Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Yuleblog Timely Reminder


Daylight savings time
in the United States
is coming to an end this year.
It ends Sunday morning at 2 AM.

Be sure to adjust all of your clocks
before you go to bed tonight -
remember fall back - an extra hour of sleep!


Capt

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ads Pt. 20 - Montgomery Ward & Co., 1924

In addition to collecting Christmas music, I have collected nearly 1000 vintage Christmas ads over the years. Many of these include celebrities, radio, television, cigarettes, liquor, modern appliances, and the like.

I will attempt every Friday from here until I run out, I will feature an ad from my collection.

I invite you to add a fun comment, witticism, clever remark, or observation in the comments section provided. Any comments deemed worthy of repeating will be included into this entry where all the world will see it.

Several months ago, as I was attempting to complete the reorganization and cataloguing of all of my vintage Christmas ads, I visited Antiques on Broadway near downtown Fort Wayne. This shop usually has a gem or two to be unearthed.

In the basement of the store sits a booth that contains three folding tables of vintage ads, all carefully organized and wrapped in plastic for your protection. Many was the time I browsed the table that contained "Christmas ads" and "Celebrity ads".

I would seldom look at the other tables because each ad was usually in the $4 to $10 range. The double paged ads were always on my wait list but at $10 - $15 a pop, I could wait a long time. Once in a blue moon, I would break down and purchase an ad at full price.

On the day of my visit, I approached the table and noticed a yellow piece of paper with crude handwriting attached to one of the tables: "SALE - ALL ADS - $1". My transformation into Fred C. Dobbs was instantaneous and I nearly shrieked with delight.

For the next 45 minutes, I thumbed through every ad at every table, finding nuggets along the way. In addition to the usual LIFE, Look, and Saturday Evening Post ads, this dealer had sliced up vintage magazines dating back as early as the 1910s!

I was delighted but saddened as well. Any issue of any magazine printed before 1935 are becoming more and more rare and expensive. Being a collector of December issues for their Christmas ads, I would have loved to seen the entire issues from which these ads came from.

Which brings us to our ad of the day. It's hard to imagine now but back in 1924, the retail industry was dominated by two stores - Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward & Co., both headquartered out of Chicago, Illinois. Ward's revolutionized the business by introducing their legendary catalog in 1872, the first mail-order business of any kind in the world:


(Click on image to enlarge)


In essence, this was the first Internet - the catalogs allowed anyone to order anything and have it shipped anywhere in the USA and Canada. Catalog sales accounted for nearly 60% of Montgomery Ward's business at one point and kept their coffers flush into the 1960s.

Ask anyone over the age of 30 about those magic Fall / Winter catalogs, overflowing with toys and games. These were dream books - the perfect way to create a list for Santa. I can recall one year making a list, complete with catalog numbers, and handing it to Santa. I never did understand the incredulous look on Santa's face.

And there's something to be said for pre-1930s advertising. Usually in black & white, great detail work, a not too dominant picture, and lots and lots of text for you to read. No pretention whatsoever. This is an ad you definitely need to see close up.

What do you think?


Capt

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anonymous - Two Christmas Songs - UPDATE


We got a response!

Click here for the updated story and link!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ads Pt. 19 - 1847 Rogers Bros., 1938

In addition to collecting Christmas music, I have collected nearly 1000 vintage Christmas ads over the years. Many of these include celebrities, radio, television, cigarettes, liquor, modern appliances, and the like.

I will attempt every Friday from here until I run out, I will feature an ad from my collection.

I invite you to add a fun comment, witticism, clever remark, or observation in the comments section provided. Any comments deemed worthy of repeating will be included into this entry where all the world will see it.

I had many projects over the past summer. One was getting the remainder of my vintage LIFE, Look, Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, McCall's, and Ladies Home Journal magazines organized and cataloged. I reviewed each issue for Christmas ads I either had, forgot to add, or to find new ones I might have overlooked.

I've also added to my collection of vintage magazines. When I opened a LIFE magazine dated December 12, 1938 I won at eBay, I was pleased to discover this incredible ad.


