An Italian Masterpiece

Who knew that the Green Giant was a master chef, trained in the art of classic Italian cuisine?

And who knew that creamed corn topped with tomato slices was a culinary masterpiece from Italian cuisine?

And who believed this sort of thing, even in 1961?

I do like the bowl, though. It is striped to evoke the colors of the Italian flag. That must be the secret – whatever you stick in that dish becomes – by association – an Italian Masterpiece.

Just remember – unlike the Green Giant – to hide the can.

[From Life, April 14, 1961.]

The Quink Tank

McFlit was mad as a wet hen
Beleaguered by a faulty pen
And thus began to greatly fear
Both for his sanity and career

Although, ironically enough
He should be worried about other stuff
To wit, the horrid screeching noise
He makes when mad and thus annoys

The clerks outside, the middlemen
Who never knew a lousy pen
And also McFlit’s immediate boss
Is raging about hearing loss

And saying words that start with F
Concerning how he’s going deaf
The clerks say cusses that end in -it
Which rhyme quite perfectly with McFlit

Then Suzie has a good idea
She is Employee of the Year
And is, alone among the clerks,
The one whose brain entirely works:

“Look, Mr. McFlit, just stop and think
If a pen is clogged, replace the ink!”
And with a flourish, she does just that
And stops his noise in seconds flat.

Now that McFlit has quieted down
The boss will lose that scary frown
He says to Suzie: “Demote that yob!
From now on, you’ll have his fancy job!

“Likewise, McFlit, you noisy fool,
Take Suzie’s place in the typing pool-
Fetch Suzie’s coffee, and never again
Be trusted with a Parker pen.”*

And so hurrah for Parker Quink
That problem-solving brand of ink:
It unclogged a pen and Suzie’s career
As well as many an office ear.

(*He may run into trouble when his typewriter ribbon needs changing, though.)

[Life, September 10, 1945.]

Gettin’ Less Wiggy With It

Do we have everything for our jazz gig circa 1969? Everybody is here in the Jazz Barn. At least, I think it is a barn. Or an industrial building with straw on the floor. Oh wait, maybe it is supposed to be a club in a converted factory in the East Village.

Or maybe the group got lost on the way to the gig and are stuck in an industrial park in New Jersey. Add a psychedelic bus and a couple of hilariously unhip guys in suits and crewcuts, and we’ve got ourselves an answer to the Partridge Family. You know, for “the guys with the talented heads,” whatever that means. Yes, this could be a winner!

Only you guys – you do need to crack a smile now and then. That could be tough. So let’s just make sure we have all the props we need for the ad:

Oil drums draped with cobwebs? Check.

Regulation black sweaters? Check.

Grumpy expressions, vaguely suggesting creative inspiration edged with digestive issues? Oh, absolutely.

How about the berets? We must have berets, you know. This is to show that you kids come from Greenwich Village. Or possibly the Left Bank. Oui, we have berets!

Now everybody stand behind the Gibson amplifiers and look extra moody. Make sure you don’t give the impression that the amps are what’s making you moody, though.

Oh, and you over there on the right – yeah, you, Mustache Guy slumped in the corner – what are you doing here, exactly? Do you actually know these people?

[I found this 1969 gem at Vintage Ad Browser - but a better image is here at Vintage Guitars, so I used a scan from there.]

The Tragically Hypnotic

Bernice was surely in his power now. Omar the Omnipotent was the greatest hypnotist this side of Hoboken (and he was pretty good on the other side, too). None of Bernice’s flapper friends wanted to go up on stage at the Bee’s Knees Supper Club and be a volunteer. But Bernice was always ready for fun.

Too bad that this wasn’t precisely the sort of fun she was always ready for. She was frozen in place all right. And her expression, noted her best friend Lucille, was identical to the look she had given that jellied olive-and-sardine salad that they had had at the bridge club luncheon last week.

But of course Omar was far, far more powerful than an olive-and-sardine salad. Everyone was amazed! Even though she wasn’t actually looking at the rays of hypnotic power emanating from the left side of his face, Bernice was stunned all the same.

That is because Bernice didn’t realize that they were just some wavy lines that Omar the Omnipotent had drawn in with a white pen.

And his name wasn’t even Omar, it was Hubert. You see, Hubert sent away for a mail-order course so that he could “make his life what he wanted it to be” and tried it FREE for 5 days.

The course consisted of a small booklet and a white pen.

