Monday, August 30, 2010

Your Head Becomes Whipped Cream

Ah, there's Alice - stuck in a barrel, with a disconnected phone. That's the way she is when she sees her favorite color. Remember the time she went crazy in the Pepto-Bismol factory? And the time Madge served that really big cherry chiffon Jell-O mold? I don't know what we're going to do about her.... 

Pink Is For Girls

That's why girls like Lustre-Creme. It's the only pink shampoo. Pink says we're rich, so rich your whole head becomes one great swirl of whipped-cream lather. Pink says we leave hair soft, and inviting to touch. And should a certain someone get too close, he'll notice that we have a delightful "pink" fragrance, too. Pink, creamy Lustre-Creme. It's the one shampoo made just for girls. Because pink is just for girls. You're a girl, aren't you?

Well, yes she is. But a few strawberries short of a pie, all the same.

[1968 ad, from Vintage Ads LiveJournal.]

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kay Learns A Lesson

The lesson Kay ought to have learned is that her husband gossips about her dishpan hands to the guests at their fancy soiree.

Never mind her admiring her stocking up at the top - the real story is in the cartoon at the bottom. let's take a closer look, shall we?

"Caught Red-handed! Or, Kay Learns A Lesson"

1. Oh look Ed, we're in the social column!  Ed and Kay are newlyweds and they are having their first party. Naturally this is the biggest social event in Whoville,  so Ed insists that Kay hire a maid so she can just Look Pretty and not do anything.
Detail TJS Kay Learns a Lesson 1936
2. After Ed leaves for work Kay says to herself: ugh, what a doofus, we don't have the money for a maid! So she decides to do all the scrubbing herself.

3. Hi honey, how do you like my red dress? Don't you think it sets off my red hands and....uh oh!

4. Ed says: boy, your hands look like you dunked them in tomato sauce, dear (or something like that). Cue the slammed door and wails of how-dare-you. But wait - I mean, her hands ARE red, right? If it was me I'd just say: yeah, next time YOU can make the frozen custard and scrub the dishes, mister.

5.Some silver-haired snooty guest tells Kay that Ed has been talking about her red hands all through the party I guess she stayed in the bedroom all that time (wonder what the social column in the paper is going to say about the party tomorrow?) 

6. Wasn't I a goof not to use Ivory? says Kay. Well, that's where I'd start slamming doors - as soon as I heard what Ed had been talking about to entertain the guests.

7. Yeah OK, Ed, so men like pretty hands. But women like it when men don't gossip about them at parties. And they also prefer you not to buy the incredible jumbo size of a product to make your point.

Many thanks to the fabulous Gallery of Graphic Design for this April 1936 ad from Good Housekeeping.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Master of Toast

Oh Boy Toast and Jam Life Sept 29 1941
The toast matches the blinds. But that is no reason to get so durn excited about it.

Having said that, I really do like the Toast N Jam set - especially the Art Deco-ish jam containers and the plate, which I want.

But the boy is not looking at the cool vintage jam containers - he's mesmerized by the boring toast. This is wrong!

Also, he is going to ruin those blinds. I remember those kind, the ones with cloth tapes - they were really easy to bend out of shape. He is not going to be getting a reward of exciting toast if he ruins mummy's gorgeous venetian blinds!

[From Life, Sept 29 1941]

P.S. - Company this week, so I've set up a bunch of posts but am going to NOT be near my computer....I'll catch up with you all late next week - hope you have a great week!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Postman Always Brings Advice

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. Very dark. Very stormy. And my mind - my mind had gone absolutely blank. What was I supposed to be doing, anyway? Where was I? And for heaven's sake, what was that big pile of dirty dishes doing in my sink?

Then suddenly, the doorbell rang.

A strange postman was there. He handed me a glowing white packet with no address on it. "This, ma'am, is an Idea Booklet."

"I don't understand," I said. "I didn't order anything at all from anyone."

"Well, the folks at Upson Panels, they thought that all the homemakers out there would like to know how you can have lovely crackproof walls and ceilings with washable, non-dust-catching surfaces."

"Gosh, that does sound exciting," I said. "There are plenty of cracked walls and dusty surfaces in here."

"New arrangements and decorating schemes, too," he said. "Go on, have a look. Thousands of other homemakers have been thrilled with the schemes the Upson folks have come up with. And their lives are never the same, folks tell me." And then - all of a sudden -  he had vanished into the peculiar darkness.

