May 24, 2011
Q: Let me begin with this is not a joke. Recently, while helping to clean out the shed of an elderly friend who had passed away, I came across an interesting wooden box. The box appears to be pine and measures 15 1/2 inches x 9 7/8 inches x 6 inches. It has "Linda Vista Brand Santa Clara Prunes" printed on one end, "Santa Clara Prunes" in script down one side, and the NRA seal on the other end! At first, I thought someone had just painted the NRA seal on at a later date using a stencil, but now that I've cleaned the box, I'm sure it's original. Was this some sort of fund-raiser for the National Rifle Association? If not, what's the connection between NRA and the prunes? — Barton P.
A: I know you're not joking because I have seen "NRA" tobacco scrips, and if you ever watch reruns of the television series "The Waltons," you'll see that same NRA logo displayed behind the counter at the store. The NRA logo stenciled on your prune box, the tobacco scrip, and on the sign in "The Waltons" is not the National Rifle Association's logo. Instead, it is a logo that originated in 1933 with the National Industrial Recovery Act, which was part of the New Deal. Under that federal program, the U.S. government took control over many industries until the Supreme Court ruled the program unconstitutional in May 1935. Many despised the program, but during the years in which it was in effect, the logo was proudly displayed to symbolize a company's participation. The only connection with the National Industrial Recovery Act NRA and the National Rifle Association NRA is purely coincidence. During the same years, 1933 to 1935, the National Rifle Association's headquarters and the administrative offices for the National Industrial Recovery Act were located in Washington D.C. Ironically, both were headquartered on 17th Street, and both were in the Barr Building.--sem