Collecting the Wacky
More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette. It is usually only in hindsight that we really see the outrageous wackiness of some pop culture. This magazine ad from the late 1940s extols the virtues of the kindly and wise family doctor and, along with the psuedo-science “T-Zone” graphic, implies the good doctor’s seal of approval for the Camel brand.
Salt Tablets in handy dispenser. The label says “Use 4 to 6 times daily as needed.” We now know most Americans get way too much salt in their diets than is healthy for them, yet here is Morton pushing salt tablets “for heat relief.” There is a wise old saying that goes something like “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” There is also an unspoken corporate corollary that says “Whatever we make, you need. And you need more of it than you are presently consuming. Get with it!”
This is your future— 3-D flat-screen TV! Giant Fruit! And what’s this? Your own Personal Helicopter and Roof Landing Area? Well, some of these things really did come to pass, and others in a bit different form (the Phono-vision Receiver looks a lot like Skype and the House-control Panel like controlling house functions with phone apps). But the idea that you would have a helicopter on your “Slide-back Roof”—and so, presumably, would all your neighbors—is insane. With the helicopter where it is shown, everyone in the picture would be holding on for dear life while everything not nailed down would go smashing against the walls. Welcome to the future!
We are kind of nutty when it comes to technology and are often willing to overlook or accept some pretty serious quality-of-life reductions because of it. We don’t have full-size personal helicopters in the neighborhood where I live (yet) but the media and police helicopters frequently heard overhead often make a war-zone out of our quiet little valley. Illustration by Fred McNabb.
Beth-El Supernovaed In A Starwar. Huh? What now? Say that again? This amazing typewritten paper tract was stuffed into my mailbox in 1979 when I was living in Hollywood. Is this like a news item? I read it like: Senator Injured In A Mishap. Beth-El Supernovaed In A Starwar. Yes, of course. How unfortunate. And what caused it? Why, a Kamikaze Starbomb Surprise! My, that is news. I think I had one of those off an ice cream truck once. The matter-of-fact segue into standard religious proselytizing struck me as hilarious. And still does.
Clip On Ash Trays. Clip those smokes right onto your plate! These little trays “put guest smokers at their ease” and “compliment the thoughtful hostess." Manufactured by Williams and Associates, Inc., San Diego, CA. c.1950s.
“Spirit of America—A limited edition of Chevrolets in Amerca’s favorite colors” center spread in the April 1974 Saturday Evening Post. Chevrolet kicked off the 1976 US Bicentennial early, in 1974, announcing these new red, white, and blue models to celebrate America’s 200th birthday. Though more than 50 highly-paid executives at Chevrolet, General Motors, and their ad agency examined and signed off on this magazine ad, no one caught the misspelling of the word “Amerca” in the headline. This advertisement ran like this in several national magazines before the mistake was caught by a pressman running Newsweek. I showed this to one wag in 2015 and it elicited this response: “Yeah, you know, America—the name on the top of your bailout check.”
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