A Breath Of Stale Air

There’s trouble in Mudville, as my grandmother used to say. Or perhaps in this case, trouble in Moose Jaw.

This is another family we have probably met before. I’m thinking that this is the wife of the Colgate Cream guy -several years later. The sequel to the first ad, if you will.

That is quite an arresting photo in the middle there. This is one scary lady! Jim’s mother is pretty brave. But even she realizes that she’s gone too far. Her daughter in law is a tiger! You don’t tell any kind of tiger that they have bad breath. It’s just not a good idea.

But look up at the beginning of the ad – everyone’s starting off wrong here! The daughter in law is complaining about her husband to his mother! Like that’s going to help. And mother dear starts right up, too, doesn’t she? “It’s not Jim’s fault. Maybe if you’d take care of your breath…”

LHJ 1939 Listerine 2

Subtle, isn’t she? She’s had that little bombshell bottled up for weeks. Couldn’t wait to say it.

Don’t you get the sense that these two will never get along – even if Tiger Girl had breath like Shalimar perfume?

Next, Tiger Girl brings in the next generation – she’ll prove the old bag wrong! And here’s poor Joan – the baby from the Colgate ad, six years later. It hasn’t been an easy six years. Check the body language – the kid’s about to bolt right out of the cartoon panel.

Still, she has inherited Grandma’s bluntness. Yes, Mummy, your breath has been terrible – “loads and loads of times.” I’ll bet that went over well with Mummy! Run like the wind for Grandma’s, Joan! You can hide there – and also get a few lungfuls of clean air.

Cue the insane gargling of Listerine “morning and night” – probably all day. That’s all this lady does! She’s buying cases of the stuff. Stands in front of the mirror all day. In between gargles, she cackles to herself  “nobody can criticize my breath again” – yeah, lady, that’s because they’ve all passed out from the stench.

In the last scene the fmaily is reunited – sort of. They are at the beach, and Jim and wife are supposedly “spooning” – though if you look closely, Jim is staying pretty far back from his wife. Well out of spooning range. And Joan is really far away, with the dog. She doesn’t want to be anywhere near these two losers.

The nosy beach neighbor ends by saying “They’re so devoted!” You can just hear the sarcasm in her voice.  Devoted as long as there’s a two foor buffer zone between them, ha ha.

[Sorry for the lousy scan - the library printer-scanner was having a bad ink day]

Bobby Is Emulsified

LHJ 1936 Grove's Nose Drops

No, Bobby, surely you don’t object to Mother’s emulsified nose drops! She fixes you with that steely smile, grasping your chin in her visor grip.

Mother bears a strong resemblance to the young Joan Crawford. It – it couldn’t be, could it? Joan would’ve used this stuff, I think. “Extraordinarily effective,” indeed. I’ll just bet they are. Look at the smile on Bobby! He’s been emulsified for some time now.

And why are they compaing the nose drops to – ew- fresh cream? Imagine the terrifying cooking mistakes Joan might make.  Or are they mistakes?

The Secret of Happy Ingewanden

LHJ Jan 1934 Yeast Unmentionable ad

Well, where shall we start? I suppose with the wonderfully-named Dr. Ploos Van Amstel (of Amsterdam – no relation to the beer, presumably), who will be very displeased if we do not begin with him. Like Ben Blue, he is a disembodied head. So I don’t see how he can be an expert on constipation but – anyway, he is an “intestinal specialist” – and I really don’t feel like arguing with a steely-eyed medical head.

Anyway, he says that yeast works a treat on constipation, made his patient’s intestines practically sing with happiness. I don’t like the way he is shouting about how she’d been suffering since childhood, up there at the top. Is there no patient confidentiality in these 1930s ads?

You are required to “eat three cakes a day” – no no, not marble chiffon cakes, yeast cakes. Plain or in water. Oh, yummy. And you can get it at a soda fountain, too. What fun it will be to go out to the soda shoppe with the gang and order Fleischmann’s Yeast with a side of seltzer. You will be the life of the party all right.

