Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Carnation's Glory Gravy

Glorify gravy? Really? I'm trying to imagine the brainstorming session where the ad executives came up with this campaign. It's eleven o'clock and everyone's ticked because the boss demanded they sacrifice their Friday night for this "big client". Everyone's a little slap-happy and there's been a little too much hitting the wet bar when Jensen perks up and says "I've got it, glorify your gravy". Sold, everyone's out of there in twenty minutes and you've got the glory gravy campaign.

It's a little presumptuous to add "chicken" to the tagline. Maybe it's a sign of my modern sense of serving size but it looks a little like this chicken spent some time in a gulag. That's the skinniest drumstick I think I've ever seen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kelly Madden - Dance of the Phoenix

Great news everyone, my dear wife Kelly's latest novel Dance of the Phoenix is available on Amazon. It's a young adult novel and sequel to her previous release The Reckoning. Here's the blurb:

Q'ella might appear to lead a glamorous life: her appearance is human standard perfect and unlike many fairy creatures, her kind is admired and sought after. Meet Que, short for Q’ella; a former royal forest fey, now the owner of a dance studio post-Reckoning, the day when all fairy creatures became visible to humans. Que doesn’t like humans all that much, but does her best to get along in a world she’s rather have no part of. But involved she becomes when a handsome new dance recruit draws her into realms of magic outside her own, and in the process she realizes her heart and mind have been locked tighter than she ever knew…or wanted.

My biased opinions, you should go out and grab a copy of both books. They're great!

The Funnies - Centaurs (1900)

Life Magazine, September 1900

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Arbor Day!

Happy Arbor Day everyone!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hotpoint and the Stepford Hostesses

When I came across the glazed, psychotic looks on the faces of these cake-wielding women an involuntary shiver ran through my body. This sort of maniacal happiness only appears under two sets of circumstances: mom's gotten into her kids stash of brown acid or we're dealing with the Stepford Wives. I'm not sure which, but neither possibility makes me want to run out to my local appliance store to buy a new Hotpoint Pushbutton Range.

I do wonder if its coincidence that the hot burner element behind the women forms a glowing, hypnotic spiral...stare into the want a new want will obey...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hunt's Tomato Sauce and Murder...

Judging from the picture, I think those daggers found their mark.

Even though Easter is behind us, I thought one more lamb-inspired ad might be in order. I'm not exactly sure about the creole origin of this recipe. Ladling Hunt's Tomato sauce over chops hardly seems to speak of the Caribbean or Louisiana, but this ad did air in 1948, a somewhat less worldly time.

I also thought that the copy didn't really go with the artwork. I mean staring daggers isn't exactly "pouting". Looks like Aunt Mary is contemplating her role in a Mrs. Marple murder, not trolling for compliments on her cooking. My mind completes the vignette with a detective standing over the body of Uncle John, "Strychnine," he says, pushing his rumpled hat back off his forehead. "What is it with dames and poison?"

Happy National Administrative Professionals Day!

The second world war changed a lot of things in America, one of which being the number of people who made their living in the field we would call "administrative personnel". Back then they were known as secretaries, typists, or in forward-thinking offices executive assistants. The growth of the field gave birth to the National Secretaries Association, an organization formed with the stated goal of bringing recognition to the contributions secretaries and other administrative personnel make to the US economy. In 1981 the association changed its name to Professional Secretaries International and again in 1998 to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

Back in the 1950's, when this IBM electric typewriter ad ran, it seems like the male dominated world of the office could only conceive of women as secretaries and believed all they wanted out of their work life was an "easy" job and they promised to deliver it with their electric typewriter.

The first practical powered typewriter was introduced by Kansas City, MO native James Fields Smathers in 1914, but World War I got in the way of his efforts and he wouldn't complete development of his invention until 1920. The idea of electrically-driven typewriters bounced around for a little over a decade, with the company which had purchased Smathers' prototype being bought by General Motors, its typewriter division spinning off as a solo concern, and in 1933 the current owner (Electromatic Typewriters) became a division of IBM.

