History

The Secret of McDonald’s’ Success? Not Hiring Women

The Secret of McDonald’s’ Success? Not Hiring Women

History
I know it's kind of a cheap tactic to hold someone accountable for views they held decades ago, when society was very different, but I did a double-take when I read a quote from McDonald's patriarch Ray Kroc. Kroc, in an Associated Press interview published in several papers on September 15, 1959, cited several factors as to why McDonald's was such a runaway success. There were economic considerations such as a simplified menu and no in-store dining, but Kroc also seemed to focus on the type of image the chain should portray and the type of people they wanted working and dining. In Kroc's own words: "We don't allow juke boxes, cigarette machines or phone booths -- and we don't hire female help," he said. "In picking a site we count the churches and schools in the area, rather
Pop Culture Capsule — January 1-7, 1984

Pop Culture Capsule — January 1-7, 1984

Capsules, History
It's a brand new year, so what better time to look to the past, right? Well anyway, I'm going to do it and I hope you'll join me for yet another pop culture capsule. To start off this year's capsules, I'm taking us back 30 years and putting us knee-deep in the 1980s. By this point in American popular culture, the last vestiges of the '70s have been shed and we're smack dab in the middle of the Reagan Era. For those of you on Spotify, a lot of the tunes listed here are included on some of my Ultimate '80s Hit Collection playlists. Specifically, the ones for 1983 and 1984. Top 10 Movies 1. Terms of Endearment ($11.5 million) 2. Sudden Impact ($9.6 million) 3. Scarface ($5.6 million) 4. Yentl ($5.5 million) 5. Uncommon Valor ($5.2 million) 6. Two of a Kind ($5 million) 7. Th...
The Saul Bass AT&T Logo Design, 1969

The Saul Bass AT&T Logo Design, 1969

History
AT&T was one of the largest companies of the 20th century and put considerable effort into documenting its own history and accomplishments. In recent years, the films created as part of that effort have been released through the AT&T Archives, and we at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit will be taking a look at them, with a particular focus on the mid-century styles that you've come to expect here. To kick off our series digging through the archives, let's look at the introduction of the Bell System logo of 1969. If you're anything like me, you tend to vacation in places that trade on nostalgia -- ones that tend to have "Cape" or "Towne" in their names. Inevitably, there will be a store in the town, usually themed as a hardware store, that sells enameled metal advertis...
Celebrating More Than a Century of Government Corruption

Celebrating More Than a Century of Government Corruption

History
As the U.S. government shuts down once again in a display of petty brinksmanship, it's worth remembering that our Republican and Democrat friends have been pulling crap like this since day one. To illustrate that point, here's a fantastic illustration -- it's too nice to be called a cartoon -- from a July 1910 issue of Puck magazine. It shows us that, truly, there is nothing new under the political sun. Click for a larger version. In a bit of sad irony, I obtained this image from the website of the Library of Congress -- which is now shut down.
Scenes from an A&P Supermarket Opening, Atlanta, 1965

Scenes from an A&P Supermarket Opening, Atlanta, 1965

Capsules
Courtesy the Georgia State University Library collection comes this group of neat images showing scenes from the opening of an A&P supermarket in the Williamsburg Village shopping center, located in Atlanta, Georgia. These were taken on May 12, 1965 and showcase the grocery giant's still-new Centennial style, first rolled out in 1959. The affair is complete with men dressed in 18th century Colonial American garb. The opening was covered by Atlanta radio station WGST, as seen in the picture with their mobile news vehicle.
Concept Car Capsule: 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne

Concept Car Capsule: 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne

Capsules
Three years before Chevrolet introduced the Biscayne model to its new car lineup, it debuted as a rather interesting concept car design at the 1955 General Motors Motorama car show. It's fascinating for a few reasons. First, it stood in clear contrast to the growing trend of making American cars bigger and flashier. Secondly, it was a curious mix of styles, incorporating aspects of the then-current Corvette with a glimpse of the Corvair to come. Of course, as with the Edsel, your eyes are immediately drawn to the front of the Biscayne. The odd headlamp placement and Jaws-like grill styling were bold, to say the least. The '55 certainly bore precious little resemblance to the production model that rolled off the assembly line in 1958, as you will see in the final image in this gallery. ...
An Exploded View Drawing of Madison Square Garden, 1967

An Exploded View Drawing of Madison Square Garden, 1967

History
According to this Deadspin article, New York City has basically given the owners of Madison Square Garden ten years to find a new place to play. The arena, which is the fourth to bear that name, opened on February 11, 1968 on the site formerly occupied by the above-ground portion of Penn Station. Apparently New York wants to undo that architectural crime, and so here we are. Not to get all nostalgic or anything, but I thought it worth taking a quick look back at MSG IV's early days. Here's a neat exploded view drawing of the Garden from the November 1967 issue of Popular Mechanics. It shows the main areas of the building by function.
This 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet Is Fantastic

This 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet Is Fantastic

Ephemera, History
I'm currently in the middle of re-watching the excellent Civil War documentary by Ken Burns, so this particular item feels extra significant to me at the moment. It's The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, published for an Anti-Slavery Fair in 1846 and created by Quakers Hannah and Mary Townsend of Philadelphia. The alphabet consists of sixteen leaves, printed on one side, with the printed pages facing each other and hand-sewn into a paper cover. Each of the letter illustrations is hand-colored. The target audience for this book, as you might expect, was children who the Townsends hoped would adopt an Abolitionist point of view. History tells us, of course, that it would take more than 20 years and a bloody Civil War for the Abolitionists' dream to become reality. All images courtesy the Mississ
Here’s a Terrifying Popular Mechanics Magazine Cover from World War I

Here’s a Terrifying Popular Mechanics Magazine Cover from World War I

Ephemera, History
I find images and illustrations from World War I to be more frightening on average than almost anything -- the Holocaust excepted -- from World War II. There's something morbidly fascinating about the weaponry used in that conflict. It certainly was new and cutting edge for its time, but looks curiously antique now. It gives drawings like this one from the July 1915 issue of Popular Mechanics all the more sinister. It showcases a German soldier wearing an oil tank with a mask and goggles, which can all be used for just one thing: shooting liquefied fire at his enemies. And just to complete the look, he's got a service pistol at the ready. This sort of military ensemble would probably be called steampunk now, if it weren't so cruel in its very design. I suppose I shouldn't be s...