Fun With Dick & Shame

When discussing political collectibles, there are the strange, and then there are the tacky. And in my opinion, little is tackier than Nixon.

You know, I say this with affection, as I am collector of Nixon items and oddities.

lick dickIt began with spying a “Liberated Lovelies for Nixon 1972” button. And it might have stopped there — if the anti-button for 72 hadn’t been right there as well… But who could pass that up?!

Nixon naughtiness is out there, and I must have it.

Since those first purchases, I’ve kept my eyes open for more Nixon items.

jellypin“Yes Nixon, No Jelly,” a tab from a candy company to promote their ‘Peanut Butter No Jelly’ candy bar during the campaign. It is interesting to note that the candy bar, like the President, is no longer… I imagine more folks miss the candy bar.

Yes, there was a matching McGovern one too, but I like mocking Nixon — & I have quite the Anti-Nixon collection to prove it! *neener neener*

There are a few reasons why Nixon is so easy to mock. One’s the man himself. The other is that Watergate changed the way we looked at our politicians and leaders. With this new awareness, or cynicism, Nixon spawned more ‘stuff’ than you can imagine.

Some of my personal favorites are the National Watergate Test booklet and the Watergate Coloring Book, where you can “color the facts” yourself.

national watergate test nixon watergate coloring book

Nixon-b-GumSpeaking of Sticky-Tricky-Dicky… How about these “Win With Dick” Bubble Gum Cigars?!

When looking for Nixon collectibles, I recommend this book by Eldon Almquist, who once ran the Nixon Collector’s Organization: The Political Collectibles of Richard M. Nixon.

Film History Buff?

All I know about this vintage photo is what the seller notes:

a vintage & original 1963 gelatin silver publicity photograph promoting “The Obscene Couch” featuring “Lovely Karen.” Karen is lovely indeed as she shows off her curvaceous beach body and wild, mod blonde hair. This film was also known as “The Oblong Couch” and was eventually released under the title “Saucy Aussie.” An exciting film artifact and interesting in the fact that all publicity images advertised Lovely Karen yet she appears nowhere in the credits of the film. Starring role went to Sheree Steiner and the production company went on to make a few other sexploitation films such as “Wild Hippie Orgy.”

Measures 8″ x 10″ with margins on a glossy, single weight paper stock.

No one seems to know who the lovely Karen is… Not even TCM.

While the “Lovely Karen” isn’t quite in the buff (at least not here), I’m thinking fans of nudies also know their sexploitation films. And I’m hoping buffs of in-the-buff can share what they know…

vintage The Obscene Couch karen in lingerie still promo photo

Vera Francis As The “Indian Girl” In The Prodigal

For those of you who love Vera Francis, here’s another vintage photograph of the nearly forgotten & neglected African-American actress.

From the 1950s, this photo features Francis in what is called “a Southeast Asian view” of costuming.

vera francis vintage MDM publicity film photo

Publicity from MGM’s 1955 film The Prodigal, in which Vera played an “Indian Girl.”

Measures 10″ x 8,” on a single weight glossy paper stock.

For sale here.

What “Wood” You Do For Dads & Grads? Plus How To Wear A Watch At Work & For Job Interviews

When Jord came to me with the offer to review one of their handmade wooden wristwatches, I took one look at them and I knew that the Koa & Black, from the Dover Series, was special. While the idea of a wooden wristwatch is certainly a novel one, it was the gears that moved me… Usually all glorious gears and stuff that makes a watch tick is usually hidden on a watch. But with this Jord watch, you can see it work!

jord wood wristwatch dover Koa & Black

I knew it would be perfect for my dad. He’s not only one who appreciates craftsmanship but is a craftsman himself. Not only does he make new things, mixing the old with the new, but he’s handcrafted furniture for the house. I just knew he would love the juxtaposition of the smooth wood next to the metal gears as much as I do. (Admittedly, my dad often prefers his gears rusty; but then the timepiece wouldn’t work!)

Just as I’d hoped, my dad did love the watch too.

dean at elkhorn antique flea market wearing jord wood watchSince one of the relatively important aspects of a wristwatch is the personal statement it makes, the attention it receives, I asked my dad to wear it when we were selling at the opening weekend of the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market. (Just like hubby and I, my parents are antique dealers.) I just knew the wooden watch would garner the attention of those who appreciate quality timepieces, as well as those who admire craftsmanship — and just plain like cool stuff. In spite of the bad weather, which required us to cover ourselves (and our antiques!) up more, when the watch was visible it received a fair amount of admirers.

But perhaps the most telling compliment came from my nephew, Nicholas, who is the youngest of the grandchildren. Because my dad has made so many things, Nicholas asked if Papa made the watch!

jord wooden wristwatch

For many younger folks, wearing a wristwatch seems unnecessary if not antiquated. But hold on; if you think that our tech gadgets have replaced the “antiquated wrist watch” and clocks in general, I have news for you. It comes via some of my dad’s knowledge too…

You might have noticed in the photos that my dad wears his wristwatch in an usual manner…

how to wear a wristwatch

With the face of the watch not centered on the wrist, but rather sitting along the side of his wrist (on the radius, if you want to be technical about it). For as long as I can remember, my dad has worn his watch this way. And there’s a reason for it.

For decades, my dad worked as a salesman selling tools to big companies in what is now known as the Rust Belt. Often in sales meetings, or any meetings at all, there might be a reason the you might want to make note of the time. But being spotted checking your watch communicates all sorts of negative things. While you might merely be wondering if you’re running on time for your next appointment, the client may see your peek at your watch as an indication that they are being rushed — or worse, that they are boring you. What to do?

One of my dad’s first bosses taught my dad a trick: Wear your wristwatch as shown so that you can take a look at the time without the person across the desk from you ever noticing.

stealthy look at the time without offending anyone

Wearing the watch as my dad does allows for a surreptitious look at the time without offending anyone you are trying to impress — be it a buyer or an interviewer.

Honestly, it works without a desk or conference table too.

how to wear a wooden jord watch

I’m not sure wearing a watch this way would have helped Ben Carson, or even President George H. W. Bush in ’92; but it certainly can help most of us. Take heed, graduates and others going on job interviews!

