Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Where's the Beef?

In this age of computer generated advertisements, I find it interesting to look at ads published in the 1920s. I ran across a link Retro Drinks Advertisements with pictures of ads used in that era. Different from our ads today, these were all hand drawn or painted. I'm going to share them with you today. Since the website was from drink ads, several of them are for "adult beverages".

I was amazed at the time and effort put into an ad most likely to be printed in a magazine. The one above is beautifully drawn and painted and probably used several times at most. Since this was before the days of television, it wasn't used on a daily basis for a large audience.

The details in this drawing are fabulous. The corn and wheat are illustrated so realistically-only to advertise a bottle of whiskey. It's almost beautiful enough to hang in an art museum, not print in a magazine only to be thrown out next month.

 I find it hard to believe that this ad is not a spoof. Somehow, I don't think it would sell too much of any product.  Quite an imagination, however.

The artwork in these two is unique. Only to advertise wine or liquour. I can't imagine anyone today spending so much time painting a picture so detailed to be used in an ad.

Alcoholic beverages weren't the only thing advertised with wonderful art. Here ads for two kinds of tea are shown. Both of them make me want to go out and buy some tea so I can look as comfortable as they do. 

That one was probably a real hot seller. I bet the bottles flew off the shelves after it was published.

And here's the one we saw a couple weeks ago to calm you down and make you sleep at night. Click on the link above to see the rest of the colorful advertisements from years long ago.
Which one is your favorite? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wall Drug or Bust!

Have you ever driven west on Interstate 90 toward Rapid City, South Dakota? If you have, you know what I'm talking about. For hundreds of miles east and west of Wall, South Dakota you'll see billboards talking about Wall Drug, urging people to stop for a free glass of ice water. Today it's a tourist spot with 20,000 visitors daily that includes a mall where you can buy anything Western that you can imagine, eat lunch, have the kids play in the water park and even visit a T-Rex if you'd like - and of course, have a free glass of ice water.

When we were driving to Spokane to see our son a couple weeks ago, we stopped at Wall Drug to check it out. After driving west for hours, we needed to get out and stretch our legs and other necessary activities. My usual curious mind about things historical wondered how this tourist attraction got started.

Back in 1931 a man bought the local drug store in Wall, a tiny town - only 328 people - isolated on the western part of South Dakota. I'm wondering why anyone would think that was a good idea in the first place. Can't be too many people that would need a pharmacist in that neck of the woods - er, prairie.

Ted Hustead and his wife Dorothy worked at his new business for several years, not making much headway. Of course, the Depression didn't help anything, except to expose them to the extra traffic traveling past their store because of all the people moving west to find a better life. But it did no good if people just drove on past.

One hot July day in 1936 Dorothy came up with a solution to their problem-how to get travelers to stop in their town and visit Wall Drug Store. She decided the one thing that would get those travelers to visit them would be a glass of free ice water. Since they had lots of ice and free water it wouldn't cost them anything either.

Her husband made up several road signs, painting a few words on each sign: "Get a soda... Get root beer... Turn next corner... Just as near... To highway 16 & 14... Free Ice Water...Wall Drug". Before he even returned to the store after posting the signs, his wife was already busy handing out the free glasses of ice water. Of course, some people purchased ice cream cones or other things since they were stopped anyway. Business has never stopped since then.

Very soon their drug store expanded to a cafe and then to a shopping center and tourist stop. On our visit there I purchased a nice pair of leather sandals so their merchandise isn't all gimmicky. When you're driving on Interstate 90, it's worth taking a break and checking it out. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Before Barbie There Was Patsy

Our guest author today is Pam Meyers. This article was originally posted on Christian Fiction Historical Society Blog on July 4, 2014. Thanks so much to Pam for sharing her article with us today. 

While researching toy dolls of the 1920’s, to see what was popular back then, I was reminded of a porcelain head doll that had been handed down through my family and had to be from the late 1800s or early 1900s. She came complete with a small trunk of handmade clothes of her era. When I was around eight or nine years old, my mother told me I could play with her, but I needed to be very careful to not drop her because her head would break.

This is similar to the doll I broke
Of course that’s exactly what happened.

My heart crushed as I saw her beautiful face shatter into what seemed a bazillion pieces. At the time, I was more afraid of my mother’s ire than regret over breaking such a treasure, but now I realize how much my mom must have berated herself for giving me the doll. It makes me wonder how often were little girls given such fragile dolls to play with back in the day. I’m sure I wasn’t the first child to break a doll's head.

According to Collectors Weekly’s website, in the 1920s, doll makers were using a composite material that Lazarus Reichmann developed. The substance was inexpensive and flexible for molding doll bodies. And little girls couldn’t break it, which had to be a plus.

At that time, the Patsy Doll became the rage, much the way Cabbage Patch dolls and Barbies shot up the popularity list in more recent times. Does anyone remember the long lines of shoppers waiting to purchase a Cabbage Patch doll? According to several websites, the Patsy doll, made by the Effanbee Doll Company, is one of the most popular dolls ever made. She came in a variety of sizes, each size with its own name. The original design was that of a typical three-year-old girl.
The Patsy Doll

Patsy was one of the first dolls to have her own wardrobe of outfits and accessories, along with her own newsletter. 

When World War II began, the doll's popularity declined and Effanbee nearly went out of business, until the company was purchased by Noma Electric, and Patsy continued to live on.

Nowadays, the Robert Tonner Doll Company owns the rights to Patsy and she's still around some 90 years after she first made the scene.

Reading all this information, brought to mind my Betsy Wetsy doll which I still have. Betsy could be fed a real bottle and a moment later she'd wet her diaper. As I recall, I was only allowed to feed her water. :-)

Betsy Wetsy
The years have been unkind to Betsy and she has lost both her legs. Well, I actually still have them. They just aren't attached to Betsy anymore. Some time ago, my mom surprised me at Christmas with Betsy. She'd given her a makeover, complete with a new dress, bonnet, and booties that she had made (at the time the legs were still attached). She now sits on a shelf in my bedroom, her full skirt covering the space where her legs should be.

Your turn! Do you have any antique dolls handed down in your family? Are you a doll collector? Please share!

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She can often be found speaking at events around Lake Geneva or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.