Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do you remember? (The "Mad Men" Edition)

Haven't done this in a while... Inspired by my recent favourite TV show, "Mad Men". Mad Men is a viciously authentic portrayal of Madison Avenue in the early 1960s (or so I understand - I wasn't on Madison Avenue in the early 1960s so I don't really know, but that's the buzz).

We've been through this before... I'm not that old, but I'm impressed with the changes in our world in just my brief experience. It's fascinating to look at how much different our lives are today.

So, without further ado... Do you remember:

- Removable pop-tops on soda/beer cans? Soda/beer cans with NO pop-top (you had to use a church key?) Why a church key is called a church key?

- Rotary (twist) light switches on the wall?

- Push-button light switches on the wall?

- Self-powered TV remote controls (Not sure how these worked - seemed like black magic to me. They were made of bakelite (!) and could induce physiological effects if directed at your brain. I'm not kidding.)

- Bakelite (I know we've done that one before).

- Sodas for .10 (saw it on Mad Men, remembered it)

- Soda machines where you pulled the bottle out of a pair of refrigerated metal jaws behind a long glass door. (Also on Mad Men).

Some obvious ones, also inspired by Mad Men:

- Smoking in the office (like everybody, all the time)

- Drinking in the office (ditto)

- Debaucherous office parties (those still go on, right??)

- Working in an office where all the adult men were WWII veterans?

Some consumerist stuff:

- The first time you saw color TV (doesn't count if it was before you saw black and white TV)
- The first time you saw TV (doesn't count if it was after 1970).
- Cigarette ads on TV
- Liquor ads on TV
- The ABC Mystery Movie
- The Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom
- The Marlboro Man
- The Marlboro Man theme
- "Harvey's Bristol Creme" TV ads (where did THAT come from?)

Kids stuff:

- The old Barbie doll (before they made her figure more anatomically realistic)
- GI Joe with painted hair
- GI Joe with painted hair and WWII fatigues
- Miniature electric cars
- Go-karts with no roll cage and no helmets
- Playing "war" against the Germans and the Japanese (I think we did this before)
- Pop-rocks, candy cigarettes, toy switchblades
- Snap-n-pops (I miss those), cap guns (both the paper and the plastic kind)
- The urban legend that Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial died from Pop-rocks
- Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial
- Life cereal (is it still around?)
- The Green Hornet TV series
- (Who played the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato? No fair Googling!)

Other stuff:

- Pastel and bright earth tone polyester leisure suits (probably the worst fashion disaster since the middle ages)
- Men wearing hats all the time
- Aftermarket or dealer-installed air conditioners in cars
- the green "Ecology" flag (whoa - how 70s is that! I guess we're getting a little ahead of Mad Men now)
- Eartha Kitt (heard her first big hit "Monotonous" on the radio today)
- France Nguyen
- The New Christy Minstrels
(Don't know where that came from... I'm kind of drifting I guess)

Do you remember how much stuff used to cost? Like other than sodas? For example a Mercedes Benz S-class was under $10K in 1977. But TV sets cost way more in the 1960s (even in unadjusted dollars) than they do today. I paid something like $300 in early-1980s dollars for the first color TV I ever bought - and it was like 13' or something.

What I'm really interested in is remembering how we did things before the information revolution. There used to be these huge books at the library that listed businesses and what they produced, where to contact them, etc. I wish I could remember what they were called. How about reading the newspaper to actually get important information? Not just news but classified ads, weather, etc? Or religiously watching local TV news for the weather report? (Maybe some people still do that?)

I'm also interested in remembering what the world was like before overdevelopment - when you really had to plan ahead, and maybe travel a long way, if you needed to buy something specific.

How about running to the mailbox every day in late fall looking for the Sears Christmas Catalog? Have I mentioned that one before?

Finally I heard on NPR this week that Art Ferrante, of "Ferrante and Teicher" fame, died the other day. His partner Lou Teicher died last year. I was always a huge fan of theirs, expecially the soundtrack from "Exodus", which was their biggest hit. Anybody else out there remember them?

4 comments:

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

Life cereal is still around and I eat it about once or twice a week. But it's not the same. The original Life had less sugar and this odd nutty cardboard taste that wasn't like any other cereal. I remember needed three boxtops for a Navy Blue Angels plastic kit, and getting through about two -- Mother insisted that one couldn't rip off the boxtop until the box was done.

Dr. Phil

John the Scientist said...

- Removable pop-tops on soda/beer cans?

Yes, and the hue and cry in the 70s about birds choking on them.

Soda/beer cans with NO pop-top (you had to use a church key?) Why a church key is called a church key?

No and no. I guess I’m not as fossilized as you. :p

But I do still call a WWII-style can opener a “John Wayne”.

- Rotary (twist) light switches on the wall?

Yes, that kind of stuff tends to live on well after manufacturing stops, in older homes. My current house has plumbing fixtures that commemorate the bicentennial.

- Push-button light switches on the wall?

Yes.

- Self-powered TV remote controls

Huh? No.

- Bakelite (I know we've done that one before).

Telephones were the last mass-market item made out of the stuff. Yes. As an aside, my aunt recently left her home, which had been bought by her parents, when my uncle died. AT&T had been charging her parents and then her rent for the damn Bakelite rotary dial phone since the 60s. She never checked her bill and they never told her she’d paid for the damn thing 100 times over. Bastards.

- Sodas for .10 (saw it on Mad Men, remembered it)

No. 15 or 20 cents, yes.