(I dare suggest that many of the young people rejecting wristwatches are not employed. They don’t yet know the value of being able to reflect your personal style at work — or how important it can be to steal an unnoticed look at the time. Meanwhile, as many younger folks seem to be eschewing watches and clocks, the prices for vintage and collectible timepieces have been soaring. Perhaps it takes a matter of experience to appreciate not just “old” stuff, but the value of timepieces as well.)

But back to the stunning Jord watch…

elegant wood wristwatch goes wtih green bay packer gearIt’s at once rustic and elegant, combining earthy and tech to make a functional timepiece that’s unique. The wood also works nice with less formal attire, including Casual Friday, hanging out with friends — and, as it must do for any Wisconsinite, looks great with Green Bay Packer gear!

It arrived as expected for a pricey luxury wristwatch, in a nice wooden crate of a box, with all the related info inside. The only bad thing I can find to say about this watch was that the information card included in the box was difficult to read: black text on a busy image-laden background — and slick & shiny with lamination yet. Even for the younger among us with better eyesight. I can understand wanting a “sexy” card. And giving it a protective coating so it can last. But, honestly, the company would be better off going with black text on a white or light background so that it is easy to read.

That said, we obviously figured out how to work it. And, yes, this beauty works. In fact, with the visible gears, this wristwatch is really cool to watch. If you aren’t a fan of the gears, there are other styles as well — and, yes, there are women’s watches as well.

Watches Made From Wood

Official review disclaimer: While I did receive the wristwatch from Jord for review purposes, it did not sway my opinion in any way. It never does.

Freaky Friday: What’s Up With Those Big Toes?

While searching for those 70s sex feet, I stumbled into these kitschy vintage bare feet salt and pepper shakers. I guess not all of them are vintage; but they nearly always have bright red toenail polish.

vintage bare feet kitsch s&p shakers

Why anyone wants to put bare feet on the table, let alone shake their contents onto your food, is anyone’s guess. Like momma always said, there’s no accounting for taste.

But what I do want to figure out is why the big toe is raised like that…

vintage bare foot salt and pepper shakers red toenails raised toe

I found a number of wooden carved ashtrays as well — again, bare feet with raised big toes.

wooden feet ashtrays big toes

One seller, of this pair of mismatched bare feet ashtrays, states, “Designed for use as a pipe holder and ashtray.” So perhaps that big toe helps hold the pipe. …But that doesn’t explain the s & p shakers, does it. If anyone can shed some light on this whole thing — explain just why this is a thing — please, please do!

pair of vintage carved bare feet wooden ashtrays with big toes pointing up

Cheap Thrills Thursday: 70s Feet Edition

In the 70s, footprints were big things. Sometimes they were quite literally big things; such as the giant, and very fuzzy, footprint rugs my sister and I had in our room. (See other things that may have been in your bedroom back then.)

vintage footprint rug ad

Other times, the feet were smaller.

And in pairs.

If you were cognizant in the 1970s, you likely recall all the pairs of mating feet. Because many adults labored under the incorrect belief that such pairs of feet were somehow not understood by children (umm, this is exactly what many children saw when they opened the door to your bedroom), these sex feet were everywhere.

Bare Feet Sex Knockin' Boots 1978 Solid Brass Vintage Belt Buckle

And — surprise! — there’s sexism involved in such a sexual revolution.

Typically, sex feet are shown as heterosexual couplings in the missionary position; which is neither all that revolutionary or, for many, very pleasurable. We are able to see that it’s a man and a woman doing it missionary style as there are two sets of feet — but not of the same size. This is typically deciphered to mean that the larger feet belong to a man. After all, hetero-normative rules state men are to be larger than their lady partners. And his feet must be much bigger because, you know, big feet mean big penis. That’s the myth, anyway. And he must be on top because he is The Top.

vintage retro master slave Sew on Cloth Patch Badges 1970's

Besides, who would change their minds (cross their legs and feet) and say “no” other than a woman?

2 Sets of Feet Glass Vintage Ashtray I've Changed My Mind

But if you think this is all about the Free Love movement, sex feet were often presented or captioned with odd supposedly humorous notions revealing traditional values. Like this ashtray and its “Man does this mean we are engaged” speech bubble.

Kitsch Risque Ashtray bare feet Man Does This Mean We're Engaged - Grizelle Japan

Along with confusion caused by missing punctuation, there’s more than a little cognitive dissonance between the “free love” and the marital sentiments or concerns. But then, the liberating 70s was always more than a little confusing that way.

Vintage Marketing To Women Was A-Wash In Premiums

Some people think that the only premiums that came in boxes were in cereal boxes for kids. Sure, there were those coupon books and other early loyalty programs designed to bring people back to certain department stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and other shops. But when it comes to actual free things inside boxes, most people think of the toys and surprises inside cereal boxes designed to make the kiddies beg mom and dad for the stuff. But there were other premiums, including those in products for adults. And primarily these offers were specifically aimed at those adults in charge of most household purchasing: the American housewife.

white wash no red hands vintage duz adPerhaps nowhere was this push for premiums more used than in the area of laundry detergents and soaps.

The competition was fierce in this market on all sorts of points, just as it is today, on everything from cleaning power and amount of suds (any real expert will tell you cleaning has more to do with physical scrubbing and agitation than chemicals and soap suds) to product versatility, and, because some cleaning still was done by actual human hands (something I still highly recommend), how gentle the product was on the little lady’s hands.

Those of us who are at least 40 years old may vividly recall these premiums and brands — not coincidentally because of the soap operas, which were, at their very essence, dramas created for housewives to watch and therefore pushed soaps and cleaning products; hence the name soap operas.

Lever Brothers, makers of Breeze laundry soap, partnered with Cannon towels for a luxury co-branded premium giveaway, eventually offering three sizes of towels.

breezead

three sizes of vintage cannon towels in breeze detergent

(This stuff is apparently so nostalgic, that someone just paid $39.99 for an old unopened box of Breeze with the towel still inside.)