But this splendid ad does not end with Dr. Ploos (who resembles a sinister Mr. Dressup, does he not, Canadian readers? For the rest of you, Mr. Dressup was a children’s TV presenter for many years who mostly hung out with puppets and occasionally made crafts or cookies. He also dressed up sometimes, hence the name. When I was in Quebec City in the late 1980s the one and only English TV channel seemed to play nothing but Mr. Dressup reruns. It was rather surreal.)

Anyway, there’s more to see here – check out this photo/cartoon picture story – another female patient, another male doctor – and another triumph for Fleischmann’s. Meet Miss Alice Spinning, a graduate nurse from Washington, D.C. She is very happy now. Before – not so much. Indigestion, headaches – major blockage.

LHJ 1934 Yeast comic ad detail

Enter Dr. Rudolph Valentino with his “we’ve got to break that stubborn constipation before you can really get your strength back!” A hero with a glassful of yeast and soda. Even with all that screen-idol magic, it takes Alice ten more days to spring out of bed all – refreshed, and another two weeks to get back into the social scene. Cue the triumphant orchestral music, and fade out.

Please, please fade out already! But not before you take a look at the little picture of your digestive system, complete with Dutch and English labels. This truly is the ad that has it all!

LHJ 1934 Yeast comic ad detail 2

Zam-Buk the Magnificent

Toronto Telegram 1923 Zam-Buk

They still make this stuff that sounds like a 1950s gladiator movie, look! And it even has its own website. It hasn’t got a lot of content on there but then it is only a jar of ointment. I don’t suppose that its miraculous attributes include writing blog posts, really.

I kind of wish it did, because then it could come sit on my desk here and whisper helpful ideas. It is Monday morning – ah, but you knew that already! – and I’m thinking about where to take Kitchen Retro in the coming months – things to write about, mixing things up a bit. I have some really good ads I’m saving up though – i can’t wait to post them. And there are some strange recipes lurking on the shelves. Also, I want to write more about retro stuff from the 1960s and 1970s that I remember and can’t get out of my head.

But Zam-Buk calls! Zam-Buk awaits my post and will not be happy if it does not get written. Do not make Zam-Buk displeased. Zam-Buk has a mighty temper and will unleash a few thunderbolts from his mighty mountaintop. And give you an itchy skin rash too!

Anyway, Zam-Buk.  It is made in the UK by the Rose Apothocary Co., here. It is made up of several herbal oils (eucalyptus and thyme especially) mixed with beeswax and a couple of other things (I know I am being lazy, but if you really, absolutely are desperate to know the couple of other things in Zam-Buk, the Rose people are very happy to tell you. Sorry, need more coffee over here!)

This site suggests that the name comes from a South African town called Zambuk. Why the Roman senator in the ad – and why the ad implies that this stuff was made in ancient Rome – I have no idea.  

Zam-Buk ointment – oh sorry, embrocation! – was made starting about 1903 in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This ad is from a Canadian newspaper – the Toronto Telegram, in 1923.

An embrocation, by the way, is a fancy word for something medicinal that is rubbed into the skin. In other words, cream or ointment. I really like this word – it sounds like a cross between an altercation and a convocation. I guess if you had an altercation (say, with the valedictorian) this is just the sort of thing you would need.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Samaria?

Daily British Whig, Kingston 1906 Samaria

How do you solve a problem like Samaria? You don’t. You let her solve a problem like you, mister!

Samaria is not pleased with you. She has got some tablets and they are going straight into your tea. Only you won’t know it. You are too distracted with your life of debauchery. And really, the drinking is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, isn’t it? The nights out with the road company Floradora Girl wannabes. All that money spent on fine cigars and gold watchchains. And frankly, you do not pay Samaria the sort of attentions that she demands! Expects! Deserves! You have been lax and frivolous. You have forgotten how to serve and honor Samaria.

You have got it coming to you, all right.

Can you meet her steely eyes and say that you have been behaving yourself? Samaria laughs darkly at this. Just a little. A silent, mirthless sort of laugh. She fingers the little tin of tablets that lies deep in her pockets of doom.