So on National Administrative Professionals day why not do your admin a favor, buy them a new typewriter ribbon and a scuttle of coal for the fire. There's a good Scrooge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day

Environmental Cartoon from 1938 issue of the Rotarian
Sometimes I get a kick out of what we think of as new. Take Earth Day as an example. The Earth Day Network marks April 22, 1970 as the beginning of the movement, stating "Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center." It all sounds good, I mean more and more of us don't actually remember the 70's so we're prone to take the word of 'official' sources to tell us what happened and to read that information as historic rather than the opinion (informed or otherwise) it really is. The problem happens when the facts get in the way. 

June 1948 saw the first piece of legislation to lay down federal regulation of water quality, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, passed by Congress.  The years between 1948 and 1970 would see the government playing a larger role, imposing regulations to control automotive emissions, protect endangered species, and Environmental Impact Statements for Federal legislation. But even the landmark FWPCA wasn’t the beginning of awareness of the value and importance of nature. 

As early as 1864 California was setting aside park land in the Yosemite Valley. This action came, in part, as a response to Frederick Law Olmstead’s suppressed manifesto calling for greater protection of Yosemite and the growing realization that America’s wild spaces were an asset worth protecting. In 1872 Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill creating Yellowstone as the country’s first national park and by 1890 Yosemite would join Yellowstone in lands set aside as protected natural spaces. 

Surely, none of these facts change the dire state of the planet we’re facing today. To survive, we must give up the convenient ignorance that makes the damage we do on a daily basis acceptable. By becoming more educated about the environment and how we can improve it and that not only applies to understanding how our habits and choices impact the planet, it also means understanding our whole history. It means avoiding seeing the generations which preceded ours as all bad or all good and merely seeing them as all human. 

Happy Earth Day to everyone. Go out and help the planet, do a good deed, and learn something that will change your life and the lives of all those who will come after you. It’s the least you can do.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Owen Magnetic

You may not be aware of the fact, but even back in the early days of automobile there were hybrids. These weren't the fuel pinching, switch from gas to battery cars we're familiar with today.  The early days of the automobile weren't only a time when manufacturers were trying to figure out the best way to fuel an automobile, they were also trying to find the best way to transfer the power from the engine.

Owen Magnetic was one such hybrid, a luxury car manufactured between 1915 and 1922 and notable for its use of an electromagnetic transmission and electric series hybrid drive train. The Owen was powered by a six cylinder engine, with the power transfer using the same kind of electromagnetic principle used to propel the battleship USS New Mexico.

From a quote attributed by Wikipedia to automotive author Henry B. Lent:

"The drive mechanism had no direct connection between the engine and the rear wheels. Instead of a flywheel, a generator and a horseshoe shaped magnet were attached to the rear of the engine's crank shaft. On the forward end of the car's drive shaft, was an electric motor with an armature fitted into an air space inside the whirling magnet. Electrical current, transmitted by the engine's generator and magnet attached to the armature of the electrical motor, providing the energy to turn the drive shaft and propel the engine's rear wheels. Speed for the car was controlled by a small lever adjacent to the steering wheel."

Owen introduced its first vehicle at the 1915 New York automobile show and the company's founder leased a three-story building at the corner of 5th Avenue and 142nd Street to build his new vehicles. The company's clientele included famous names of the time such as Enrico Caruso and John McCormack.

In December of 1915 the R.M. Owen Company moved to Cleveland, OH where it joined forces with Walter Baker of Baker Motor Vehicle as well as Rauch and Lang (another electric car company). Baker would build the automobile while Rauch and Lang would perform coach work. The trio produced cars through 1918 when Baker turned its production toward the American war effort.

Owen Magnetic Motor Car Corporation began manufacturing at a new facility based in Forty Fort, PA in January of 1920. The same year this ad ran, Owen Magnetic produced only 750 vehicles and in spite of an order from Crown Limited of Great Britain, the company soon went into receivership. If you would have ordered an Owen after reading this ad, it's likely you never would have received it.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone, hope you enjoy your marshmallow bunnies, chicks, and jelly beans!

Coronet Films - Hoppy the Easter Bunny!

Happy Easter everyone! Let's visit Hoppy the 50s bunny, maybe he'll do the bunny hop for us?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Risen from the Grave?