My mom watched the CBS soap operas, as did her mother before her. As a result, our family was loyal to the family of Proctor & Gamble products. Proctor & Gamble put towels into their boxes of Bonus laundry detergent — as this fabulous musical commercial from 1960s illustrates. Note the gender split — and how the little woman’s knowledge (and sexual necktie manipulation) wins out.

Later, P&G would graduate from towels to putting glasses and china dishes with a wheat pattern (some even with gold trim) in boxes of Duz, the “does everything” laundry detergent. Incidentally, those wheat dishes were once clogging thrift shop shelves, but now, nostalgia coupled with the fascination with Mid-Century Modern, these dishes are making a comeback.

However, when it comes laundry detergent premiums, I don’t think many things are so firmly entrenched in our collective minds as Dolly Parton pitching boxes of soap with towels in them in the 1970s. While there is some debate as to whether the brand of detergent was Breeze or Duz (it was, in fact, Breeze; and we pray again to the YouTube Gods that someone can upload such a commercial!), almost everyone recalls the ads. Especially the kitsch factor.

Dolly herself admits how corny the ads were:

I remember seeing you on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” pulling out giant towels from boxes of Breeze detergent.

It was actually a bath towel — we used to have to do our own commercials on those shows, and they were so corny. But I still have some of those towels that I’ve kept through the years. Those were the days — “And you can only get them in boxes of Breeze!” And honestly, with that towel inside, there probably wasn’t more than half a box of Breeze. But people didn’t care because they were getting something free.

Corny or not, to this day, when I see a small hand towel covered in gold roses, “zeenyas!”, or other yellow flowers I instantly think of Dolly Parton. Its not just Dolly’s love of yellow roses, but those 70s yellow florals that stick in my mind. And that’s not all. Whenever I am at someone’s house and they have a similar looking towel out for use, I am convinced my hands smell like vintage detergent too. Come to think of it, that may be why I don’t like those wheat patterned dishes either.

March’s What I’ve Been Reading (& Writing) Report

As I mentioned, I’m downsizing; so lately, I’ve primarily been focused on listing in our Etsy shops. (1, 2, and, now, 3.) This has led to lots of posting at Things Your Grandmother Knew and Kitschy Kitschy Coo. (But don’t worry, the next stack of ephemera has plenty of “women’s issues stuff”, so then this blog will be busy. To everything, there is a season…)

lgbt antique rppcOne of the more rare items I am parting with is this antique real photo postcard featuring two female couples. I’m rather certain this is a legit “lesbian interest” photo, as it is called in the trade, and not some mere drag party of the past. However, without any living folks to tell the tale, it is hard to say definitively. There is a certain combination of affection and defiance as opposed to the hamming it up for the cameras which is usually found in ye olde crossdressing and drag parties and films of yore.

This reminds me of the fact that many sellers will call any photo of same-sex folks being affectionate as LGBTQ history. Rather than rant about that, I will simply direct you to where others have done a good job covering the issue: Brothers In Arms (NWS), naked Vintage Soldiers (NWS), and Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch. (It is perhaps no surprise that all of this talk involves men, not women, but then “everyone loves a lesbian.” …Well, almost everyone. Everyone does love Lincoln, however.)

Yes, I’m still Tumblr-ing and Scooping. (You might mostly be interested in what goes on at the women Tumblr tag and the Herstory & Dare To Be A Feminist topics.) But I have still managed to make a bit of time for reading…

What I’ve been reading:

the-minnesota-connectionMy friend Gracie compares the past and present of sex trafficking: 1978’s The Minnesota Connection Vs 2015’s Trafficked: The Exploitation Of Women & Girls In The Bakken & Beyond. (Oh, sure, North Dakota, sex trafficking gets coverage, including a 30 minute news documentary; but the environmental damage being done in the Bakken and the related train bombs notsomuch. The legislation is even worse.)

Speaking of politics… Oh, if only!

Yes, as a collector of vintage magazines, I am very aware that little has changed in beauty ads.

At ErosBlog, Bacchus discusses (NWS) this article at The New York Times. (See also my earlier article: Grandma Was A Swinger: Estate Sales & The Ephemera Of Women’s Lives.)

That’s it for now; time to make the donuts get back to work listing the collectibles.

“Topknot Troubles”

If you collect vintage magazines and ephemera like I do, you know there’s nothing new under the sun. The celebrity names & faces change, there’s “modern” graphics and trends too. But the push on beauty and grooming products remains true. This little bit comes from Beauty On A Budget, a promotional piece for hair & beauty products (copyright 1957 The Gillette Co.). The illustrations may be period, and the kitschy-cute names too, but the tips on treating your hair problems are rather straight out of any beauty column today. Meet Harriet Haystack, Olivia Oilwell, Selma Snowfall, Cora Cornsilk, Barb Wire, and Delia Droop — “six sisters with vexing hair problems.”

beauty on a budget hair problems

Despite their hair problems, most if not all of the sisters must have gotten married as they all have different last names! Perhaps that’s because they were lucky smart enough to watch Gillette’s helpful film, a Toni Company’s color movie entitled Heads Up For Beauty. It included pointers from “famous beauty consultant” Carol Douglas — and those pointers helped Ann Watson “change from an unattractive girl into a radiant bride by improving her personal grooming.” One prays to the YouTube gods for someone to find and put this movie up online.

1957 beauty

Cheeky Burt Reynolds

Most of us know of, if have not seen, the naked and hairy Burt Reynolds centerfold in Cosmo. (It was the 70’s equivalent of a sex tape in terms of exploding a celebs popularity.) But have you seen this puzzle featuring a pants-less Reynolds? Published about the same time as the issue of Cosmopolitan, circa 1972, one can enjoy Reynolds nearly unwrapped — just wearing a football jersey. No manscaping, that’s for sure.

I spotted this one at DJ’s Antiques in Milwaukee; but you can find them on eBay from time to time as well.

burt reynolds puzzle

Topless Women Light Up The Dark Days Of Home Decor Advertising (Or Vintage Shady Lamp Sales)

Bunny Yeager, who passed away at the end of last month, did a lot of pinup photography work. Some of it more legendary than others. For example, posing a topless model with various lamps and lighting, presumably for an advertising calendar. (Those were the days, my friend.)