(Click on image to enlarge)


The giving of silverware as Christmas gifts is seldom done in this day and age. Several decades ago, it was all the rage. Whenever I think of silverware, images of Harpo Marx and Curly of the Three Stooges trying to conceal stolen silver on their person come to mind.

But what caught my eye on this ad was the caption above the picture of the "happy" family and that very same picture. Study this carefully for a moment... I'll wait for you.

The sardonic part of my mind studied this picture for a long time and came up with dozens of alternate captions of my own. This led me to believe you might come up with your very own captions or comments as well. Give us your best shot...

What do you think?

DivaMom says: Dear, I've brought home my secretary to stay with us this Christmas. Surprise!

Jonathan says: I love it! It’s the very least you could do after I’ve slaved over a hot stove all week so that you may eat with proper silverware!

Tom says: We can melt them down into bullets when the werewolves attack.

Any other opinions?


Capt

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anonymous - Two Christmas Songs

My thoughts exactly, Grommit!


A few weeks ago, I posted an update that got quite a bit of response both online and off. More updates are in the works as well as reviews of several upcoming Christmas releases that arrived at my P.O. Box.

However, there was one package that stood apart from the rest. There was no return address and no post office markings anywhere on the envelope. The presumably Pitney-Bowes label had no evidence of its origin. I could post a photo of it but after reading the cover letter, I won't.

The cover letter was informative. The Times New Roman font was utilized, printed from MS Word (again presumably), and was left unsigned. I suppose I could go all "CSI" and dust for fingerprints and DNA while doing my best David Caruso impersonation but I won't.

The text of the letter:

"Hey Capt! Long time reader here - love the blog!

You are putting on a Christmas play and I wish you have a great run! I've been involved in theater nearly all my life and wanted to share something with you that I know you'll appreciate.

I was involved with a dinner theater for many years that put on an annual Christmas show. We spent many hours fine tuning the songs, the choreography, and putting on a great show up on its legs.

The owner of the theater thought he was a great talent. Every year, we had to deal with him inserting himself into the show several weeks after the start of rehearsals. His involvement usually threw the delicate balance of the cast into chaos and slowed the gathering momentum of the rehearsal process.

But what could we do? He was the guy who signed our checks. We were forced to tolerate it year after year.


During the last Christmas show I was involved with, the longtime sound board guy had had enough. He purposely recorded the theater owner's isolated body mike which was always kept low and buried behind the cast - listen and you'll know why. This was shared it out among several of the cast members and has become a cult classic in our theater community.

(LAST SENTENCE WITHHELD)!
"


Shades of Linda McCartney!





I listened to the two songs and they are... hmmm... let's say they rank right up there with Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow, Wendy Rose, and the infamous version of "O Holy Night" that's been floating around cyberspace.

However, I'm puzzled - I'm not sure what the intentions of the sender of the package. Did he want to share this with me to play in the comfort and privacy of my own home? Did he want to get back at the theater owner in some small way and sent it to me so I could share it online?

I am asking the person or persons involved who sent me this package to send me an additional letter to seek out what their intentions are.

Please note that I removed the last sentence of the letter in the text above. Supply me with the last sentence word for word and I'll be able to spot the real person and their true intentions.

This hopefully should prevent 200 letters coming in saying "I'm the guy who sent you the package and it's okay to post it!" If you're tempted to try and guess, I ask you to save your postage for something else.

Let's hope we get a real response!


UPDATE 10/25/09: I received only one response and it was from the person (or persons) who sent it to me. They indeed did provide me with the last correct sentence of the aforementioned letter which was "Break a leg this Christmas!"

This new letter also provided me with an e-mail address that put me in touch with the gentleman who made the serendipitous recordings. The sound man asked me not to share one of the songs since it contained elements within it that would easily identify the source.

He gave me permission to share the other song and sent me an excerpt of another that I could use as well. So here is my first offering for the 2009 Christmas downloading season - brace yourself, William Hung. You got competition!


Anonymous - Two Christmas Songs


Happy listening...


Capt