In 1661 the morbid tale of a Northgate Market, London butcher named Lawrence Cawthorn was the subject of a pamphlet with the catchy title The Most Lamentable and Deplorable Accident. Mr. Cawthron had become ill and, when the medical authorities (such as they were back in the 1600's) no longer could detect a heartbeat, was hastily declared dead and buried. The mourners at the chapel heard the sound of muffled cries and clawing coming from the entombed coffin and an excavation quickly began. Unfortunately, the diggers reached the pine box too late and what they found was a lifeless body, wrapped in a torn shroud, its eyes swollen and head bloodied from battering against the coffin lid. The story ended with the observation, "Amid all the torments that mankind is capable of, the most dreadful of them is to be buried alive."

 In a time when few saw a doctor and those who did were relying on technology and practices that owed as much to superstition as science, a declaration of death was more a matter of opinion than certainty. Many doctors in the late 1700's subscribed to the belief that death could only be declared once the body began to rot. In Germany Leichenhauser, Hospitals for the Dead grew in popularity, remaining in use until the 1950's. These were climate controlled mortuaries that held corpses until obvious signs of rot began to show. So, if you think your job is bad, imagine being the night watchman who had to keep an eye on a few hundred rotting corpses.

In the 1790's the idea of the "security coffin" gained popularity. These were designed to let a person who woke up in the grave signal for help or even escape. Some were fitted with sniffer tubes that let those on the surface check for the smell of decay, others had alarm bells, firecrackers, sirens, and even rockets. Makes me want to write a Victorian zombie apocalypse novel, I can envision the graveyard lighting up with flares as the dead claw their way out of the sod.

"Ah, the dark ages," you might think. "Surely modern medicine has eliminated the possibility of being buried alive, right?" Well, medicine has come a long way since the time of leaches and herbalists, but consider these three incidents taken from the London Mail before climbing up on the horse of modern superiority.

In 1937, in the French village of St. Quentin de Chalais, 19 year old Angelo Hays was thrown from his motorcycle and hit a brick wall head first. Angelo Hays was declared dead and buried three days after the accident.

Suspicion arose when an insurance firm in nearby Bordeaux found Hay's father had recently insured his son's life for 200,000 francs. An inspector was called to investigate and the body was exhumed two days after burial so that the cause of death could be confirmed.

When the doctor in charge of the autopsy removed the shroud he found that Hays body was warm to the touch. He was taken to the hospital  and, after several operations and a long period of rehabilitation, recovered completely.

In 1995, 61-year-old Cambridgeshire farmer's wife Daphne Banks was certified dead by her family doctor after overdosing on drugs on New Year's Eve. Three hours later, the undertaker loading her into a refrigerated drawer saw a vein twitch and heard her snore. Mrs. Banks survived.

In 2010 a Polish bookkeeper  named Josef Guzy was certified dead after a heart attack, and narrowly escaped being buried alive when an undertaker noticed that the dead man had a faint pulse before sealing his coffin. Weeks later, Guzy was well and back at his hobby of beekeeping.

So, it still can happen. Anyone in the market for a coffin equipped with wifi and email, just in case?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nylo Chocolate Easter?

I wasn't able to find any information about Nylo Chocolates. There are a few other ads online, but not much, and all of them are from around 1914. This means that Nylo Chocolates probably tasted a lot like they sounded...a little like an old sock.

The Nyal Company of Detroit, MI made all sorts of products from alum to bath salts (no, not that kind) and laxatives. Chocolates don't seem like a good fit for the company, which probably is the most likely reason the line never took off. To be honest, a lot of pharma companies of this era had odd, tangential product lines. For a while Eli Lilly of Indianapolis owned Elizabeth Arden cosmetics and workers received a "goodie bag" of cosmetics every holiday season. Eventually the era of "smart-sizing" and market segments came and the time of corporate brickabrack and vanity brands ended.

I do like the artwork, though. It reminds me of the Arrow Shirt ads done by J. C. Leyendecker, images that make me think of The Great Gatsby.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grapefruit Pie

Grapefruit pie isn’t something I ever thought about before finding the recipe in American Cookery, but I have to admit the idea doesn’t sound too bad. Maybe something to make for Easter Dinner?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1959 Chrysler SIMCA Elysee

The Chrysler SIMCA was one of the US' first encounters with the European-style "smart" car. The acronym "SIMCA" stands for the French auto maker Societe Industrielle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile which (according to Wiki) translates to "Mechanical and Automotive Body Manufacturing Company". Makes you wonder what happened to the engine, transmission, interior, and everything else that's required to make a working car, doesn't it?