Bunny Yeager photos for The Seymour Lighting Company

According to the seller of this first generation gelatin silver contact sheet:

vintage 1950s to early 60s taken by Bunny Yeager for The Seymour Lighting Company in Miami Florida. A strange time as we have a collection of these stills from a folio directly from the photographer – the majority of models were topless which really makes this atomic age lighting commission pop as it were…

Sometimes in this field real life is stranger than fiction and this contact sheet is pretty rich, our model in this pose was presumably posed by Yeager for an advertising pin-up calendar.

Related: Bunny’s Bombshells, an exhibition of Bunny Yeager works, will be on exhibit at Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas until July 20, 2014.

All images via Grapefruitmoongallery.

topless selling lights

topless vintage yeager pinup photos

vintage shady lamp sales

vintage topless advertising

Of Hard Hats In Hard Times

Normally, we see the pin-up version of women working in WWII. Like this image of dancers at London’s Windmill Theatre practicing their routine while wearing gas masks and hard-hats with their costumes. (January, 1940.) Or we find articles focusing more on the figures of women, in service or not.

hard hats and gas masks

But hard hats were more than de rigueur for cute images of women on the homefront during those war years. In fact, there were many promotional campaigns advising women on how to dress for their new world of physical labor and factory work. This one didn’t emphasize hard hats; but clearly the focus is safely, not being fashionable.

dressing right for safety women in wwii

Here’s another image from the Henry J. Kaiser Pictorial Collection showing female employes working at the Richmond Shipyard wearing their hardhats.

women in had hats working at richmond shiphard number two

Here’s another bit of history:

Mrs. Arlene Corbin (right), time checker in a Richmond, California shipyard brings two-and-a-half-year-old Arlene to a nursery school every morning before going home to sleep. Mrs. Corbin works on the midnight to 7:30 a.m. shift and relies upon the school to keep her daughter busy and happy during the day.

WWII_daycare_Richmond_CA

If you collect actual historical objects of women from WWII, check out this vintage wartime fiberglass safety hat.

vintage wwii hat owned by woman worker at Kaiser steele

The hardhat belonged to a female employee who worked for Kaiser Steel in Fontana, CA during 1942-45. It may be more difficult to appear beautiful in a hardhat (even Rosie the Riveter’s bandana is pretty rockin’), but hard hats were the realities in hard times like war. And hats like this are a part of women’s history that shouldn’t be shunned for the pretty pinup version.

I’ll Keep You In My Hoosegow, Valentine

Isn’t this a creepy, abusive-stalkery-type valentine? It takes the idea of a prisoner of your love to a whole new (low) level — complete with gun!

You’re the one I’ve been looking for,
My chase is over now.
No use in trying to escape —
For my heart’s a strong Hoosegow.
You’re Mine.

See it in action!

More images of this gem in the My Valentines Have Google Eyes post I made last year at the other blog.

If this is a necessary part of your collection, I’ve got it for sale in our case at Exit 55 Antiques — and they will ship to you. You can call the store between 10 am and 5 pm (central time) at (218) 998-3088 between 10 am and 5 pm (central time) any day. (Yup, the shop is open seven days a week!)

vintage mechanical hoosegow valentine

The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach & Other Lessons In Vintage Cookbooks

This is the cover of The Way To His Heart “A Cookbook with a Personality”, 1941; note the figures on the cover.

the way to his heart vintage

The five female figures on the cover of this vintage cookbook depict the five cooks featured in the book itself. These five women are said to be three generations of one family. From the bottom left working our way to the top right are “Grandmother” Grace Toulouse Hunt, “Mother” Priscilla Wayne Sprague, “Newly Married Daughter” Dorothy Hunt Hales, “Collegiate Daughter” Jeanne Wayne Sprague, and “Teenage Daughter” Nancy Grace Sprague.

While I can admit to certain body changes in terms of aging, I find the rounding of age in proportion to hem length somewhat amusing… Not only is Grandma rather stout, but combined with her nearly floor-length dress she closely resembles a Russian nesting doll. And notice how only newly married Dorothy has curves in all the right places — illustrating her appropriate fertility status. (Heck, her proportions make me want to ask the new wife when she’s going to have a baby!) Perhaps even more amazing, this illustrated figure study of body image stereotypes is the artwork of one of these women; at least Dorothy “Dot” Hunt Hales is the artist credited. (More on that later.)

way to his heart author and artist credits

The story or “personality” behind this cookbook is that newlywed Dot writes home to her mother asking for some recipes. The occasion is the wonderful celebration of their 6 month wedding anniversary and the young bride has learned how important cooking and food is to her marriage:

I have discovered one important thing in the past six months — glamour and romance can be preserved in marriage if one’s husband is well-fed and comfortable.

Mother is, of course, no doubt delighted her daughter has seen the light and become a believer in the old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Not only is mom thrilled to help her wise and dutiful newly married daughter Dot, but mom enlists the help of Dot’s grandmother and sisters. These are their “letters” from the front of the vintage book:

etsyscans10-30-13013

etsyscans10-30-13014

And then, the most amazing thing happens! “One of the top men of Jack Sprat Foods, Inc., heard about it” and they decided to publish the cookbook! Enter Western Grocer Company, owner of the food brand, as publisher; enter the advertisements for Jack Sprat brand foods.

etsyscans10-30-13015

While the “homey, friendly” premise seems rather contrived to the jaded consumers of today (and the corporate ads themselves also draw into question Dot’s artwork), the book’s editor, Priscilla Wayne Sprague appears to be an actual author. But the proposed family relationships get a bit confusing…. My research continues and shall be reported soon. (Watch this space.)

I also have to share some information from the vintage cookbook’s section by college daughter Jeanne. Jeanne’s appearance certainly tones down any sex appeal, and we are likely to suppose any fears about daughters in college along with it. And even if such imagery might lend itself to jokes about college girl experimentation and stereotypical lesbian dress, the experimentation in the kitchen appears to have been limited — at least for sorority girls.