"My new Idea Booklet!" I said, as I closed the door and sat down on the settee. I flipped the booklet open and stared at the blank pages. "Where are all the ideas for my ceilings and walls?" 

And then - I don't know how to describe it - these new panels started growing up out of the floor, covering the walls. They glowed faintly with a green light. And then I heard the dishes rattling in the sink.

The house was getting some ideas of its own. I knew things were about to change.

[From Ladies' Home Journal, 1945.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Hygrade Occasion

A Hygrade Picnic Life July 23 1956Well, isn't this lovely. Wearing your finest clothes, lounging on a perfect green-velvet lawn. Sipping something sparkling. This is how we all have cookouts, right?

Soon she will be trying not to get hotdog relish all over that white dress. Or maybe she will try some of that delicious fake Spam! What a feast this will be.

A Hygrade Picnic Life Detail July 23 1956 How about that delicious Hygrade Party Loaf over on the left? Or it might be something else called KP. That might be Kitschy Pâté. I don't really know (Actually, I think it might be Kingan Porkomatic or something).

Whatever it is - bon appétit!

From Life, July 23, 1956, large version here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Karma Chameleon

Hey Kids Boys' Life Apr 1967Here's a "thanks, but no thanks" ad from Boys' Life, April 1967.

Look how big that chameleon is. No wonder it has life insurance. It probably has its own business and a car, too. And it's going to be out looking for a bigger house pretty soon, too.

You'll need to take it to those open houses on your shoulder. It will even match the color of your clothes.  Good to know you two will be looking fashionable. That will impress the realtors for sure.

Oh and you will also get a Swiss Warbler Whistle with your free live chameleon so that you can imitate "any kind of birds" (so why they call it something as specific as a Swiss Warbler Whistle, nobody knows). And you can get 3 months' worth of live meal worms  - chameleon take-out - for a dollar. This is getting more enticing by the moment (I am kidding, of course).*

A chameleon the size of a raccoon, 3 months' worth of meal worms, and an annoying whistle. Yes, your parents will be delighted with this amazing offer, too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Devil Serves Short Notice Salad

Short Notice Salad Life Sept 29 1941Meet Clare the Fashion Editor. She is the heroine of the 1941 version of The Devil Wears Prada.

But in this case, the devil blends mint jelly into the mayo. And of course her guests - some underlings she brought home -  are very impressed with the Short Notice Salad.* Yum, tomatoes, pepper, pineapple and mint jelly mayo! You're a genius, ma'am. No, really. You are.

Here is the recipe -  if you really want to know. I rewrote some of this, because I didn't want to write out the brand names over and over:

Short Notice Salad

1 medium-size tomato
1 medium-size green pepper
6 ounces cream cheese
2 Tbs mayo
1/4 tsp grated onion
4 slices pineapple [pineapple??]
10 slices unpeeled red apple
1/4 cup mint jelly
Short Notice Salad Detail Life Sept 29 1941
1 cup mayo [again with the mayo!]

Cut off tops of tomato and green pepper; remove seeds. Invert tomato to drain. Mix cream cheese with the 2 Tbs of you-know-what-brand mayo and the grated onion and pack in into the tomato and green pepper. Chill thoroughly and slice. Arrange lettuce leaves on chop plate [a chop plate is a serving platter, basically] with slices of tomato, pepper pineapple and apple. Serve with that cup of MAYO which has been blended with mint jelly.  

"This is such a simple salad, but that extra dash of flavor in the mayonnaise lifts it far out of the commonplace."

Uh huh, it does. And I'll be lifting that chop plate right over the compost bin under my sink, if you don't mind.

* My Short Notice Salad recipe:

1. Look in fridge, see some lettuce. Tear it up and wash it. Look in fridge some more. Oh  look, half a can of tuna and some rotini! Oh, there's the vinaigrette, no let me get it, it's over there behind the Tupperware of - something. Hmm. That's from awhile back... 

2. Get everything out on counter.

3. Tell everyone to grab a plate and help themselves.

4. It is called Short Notice Salad because we're a bit Short on ingredients but I hope no one will Notice.

From Life, September 29, 1941 - giant version here if you want to delve into the story.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bean There, Done That

Do you wake tired, liverish, out of sorts with everybody?

