Leader Board Ad

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Take a Ride on the Wayback Machine 1961

Ahhh..the Wayback. Did you grew up in a time of the larger station wagon and almost no seat belts, or just lap restraints? Then you know the freedom from all rules and restrictions in that part of American heavy metal cars know as the "wayback."  The place in a car beyond the back seat.
1961 Plymouth station wagon
I saw this ad for the 1961 Plymouth, and though it was before my time, the image of the kids in the back struck home. I was one of a million kids that savored this domain - away from big brother and big sister. Though it may have only been eight feet square, to me it was an acre, and that was even if there were boxes or grocery bags there. It was the seat of power through observation. What was the "look?"
That is what I call the way-back-eating grin. He may be even frothing at the mouth. I remember laying back and looking at the sky, clouds and trees as they ran distortedly over the curved window.
1961 Plymouth station wagon full ad

Sunday, January 25, 2015

An 1871 School Book is Discovered and You Won’t Believe What Was Inside!

(Editor's note: the following is my fictional account of how this "find" came into being The book and its discovery by me is real. How do you think this book came to be?)

"The year is 1880. What is is like for a boy growing up? Aside from all the chores inside the house, there are numerous chores outside as well. There are no alarm clocks - everyone rises with the sun or earlier if the home is also part of a farm. A 12 year-old boy would get to school either by walking or by a parent on horse or by wagon. 

While at school he grouped with other students, not by age, but by reading level. He is asked to read from books out loud as a way to practice his elocution or share facts with other students. The books he might carry are small and there is one for each subject - math, history, reading, geography. 

Learning new things interest him but his thoughts drift to the outside world. He has heard things from the other boys and visiting relatives that excite and fascinate him. Catalogs and newspapers offer the promise of big events, sports and other leisure activities. His parents see this and warn him of the distraction. Too much wayward thinking and dreaming will cause him to languish between responsibility and his true calling. Such leisures are for the lazy and the only way to guarantee a future is a strong mind, farm and family. School books are allowed but catalogues are not!

One catalog makes its way to his hands and fascinates him more that any other. “Peck and Snyders Catalogue of Out and Indoor Games and Novelties, etc.” This book so excites him that he will do whatever necessary to keep it nearby. But how? 

Somewhere he gets the idea to hide it in such a way that no adult can find it. Digging through a chest of older school books he finds a copy of “First Lessons in Geography for Young Children” (1871). Who would miss it? Planning carefully, he borrows a few tools from his father’s workshop and finds a quiet place behind the wood shed. He begins cutting, carefully separating the boards from the pages. Hand colored maps and pages of text fall gently to the ground.

Looking around to make sure there are no brothers or sisters nosing about, he takes the sports catalogue and slides it in place of the geography pages. From a pocket he produces yet another small indiscretion: a thick needle and a length of woolen yarn from mother’s sewing basket. Using an awl and a hand drill, he pokes holes along the binding and follows with the needle and yarn, moving in and out with the only stitch he knows. Tying off the loose ends, he checks to see that his work is holding tight. 

Next, the coping saw is used to cut the boards to fit the smaller pages of the catalogue. Though the title is nearly cut, he feels confident that the book looks so realistic no adult will notice.

It works! He finds he can carry it anywhere, even to school and the teacher has no idea. He shows it to his buddies outside the one-room schoolhouse and revels in the envy on their faces. Can he do one for them? Not likely, the risk he took to create this one, which included the sacrilegious disposal of the original pages down the outhouse hole, has made him wiser in many ways." 

I hope you enjoyed my speculation as to how this book came to be. The book was likely stowed in a box with others like it - possibly having been returned to the storage chest when it was discovered missing - and then transferred to a cardboard box. Now, fast forward to 2015 in the basement of the family home in Putnam County, New York. As the estate sale is being set up I am on site with permission to poke around the basement. Stumbling across several boxes, in one I find there is a cache of old school books. Carefully inspecting each book hoping to find something tucked between the pages, I discover the innocent subterfuge created so long ago.  