A College Girl (this one at least) doesn’t really cook at all — sororities provide cooks and sincerely hope they can keep the girls out of the kitchen. There are certain things, however, that the cook just isn’t in on, such as late Sunday sandwiches with you and your date — or rush teas and other occasions of state.

When the cook is out and the girls have free rein in the kitchen, here are some of the foods they can cook. All of these recipes are of the type that can be prepared quickly, cheaply and (for the benefit of the dates) charmingly.

Oh, how can poor Jeanne ever get her M.R.S. degree if she doesn’t cook?!

when a college girl cooks

This vintage book from 1941 has some of the racism you might expect from the 1930s and 40s. At the bottom of the page, Jeanne starts a story which continues on the next page:

One of the girls at the sorority house is Irish — shanty Irish — we call her, because she has simple tastes — fried potatoes, baked beans and such. But one time I tasted the baked concoction she used to make and believe me there was nothing “shanty” about it — it was pure Park Avenue — here it is:

vintage shanty irish baked beans

It is recipes like this one, based on canned goods, which certainly marks a change (if not decline) in cooking itself. This turning point in American history turns out to be a good thing for Jack Sprat Foods, Inc. and the Western Grocer Company. The grocery store addresses this issue in one of the advertisements for the Jack Sprat brand:

“Now, when I was a girl,” said Mom

“They used to joke about ‘cooks who were lost without can-openers.’ But it’s just a pleasant smile these days.”

“Why, Mom?” questioned Nancy, giving just the opening Mom wanted.

“Because now we get the very finest foods in cans — just take these Jack Sprat Peaches, for example.” Mom emphasized her point by holding a can at arm’s length.

“These are peaches at their very best — completely ripened on the tree, and canned quickly, to capture the fresh flavor and the precious vitamins all fresh fruits contain. No more sweating over a hot stove for me, when Jack Sprat will do the job for me so well!”

Of course Nancy agrees with Mom. What modern girl wouldn’t rather play tennis or swim on a summer afternoon, instead of helping can fruit in a sizzling kitchen?

Mom’s verdict applies not only to Jack Sprat Peaches, but to pears, apricots, pineapple, and an arm-long list of fine berries. You’ll find it pays to let Jack Sprat do your canning too.

jack sprat canned food cooking jokes

If the convenience of modern canned foods was the advent of more free time for girls and women, perhaps it can be linked not only to the decline in cooking skills but to the decline in the “way to a man’s heart” adage. Men such as Barry Popik say this approach works for dogs and not men; however ironic the dog reference may seem to me, Popik seems to be saying this food-as-lure lore doesn’t work. Also, men at AskMen no longer find cooking on their top list of skills necessary in a female partner. Enlightenment reaches us, maybe? Would that such enlightenment about female body images would change as well.

Racist Shots

A pair of “His and Hers” shot-glasses featuring rather racist images of Africans. One glass, shaded blue, features a man running from a lion with the caption “One for the road.” The second glass, shaded purple, is captioned “A pick me up” and shows a hunter being bested by a rhino. The glasses sit in a little wooden stand which states the set is a vintage souvenir from Barnesville, Minnesota.

These are vintage pieces of Black Americana I do not want to own; we have put them up for sale for the right collector. Contact me here if interested.

racist vintage shot glass souvenir

A Geriatric Problem: Vintage Advertising For Little Blue Pills

A vintage advertising blotter, likely from the 1930s — 1940s, which focuses on a male geriatric problem.

etsyxanthinux

The blotter reads as follows — and it should be noted that the print gets smaller as it goes along (which is cruel in many ways for an aging male, I say):

A GERIATRIC PROBLEM

One of the problems of middle age is loss of sexual power in men who are still capable of raising a family. In such cases and effective aphrodisiac may be indicated.

POTENT APHRODISIAC

XANTHINUX (Cole) stimulates masculine potency through the spinal cord, just as a strong cup of coffee stimulates the thinking centers of the brain. The result is a firmer, more vigorous erection and orgasm.

Reports from various physicians show that XANTHINUX not only boosts male potency but also has a euphoric action.

Because of its strong aphrodisiac action, XANTHINUX is not recommended in cases where sexual intercourse should be curtailed; elderly men with severe cardiac conditions or arteriosclerosis.

Samples & Professional Literature on Request.

From the Cole Chemical Co., St. Louis 8, MO. U.S.A.  [Printed in U.S.A. (form) 549.]

Further research shows that Xanthinux was a combination of strychnine (yikes!), caffeine, and theophylline. Big shocker here: in 1963, medical reports on Xanthinux state that there’s “no evidence that it acts as a sexual tonic.”

Plus there’s that whole strychnine-poison thing.

However, culturally speaking, I do find the reference to “men who are still capable of raising a family” a line that’s absolutely missing in today’s recreational & romantic messaging about ED. Which, naturally, speaks extra loudly in today’s world of restricted women’s rights.

See also this vintage pharmaceutical advertising blotter  for women.

Women’s Yellow Pages

Women’s Yellow Pages of Greater Milwaukee, 1995-1996. (Please refrain from jokes about “fingers doing the walking” among the women of Milwaukee. Thank you.)

milwaukee womens yellow pages

Today, Yellow Pages & phone books in general seem so quaint…. And women themselves today? Not exactly “quaint”, but certainly undervalued. So I was amazed to find out that such Women’s Yellow Pages still exist in some areas.

Related: My article at Collectors Quest regarding the history of telephone books.

Looking Back At Vikki “The Back” Dougan (A Biography)

Collecting vintage smut, as I do, I know who Vikki Dougan is; but I’ve been surprised a number of times by both the lack of recognition this iconic beauty has and the lack of information about her. So, ever obsessed as usual, I set out to correct the situation.

