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.

Another Gallery of Vintage Halloween Costume Slides

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 1950s or ’60s.

To see the gallery from last year click here.

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide

Vintage Halloween Costume Slide


The Revenge of Halloween Retrotisements!

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!

Vintage Halloween ad (Schlitz Beer, 1950)

Schlitz Beer, 1950

Vintage Halloween ad (PAAS Make-Up Kits, 1986)

PAAS Make-Up Kits, 1986

Vintage Halloween ad (Jell-O, 1952)

Jell-O, 1952

Vintage Halloween ad (Mazola Oil, 1920)

Mazola Oil, 1920

Vintage Halloween ad (Griifin Microsheen, 1956)

Griifin Microsheen, 1956

Vintage Halloween ad (Snider's Catsup, 1944)

Snider’s Catsup, 1944

Vintage Halloween ad (Pepsi, 1963)

Pepsi, 1963

Vintage Halloween ad (Kool-Aid, 1961)

Kool-Aid, 1961

Retrotisements: Back to School Edition, Part 2

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!

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Greyhound, 1960

Greyhound, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Gibbs, 1954

Gibbs, 1954

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Campbell's, 1937

Campbell’s, 1937

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Minnesota Woven, 1962

Minnesota Woven, 1962

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Woolworth's, 1951

Woolworth’s, 1951

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Interwoven, 1960

Interwoven, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Royal Typewriter, 1960

Royal Typewriter, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Tom Sawyer, 1957

Tom Sawyer, 1957

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Mastercharge, 1969

Mastercharge, 1969

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Sheaffer's, 1962

Sheaffer’s, 1962

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

Retrotisements — A Year in the Life (1967)

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!


1967 Chrysler ad

1967 Chrysler

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle ad

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle

Consumer Electronics

1967 Kodak Instamatic ad

Kodak Instamatic

1967 Westclox ad


1967 Automatic Royal ad

Automatic Royal


The Dirty Dozen ad

The Dirty Dozen

1967 Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze ad

“Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience


1967 Arrow ad


1967 Career Club Shirts ad

Career Club

Food and Beverage

1967 Nabisco Snackmate ad

Nabisco Snack Mate

1967 Michelob ad


1967 7Up ad


1967 Arby's ad


Health and Beauty

1967 Maybelline ad


1967 Alka-Seltzer ad


1967 Lustre Creme ad

Lustre Creme

Household Goods

1967 One-Step Floor Care ad

One-Step Floor Care

1967 Dash ad


1967 Admiral Duplex ad

Admiral Duplex


1967 Best Western ad

Best Western

Hawaii ad 1967

Hawaii via Pan Am and American Airlines

1967 Pan Am ad

Pan Am


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

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.

Benny Spellman, "Fortune Teller"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 single, “Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette).” That single was released on Minit Records in the spring of 1962 and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 5. The A-side peaked at #80 on June 2, but did find greater success on the Hot R&B Sides chart (#28).

Musically, there is very little difference between Spellman’s original and the versions recorded by The Who or The Rolling Stones. Toussaint’s production has a little more bounce and flair (courtesy some extra percussion and barely noticeable horns), but doesn’t have the same bombast (Who) or speed and urgency (Stones). But otherwise, even the greatest rock groups ever knew to leave a great tune largely alone.

Benny Spellman never had another hit and released only a few singles after 1965. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and died of respiratory failure in June 2011, at the age of 79.

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