Flipping through the pages of The Peck and Snyder catalogue, I can see why this young man went to great lengths to keep it. It is over a hundred pages of baseball accessories, sporting goods of all kinds, games, science kits, magic tricks, guns and much more. 

The company was started after the Civil War in 1866 by two partners who knew the country needed distraction from the aftermath of such a massive division. Baseball, which had been around since 1840 was becoming popular again and their catalogues recognized this by leading with a detailed inventory of balls, bats, uniforms and accessories.

Peck and Snyder’s had begun using advertising cards to help their business expand. It only made sense to use a photograph of the Cincinnati Red Stockings with team information on one side and their store’s information on the back. Unwittingly, they had created one of the first baseball cards and one of the most valuable collectables today. 
No, I didn't find this.

They had built a good business with a wide inventory and customer base, and in 1888, traveled the world with another well-known sporting goods businessman to promote the game of Baseball. Albert Spaulding started his business while still a pitcher and manager for the Chicago White Stockings in 1876. They eventually sold out to Spaulding to seek out their interest in manufacturing.

It is early in 2015 and I have already found one of my all-time favorite finds. I think the most revealing part of this discovery is how it shows that 135+ years later, we have not changed at all in some ways.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mood Master: I'm in the Mood for some 70's Lighting

I wish I had some catalogs of this fixture, actually switch, in action. I don't, but something about the style of the packaging had e pulling out my camera at this Westport, CT estate sale to capture the Mood Master.

"Saves Energy" However, the mood seems to be subservience more than liberation. 
Or, was the manufacturer marketing this to the lady of the house? That's a switch!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nothing Tastes Better Than a Tongue - Gross Ads 1944

I thought I'd seen it all, but every time I go looking for old ads, I find something more shocking. This is an ad from Woman's Day magazine, 1944. I realize there was a war on between shortages and the need to create meals that could also be consumed on the front lines - these specialty meats became more prevalent.  Limited options and high prices are what likely put these on the table. Take it from Hattie the Hackie.
Woman's Day ad from 1944 Derby meat products
Maybe it was tasty, and thanks to 40 summers of hot dogs, I have already consumed my share of tongue and other sections that shall be nameless.

Tongue is just one of those marketing words for "end bits that have no name," right? It isn't really tongue, as in tongue tongue?  Wow. War really is hell.
Tamales in a jar?

Friday, January 16, 2015

6 Degrees of Ring Ding Separation

I was expecting a box full of old papers and imagine my surprise when I found this -
Sorry for the click bait opening sentence, but we actors must do what we must...

I kept this because I thought, "What better way is there to measure the incongruity of a prize like this inside a box of Ring Dings than with a Drake's Protractor?"  It's kind of a self-fulfilling vicious circle (which measures 360 degrees!)

I grew up with Drakes cakes (and Hostess), they were everywhere. They passed them out to us like, like - you get the idea. When the company went bankrupt and the shelves emptied, a little piece of me - the creme filled part - died inside.

After they returned to the shelves, the thrill had gone. I was off the stuff and no Funny Bone, Devil Dog or Ring Ding has touched my lips. 

I, too, once told my daughter, "I had it tough. I had to walk to elementary school, uphill. In the winter - both ways."  Daughter rolled her eyes - unimpressed. Then she said, "Didn't they used to serve Ring Dings in your school cafeteria?"
"yup." I replied. 
"Sounds real tough, dad, real tough."
Maybe placing a protractor inside a box of Ring Dings would somehow justify the distribution of these zero-nutrition-empty-calorie snacks to schools?  School nutritionist: Just keep telling yourself, "it's educational. It's educational." 