Vikki Dougan: you may not recognize her from the front, but you likely recognize her backside — hence her nickname, “The Back”.

dougan signature cleft

In Persistent Pop (July 21, 1974), John Russel writes of how inspirational images of Vikki Dougan were to English pop artists:

A particular prominence was assigned, for instance, to ads which featured a young actress named Vikki Dougan. In memoirs of the period, individual ads featuring Miss Dougan are traced from house to house in ways that recall the hunt for a respectable provenance which plays so large a part in the authentication of Old Master paintings. Of an Esquire photograph of Miss Dougan, Richard Hamilton remembers: “I first saw it decorating a wall in [Alison and Peter] Smithson’s home. I gained my own copy from a student’s pinboard in the interior-design department of the Royal College of Art. Lawrence Alloway gave me the data on her; the photograph had impressed him sufficiently to make him regard it as a file-worthy document. It turned up again recently as one of a group of pin-ups in a painting by Peter Phillips.”

Her images were not only collected by English pop artists, but even inspired works, such as Richard Hamilton’s $he (1958-61).

$he 1958-61 by Richard Hamilton 1922-2011

This biography attempts to fill in some of the blanks about Vikki Dougan.

Before she earned the notorious nickname (and a plethora of puns), Vikki Dougan was born Edith Tooker in New York in 1929, to her parents Wilber and Mary (nee Dougan) Tooker. Legend says that in 1946, at the age of 16, she becomes both a Miss Rheingold finalist (but is disqualified for being underage) and the wife of a William Symons, the owner of a local photo studio.

Vikki’s big break came in 1948, when she (as Vikki Stappers Dougan) won the eighth annual New York Skate Queen competition. In promoting the ninth annual event, the following was mentioned in Billboard (April 2, 1949):

The purpose of the event, a joint promotion of Empire and The New York Journal-American, is to select an ideal girl roller skater and glorify her for a year. Judging will be based on charm, beauty and personality, with no points whatsoever for skating skill. Contestants must only appear on skates. …Professional skaters models and actresses are banned.

(Vikki, as Queen, and finalists followed up in 1949 by heading the “first ever” fashion show, sponsored by the Roller Skating Institute of America (RISA), in which they modeled “30 attractive rink costumes, loaned for he occasion by the Lence Company,” according to Billboard, March 1949.)

Winning the 1948 skating title would launch Vikki’s pretty face and figure into work as a model — and into gossip Walter Winchell‘s gossip columns, linked to DJ Art Ford. Note that in this 1948 “Look Pink” ad for cosmetic company Cutex, she is even credited — but as Vikkie Dougan, “New York model and prize-winning skater”.

1948 vikkie vikki dougan cutex ad

In 1949, Vikki Dougan the “’48 Beauty Queen of Figure Skating” is featured in a comic-strip-style ad for Camels cigarettes, meeting Betty Lytle, one of America’s top-ranking women’s roller skaters. (Skates would be sold with Lytle’s name.) This appears to be the last mention of Vikki Dougan the skater; probably to great relief of Lytle, Dougan, and everyone else.

1949 vikki dougan skater comic ad for camels cigs

All this attention unsettles her husband, Bill Symons. At some point after their daughter Debbie is born in 1950, he is said to have walked-out on their marriage. Dougan gets a divorce in Mexico and (per Winchell’s column in February of 1952) Vikki establishes residency in Florida while working as a cover girl at Ciro’s, in Miami Beach. Also about this time, she is signed to agent Louis Shurr.

vikki-dougan-in-sleepwear-fashion-photo-by-nina-leen-may-1952

Vikki Dougan Gleason Girls photo by Lisa Larsen 1953

In the October 26, 1953, issue of Life, Dougan appears not only on the cover, but in the feature article Careers Aplenty: Vikki Dougan models, acts, designs, mothers. In this article, Vikki is listed as 21 years old and is accompanied in the photographs by her three year old daughter, Debbie. The Life article lists Vikki as having started in modeling at age 13 (as Deirdre Tooker), studied at Betty Cashman studio, and appeared weekly in Jackie Gleason’s TV show — along with the clothes designing, mothering, etc. Life also mentions that Vikki “once caused a stir in fashion circles by using wigs to change her appearance and help her get more modeling jobs” — something also featured in Life (July 28, 1952).

life october 26 1953 dougan cover

LIFE Oct 26 1953 vikki dougan mother

LIFE July 28 1952 wigs

wigs page 2

March 29, 1954, Dorothy Kilgallen mentions Vikki Dougan in her column:

Vikkie Dougan, the pretty blond model who made such a hit with Frank Sinatra in Florida recently returned to New York to discover that thieves had cleaned out her apartment. They took her dresses, jewelry, mink coat… and black wig!

May 28, 1954, there are the gossip reports that Vikki, “the young model, who made the cover of Life recently” had posed as Miss General Electric earlier that day.

Flexees girdle lingerie ad 1955 Vikki Dougan

George Shearing Quintet Velvet Carpet  Capitol T720 dougan 1956

Dougan continues to model (including the 1955 Flexees lingerie ad and on the cover of the George Shearing Quintet’s Velvet Carpet LP), be seen on Gleason’s show — and be mentioned in the gossip columns. In 1956, it was rumored that Gordie Hormel asked her to marry him. She appears as a show girl in Back From Eternity. On April 27, 1956, Winchell On Broadyway reports that Vikki Dugan, “the ‘Away We Go’ gal with the Jackie Gleason show”, signed with MGM. Or did she? On December 21, 1956, Dorothy Kilgallen reports that Dougan “is the first girl to be signed to a Batjac (John Wayne) contract since Anita Ekberg was given her big opportunity.”

In January of 1957, there are reports that Dougan has a role in The Great Man. (She would play Marcia, the new receptionist.)

vikki dougan the great man promo feb 1957

March 29, 1957, Erskine Johnson‘s Hollywood Today column is titled Vikki Dougan Reverses Trend And Backs Into Film Career:

vikki dougan corpus christi times march 29 1957

February 13, 1957, Hedda Hopper reveals that she, Louells Parons, and Hub Keavy are to “pick Miss 8 Ball of 1957. The choice has narrowed to Venita Steenson, Carolyn Jones, Vikki Dougan, Kipp Hamilton, and Adrienne Alison, all beauties. But we’ve go to decide on one, O, dear.” Vikki Is New Ca-rear Girl In Hollywood, by Lee Belser, is so full of puns that they couldn’t publish this on April Fool’s Day and instead published it on April 2, 1957.

lee belser on vikki dougan in anderson herald bulletin april 2 1957

Through this time, Vikki “The Back” Dougan makes the rounds in men’s mags, including pictorials in the April 1957 issue of Nugget.

dougan in nugget april 1957

May 7, 1957: Hollywood gossip columnist Harrison Carroll reports that Vikki has been made queen of the California Chiropractic Association’s “Perfect Posture Week.”

