Moon Over Amami

Well, if you are wanting to buy up any of the last bottles of Amami setting lotion, you had better hurry. I read it in the Daily Mail, you see. Yes, I read the Daily Mail – I like to keep up, you know.

So you’d better make sure you hurry straight over to England because that’s where they are selling the Last Bottles of Amami. Yes, the very setting lotion that we’ve made fun of right here (though only once I see, not nearly enough!) was still being made up until – right now! I didn’t know. And now it is too late.

What is Amami, I hear you asking (not really)? It is a quick-setting curling lotion and conditioner. It is “the secret of round-the-clock grooming.” And of being “Neat in the Kitchen” (just don’t peek in the sink, or the oven).

So that’s the big secret! That is why I look so horrendous and frizzy-haired at 6 am: lack of Amami. You see, Amami is something that “clever wives, wise to their husbands’ admiration” use pretty much all the time. Which lets me out right there. That really is too clever for me, especially at 6 am. I’m not even wise to where the coffee is (wherever it is, it needs to be closer) or what the horrible scratching noises are (that would be our cats, hinting that they would like breakfast).

But anyway: in honor of Amami, I thought we ought to do an advertisement about it today. And another bad-pun title (there were so many that sprang to mind: the Amami Blogger, Amami Knows Best, Just Amami – but I went for something a little different).*

And in hunting for Amami ads, I stumbled upon a fabulous, terrific site called History World, which I highly recommend – why, there is even an Ad Museum! So you can imagine that just like Christmas morning for me, over there. The link to this 1953 Amami ad is from History World, right here.

*Moon Over Miami was a 1935 song, a 1941 movie with Betty Grable, a 1990s TV show and a breakfast dish more commonly known as Egg In the Basket (it is a piece of toast with the center cut out, in which reposes a fried egg). None of which have a thing to do with setting lotion – though maybe we could pretend that Betty Grable used it on her blond curls.

A Million Socially Popular Babies

It’s a well-known fact that you can’t really sell Dr. West toothpaste to babies, or Palmolive soap, or Halo shampoo – all the things that ensure social success for the grown-ups.

Yet the babies are also concerned about their standing in society. Even if they aren’t exactly standing.

You can sit there and chew on your dress all you like, but the real mark of a Socially Popular Baby is whether it is wearing fashionable “Duxkin” Baby Pants. I do not know what “Duxkin” is nor why it requires quotation marks. Must be an in-joke with 1940s babies. All I can think of is “duck skin,” but surely one does not instantly equate duck skin with either comfort or poise.

Having said all that, unless Empire Shield nylon is the most incredible sound/aroma barrier ever invented (sort of the fabric version of triple-paned windows plus Tupperware) – I don’t think these pants are really going to deliver on their social promise, do you? No matter how much testing went on in the Empire Shield laboratory (and what fun it must have been to work there, on the frontiers of Nylon Pant Science).

[From LiveJournal.]

The Swellest Sunday Morning Treat in the World

Ed is pretty darn excited about his Sunday fun. He’s showing off his cankles, and he’s all spiffed up in his three piece suit, ready to chat.

But his neighbour Tom has not, I suppose, had any Postum yet. And therefore does not see what fun it would be to be in Ed’s slippers (I am not sure that it ever would seem like fun, but never mind). So Tom is going to stay perfectly calm until he gets the whole story:

I can’t get very excited ’til I learn what this swell treat was!

Tom needs details, you see. Heaven knows what he’s expecting to hear about. But probably not something like – bran muffins:

Piping hot bran muffins, made with 40% Bran Flakes! Man, were they good!

Ed is on a mission. He must tell people about how much he liked his bran muffins. He goes into a whole lecture about bran and regularity and – well, just head over to the larger version (link below) if you’d like to learn what Ed did. And “Mrs. Ed”* chimes in, reminding Tom that Bran Flakes are on sale!

It takes a few months – and we won’t be inquiring too closely into that – but Tom, of course, does what he’s supposed to, buys the flakes, eats a LOT of bran and – yes, happiness all around! More hysterical excitement. Soon the whole neighborhood will be dancing and singing and extolling bran – just like those Viagra commercials from a few years ago. Wow, who knew bran was so incredible?

And not are only the people happy – even the cereal bowl can’t help breaking into song down at the bottom. It’s the Ethel Merman of whole grains: “Life is swell – when you keep well!”  It’s a good thing those Bran Flakes are only 40%. Imagine what they’d be doing – and doing to you! – if that percentage was any higher.

*Which makes the Bran Guy “Mr. Ed,” right? I guess this is the result of all those bran muffins.

[From Life, July 24, 1939; bigger version here. Oh, and I had to change the title because I already used it, last year...I knew it sounded familiar! The guy in the 2009 Branderful Life post was excited about 100% Bran - please note that he is a Disembodied Head, too - not sure what to make of that...]

The Nervy Neighbours

So I have these neighbors, Millie and Madge.

And they make me nervous, because – well, my goodness, look at them. See Millie there on the left, pretending to be sweet as pie? Don’t be fooled. She’s telling me about a screaming fight she had with Sissy Sassafras, who’s in her bridge club – who actually dared to refuse second helpings of Millie’s famous canned vegetable and gelatin pie.  

The nerve! The absolute nerve of that hussy! I told her blah blah blah blah and then she said blub blub blub blub and then well I just came right back, I didn’t hesitate, I said right to her face, I said – say, are you listening to me, dear? Well? Are you?

You get the picture.

And then we have Madge. She doesn’t even try to hide her opinion under a layer of sugar frosting – she just sits there and gives a person the Hairy Eyeball. See? See her staring at me? And she won’t talk much, just harumphs and sighs like you were sticking pins in her and making her drink lemon juice instead of Postum. Huh. That’s a thought, you know. But Postum reminds me – yes, Postum

My doctor thinks Postum will help me in these situations. After I stopped laughing hysterically, I told him I needed something to calm me down and keep me from beaning the neighbour ladies over the head with one of Jim’s socks. Preferably one full of – of – of -

You know what I mean…Yes. Well. Anyway -

So the doctor just chuckled – good thing I didn’t have a sock full of something-or-other with me right then! – and said it was a case of Too Much Caffeine that was making me so cranky.

He can call it Caffeine or anything he likes. All I know is, I was hiding behind the curtains whenever Millie or Madge (or heaven help me, both of them at once) rang the doorbell. Ding-dong!  I would put on a deep fake voice and say in a gruff, crabby-husband way, “Nobody’s home.”

I don’t think I fooled them though, because the first time I did it, Madge said, “Well, then, who are you?”

“This is Boopsie, the German shepherd,” I growled -  and then I barked a few times, for effect.

So now they keep asking me where Boopsie is. In this lovely picture – right up at the top there, see? – I am telling them he is right here, in the sugar bowl. And from their reaction to this, I have a feeling they won’t be back any time soon – don’t you? And it’s all thanks to Postum – somehow.

[From the Digital Collections at Duke University.]

The Grateful Sted Head

Well, up in Canada they know
How to make evil dandruff go;
On falling hair they have a ban
From St. John’s to Saskachewan
And way out west in far Vancouver
A guy can make some smooth manoeuvre
Without the fear that his toupee
Might fly off to Yellowknife someday.

These lucky old Canadian guys
Have some strange potion or device
That gives them confidence and hair
On heads that once were tundra-bare.
All hail American Sted Pitt
Who though down south, got wind of it!
His friends thank him both night and day
For lovely locks that came to stay.
They do not mind a tumbled bedhead,
Better than baldness is a Sted head.

So steady on, American men
Luxuriant hair will grow again;
Just take that dollar you’ve been savin’
And send it to Sted Pitt in New Haven.
What is Sted’s method, you may ask?
Let’s summarize this simple task:
Just cut a hole in a dollar bill
And stick it on your head at will
No one will notice that you’re bald -

That’s not the first thing you’ll be called.

[This 1931 advertisement is from Modern Mechanix, which is a cornucopia of wonders...]

The Cough Drop and the Swan

And you thought a cough drop was just to stop you from – um, coughing. Well, think again! Because these incredible green Chlorophyll Cough Drops do so much more.

This is because they are “richly medicated.” And also they are refreshing. And while you are being both medicated and refreshed, that little green cough drop will be doing three, count ‘em, three Important Things for you:

1. That stuffy nose you have will clear up right away – and that, by the way, is not a symptom of a cold. It is because you seem to have a long-necked white swan nesting in your gullet. That’s a little strange.