Monday, January 12, 2015

More or Less Subliminal and Strange Whiskey Ad

There's nothing I like better than a vintage ad with a mixed message, sometimes it's subliminal, and sometimes it's right in front for all to see.
Sunny Brook Whiskey Ad
Did you see it? Old Sunny Brook had a storied past. Started by the Rosenfield brothers in 1891 it became the top selling whiskey around the turn of the century. As the Roaring Twenties neared, prohibition legislation began to creep in and would eventually bankrupt the business by 1917. It was sold to National Distilling Company in 1933 after one of the brothers passed away and the name remained until 1975 when the distillery was demolished. I found another website that claims the name was bought and is now owned by the Jim Beam company. If you didn't see it I'll give you a closer look...
Have a sip and chase a turkey
 This image in the upper left keeps me guessing. Is this what a customer of Sunny Brook can expect after a drink or two? Maybe this is preferable to the pink elephants?  Don't ask this guy...
Not a care in the world

He's 3 sheets to the wind already.

Credit for the backstory bits goes to this site here. You can find more detail there, and some good early signage as well.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"BUNG" It's a Funny Word with a Hole Lot of History

Some words connected to some ads just strike me funny. This one was no different. What amazed me was that there was such a company (or companies) that made just bungs. There are companies that made more than just bungs, but not any that I could find that made barrels also. What is a bung?
This is a solid bung, however, they can be bored - as I imagine you might be now. If not a search would lead you to a long discussion, testimony actually, on the taxation in rail traffic of bung quantities. Really! go here if you dare.

My search lead me to a much more interesting site by an interesting soul who researched the background of a young boy of 15 who lost his arm in a bung manufacturing company. To read this interesting slice of the past and more - go to his site here. it cost Luther Watson his arm but it won't cost you a cent. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dad's Workshop: The Pistol Club

Pistol Club Komic Card
No kidding, This really did come from a random workshop at an estate sale I visited this fall. There are several others, but this was one of the few that are appropriate for all audiences. I am slowly (and unintentionally) amassing enough material for a "UA-After Dark" section of this website. 
Though it may seem strange to see the "Not for Mailing" warning, it has nothing to do with the content. There were some cards in the pile that are over-sized postcards. There'll be more to come...

Life Preserver Works like Sunken Circus Tent (1914)

The best way to cheat death in an emergency is to scare the hell out of it...I guess. 
popular mechanics, 1914 life preserver
This Popular Mechanics article from 1914 is a gem. Another idea developed by the clearly opium induced editors. However, the illustrators are to be commended for being able to take these ideas and turn them into something that was al-most believable. Almost. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The RMS Aquitania - Greatest Ship I've Ever Found

I was visiting a family friend late last year, when he revealed to me his own discovery. A promotional sign from a travel agent's office from long ago.
Aquitania Sign
This was not just any cruise liner. The Aquitania has a long history and set or broke many records during her nearly 40 year service. Among those achievements were: contributing to efforts during both WWI and WWII (both times afterward she was returned to commercial service), and logging over 3 million miles at sea.
This approximately 4' x 5' sign could be as old as the ship's launch  date in 1913, or it more likely was hanging in an agent's office with other big ships of the Cunard line in the 1920's (Mauritania, and not the Lusitania - sunk in 1915) where an agent could point and say "You're booked on that one right there. "
Painted on sheet metal the sign is awash in its own unique petina - the kind you neither should or could remove. It's as beautiful as the ship was itself. Read more on wikipedia here.
Thanks Chet! for sharing this with me.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Small Town Now and Then and Now Again.

I like comparing picture postcards depicting familiar scenes and then attempt to get an updated image to compare the two. Above is Manchester, CT from 2007. I tried to do the right thing by embedding the Google map scene instead of just using a frame grab. My apologies if the map is a little hard to see. 
Manchester CT Post card 1943 Main Street

This card shows a couple of trees that may have survived the years, are they the same ones 70 years later? Look below at the same scene in 2012. If those were the same trees they may lasted 64 years or more but not the next five.

They're gone! either trimmed or the result of a wind storm. Not Sandy, this was taken 2 months before that storm.
This was a typical postcard for 1943, a short sweet gesture to a husband serving in World War II.

You can learn more about the charm of Manchester, CT by visiting their historical society's site.

