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Saturday, December 20, 2014

GE is Beneath Your Christmas Tree

As promised in last week's blog, I'm introducing you to the GE Christmas Guys.  As you can see, they're a bit rummy, having been at the eggnog on a cold wintry day.  But they're eager to share their joy of GE products as they give you the low-down on the high points of these marvelous gifts available to the good people of 1962.  So here's what the GE Christmas Guys were pushing on the readers of Life Magazine on December 14th, 1962.

Every great gal in your life needs a bag over her head.  And here's one attached to an electric fan and a heating element.  This pink bouffant bonnet comes in a handsome travel case, which your wife might need if you give this to her for Christmas.  It'll be easy to include as she packs up to leave you.

Let's assume that the GE Christmas Guy in this picture is just napping, and that he wasn't electrocuted by the "Waverly" automatic blanket.  I've never been a fan of this idea.  Wrapping yourself with energized copper wire is grabbing hold of the atomic age a bit too literally.  Sure, it was the Sixties, and everything was going electric.  But let's try to keep the flow of electricity out of the sheets, huh?  There are better ways to keep warm in bed without resorting to regulated voltage.

Does anyone iron out there anymore?  I don't know.  I remember my mother ironing, and ironing, and ironing.  Seemed like our clothes didn't look much different than they do now, and my wife doesn't iron much.  Pretty sure that in the old days our clothes were made out of something akin to saran wrap.  I mean, just consider how badly they always wrinkled.  Come to think of it, many of the clothes back then were closely related to plastic wrap.  They were actually plastic.  All that polyester and rayon.  Even the cotton clothes wrinkled constantly.  But at least with this gift from GE, as they suggest, you can open your gift and iron out the wrinkles on your Christmas party dress.  That's supposed to sound wonderful, but it mostly sounds like a sad Christmas moment.  Let's move on.

 Nothing says "special Christmas" like an automatic can opener.  Especially one that is designed to opened cans with blank, blue labels.  Mystery meat, I'd guess.  Love the copy here--"Opens that can of cranberry sauce electrically."  And don't miss the fact that this puppy has a governor-controlled motor.  And the special bonus here is the pre-safety-conscious-society decision to manufacture this without a guard on the cutting device.  As a child, I always imagined what it would be like to catch your finger in that metal-chewing mechanism.  That I still have all ten fingers is a testament to sheer luck.

"Hey mom, here's your gift!  Open it first so you can bake us all a Christmas cake!"  Kids are so cute.  So are husbands who buy portable mixers for their wives and tell her it's from the kids.  Now she's no fool.  In 1962, mom knows perfectly well that dad put the kids up to this so she can mix drinks for him with the free drink mixer attachment.  I'd suggest he not toss in that optional accessory for sharpening knives.  

"From December 26th," this ad reads, "housecleaning will never be easier!"  Yeah, but your wife may never be easy to get along with ever again.  I doubt most wives would even be impressed that this vacuum has a double-action tool.  I might be, if I knew what that meant.  But I'm not gonna ask the GE Christmas Guy hanging from the hose.  Let's see what's left under the tree.

Coffee?  Now we're talking.  I think GE might have a winner here.  Since Keurig machines won't be invented for another forty-plus years, a Peek-A-Brew Coffee Maker is not a bad idea.  Not only will it count the cups, but it will keep the coffee hot.  Now we just have to wait until flavored coffees are offered in the coffee aisle at the local shopping center.  Toffee Pumpkin Skinny Lattes won't be available for quite a while yet!  You'll have to stick with plain cream and sugar.

Thanks to the GE Christmas Guys for their wonderful gift ideas.  For all you newly married young men out there, don't listen to these guys.  Cleaning and cooking supplies aren't your best bet for a young wife's Christmas gift.  Maybe on occasion, if she specifically asks for something.  But I'd avoid buying her anything like knife sharpeners and bags for her head.  I think we can all agree that's just a little common sense.

Here's the full ad that ran in Life Magazine.

For more Christmas ideas from the past, check out last year's posts on Burstein-Applebee.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Shopping in Life, December 14, 1962

Life Magazine, December 14, 1962

For those of you who think online shopping is a break from the important traditions of Christmas, I want to take a little time to remind readers how they might have shopped for their loved ones' Christmas presents fifty-two years ago.