And she even runs a business so that you too can partake of the glory of Samaria – at Jordan Chambers, Jordan Street, Toronto. But…wait! I – there IS no Jordan Street in Toronto…is there?

Advertisement from a 1906 Kingston Daily Whig  (Kingston, Ontario).

Inner Saltiness

Amy3 1930s NZ Andrews Liver Salt

Ah, Andrews Liver Salt! The choice of Hitchcockian mothers everywhere. And also the choice, this ad tells us, of ladies who are concerned, very deeply concerned, with Inner Cleanliness. Andrews will cleanse you spiritually, too, you see. It really is very profound and thorough.

Who is this lady speaking to? It must be someone off camera. But why are we all, er, privy to what she is saying about regularity and doses and – oh, really, madam, this is none of our business! And, if I may be so bold, none of yours either.

Actually, on further reflection, I believe the little tins of liver salt are speaking to the lady – which is why she looks so damn worried. I would be too, if the stuff in the medicine cabinet started hovering over my head and crabbing at me to clean my inner self.

You must take your liver salt before washing, it must be the very first thing you do! It gets into your mouth and starts cleaning away like Lady Macbeth on a Bon Ami jag. And it doesn’t stop until – yes, not until then. Heavens, that is almost too much excitement that early in the morning. Add in a cup of coffee and you’ll be orbiting Mars before breakfast.

[By the way, you may be interested to know that they studied Andrews Liver Salt in Denmark - at the University of Copenhagen yet!  - and found it very efficacious in "releasing adequate gas" (tee hee) in 80% of the people tested. It is "an effective effervescent," all right, and cheap too -that's what they say, here].

Here is a lovely Andrews Liver Salt poster; if you click to enlarge you will see that the gentleman has not left his Liver Salt behind, precisely, but it is behind him.

A big thank you once again to Amy for this wonderful ad.

The Two Rennies

Windsor Daily Star 1952 Rennies

There are so many ways to write about this ad, one hardly knows where to begin. The one question that really bothers me is, why TWO Rennies? Why is one Rennie not strong enough to combat indigestion?

Two aspirin, I understand. I never really thought about it. Sometimes one Advil is enough (even though my nerves are not made of steel). One cough lozenge is enough.

There were Two Ronnies though! Did anyone else watch that show in the 1970s? It was a British comedy show with, er, two Ronnies, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. I think it was on PBS. Along with Dave Allen (Irish, sort of Dean Martin-like with drink in hand, but way drier and more ironic than Dean Martin) and Monty Python and all sorts of other things.

But Rennies are like the characters in Jacqueline Susann novels, for whom once is NOT enough. My guess is that the people in her novels would love these things. They’d be taking stacks of Rennies all at once. And they would be ten times happier even that Miss Joyful over there on the right! Valley of the Rennies!

I was going to embed a Two Ronnies clip but I am not finding them quite as funny as I once did and I can’t really find one I like. I probably just have heartburn and need to take two Rennies!

This advertisement predates Ms. Susann’s era a bit – it is from a 1952 Windsor, Ontario Daily Star .

Nerves That Stay Up Watching Thrillers

Amy5 1930s NZ

This fabulous 1930s ad is from the lovely Amy of I Love Retro Things (which is such a great blog, you absolutely must go visit!) – who was kind enough to send me several wonderful pages of ads, which I will be posting over the summer. Thank you so much, Amy!

So to start us off on Monday morning, here is a dramatic portrayal of what happens to you when you don’t feed your nerves. You know you haven’t been thinking about that! I know it hadn’t occurred to me before I saw this, anyway. They didn’t actually tell me they were hungry! I don’t talk to them, you know – they just sort of pop up, or in, once in awhile, for a quick visit…I guess I should offer them a sandwich, next time they start nagging me about loud thunderstorms and late-night phone calls.

Because, for heaven’s sake, they need a little snack or two, at the very least. And when they are hungry, they will rebel – like our cats. When our cats are annoyed that they only got kibbles and not some delicious ham and bacon, they run all over the house at 3am like maniacs.