[From Popular Mechanics, June 1929; the extra big version is here. This mail order course is from CHICAGO! For those of you who don't know why this is so significant, please click that Retro Chicago tag at the bottom of this post and prepare to be amazed!]

A Couple of Lead Balloons

I thought it was just an ordinary headache at first. At first, I thought maybe it was Carl’s insistance on us wearing red at all times. I know his red suit made my eyes hurt. But aspirin didn’t make the pains go away.

And then I saw them up there, hovering near the ceiling: some familiar, huge, black and white disembodied heads. And I knew those two: it was dear old Mom and Dad, that’s who. Parents: you just can’t get away from them, right? It must be the strings tied onto the end of the balloons: invisible, sure – but there, all the same.

Mom, Dad, I shouted up at them, What are you doing here?

Dad said: Don’t marry Carl, Sheila. He’ll make you miserable!

And Mom chimed in: His way of life is wrong…and sinful.

Um, could you possibly be a little more specific? I said.

Mom said: Well, take a look at that red suit of his, for one thing. That is a sin against fashion, for a start.

And Dad added: And I think he dyes his hair, too. Nobody in the world was ever born with that shade of orange – not even Bozo the Clown!

Carl gave me a funny look. “Sheila darling,” he said, “I knew there was something strange about you. My parents warned me about this! They said: don’t marry Sheila, Carl – she talks to invisible balloons up on the ceiling and says they are her parents. What sort of girl comes from a family of black and white parade balloons?”
I sighed. Hadn’t Mom and Dad warned me that I should marry another balloon head and not try to pass as a Regular Girl? Just be myself, in black and white, up on the ceiling. Because these magic red pants weren’t going to work forever, you know. Soon I’d be a big headed balloon again, just like them. And I had a feeling Carl wasn’t going to be too impressed.

[From Cover Browser - bigger version over there, too.]

The 24-Hour Burlesque Show

That title got your attention, I’ll bet. It’ll be explained a little bit later. But first, let’s talk about something a little fancier than burlesque. Let’s talk about aspiring to a fancy retro Hollywood life. You want to feel like a movie star. And the makeup and beauty product ads that claim their products will give you that silver-screen aura just aren’t enough.You know what you need?

A canary. Canaries make you feel glamorous and special. They – well, they sing. They sing and sing! And you can call their part of the room a “Hollywood corner.” That ad over on the left says so. In the 1940s, there was a canary fad going on -  because a canary will make you feel like the Bonita Granville of the neighborhood. Or something like that.

But if you want to feel like a real celebrity, you will need something more. You will need a critic. And that is why you should also get a parakeet.

Yes, it is true. A parakeet hanging out in a little cage giving you the side-eye and making tart remarks is going to make you feel like you’re living the high life in LA.

And it won’t be all movie premiers and champagne either. In Popular Science in October 1953 an article about parakeets claimed that “Any home with a parakeet is a 24-hour burlesque show.” Oh, really? And do the parakeets wear little outfits with tassels or do fan dances? Never mind, we don’t really want to know.

It’ll be just like having a gossip blogger right in your very own home. Because they are saucy, those little birds. That 1953 article quotes a parakeet who wandered into a housewife’s vacuum cleaner tank and started yelling (as who would not): “Get me out of here! Get me out of here!” So imagine what your parakeet would say about you, given its druthers*:

“Hey, what kind of horrible outfit is that?”
“Who was that cheesy guy I saw you with yesterday?”
“You have 25 Mars Bar wrappers hidden in your pocket, don’t you?”
“You’re in big trouble now!”
“You can’t act for toffee, why don’t you just pack it in! Pack it in! Pack it in!”

And if this isn’t enough fun – your parakeet will also make lots of droppings. Oh, and you have to give it lots of seeds and be nice to it while it talks smack about you to anyone who comes over.

Now, the record actually trains the parakeet to say things that are not quite so complicated, like “Hello, baby.” Hey – maybe you could use the parakeet instead of the Girl Getter Cards. Just carry your little friend around with you and when you see a girl you like, get it to do the talking for you. Just make sure it doesn’t tell her about those Mars bar wrappers or insult her outfit.

The Parakeet Training Record is from Frank’s Vinyl Museum.

*To have one’s druthers was an 19th century American phrase; druthers was a shortening of the words “would rathers.”

A Shocking Beauty Risk

Today we are talking about Shocking Beauty Risks, and I’ll bet you never heard of this one.