SIMCA was founded by Fiat in November of 1934 which it remained affiliated until it eventually became largely controlled by Chrysler.  SIMCA once was the largest automotive manufacturer in France, producing the popular SIMCA 1100. During Chrysler's management, SIMCAs were manufactured in Brazil, Spain, Chile, Colombia, and the Netherlands. Eventually, though, Chrysler divested itself of its European holdings, possibly a sign of the slow, soufflĂ©-like collapse that nearly killed the company, and in 1978 SIMCA was swallowed up by PSA Peugeot Citroen which renamed the brand Talbot.

This is a rare US ad for the SIMCA which ran in the August 17, 1959 issue of Life Magazine. Doubtless aimed at Vespa-riding beats who secretly craved a trunk in which to transport their Ginsberg and acoustic guitars from cafe to cafe.  No word on whether the tiny SIMCA managed a following, but the lack of evidence probably is the answer.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Then and Now - the Canaan Moravian Church

Here's a look at two images of a (not so) little church in the wilds of North Dakota. Both are images of the Canaan Moravian Church in Addison, ND. Not much seems to have changed in almost eighty years aside from the number of graves in the churchyard. The 1938 image comes from the July 18 issue of Life Magazine while the modern one comes courtesy of Google maps.

I really wish I could have gotten a little closer in the modern image. Apparently there are places the ubiquitous Google photo-mobile hasn't reached. For now I'll have to be satisfied with the NSA spy satellite style look. Who knows, maybe someday I'll pay a visit to ND to have a first hand look.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Maillard's Chocolates!

Henri Maillard arrived from France in New York in the 1840's and shortly thereafter began operating a confectionary at Broadway and Houston. Malliard's fame spread and he catered Lincoln the inaugural ball and other grand dinners in the Lincoln White House. When he died in 1900, his son Henry Maillard Jr., continued the business. The candy store from the lower level of the Fifth Avenue Hotel to Fifth Avenue and 35th Street.

In 1922 Maillard's moved again, relocating to Madison Avenue and 47th Street and added a men's dining room with a separate entrance (can't have the fellows mingling with the ladies, after all). It was this location that attracted the patronage and praise of restaurateur James Beard. It was also in the 1920's that Maillard's opened a Chicago location on Michigan Avenue.

Like so many venerable American institutions, Maillard's went under during the Great Depression, a victim of belt tightening in hard times. Fred Harvey took over the Chicago location, making it the first non-railroad based Harvey House. Candy's were produced under the Maillard's name until the 1960's but the glitz of the old days had long one.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

1957 Dodge

The car in this two-page spread from the November 1956 issue of Life Magazine is the 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer 2-Door. Nice piece of mid-century modernism, swept tail fins, lots of chrome, and the obligatory waspy couple dressed for a night out doing...something waspy.

I found a better picture to convey the sheer magnitude of this car on the Mecum Auction site. This is a car from the all-metal dashboard era. My father had a Ford Galaxie from this approximate era. I distinctly remember how the dash got branding-iron hot during the Indiana summers. Now I wish I had that car, at least for nostalgia sake since all I really remember is getting burned on the dash and dad spending all evening working on the thing. Funny thing, nowadays if you drop a dime inside the engine compartment of your car, you'll never find it again. Back in the mid-60's you could have dropped a basketball inside the Galaxie's engine compartment and it would have hit the ground.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Marriage of Pocahontas

On the anniversary of the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I found myself considering what has become of the woman that we've made into a Native American princess. I think it's safe to say that most anyone who's watched Dances with Wolves or any of the hundreds of Hollywood movies which feature Native American protagonists can see we have a habit of romanticizing and mythologizing the peoples we brutally displaced while carving out our nation. I  tend to think of this as a kind of national survivor's guilt. We're still here and we rewrite our history to create a soft-lit, glowing version of the past. This not only lets us avoid focusing on the horrible, racist truth, but it also flattens the complex nature of Native Americans into a convenient, 2D image of the noble savage that we can carry around with us. The unwieldy truth is that Native Americans like Pocahontas were complex, conflicted characters who were just as often at odds with one another as with the invaders who were striving to take their lands and extinguish their cultures.

