bunab Empire. I was amazed to see how the #7 still had maintained the precision and ease of use, just like when it was new. The Direction sheet however is getting to be in bad shape and I will need to retype it.
Now I too have visited the Snav Towers and was so impressed with the work that took place there. I have always recalled with a smile how Al so proudly showed me the cartoon with the Bunab Anthem on Bullwinkle's music stand.
Many may not know this but I was the one and only authorized reseller of the Excegency Conversion Aparatus. A couple years after I moved from the Mason City area (I had been going to Jr. College there) and married and was actually graduating from college; I wrote to Al and asked if I could be a Bunab salesperson. He did in fact grant this although he required that I start by selling the ECA Kit and I had to sell them by the dozen. So I can proudly say my first job out of college was selling ECA kits for Orville K Snav and Associates. Oh I had a good time but it was frustrating. I soon realized that as I explained the product no one seemed interested and I could not do justice to the product. I then made a poster board that listed the words in the directions for use along with their definitions. This served as a visual aid. I recall my wife and I traveled to St. Joseph Missouri and I presented the sales pitch to the owners of what would have been know at the time as a "head shop". They told me to "Go sell them to your own kind."
I tried novelty shops in Des Moines, I tried my friends. Some friends were willing to "help me out" and offered to buy one. I had to explain that they must be sold by the dozen. Needless to say the naive optimism of my youth had to face the reality of the business world. I was not going to be successful at selling ECA kits.
I was reading some of the correspondence I have saved from Snav and Associates today. It tugged at my heart and I sent an email off to an old friend. The friend who first gave me my number 7.
November 17, 2004:
Thanks for the page! I had reason to remember by BunaB collection recently and was pleased to see the Snav info.
I first learned of the #7 from my roommate in 1968, whose well worn instructions contained pricing info: $.49 each or $6.00 the dozen. By the time I ordered mine, they were $.98 each or $12 the dozen.
I still have all the correspondence, including the carbon copies (literally) of letters sent to those beneficiaries of mine who registered their BunaB's. I continue to be amazed by the volume of empty prose Crowder could generate in response to every communication.
October 29, 2004:
Back in 1965, my friends and I published a hand-made magazine in high school called Hidden Dirt ('the magazine with a hint of lint"). It was proudly awarded the Orville K. Snav Seal of Reasonable Quality which I have treasured ever since. Unfortunately my Bunab #7 has long since disappeared.
[You can see it here. — Frank]
September 9, 2004:
Wow-what a surprise. Just on a whim I thought I would type in Bunab (because I had just found mine) and there you were!
My family received the improved #7 in about 1956. Through the years we have received many of Mr Snav"s products-included Swedish cookies from Mrs Snav from time to time!
My mom and her sister were in a singing group in New York back in the 1920s called the Lett Sisters and Louise. Mrs Snav is that same Louise. I have sheet music with their pictures on it. We visited the Crowders in Iowa about 20 years ago but I have lost touch since then. Do you know if Louise is still alive?
As I mentioned I still have my #7 Bunab in its original case and it works as well as it did the day they sent it to us. I have lost the other items--silent record, conversion kit, etc., but thankfully I will still be able to use the Bunab #7 whenever I need it.
How do you know the Crowders? Would you have known my mom or aunt as well? The three of them made some recordings for a local radio station in Mason City when we were there for a visit in about 1960.
Well-thanks for making my day--just seeing a picture of that beautiful little bunab right on line was really a thrill.!
January 20, 2004:
I can't believe that a Google search on BunaB turns up only one link! I am happy to send you images of the Zudirk playing board and instructions. If you would like, I can send you the JPEG files as separate attachments. [Here are the board and instructions. -- Frank] The playing pieces mentioned in the instructions are five small cardboard disks coated with colored paper and two tiny rubber cubes one green, one red.
My mother bought a BunaB #7 and a Zudirk (BunaB #2) in the late 1950s. She sent in the registration card and promptly got back a personal letter from Al Crowder. She answered that one and got another. I think Crowder would have kept corresponding indefinitely, but after a while my family moved and lost touch.
I came across her file of letters a dozen or so - about ten years later, when I was in high school. I was captivated and immediately placed an order, mentioning that my mother had been a customer years before, but not mentioning either her name or our address at that time. Crowder wrote back immediately, mentioning my mother by name.
Alas, I no longer have either set of correspondence. I do remember receiving envelopes stamped "Confidential to key personnel memorize and shred," and one letter broke off in mid-sentence on the next to last line, the last line reading "ALL CORRESPONDENCE RIGIDLY RESTRICTED TO BUT ONE PAGE FOR THE CONTINGENCY."
There were also BunaBs number 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. One of those was the silent LP, described as the sound track to a certain silent film. BunaB #6 was simply 100 BunaB #7s, at a reduced price. The others are lost to my memory. Crowder was a clarinet teacher in real life, and the plastic box that the BunaB #7 came in was, I once read, the box that clarinet reeds come in.
January 17, 2004:
it's been several years since i searched the net for any vestiges of the BunaB empire. i'm harvey, assistant to the president, orville k. snav associates. too bad i can't figure out how to type this in the famous blue ink. i too have visited the famous snav tower at 111 north jefferson st in mason city iowa. it was my first plane ride,along time ago. i came all the way from pittsburgh, where i still live. i even met with al crowder, and toured the mason city recycling plant. i stayed at a motel, and boy, you really new there were pig farms close by. i cant remember the second address for the world headquarters. thru many years of moving, gone but not forgotton are my BunaB 7, c-k key, BunaB 4 (micro-precision dial and pointer), BunaB 3(between shave lotion, for the crucial 23hours and 45minutes between the application of before and after shave lotion). i also created a few embarrassing moments with my extigency conversion appartus, especially the signs.
best wishes to you,
ps. now i just have to find some one familiar with the Wretched Mess news the piscatorial periodical, and their calendar. the used to be in west yellowstone montana, but moved to mountainview california.
pps. dont play zudirk with strangers!
December 9, 2003:
Recently, while going through a drawer containing many rare artifacts from my misspent youth, I unearthed my vintage Improved #7 Bunab. Long forgotten, it has remained completely intact and has not lost any of its functional qualities or aesthetic appeal. I was surprised by its state of perfect preservation and continued purposefulness especially in light of so many technological advances since I first acquired it. Needless to say, I have pressed it into service once again, to the amazement of all those around me. My wife was thrilled!
Thank you for your web page devoted to the wonder that is Bunab.
November 15, 2003:
i grew up near mason city, iowa, and met Orville and his wife in the early 70's & visited them at their home and they took me and a friend up into Snav Tower ... one of his products which impressed me the most was the "Emergency Conversion Kit" ... it was a plastic bag and two stick-on signs - one said "Women" and the other said "Men" ... the kit could be used to convert any room into a restroom ...
Mr. Snav showed us a page-long letter from IBM which expressed that they had tested and could find no use for the Improved Model #7 ...
he also showed us a brick from renovated house of ill repute, it might have been from new orleans ... the madame had been impressed with his products and had sent him the brick as a souvenir
i became curious today about whether anything was still known about Orville K. Snav, the bunab, etc. or if he had been forgotten ... i am glad to have found your website ... and i hope that my information here might be helpful as the "Emergency Conversion Kit" might be a product that you were unaware of.