Brochure Beauties #7: Sea World San Diego, 1964

Brochure Beauties #7: Sea World San Diego, 1964

Ephemera
Today's beauty comes to us from the mid 1960s, during what I think of as the golden age of amusement parks. It dates (I believe) from 1964, when the first Sea World opened in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, California. Located on 22 acres, the original vision for the park was a giant underwater restaurant. I think the amusement park was definitely the way to go. Sea World's owners spared no expense with this brochure, as it has the evocative prose and lush illustrations typical of the best brochures and advertising material of the mid-century period. Behold the beauty of the front cover: Let's take a closer look at that logo, for it is wonderful. Just two colors here, but a great contrast of typefaces. And turning the standard '60s grid globe into a fish? Genius. Bef...
Scenes from a 1970s Kmart

Scenes from a 1970s Kmart

Photography
Like many of you, the heyday of department stores and discount stores is still filled with warm feelings of nostalgia. So imagine my delight in stumbling across these photographs taken at a Kmart sometime in the 1970s. I have little other information to go on here -- no year or location. But perhaps one of my eagle-eyed readers can discern both from some clues in these pics. What they show is a very busy Kmart somewhere (presumably) in the western United States. All I know is that the store -- located right next to a Safeway -- was packed that day and people were really into the yarn. Enjoy!
Retrotisements: The Early Days of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Retrotisements: The Early Days of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Retrotisements
One of the many things that makes Kentucky Fried Chicken unique in fast food history is that its growth as a powerhouse franchise was not quite as direct as, say, McDonald's. For one thing, the chain began not as a dedicated franchise location but rather as a menu of items out of a regular restaurant. In this case, KFC was essentially born in a pair of motels/restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina and Corbin, Kentucky. Colonel Harland Sanders, who owned both in the 1930s, rebuilt his Corbin location as a motel with a 140-seat restaurant after a fire struck in late 1939. Here is a June 1940 newspaper ad for the Sanders Court & Café, published in the Asheville Citizen Times. Note how there is no reference to chicken: The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened on Septem
Retrotisements — A Year in the Life (1967)

Retrotisements — A Year in the Life (1967)

Retrotisements
In past ad galleries I've typically stuck with a particular theme or product, such as holiday-themed ads or new car lineups. I'm going to try something new and product an ad gallery from a single year, covering a wide range or products and services. Basically, a sort of visual shorthand to see what someone would've seen in print or TV ads in a particular year. Think of this as a virtual department store of sorts. For the first edition I thought I'd travel back exactly 50 years to 1967. Let's browse! Automobiles Consumer Electronics Entertainment Fashion Food and Beverage Health and Beauty Household Goods Travel  
Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Auction Finds, Ephemera
Sometimes I see a piece of pop art and just know it's from the 1950s without knowing anything else about it. Such is the case with this phenomenal piece from 1956, advertising a concert called Modern Jazz for '56, which seems to have been a package tour. It featured artists such as Chris Connor, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Don Shirley Duo, and Herbie Mann and was sold as "an enjoyable evening with your favorite modern jazz artists." This particular concert was held on January 27, 1956 at the Victoria Theatre in what I believe is Kansas City. Dig this beauty, man: I would frame this gem in a heartbeat if I had it. So totally mid-century and just oozing with that hep cat charm you also find on a lot of jazz album covers from the period. A concert review published on January 29th b...
Logo Evolution: Taco Bell

Logo Evolution: Taco Bell

Advertising
Taco Bell was founded in 1962 by Glen Bell, who had owned hot dog stands and other taco stands as far back as 1946. The first Taco-Tia stands opened in the early '50s and were the forerunner of Taco Bell. The first Taco Bell opened in Downey, California on March 21, 1962, and today the franchise boasts over 7,000 locations. As with any of my other logo capsules, dates may not be totally accurate. As is often the case with logos, older logos can stick around in advertising and building design for a while after their official expiration dates. 1962-72 The original Taco Bell logo design had two separate elements -- there was a colorful, blocky wordmark and a festive sombrero/bell sign. This was in widespread use for the first decade of Taco Bell's existence. Despite its first use...
Sears Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

Sears Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

Ephemera
I know that making fun of 1970s fashion is an easy thing to do, and I certainly enjoy a good bell-bottom or earth tone joke as much as the next guy. But one thing that gets overlooked in '70s jokes is how primitive the home exercise equipment of that time looks compared to now. To illustrate, here are three pages from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog that showcase home workout equipment made up of approximately 86.3% pipes and belts. Let's get physical!
Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Music
Before We Was Fab looks at some of the best songs of the pre-Beatles era, in search of great singles that have largely been forgotten. If you've heard of Benny Spellman at all, chances are it's because of his association with groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The O'Jays, or The Hollies -- all of whom covered his songs. As it happens, I was listening to the iconic Who album Live at Leeds and paid particular attention to their live rendition of "Fortune Teller." The Who, as with many English rock bands of the time, had a deep love and appreciation for popular and obscure R&B, and that's where "Fortune Teller" comes in. The song was written by the great Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville, and was first recorded by Spellman as the B-side of his only hit si