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Postcards from the Past #2: Labor Day at Dorney Park

Labor Day at Dorney Park postcard

There is no postmark on this one but it seems to be from the 1950s or so.

Labor Day at Dorney Park postcard


The flag shown on the reverse side was a special Labor Day decoration. It was made of thousands of white and red apples for the stripes. Egg plant was used for the blue field and squash was used for the stars. Thousand flock to the amusement park each year to see the designs made entirely of fruits and vegetables for Labor Day holiday.

1937 Willys car brochure

Brochure Beauties #8: 1937 Willys, The Surprise Car of the Year!

It’s hard to believe that I’m almost 10 entries into this series and haven’t shared any car brochures. Luckily I found a real gem for the first one. This brochure highlights the new 1937 Willys, with the slogan “The Surprise Car of the Year.” The typeface and color scheme are very much of their era, and are a pure delight.

The first image breaks down (OK, unfortunate phrasing) the cost of ownership over 35,000 miles. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a car brochure give a depreciation amount before.

1937 Willys car brochure

Next up is the money shot, a pretty nice looking pre-war car that boasts up to 35 miles per gallon.

1937 Willys car brochure

Next we get several exterior and interior shots, with some very well-dressed people looking very approvingly at the beautiful bench seats, roomy interior and spacious trunk.

1937 Willys car brochure

First Year Covers #1: Playboy

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.

Get Toasty With These Wisconsin Electric Power Company Christmas Cooky Books

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.

Sea World San Diego brochure, 1964

Brochure Beauties #7: Sea World San Diego, 1964

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:

Sea World San Diego brochure, 1964

Let’s take a closer look at that logo, for it is wonderful.

Sea World San Diego brochure logo, 1964

Just two colors here, but a great contrast of typefaces. And turning the standard ’60s grid globe into a fish? Genius.

Before we move on, a bit of history. Sea World opened on March 21, 1964 at a cost of $4.5 million. Admission prices that year were $2.25 for adults, $1.25 for kids aged 12-17, and 60 cents for kids under 12. The premier attraction at the time was not the famous — or infamous depending on your point of view — orcas, but a 160,000-gallon tank with dolphins and lovely ladies known as Sea Maids. The Maids earned $325 a month and had access to free lodging, free wigs, and hair dryers.

OK, let’s look at the rest. The next page describes the park in a little more detail and boasts of the Theater of the Sea attraction, billed as the world’s first underwater productions written for and starring… dolphins!

Finally, the last page describes several more attractions from the park, such as the Sea Grotto, Murata Pearl Japanese Village, and Hawaiian Punch Village. I don’t know if any of these are still open, so if you’ve been to Sea World recently let me know.

Sea World San Diego brochure, 1964

But wait, there’s one more thing. As a special bonus I’m throwing in a retrotisement too. This is a newspaper ad from opening week, featuring that wonderful logo.

1964 sea world California advertisement

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

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:

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for '56

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 by The Kansas City Times stated that despite the show start being delayed a half hour due to a bad tube in the sound system, “the 1,600 loyal jazz fans enjoyed every minute of it.”

Catalog Goodness Banner

Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

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!

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

Triple Action Progress-A-Cyzer. Dig it.

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

OK, that thing on the bottom is literally just a board with some rods attached.

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

I’m pretty sure half of this stuff is banned by the Geneva Convention.