It’s something to worry about that I’ll bet you never guessed you needed to worry about:

Brushing your teeth may cause cavities! 

Didn’t see that one coming, I’ll bet. You are taking a big risk every single time you brush your teeth! You are, in fact, brushing the cavities right in.

And if you do “brush cavities into softer parts of teeth” you will see a giant, angry tooth staring back at you from the mirror. And boy, is it ever not happy with you. You’d better start using Teel before it jumps out and starts biting.

From Life, September 21, 1942; big version here.

One Girl Getter Card Short of A Full Deck

Here’s a sensational new way to meet women! They are guaranteed to work quick and easy – even for shy men!

Use these cards anywhere: at dances, parties, offices, while walking or traveling. These Cards are in good taste and easy to use.

What a great idea, huh? You carry around a bunch of these cards in a lovely plastic case, and when you see a girl you like, you – I guess you hand her a card, right? Or maybe you read off the card. How sophisticated you’ll look, opening up the case, shuffling around to find just the right card – then reading it to her like you were challenging her in Trivial Pursuit.

You can get an idea of what must be on the Girl Getter cards from any bad-pickup-lines site, like the following Lame Pickup Lines from Lines that Are Good (please note: most of the Lame Pickup Lines on that site are not, um, in Good Taste – don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Pardon me, miss, I seem to have lost my phone number, can I borrow yours?
Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only ten I see!
So, you’re a girl, huh?

These lines are from a slightly less salacious site: 

Baby, you must be a broom, ’cause you swept me right off my feet.
Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?
Got any raisins? No? Then how about a date?

There were 12 kinds of Girl Getter Cards and you got 2 of each. Did the girl have to hand it back? If not, did you have to keep ordering replacements?

In addition to the plastic case you would also be receiving a “Revolutionary Phone and Date Index” so you could write her number down – that would look suave, wouldn’t it? And also you got a lovely book entitled “How to Make Women Want You.” I believe Chapter One tells you that the best way to make women want you is to hand out small cards with pick-up lines printed on them.

The girl in the ad has just got a Girl Getter Card, with something like the above examples printed on it. She looks reasonably OK with this, but is avoiding looking directly at the card. Also, the shy guy is nowhere to be seen. I guess the book didn’t tell him that after you give the girl the card, you do have to stick around.

[Many thanks to Vintage Scans for this one; it was originally from Swank, January 1962.]

The 1938 Crab Orchard Whiskey Quiz*

It’s time for a little quiz! Let’s examine this 1938 ad in which Dick’s boss is impressed by a bottle of whiskey and, by association, with its proud owner:  

1. Why is Dick “kind of bothered”?

a. Because when he transforms into a cartoon, he ages and gets very strange looking.

b. Because he doesn’t know why he invited the Boss over to his apartment, really.

c. Because when someone says you have a “nice cozy place” it often means “Boy, this joint is so small we’re bumping knees! Why are we doing that, exactly?”

2. What, precisely, is a Crab Orchard?

a. A bunch of crab apple trees in Kentucky, near where bourbon is made.
b. The place in the backyard where you go when you’re in a bad mood and don’t want to yell at everyone else.
c. An outtake from the Yellow Submarine album – but Ringo decided to go with “Octopus’ Garden” in the end.

3. What sort of impact will the Crab Orchard highball have on Dick’s career?

a. The Boss will be so toasted on the train home that he’ll make Dick a Vice President by the time they get to Larchmont (you might want to get it in writing, though, Dick).
b. The Boss will want to move the company offices to Dick’s bachelor pad, where he can sip bourbon all day.
c. No impact, really. The Boss didn’t remember a thing the next day.

[From Graphic Design TJS Labs - big version here, too!]

*That title almost – not quite, but almost – could be a late 60s band name, like the Strawberry Alarm Clock or the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

The Perfect Breather

Stop Mouth Breathing and Snoring!

Also stop him from arguing. From complaining about your lousy cooking. Or about the laundry. It really works! And that Inhaling Balm helps to keep him happy and relaxed while you enjoy an evening to just read a magazine, serve whatever you like for dinner, and maybe even talk about – why, whatever you like! Just go ahead and say what’s on your mind, what’s he going to do?

You can remind him that it will help his “flabby facial muscles, double chin, and protruding and unshapely lips.” And you can show him the “valuable breathing exercises” that come with the Perfect Breather.

Has helped thousands.

Yessirreebob, it has. Now you can both have a breather!

From Modern Mechanix.