That is what happens when you are under the aegis of those two demons, Sluggishness and Undigested Fats. You will sit at the table looking like a small and grumpy line drawing. That's no good!

So have a few Bile Beans. You'd be better taking them! The ad says so. They are as bossy as the Sluggishness and Fats, but of course are much, much healthier.

Bile Beans will make you happy and vital. They will give you a faceful of heavy makeup. You will be a new woman. You will be transformed from that small, unhappy line drawing into a gigantic smiling photograph.

Show me the cup of coffee that does all that!

Thank you to Historyworld for this wonderful British ad from 1955!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Au Côté de Chez Tom

Boys' Life Nov 1935You want to know why the gang is always over at Tom's?

Come on, have a guess.

Does his mom make really amazing cookies? Madeleines perhaps, or maybe she is a genius with chocolate chips.

But no.

It's because he's really popular at school.

And do you know why that is?

He isn't very smart or athletic, apparently. But this ad says that he would win a school popularity contest hands down.

Wherever Tom is, things seem to happen.

Um, OK. That sounds - interesting. What sort of things?

And what are the gang talking about in the picture? Are they planning to open a speakeasy? Are they going to try and make bootleg gin on the back porch with a tin washtub and a few bottles of Tom's dad's apple cider?

No, no, no! You've got it all wrong!

It's much more exciting than all that:

Tom has a Remington typewriter.

Calm down. I know, I know. It seems so obvious in retrospect.

If you want to have a bootlegging gang and be the most popular person in the school, you know what to do now. Go out and get a typewriter. Make sure it is a Remington, though. Invite all your classmates over. Then start tapping out some homework assignments. That ought to do it.

[From Boys' Life, November 1935]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Disembodied Dividend

Weird Gifts Life Jul 9 1965Look at all these great gifts you could get in 1965 with cigarette coupons!

A little blackbird in a really big cage (with the door open). Some golf clubs. Some skis. A plant. A Siamese cat who brought along a pair of black lace-up shoes. A TV with a handle so you can lug it around. An iron. A white telephone. A white hatbox/ vanity case (actually, I kind of like that).

But most of all: that HEAD! Rising up out of the wrapping paper from its red box. How can this lady sit there smiling when that HEAD! is coming out of the box - yes, the worst Disembodied Head in an ad, ever.

The lady is hypnotized by this bizarre onslaught of weird gifts. Maybe she has not even seen the head-in-the-box.

So...what kind of dividend is in store?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Results Are Rather Pleasing

Vacuum Cleaner Art Oct 1928 Pop MhThis is what I ought to do next time I'm about to vacuum the carpet:

1. Throw on my 1920s housecoat and a seriously Artistic expression (or just keep looking mildly bored, like the lady at the left)
2. Cut a square of carpet and put it up on an easel.
3. Oh, and buy an easel (that really ought to be step #2).
4. Get a cup of flour from the kitchen (I'm exhausted already, probably, by this point, and have gone back to the computer...)
5. Sprinkle the flour all over the carpet and "work it into the nap." Cat hair might be a good substitute, it is definitely worked into the nap.
6. Take vacuum cleaner attachment and hoover away bits of the flour (or cat hair) to make a gorgeous picture. Maybe of a Spanish lady with a lot of stuff in her hair like fancy combs and flowers (and flour).

Apparently this has a "rather pleasing effect."

For all that effort and bother it had better have an effect that is mind-bogglingly fabulous. Not just "rather pleasing"!

This is from the October 1928 Popular Mechanics. Did they think we were all going to rush out and give it a try?

Oh, never mind. Here's something else fun that - well, it mentions a vacuum cleaner. There's the connection! It is from "The Songwriters" (1954) - one of the lost episodes of The Honeymooners - a tribute to urban noise (and vacuum cleaners) -

The garbage cans go clang
The radiator goes bang
And the vacuum cleaner makes a racket too
Put them all together and what have you got?
That's my love song to you -

A car outside gets a flat
Somebody steps on a cat
And the next door neighbor's kid is screaming too
Put them all together and what have you got?
That's my love song to you -

A salesman rings the bell
And then he tries to sell
A book about the peaceful life in Rome
But you can have your quiet
It takes a little riot
To make a house into a happy home...