Same deal with your nerves. “Restless sleep, groundless fears are a sign that your daily dietary is not providing sufficient nerve-restoring nourishment.” Yes, not only will your nerves be running around keeping you awake – but they invited some friends to the party, the Groundless Fears. Hey, come on in – she didn’t bolt the door, you know!

And what fun those Groundless Fears are. They think someone else is there at the door. Which you probably didn’t bolt – did you! Oh, yes, we established that….What was THAT? (It was probably the cats, but who can say for sure?).  Who told your Dreadful Nerves that it was OK to throw a party? They’re downstairs right now, trying to juggle the good china.

But all will be well with you (and with the poor woman in the ad) if you just chug down a mug of Ovaltine. The secret is that there are lots of eggs in it, because we all know that “no tonic food beverage could be complete without eggs.” Mind you, this must make the chickens nervous at night, and then what do they do – but perhaps this line of thought is due to the fact that I did not drink my Ovaltine last night.

I am also wondering (because this ad really does resemble a film poster) - what if the woman is NOT imagining things? What if her husband is turning the gaslight up and down, making the floor creak - trying to drive her crazy so he can get his mitts on her fortune (à la the movie Gaslight). And what if he sees this ad – and gives her some special Ovaltine…

A Handkerchief Vapor-Tent, 1934

IMG_0008 LHJ 1934 Vapex

“Watch how I fix a cold,” says the lady in this 1930s ad. Uh, no thank you. Really, I’d rather not.

Oh, but she insists on showing us all how she splashed some Vapex onto her handkerchief and made a little tent over her nose. That’s right, inhale the Vapex. Deep, cleansing breaths!

Boy, now she’s over the cold, and she’s really, really happy.  AND she’s got a faceful of makeup on, just like that. OK, now I’m impressed. That’s some snazzy vapor-tent!

The ad is in a 1934 Ladies Home Journal, but the product is “approved by Good Housekeeping.” Um, all right. Does LHJ not approve? Why isn’t the ad in Good Housekeeping if…But…Oh, never mind.  If you write to the Vapex people they will send you some “VAPEXed gauze” for your very own handkerchief-vapor-tent. Boy howdy, that sounds great!

And they say that there are 75 imitations of this on the market. How do they know all that? Is there a Vapex Squad that goes around to all the druggists, hunting for fake vapor stuff? With little handkerchiefs, and colds. Hey, that’s not triple-action! Can’t be the real thing.

“The handy bottle uually last all winter.” ‘Usually’ being the operative word. I think this lady here has about used up her supply.

Your Nerves Are Not Made Of Steel

IMG_0006 Winnipeg Tribune 1953 Nerves of Steel

Especially not on a Monday morning! But at least my head hasn’t turned into a vibrating frying pan. I’m grateful for that, I must say.

Here’s another ad that shows that people were just as stressed in the 1950s as they are now, from the Winnipeg Tribune in 1953. It seems to be addressed specifically to parents. Mother had loud children (one is banging on her pan, which can’t be helping), doorbells, dirty dishes and piles of laundry.

Father had a noisy office, annoying clients, and then the “personal things: – the kitchen tap’s leaking, the coal bin’s low; the youngster needs glasses and the car needs repairs.” And also his head seems to be caught in some construction site steel beams. That’s gotta hurt!

Six weeks of taking Dr. Chase’s Nerve Food, though, and these frazzled folks are back on their game. That stuff sounds awfully Victorian, doesn’t it? Dr. Chase’s Nerve Food. As indeed it was. Here is a splendid Dr. Chase’s tin.

I have a 1919 Dr. Chase’s almanac, which heavily advertises the Nerve Food and other bracing products. This ad is from the almanac (I’ve cropped it to mostly just show the picture). Notice how the emphasis in the earlier ad is on anemia and tired blood, and the 1950s ad talks (quite vividly!) about modern stress and strain:

IMG Dr Chase ad 1919 almanac

And look, you can still buy it. Just in case Monday puts your head in a vise or turns it into a jangling frying pan.