No, your grandparents weren't hoping for the latest smartphone.  They were hoping for the latest Kodak!  And why not?  With "steadiness built in" and a new shape that "gives you a firmer grip for sharp, clear pictures", the Brownie Super 27 Outfit could be bought in toto for less than $22.00.  (That's $172.96 for you and me.)

But wait, there's more, as you might have guessed.  The Brownie Starmite has a built-in flash!  Or what about the Brownie Starmeter with its built-in eexposuremeter?  Or there's that electric eye (an electric eye!  We aren't kidding here, an electric eye!) in the Kodak Automatic 8 movie kit.  This baby sets the lens opening automatically for beautiful movies.  Heck, buy the movie kit and the movie projector for just $118.00.  (Just under $1000.00 in 2014.)  And don't forget, this price includes the lamp bar and lamps.

Now here you'll see that some things never change.  Watches are still a common gift found under the tree.  (I still remember one I opened when I was about twelve.  There is nothing like seeing the sparkle of a new watch on Christmas morning.)  And here we see Bulova, a watchmaker that is still ticking.  I'm partial to the Bulova Beau Brummel, since I'm a man who demands dramatic styling.  Heck, at just $115.00, this timepiece is almost affordable.  Uh, except...that's the 1962 price.  Today that would be $904.13.  A bit steep for me.  I'd have to stick on the lower end of that $24.75 to $2500.00 range.  (Yeah, the high end of that would now be $19,665.00.)  The highest Rolex I can find now is under $10,000.  And Bulova has nothing even close to that.  So it is safe to say watches are a bit more reasonably priced today.  Maybe that's why Bulova thinks wishes were watches.  And they wish they were getting prices equivalent to 1962.

Okay, you knew I'd slip a car in here somewhere.  And let me just be up front.  If any of my family wants to buy me a 1963 Buick LeSabre I would not turn it down.  After all, "for all its sleek beauty, there's a lot of hustle built into the full-size LeSabre."  Hey, I mean, it has Advanced Thrust engineering.  And you know what that means, right?  Uh, it means straight tracking, flat cornering, and precision handling.  Oh, don't forget the trigger-quick response of its famous Turbine Drive--optional but sensationally smooth!.  And who knew that the Safety-X frame construction ends rattles?  (Now that I think about it, I bet my father-in-law knew it did.)  Clearly a gift I'd cherish.

Now, how about something to liven up your Christmas party?  Well, at least something to liven up Jack Carter and his wife Paula Stewart.  According to this add, he's a noted screen and TV comedian, and she's an actress, though I don't guess she's noted.    (Now, I know a lot about old TV--Jack Parr, Steve Allen, Jack Benny, Milton Burle, etc--but I've never heard of Jack Carter.  He looks really vaguely familiar, but I'm stretching it here.  Basically, I think Heublin Cocktails paid for cheap talent here.  But then again, I don't remember Heublin, either.  Anyone out there remember Jack or his cheapskate sponser?)

I do know that Jack and his wife and their little party look pretty sad without those cocktails.  And we can guess that they can at least act happy with the cocktails.  At least for the cameras.

I'm tossing in this vintage ad from Bacardi not because I enjoy a little eggnog and rum from time to time.  I'm tossing it in so you can see the creepy elves that were hawking Bacardi rum in 1962.  Let's be honest, elves are weird nearly all the time.  But these little creeps are scary.  I think I saw something like them in a Tales from the Crypt episode.  Don't believe me?  Take a closer look.

I don't know about you, but I'm afraid to find out what this old rummy is mixing into the eggnog.  I think it would be prudent to pass on this holiday beverage.  We'll just smile, nod, hold out a hand in the universal gesture that says "I'm trying to cut back, my belly's getting a bit too big, and you're too creepy to mix my drink.  And Merry Christmas!"

Check back next week for a special appearance by the GE Christmas Guys.  They're not as creepy as the Bacardi elves.  I mean, for starters, they aren't trying to slip strange, possibly lethal concoctions into your Uncle Harry's glass at your family get-together.  Lord knows that's the last thing Uncle Harry needs.