In Clothes Make The Act — And The Actor (Oakland Tribune, May 19, 1957), Lloyd Shearer writes a piece that seems to be tailor made for getting The Back out of negative press. In his article, Shearer begins by discussing this “new trend in show business” whereby talent draws on fashion and “practically any female “name” can earn “5,000 a week and up if her attire clicks with the press.” The piece appropriately finishes with Vikki Dougan & her dresses, stating that it was Milton Weiss (Hollywood publicist who’d worked with Anita Ekberg) who was, umm, behind Dougan’s look.

His first move was to have three expensive dresses made for her — without backs. He then titled his client “The Back” and had her appear at previews and parties in her plunging creations. Soon local photographers zeroed in on Miss Dougan’s bare spinal column, and gagsters began originating such cracks as, “Vikki Dougan makes the best exits in town.”

Finally Vikki was banned from someone else’s preview party because her backless formal was drawing too much attention. The incident received proper press coverage. Today Vikkie — born Edith Tooker in Brooklyn — is riding toward fame on the strength of her clothes, what there is of them. It’s a trend, all right.

You might not want to put too much stock in that story tho; it changes, as you’ll soon see.

However, Dougan’s back does make a splash, landing her tail in the June 1957 (Vol. 4, Issue 6) of Playboy.

vikki dougan in playboy by sam baker

vikki dougan playboy june 1957 article

dougan wirephoto pictorial in playboy

As noted in that issue of Playboy, the photo that really started it all was a wirephoto which came from Dougan’s appearance at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 1957 awards banquet. On July 10th of that year (some Old Guard Hollywood retaliation, perhaps?) Mike Connolly reported in his column, “New Hollywood game called True Or False: Guessing whether Vikkie Dougan got her idea for backless dresses from watching and old Marlon Brando movie…” (In reference to Sophia Loren in A Countess from Hong Kong.)

The Playboy feature was followed-up quickly by a pictorial in Esquire (August 1957).

vikkie dougan in esquire 1957

Around this time The Limeliters would record a song by Cal Grigsby (pseudonym for Malvina Reynolds and Lou Gottlieb) entitled Vikki Dougan, in which they sing of Vikki’s “callipygian cleft” and beg her to “turn your back on me”.

These photographs (undated, circa 1950s) taken by Life staff photographer Ralph Crane capture America’s love-hate with Vikki Dougan & her notorious backside.

disapproving of the back dougan life mag

vikki-dougan-photo-ralph-crane-life

vikki dougan life

ralph for life the back

Vikki the back Dougan vintage vikkie dougan in sheer black nightie Ralph Crane photo for Life vikkie dougan black nightie Ralph Crane photo vikki dougan black back

In October of that year, press for Hollywood Queens Of Tomorrow, including an AP photo — in which Vikki is not shown from the back:

Fifteen young actresses for whom stardom is predicted wait to go on stage in Hollywood Friday at the fifth annual Deb Star Ball, sponsored by the Hollywood Make-up and Hair Stylists. Several thousand movie people were in the audience at the Palladium. Left to right: Joan Blackman, Peggy Connolly, Patricia Craig, Vikki Ddougan, Dolores Hart, Diane Jergens, Barbara Lang, Ruta Lee, Jana Lund, Carol Lynley, Erin O’Brien, Joan Tabor, Joyce Taylor, Rebecca Welles and Gloria Winters.

hollywood queens of tomorrow deb ball october 12 1957

Ten days later, Vikki Backs In, Helps Maxie Promote Ice Cream Breakfast (by George Flowers, Independent-Press-Telegram, October 20, 1957).

vikki dougan backs in independent press telegram oct 20 1957

On the 21st of that month, Vikki the starlet appears at the annual Publicists’ Association Ballyhoo Ball. This is the famed party where Greta Thyssen had a cheetah on a leash, Joan Bradshaw brought a lion, and Errol Flynn and Maura FitzGibbons were arrested on drunk charges; Vikki “Lady Godiva” Dougan was on an artificial horse.

The November 1957 issue of Modern Man carries photos of Dougan (by David Sutton).

Vikki Dougan Photo by David Sutton  Modern Man November 1957

December 22, 1957, Dougan uses giant scissors for the ribbon-cutting opening of a Safeway Market in Tarzana.

vikki dougan opens grocery store van nuys valley news dec 22 1957

In 1958, Dougan attempts to change her image. It is noted; but still does not please. On March 24, 1958, Harrison Carroll accuses Dougan of wearing “a shapeless sack (looked like a nightgown) over a satin sheath.” On March 27, 1958, Vikki Dougan was reported to be at the Oscar Award Ceremonies — but still not pleasing anyone:

A bizarre note was added by eager starlet Vikki Dougan, who arrived in gaudy makeup and flapper costume.

Poor Vikki can’t win!

In his June 2, 1958, column, Earl Wilson asked Vikki “about the alleged practice of Hollywood gals calling guys for dates.”

“No, but suppose you’re going with an actor and you say after a premiere, ‘I’d like to go to Mocambo’ and he says, ‘But I can’t afford it.’ So you say, ‘I don’t want to embarrass you but couldn’t we go it I paid the bills?'”

It happened to her, she said, “and strangely enough, if men accept it, they resent it.” Vikki said she may be a sexbomb in the papers but she’s had three dates in a year. “The men you go with want to get married,” she added. “The trouble is, they never say when.”

Meanwhile, photos of her continue to circulate in the various men’s mags.

dougan Adam vol 2 no 12 1958

vikki dougan wet in lingerie

May 23, 1959, Harrison Carroll uncovers Dougan professional and relationship news.

If she listened to Lili St. Cyr‘s estranged husband, Ted Jordan, actress Vikki Dougan soon will be displaying even more epidermis than in those backless gowns that used to make Hollywood night clubbers gasp.