- Soda machines where you pulled the bottle out of a pair of refrigerated metal jaws behind a long glass door. (Also on Mad Men).

Yes. Remember Tab in a glass bottle? And if the bottle was wet with condensation and you lost your grip before you got the jaws past a certain point, they would snap back in place and you’d lose your money. Bastards.

- Smoking in the office (like everybody, all the time)

Not by the time I started working, and I’m damn glad of it. But I remember it at my dad’s workplace.

- Drinking in the office (ditto)

No way. But I’ve heard stories about you old fogies.

- Debaucherous office parties (those still go on, right??)

I don’t remember any. But they still go on, I’ve heard. In some places. Where old fogies work. :D

- Working in an office where all the adult men were WWII veterans?

Nope. A few, yes. Not all of them.

- The first time you saw color TV (doesn't count if it was before you saw black and white TV)

We had a B&W when I was young, got a Sears color one in the late, late 70s. Had this weird button system that was a vertical row of little, round infrared sensors, you just bushed your fingers over this round, metal stud to change the channel (they had no moving parts). You opened the side panel to adjust the tuner for each stud, there were probably 10 of them. We’d get three networks from both Baltimore and DC, plus the independents from those 2 cities (I remember Chanel 5 in DC, a 20th Century Fox-owned station that I think was the genesis of their network) that were bought by Fox and WB, etc. Eventually, the IR sensors gave out and it would only show the channel of the top-most stud, and we got rid of it.

- The first time you saw TV (doesn't count if it was after 1970).

Must have been 1969, but I was only a year old and don’t remember it.

- Cigarette ads on TV

No.

- Liquor ads on TV

Yes.

- The ABC Mystery Movie

Yes.

- The Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom

One of my favorites. Marlin Perkins could have kicked Steve Irwin’s ass.

- The Marlboro Man

Yes, but only in print ads.

- The Marlboro Man theme

No.

- "Harvey's Bristol Creme" TV ads (where did THAT come from?)

Yes. What the fuck *is* that stuff?

John the Scientist said...

- The old Barbie doll (before they made her figure more anatomically realistic)

Yes

- GI Joe with painted hair

Yes

- GI Joe with painted hair and WWII fatigues

Had one.

- Miniature electric cars

No.

- Go-karts with no roll cage and no helmets

Used to race them.

- Playing "war" against the Germans and the Japanese (I think we did this before)

Yes.

- Pop-rocks, candy cigarettes, toy switchblades

Yes to all three.

- Snap-n-pops (I miss those), cap guns (both the paper and the plastic kind)

Yes. They still make them.

- The urban legend that Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial died from Pop-rocks

Never heard *that* one. o.O

- Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial

He likes it! Hey Mikey!

- Life cereal (is it still around?)

We didn’t eat cereal in my house. Except cornflakes once in a while.

- The Green Hornet TV series

In re-runs.

- (Who played the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato? No fair Googling!)

The founder of Jeet Kun Do himself!

- Pastel and bright earth tone polyester leisure suits (probably the worst fashion disaster since the middle ages)

Yes.

- Men wearing hats all the time

Yes. My dad did.

- Aftermarket or dealer-installed air conditioners in cars

Yes. Our first car with AC was about a 1972 Thunderbird we bought in the late 70s. My first car didn’t have it because it was the 1963 Galaxie 500 convertible my parents bought in 1965.

- the green "Ecology" flag (whoa - how 70s is that! I guess we're getting a little ahead of Mad Men now)

Yes.

- Eartha Kitt (heard her first big hit "Monotonous" on the radio today)

No.

- France Nguyen

No.

- The New Christy Minstrels
(Don't know where that came from... I'm kind of drifting I guess)

Who?

There used to be these huge books at the library that listed businesses and what they produced, where to contact them, etc. I wish I could remember what they were called.

I think you are referring to the Dun and Bradstreet or Kompass books.

How about reading the newspaper to actually get important information? Not just news but classified ads, weather, etc?

Yes.

Or religiously watching local TV news for the weather report? (Maybe some people still do that?)

Nope. My father was a meteorologist. If I wanted to know what the weather was going to be, I just asked dad. Though the answer was often more complex than I wanted. :D

I'm also interested in remembering what the world was like before overdevelopment - when you really had to plan ahead, and maybe travel a long way, if you needed to buy something specific.

Oh yes. Specialty stores in DC or Baltimore for electronic components were a frequent destination for us. Catalogs in the library were an important resource. And damn did I have to plan ahead when I traveled to the USSR, because going there in the 80s was like traveling in the US in the 30s.

How about running to the mailbox every day in late fall looking for the Sears Christmas Catalog? Have I mentioned that one before?

Oh yeah. Did your relatives still call them Sears AND Roebuck because they grew up on that catalog (often one of the few pieces of reading material in an old farmhouse) And the J.C. Penney’s catalog. Remember Eyerly’s before it became the Bon-Ton? Or Zayre’s before Ames bought them and then went belly-up? Or People’s Drug? Or McCrory’s? Or Two Guys?

Finally I heard on NPR this week that Art Ferrante, of "Ferrante and Teicher" fame, died the other day. His partner Lou Teicher died last year. I was always a huge fan of theirs, expecially the soundtrack from "Exodus", which was their biggest hit. Anybody else out there remember them?

Nope. Fossil. :p

Konstantin B. said...

Bruce Lee as Kato. The only one I know.