To make my life complete
Some guys are fixing the street
If I'm lucky they'll keep drilling all night through
Though it's a mighty din
Not like Gershwin or Berlin
It's my love song to you...

Friday, August 6, 2010

It Need Not Happen To You!

Duocraft Shorts Life May 27 1940
Meet Joe. Joe is having trouble at work, especially late in the day:

Joe: Harry, my prospects just won't listen after 4 o'clock. Everybody seems to be tired in the afternoon.

Harry: Joe, they're not tired, you're tired and I'll tell you why.

Harry looks a little done in himself. But he is full of peppy - and very personal - advice. Why is Joe so exhausted and run-down? You might be thinking that maybe Joe needs to start eating bran muffins in the morning, or he that needs a good dose of Listerine or chlorophyll, but, it is something even more embarrassing; Harry gives Joe, off-camera (off-cartoon?) a lecture about - underwear:

Harry:...And if you wear DUOCRAFT, the support it gives you will help you keep your "EDGE" all day long.

Yes, Harry has based his brilliant career strategy - and his "EDGE" - on Duocraft underpants and their "action support." And what's more, he never thinks anyone finds him boring. It's just that they're wearing the wrong kind of underpants.

This theory has not endeared him to the rest of the office - but Joe is new at work, and he's impressed. Why, the very next day we see Joe exiting the haberdasher's with a job lot of new underwear. And soon enough, the magic powers of Duocraft (or perhaps this is a placebo effect, who knows?) begin to work their mystic spell:

Other Office Guy: Well, here's your order, I wish my salesmen were as energetic as you.

Joe: Thank you sir, I'll need energy with several hours of bridge ahead of me tonight.

Very suave, Joe, mentioning the bridge party shenanigans-to-come. I wonder if Joe told the Other Office Guy the secret of his success?

[From Life, May 27 1940.]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Treasure Hunt In Your Hair

Going on a treasure hunt in my hair is just...not a great image, you know? It brings to mind a glob of chewing gum stuck in there. Or some leaves and twigs, that happens when you go on a hike sometimes. Not that twigs and leaves are treasure, though. Or gum.

Hidden there is something precious!

("My Prrrrecious!")

Could it be the One Ring to Rule Them All? Really? Stuck in my hair? Oh, I think not. There haven't been any Dark Riders charging down the street. Not lately. Unless they drive minivans these days.

Oh, I'm kidding. I know that the treasure is all those golden highlights  we will have if we use Golden Glint Shampoo. It gives the user a "tiny-tint." It is "hardly perceptible." Even Gollum will look glamorous, possibly. Or gollomorous.

And getting that blob of gum out won't hurt, either.

[From LJ Vintage Ads. This 1932 ad features Edwina Booth, whose brief film career included Trader Horn, filmed in East Africa, where she contracted malaria; she was ill for 6 years and this effectively ended her burgeoning movie career. Because of this, sued MGM for more than a million dollars (she got a lot less, though - $35,000, according to Wikipedia).]

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Swimwear By Fred Mertz

Say hello to Norm and Crazylegs. They want everyone to see how cool they look in their Catalina Sport Sets.  These are basically short-sleeved pajama tops and matching swim trunks with waists that are about up to the top of the solar plexus (they are Fred-Mertz-approved!)

And also, Norm and Crazylegs want you to admire the pebbles (or grey seashells) that they have arranged on the floor. Yes, that sure is swell! Don't drop that football on them though, that would mess the whole thing up. Whatever its significance might be.

Crazylegs Hirsch was a famous football player in the 50s who had what Wikipedia calls "an unusual running style," hence the nickname. And Norm Van Brocklin was also a 50s football celeb, nicknamed "The Dutchman." I don't know why they were so interested in pebbles (or seashells), though.

[From Life, June 7, 1954; big version here.]

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Tin Can Shopping Cart

Yes, the "little feminine member of the family" is going to enjoy a taste of her future adult life - pushing around a shopping cart made out of a tin can.  Do you think anyone ever made this? And if they did, would a kid actually take it to the store? You'd be laughed out of the Piggly Wiggly for that.

But maybe not. Maybe her poor mother is out there dragging a cart made out of an old oil drum or something.

That girl is definitely gritting her teeth, though. Can't say I blame her, do you?

[From Popular Mechanics, February 1945.]