2. Raspy cough? Hey, not a problem. These are cough drops after all. That’s the point of them. But the guy there in the middle picture seems to have swallowed his cough drop. Don’t do that! The swan down in your throat doesn’t have a cough, does he? But he does have red dots all over him. Could be chicken pox. Or swan pox (best not to dwell on all that, of course, it won’t make you feel any better). Oh, just send a cough drop down, it’ll probably cure that, too.

3. And finally, Smith Brothers cough drops take away your bad breath. See, the picture on the right is a dramatization of this. Sort of. Because the lady does not look convinced. Either that or she doesn’t like the scent of chlorophyll all that much. The guy is really into it though – look at him. He’s really happy. Guess the swan is feeling better now.

[From Life, September 29, 1952, giant version here.]

Once Upon A Cowbell

Fake books with title-free covers? Check. Lighting fixtures that are in danger of plonking right onto the froofy headboards? Check. A big pretend yawn for the camera which has wandered into the bedroom? Oh, yes, check!

Also: why do these people have cows on their night table?Or horses, maybe they are horses. But still. Why?

And why does he have a bell on his side? When he rings, is she supposed to jump up and get him some bedtime milk and cookies? Answer: Probably. This is why she’s pretending to yawn: soon she will be pretending to be so fast asleep that she cannot hear that cow bell (insert “needs less cowbell” joke right here).

So maybe the little man inside the mattress can go get it the milk and cookies. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything much except pointing.

From Life, October 31 1949; bigger version here.

House of Fashion Secrets

The mysterious aliens had a hidden agenda. They would not rest until every man in Gotham City was wearing a red suit, white socks and brown shoes.

“We will lure them with piles of patently fake-looking bright green money, and disco balls from the future,” one of the aliens cackled.

“And also cheap yet glittering costume jewelry, including of course a plastic tiara from the dollar store,” laughed another.

“Yes, they will soon be wearing bright red pants that are slightly too short in the leg, ha ha!”

“Soon our fashion domination of Earth shall be complete!”

Then a third alien, who had been thinking in the corner of the spaceship (which was shaped like a freestanding boutique at a mall), spoke up. “Yeah, but then what? So they’re all wearing red suits. And that makes us powerful because –?”

“Because – because…we will also turn their stupid downtown buildings bright pink, that’s why!” Which made, of course, no sense at all. But everyone agreed that it was the only plan anyone had been able to come up with.

And so they lowered their fishing lines of sartorial doom…

From Cover Browser.

A Del-Ray of Sunshine

I don’t have a lot of time today so I’m sending you all this beautiful postcard.

It is from the Del-Ray Motel on Route 40 a little bit west of Indianapolis. Isn’t this an enchanting place?*

The pastel-tobacco tiled walls! The brown and yellow floor! They contrast so nicely with the mint green of the glass desk, the beds and the bolted-to-the-wall night table.

Best of all, the room seems to come with a strange guy who will show you exactly where the bed closest to the door is. He is wearing his best Fred Mertz pants, belted just under the armpits.

You can use that wall phone to book another motel room. Fred will point out the door, his smile barely wavering (though it may indeed waver, so proud he is of this splendid room) as you leave.

*I’m not here, though. But maybe some day!

[From WMFU's Beware of the Blog (it's on Flickr and some other places, too).]

Here’s To You, Mrs. Miller

Have you ever heard of the fabulous Mrs. Elva Miller (1907-97)? In the mid 1960s she had a brief period of fame for singing all sorts of well-known pop songs and absolutely making them her own. She sings like no one else I have ever heard.

She was discovered around 1960 through a self-financed single she made. She was featured on Garry Owens’ radio show after that (he produced Laugh-In in the late 60s) and was signed to Capitol Records in 1965.

She had a brief period of popularity due to her singing being so – unique. At first of course the poor lady thought she was being heralded for her good diction, but to her credit, once she realized that her fame was for other reasons, she went along with the joke and deliberately missed the beat. But as the Wikipedia article says, “she was capable of skipping beats and missing cues all by herself,” too.

She put out several albums, which include her interpretation of Beatles songs like “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Yellow Submarine.” She did quite a version of “Downtown,” the 1966 Petula Clark hit. And a stunning version of “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”

There are some good clips over at YouTube. It was very hard to choose which ones to present here. Seriously, Mrs. Miller is amazing. Here is her unique interpretation of “A Hard Day’s Night”:

And here’s “Let’s Hang On,” originally sung by Frankie Valli:

Album cover is from Frank’s Vinyl Museum.