Jordan, who just started to date Vikki, tells me she would be great in a genteel strip act.

“She reminds me so much of Lili,” he says. “They have the same nose and mouth, the same beautifully arched back. Vikki is not quite as tall as Lili, but, otherwise, their measurements are about the same.

“And I heard Vikki sing. She’d really do great in night club work. I know the ropes and I could help her.”

I checked with Vikki. She’s not convinced, but she’s listening.

dougan carroll column may 23 1959

Despite roles in three other films (The Tunnel of Love, The Rebel Set, and Here Come the Jets), Vikki’s career clearly wasn’t moving forward enough. (As if the helpful offers from Jordan didn’t tell you that!)

Doris Day retrieving husband Richard Widmark from Vikki Dougan tunnel of love

The backslide was noticed.

In October of 1959, “Remember Vikki Dougan?” is the headline. Not only has she fallen out of the press, but apparently work of any kind. She, and her nine year-old daughter, have been living off a $40 weekly unemployment check for the past eight months.

remember vikki dougan ogdon standard examiner oct 25 1959

A similar article runs in November of that year, in which Dougan says the reason she wore a backless dress in the first place was to avoid posing “in bikinis and other cheesecake.”

backward dougan career independent press nov 15 1959

The ever-helpful Erskine Johnson’s got Dougan’s back again at the tail-end of January of 1960, allowing the actress to spin more tales about her notorious backside.

February 22, 1960, Vikki Dougan (misspelled “Vicki Dougan” in the photo caption) is one of the judges for the Miss Pasadena Contest.

miss pasadena indendent dougan judge may 27 1959

But then crickets chirp and Dougan disappears until August 28, 1960. Then photos of Vikki and former Texas Christian football player tuned actor, Jim Sweeney, appear over the AP and are widely picked up — primarily because he places the diamond engagement ring (along with a friendship ring) on the toe of her left foot. Days later, on September 3rd, she (as Edythe A. Tooker) marries James R. Sweeney; he’s 25, she’s 24.

ring proposal toe dougan

The Pacific Stars & Stripes reports that “Vikki Apparently Needs No Direction” on the set of Peter Gunn (The Candidate episode). (September 16, 1960; photo of Dougan with caption about her appearance on Peter Gunn from San Antonio Light, October 23, 1960.)

pacific stars and stripes sep 16 1960 vikki dougan peter gunn

san antonio light oct 23 1960 dougan gunn

Dougan appears in episodes of Michael Shayne (Murder Is a Fine Art) and Sea Hunt (Amigo) in March of 1961. But it’s rather silent, again, until November 20, 1961, when promo photos and pun-y lines about Dougan doing the twist at New York’s Peppermint Lounge appear.

november 20 1961 vikki dougan twister

On November 26, 1961, Walter Winchel reports that Vikki had “told chums she will sue Leo Guild for including her in his soon-due book Hollywood Screwballs which mentions Oscar Levant, Bing Crosby, F. Sinatra, and Jayne Mansfield, who aren’t suing.”

Earl Wilson’s December 1, 1961, column mentions that Vikki Dougan has “posed in a nightie on the subway for the cover of Subways Are For Sleeping.” (A Percy Faith LP.)

dougan subways are for sleeping

September 9, 1962, columnist Connolly quips, “Vikki Dougan, who used to pose in backless gowns, is slamming out a slim volume of verses to be titled “Purple Mud.” Vikki tells me it will be a backless book.” (If anyone show me a copy — or even prove it wasn’t just a joke, please do!)

Vikki appears once again in Playboy; this time the December 1962 issue, in “Playboy’s Other Girlfriends”. (She would also reappear in the January 1989 issue in “Women Of The Fifties”.)

dougan playboy december 1962

January 18, 1963 Vikki appears in Los Angeles court to divorce Sweeney, claiming he deserted her after going through her $10,000 savings. The divorce is granted and she accepts a $1 per month alimony.

On June 3, 1963, Earl Wilson reports that Vikki plans to open up a Hollywood barbershop for men.

“Remember Vikki Dougan, Hollywood’s gift to the world of backless dresses? She just signed for a feature role in Hootenanny at MGM,” reports Connolly on July 22, 1963. (She did appear in 1963’s Hootenanny Hoot.) But that didn’t pay the bills; August 11, 1963, Wilson says, “Backless Vikki Dougan now works for a cosmetic company.”

In its January 1964 issue, Cavalier runs a “The Back Is Back” pictorial which features 12 nude photos of Vikki Dougan. Dougan initiates a lawsuit against publisher Fawcett, stating that she posed nude for photos for Playboy, but later backed-out, and they did not have her permission to publish them.

dougan the back nude in january 1964 cavalier

There are a few scattered gossip “spottings,” but nothing much of note until February 22, 1967, when Harrison Carroll reports:

Despite the fact that she took along four wigs, my scouts spotted actress Vikki Dougan at a Houston prizefight with famed attorney Melvin Belli. And they looked just as affectionate as they did recently at Scandia. Can’t blame Melvin. Vikki is a beauty. Understand the two also were in Chicago together and visited Hugh Hefner.

Also in 1967, she would appear in Hotel. And there were reports Dougan, along Sugar Ray Robinson, was part of the cast of Tony Randall & Mickey Rooney’s Las Vegas rendition of The Odd Couple at Casear’s Palace.

In November of 1969, the Fawcett/Cavalier lawsuit is settled out of court. Vikki says the magazine paid her $75,000 to settle; Fawcett Publications, Inc., says it didn’t pay that much.

March 21, 1974, Earl Wilson’s It Happened Last Night column focused on “Shutterbug Respect” and mentions that Vikki Dougan (still haunted by her notorious back-side views) “has joined the profession.” (The profession of photographers, that is.)

And after that, Vikki Dougan seems lost — save for those who fell in love with her image. Along with inspiring pop art, Vikki and her sexy back would be the inspiration for Jessica Rabbit.

Here’s a 2009 interview with Dougan, in which she dishes about Jessica Rabbit and Sinatra:

I’d love to know more, so, if you know something — if you know Vikki! — please do share.