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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.

45 Years of Selling the McDonald’s Big Mac

Although it was invented in 1967 by McDonald’s Uniontown, Pennsylvania franchise owner Jim Delligatti, the Big Mac didn’t enter the national consciousness until 1968. That was the year McDonald’s added the sandwich — originally dubbed the Blue Ribbon Burger and the Aristocrat — to its national menu.

In doing some quick research into how the Big Mac was marketed, I found what I believe to be the oldest national print advertisement for it. It ran in the March 14, 1969 issue of Life magazine and looked like this (click for a larger version):

McDonald's Big Mac ad (1969)

So unless someone has information that says otherwise, I consider this month to mark the 45th anniversary of Big Mac advertising in America. Here’s a TV ad that ran around the same time (the uploader says it’s from 1967 but I doubt it very much). Gotta love that crisp, fraish lettuce.

Unfortunately I can’t make out the copyright date on this ad, if there is one, so it’s possible that this does predate the print ad above. If anyone knows differently than what I’ve typed here, please let me know in the comments.

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 40: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Philadelphia, 1908

I’m sure this must have been an odd sight to Philadelphians back in the day. It’s a posed group photo of famed soldier and showman William F. Cody with the members of his “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” traveling show. Click for the full-size version.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West in front of Wanamaker's Department Store, Philadelphia, 1908

That’s Buffalo Bill seated roughly in the middle of the picture, behind a group of Native American children. Cody started his first Wild West show in 1883, and he toured the world with it until it went bankrupt in 1913. Many people hold the belief that when Cody died in 1917 at the age of 70, it marked the end of the Wild West in America.

The rather imposing building behind the group is the famed Wanamaker’s, the first department store in Philly and one of the first in the United States. You can see some interested onlookers peering through the window near the top of the photo.

It seems likely that Cody’s show was invited to the city by Lewis Rodman Wanamaker, son of the store’s founder and a vocal proponent of preserving Native American culture. Wanamaker sponsored three high-profile photographic expeditions between 1908 and 1913 that were intended to document the way of life of the “vanishing” American Indians.

A Gallery of Vintage Beistle Halloween Decorations

Vintage Beistle Halloween witch seals

You probably have never heard of the Beistle Company, but chances are you’ve seen their Halloween decorations. The company was founded in 1900 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Martin Luther Beistle and is still a major party products manufacturer.

(For a more thorough company history, check out this page.)

While Beistle still produces a wide range of year-round party goods, their classic Halloween decorations are how most of us know them. This gallery offers but a sampling of Beistle’s paper Halloween decorations that have been ubiquitous in American households for generations.

Black cat with jack-o-lantern and moon - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Black cat with jack-o-lantern and moon

Moon and black cat - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Moon and black cat

Cat with green eyes - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Cat with green eyes

Black cat with monocle and top hat - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Black cat with monocle and top hat

Haunted house with witch - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Haunted house with witch

Honeycomb spider - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Honeycomb spider

Classic jack-o-lantern - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Classic jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern with pipe and bowler derby - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Jack-o-lantern with pipe and bowler derby

Jack-o-lantern with straw hat - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Jack-o-lantern with straw hat

Creepy owl - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Creepy owl

Movable skeleton - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Movable skeleton

Skull with jaunty cap - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Skull with jaunty cap

Witch on a broomstick in front of the moon - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Witch on a broomstick in front of the moon

Witch with big wart on nose - (Vintage Beistle Halloween Decoration)

Witch with big wart on nose

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Vintage ephemera: Best Western/AT&T Business Resource Guide

Alright, I’m probably stretching the definition of “vintage” pretty thin here.  But here’s the thing — even though this magazine (found in a Best Western in Quakertown, PA just last year) was published in 1996, it sure seems like a lifetime ago.  That’s because even more than clothes or hairstyles, few things can almost instantly date a publication like images of current technology.

Don’t believe me?  Well here’s just a sampling of the pictures and ads scattered throughout the 1996 Best Western/AT&T Business Resource Guide, a publication for the modern executive on the go…into a time warp.  (for fun slideshow action, click here)

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This Week in History! (March 24-30)

March 24, 1989: The Exxon tanker Valdez accidentally hits the state of Alaska, spilling about 11 million gallons of oil. Capt. Joseph Hazlewood was later convicted of negligent discharge of oil and failing to leave a note at the scene of an accident. What’s scary is that it’s not even one of the 50 worst oil spills of all-time.

March 27, 1884: The first long-distance telephone call takes place, between New York and Boston. Contrary to urban legend, the content of the call was not “Red Sox suck!”

March 27, 1998: The Food and Drug Administration approves the use of Viagra; sales of used Corvettes and Mustangs drop 78%.

March 28, 1930: Constantinople changes its name to Istanbul; provides fodder for quirky rock bands of the future.

March 28, 1979: An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station kills no one, spooks many; America says “F that!” to nuclear power and decides to take its chances with coal and oil.

March 30, 1867: U.S. Secretary of State William Seward completes the purchase of the Alaskan Territory from the Russian Empire for $7.2 million. Enraged Congressmen petition the Russians to give Seward a negative feedback rating.

March 30, 1964: The popular quiz show Jeopardy! debuts on NBC. Cries of “I could totally win this if I wanted to” heard throughout the nation for the first time.

March 30, 1981: Would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr. fires six shots at President Ronald Reagan, doesn’t land one (Reagan was hit by a bullet that had ricocheted off his limousine). Jodie Foster still won’t return his calls.

An A+ for the Bad Plus

The Bad Plus - 3/15/08

It was quite a big weekend for the Bad Plus – in addition to a two-night stand at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, the Midwest-based jazz trio made an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien on Friday. I caught them for the early set on Saturday (the 2nd night), and if there was any post-Conan letdown it was not apparent. The band played a tight set that showcased their strengths – chops, melody, and humor.

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