Seeking the truth we can easily shed the Disney princess version of Pocahontas. Disney simply manufactured another branded, Technicolor princess who could easily be merchandised to little girls so they'd beg mom and dad to buy the Pocahontas t-shirt, lunch box, and McDonald's kid's meal and thereby fill the corporate coffers. What's known is that Pocahontas was born the daughter of Powhatan, chief of a group of tribes in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Stories out of the Virginia settlements would have us believe Pocahontas saved the captive John Smith in 1607, putting herself in the way of her father's war club to stay Smith's execution. Whether or not this intervention really took place is debatable, what can be said for certain is that in 1613 the English took Pocahontas hostage, holding her for ransom, and during this time she converted to Christianity and took on the Anglicized name of Rebecca.

On April 5th, 1614 Rebecca married tobacco planter John Rolfe, bearing him a son the following January (Thomas Rolfe). In 1616 she traveled to London with her husband, but her adoption of an English name and religion didn't make her English. John paraded his wife in front of English society, presenting her as an example of a "civilized" savage in hopes of encouraging investment in the new Jamestown settlement. Her tour of London could be considered a success, Rebecca Rolfe became a celebrity of sorts, the subject of talk throughout the British capital, and even was invited to attend a masque at Whitehall Palace.

In 1617 John and Rebecca departed for Virginia but they never made it past Gravesend. Rebecca had been ill when she boarded the ship and the unknown illness worsened as they traveled. She supposedly died in John's arms while disembarking and was buried in a church in Gravesend. Today the exact location of her grave is unknown, but this hasn't stopped numerous Americans demanding the return of her remains to Virginia.

According to church records, Rebecca was buried under the floor of the old Gravesend church, however this church burned in 1727 leaving doubt as to the exact location of the body. In 1923 Edward Page Gaston obtained permission from Canon Gedge of St. George's church to dig on the location of the old Gravesend church, but his efforts failed. In more recent times Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton got on the Pocahontas repatriation bandwagon, failing just like his predecessors and proving that celebrity doesn't ensure success.

Where do I stand? Well, on the side of history, I like to think. Pocahontas recreated herself as Rebecca Rolfe, a Christian Englishwoman and wife of John Rolfe. She died in Gravesend and was buried there in accordance with the tenants of her adopted religion. There's no more point in repatriating her to the land she so thoroughly left behind than there would be in repatriating the remains of every settler born in England to the land of their birth. In the end, we aren't what we were born into, we are what be grow to become.

For those of us who like to opinionate on "historically significant" figures like Pocahontas I would offer this word of caution. Some day you will be in your grave and everything you wrote, thought, and said will be nothing but dust - when that happens who will decide what's right for you and what right do they have to make those decisions in your irreversible absence?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Drinket Coffee for Kids!

Kellogg's wasn't always the bastion of healthy eating and cereal goodness. Back in 1916 the good folks from Battle Creek were selling kids the gateway drug to coffee. Doubtless, Drinket was Kellogg's answer to products like Postum, they threw in a bogus medical testament from some mysterious director at some mysterious medical school touting the presence of "all the mineral salts required for body growth".

It's hard to find information on the web about Drinket on the web. There are the ads, and not many of them, probably showing Kellogg made a mistake when it asserted children really want coffee.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quote for April

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.

- Mark Twain

Poem for April

April's Charms

by William Henry Davies

When April scatters charms of primrose gold
Among the copper leaves in thickets old,
And singing skylarks from the meadows rise,
To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;

When I can hear the small woodpecker ring
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long --
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song;

When I can hear the woodland brook, that could
Not drown a babe, with all his threatening mood;
Upon these banks the violets make their home,
And let a few small strawberry blossoms come:

When I go forth on such a pleasant day,
One breath outdoors takes all my cares away;
It goes like heavy smoke, when flames take hold
Of wood that's green and fill a grate with gold.