Your Papers Please! 1939

If you think driving today is a big deal, imaging what it must have been like in 1939. Two years after the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco was opened Californian hosted an exposition to celebrate it and everything California. If you were thinking of taking a motor tour anywhere in the US, it is likely that this new engineering wonder of a span was on the to-do list. 
I am only now learning about temporary driving permits required in each State, but apparently California was one of them.
This driver either took his car cross-country or bought a car and visited California and likely took both the car and this permit over the bridge.

You can read more about the Exposition here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Night in the Big City (1936)

Leon & Eddie's Matchbook

It’s a soggy January evening in 1936. You are just getting out of work and it’s 6:30pm. Stuck in a meeting with twelve other members of the sales team, the talk of goals and deadlines turned an afternoon into an evening. No chance you’re going to make it back to Connecticut in time for dinner.
After a quick apologetic call home you take out the last of your Lucky’s and think about another train ride home on an empty stomach.
Reaching for a match in your pocket, the city bus you were supposed to get on just misses sending a small typhoon over your favorite suit. The bus drives off and you’re not on it. All you are left with is a soggy cigarette in one hand and a small matchbook in the other.
Tossing the filter-less coffin nail into the gutter, you hold up the matchbook and wonder where you got it. “Oh yeah. Phil said something about this place.” Funny guy, Phil, always with an off-color joke and a jab in your ribs.
Dropping the matches from your view in the glow of the street lamp, there it is. Right across the street is Leon and Eddies night club, 33 W 52nd Street. How many times have you walked out of the office and never even noticed the place? Looking at your watch it suddenly seems reasonable that you can take the 9:10 train home instead of the 6:55. She’ll understand…
Leon and Eddie’s was one of many speakeasy-turned-nightclubs that were popular on W 52nd in New York City, a section that was know as swing street. One author even described it as “the street that never sleeps.”
Leon & Eddie's Matchbook

Unlike other more sophisticated places, Leon and Eddie catered to the common man and this  made it a popular place. On any given night one could see shows at 8, 10, 12 and 3am and as long as they could pay the cover charge of $3.50 (1946) they could expect an interesting mix of entertainment. 
Leon & Eddie's Menu

Amateur and professional performers, strippers, dancing girls and co-owner Eddie Davis leading most of it with his own stand up routine which consisted of bawdy songs and adult humor. Celebrity night on Sundays it was common to see well-known performers who had finished shows in other clubs come to Leon and Eddie’s and perform. 

Leon & Eddie's New Yorker Ad 1936

The club lasted through World War II when it was at its peak as much of the patrons were military personnel. By 1947 Leon and Eddie had dissolved their partnership and the the club closed in 1953. A restaurant was opened up by former manager and bouncer Toots Shor on the same location which lasted until 1971. The site eventually became a discotheque in the 1970’s and was torn down for a glass tower in 1982. 

-and all that because I found a matchbook in a desk drawer in Danbury, Connecticut.

 Thanks to Jeremiah Moss for much of the facts on Leon and Eddies and the menu, from his blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

It's 1916 - Feeling Low Down? Dirty? Rotten? Wear a Finck!

This ad struck me as funny for the close association in spelling to Fink.

The word origin of Fink comes from the German language, similar to the word for Finch. It had a use on college campuses for someone not in a fraternity, possibly because they were "wild" or uncaged. The german slang term for dirty or low is Schmutzfink. What ever the origin I can imagine that it helped the sales of this likely durable overalls.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

No Cesspool? In Pain? In the Dark? No Problem! (old ads)

From the American Federationist magazine, 1917, comes this interesting ad for those who could go anytime...

...and if your in pain, in the dark and can't light up...
Old ads are the best!

1930 called...They want their Postcard back.(edited)

1901 is just a guess, but after a comment by Oh Henry (below) I decided to look a little further instead of guessing.  I visited a great site Postcardy and learned that I was about 30 years off. Now, judging by the design on the front - a print on silk with the message embossed in gold - I am going with 1930. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.
Remember the days when neither a zip code or a house number was necessary for a piece of mail to reach its destination? Me neither, but it must have been sweet.  Happy New Year.