I'm starting a new series called First Year Covers, the purpose of which should be obvious. I'll take a famous magazine and share a gallery featuring all or selected covers from its first year of publication. For no particular reason I've chosen Hugh Hefner's Playboy for the first entry. Scratch that - there is a reason. Aside from all the controversy Playboy has courted almost since its first issue published in December 1953 -- and featuring previously unseen nude photos of Marilyn Monroe -- many of its covers in the early days are fun and imaginative exercises in graphic design. So with that out of the way, let's enjoy a look at the twelve months of Playboy covers, plus a bonus 13th cover to round out 1954. Sorry fellas, no nudity here.
Here are some wonderful artifacts from the days when public utility companies at least tried to pretend like they cared about their customers or wanted some sort of connection with their communities. This gallery features covers from a series of Christmas "Cooky Books" produced by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The designs run from homey but bland to festive to delightfully cheerful and mid-century. One note: In fairness, the current version of this company, We Energies, still produces this book. Good on them. Most scans courtesy eBay. Click on any image for the full-size version.
These days preserving memories of Halloween parties and trick or treating is as simple as clicking an icon on your phone. Back in the day it not only meant fumbling with a camera and film, but also finding a way to preserve all those spooky and cute memories. To remind us all of simpler Halloween times, here is a brand new gallery of 13 vintage slides (some Kodachrome) depicting kids (and kids at heart) getting into the Halloween spirit with costumes, jack-o-lanterns, parades, parties, and of course trick or treating for candy! Many of the classics are here, like cats, princesses, clowns, skeletons, football players, pumpkins, robots, and ethnic costumes of varying degrees of PC-ness. There are also some truly inventive, homemade costumes as well. Almost all of these were taken in the 1
By my count this will be at least the third gallery of vintage Halloween advertisement I've shared here, although it's been a long time since the last one. So let's scare up a good time by checking out some spooky ads from years gone by!
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: “Pickle Up A Doodle” The Artist: Teresa Brewer #99 Chart Date: September 1, 1958 I don't know that this entry necessarily counts as a novelty song, but it sure sounds like one upon first listen. The problem with making that determination is that at this point in American music history, the definition of pop music was much broader and more inclusive than it is today. So I'll let you listen and make that call yourself: Any idea? Pop? Novelty? Traditional? A little of each? It's fun no matter what you call it, albeit somewhat inconsequential. I tracked down a liv
One thing that stinks about being an adult is that I don't get summers off anymore. One thing that rules about being an adult is I don't have to deal with the looming threat of Back to School time. So you see, now I can look at vintage back-to-school advertisements with joy and amusement, not dread. And now you can too. Enjoy!
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
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...
One of the greatest television specials of all time, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! Let's take a moment to recognize this essential piece of our childhoods and to pay homage to the man behind it all, Charles M. Schulz. The now-yearly tradition began on October 27, 1966, when CBS debuted the half-hour animated special -- the third such Peanuts show -- as part of its Thursday evening lineup. Here are a few newspaper ads from that day. Now as far as I can tell, the first reference to the Great Pumpkin appeared in the Peanuts comic strip almost exactly 7 years before the show, in October 1959. Here is that strip: