• Old Ads: Food

    Continuing with the subject of vintage magazine ads, below are some full-page clips advertising food and soft drinks. It’s interesting to see which products survived into today, as well as trace some common items to the days when they were first introduced. Advertising and marketing were pretty much absent during my childhood – people having to deal with shortages did not need additional enticement to buy things. I don’t recall seeing any commercials on TV or in print until the mid-1980’s. Now, when technology provides a way to block most TV and internet advertisement, I find myself marveling at these old ads, probably because they look so naive and amateurish compared to the slick ways the goods are being sold to us today.

    We’ll start with this subtly racist ad for Aunt Jemima pancakes.

    © Time/Life
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  • Carousel To The Past

    People used to be easily amused. A ride on a painted horse in a circle could’ve been a high point of some Midwestern kid’s year. The sights, the sounds, the smells of carnival rides became the cherished memories people carried through their lives. Even I remember when a carousel ride wasn’t lame, but, of course, I am much older than my physical age.

    © Time Inc. Nina Leen
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  • Healthcare Reform-skiy Opportunity Missed

    Hit it! [audio:https://www.kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Tony_Babino_-_LInternationale_from_Capitalism_A_Love_Story_by_Michael_Moore.mp3|titles=Tony Babino -L’Internationale (from Capitalism A Love Story by Michael Moore)]Since I wrote about the healthcare reform last year the situation didn’t get any better. Whatever will be voted in or “shoved down the throats of the American people” – depending on which TV channel you are watching, it will not produce a meaningful reform in this country. If President Obama was even half as good as some people believed him to be, he would have used his position and Congressional majorities to institute a single-payer system paid for by an increase in taxes. That would have been the right thing to do. Sometimes the right thing needs to be done, even if it’s unpopular. Previous administration had no problem doing the unpopular and wrong things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan based on the wrong information and misguided convictions. Obama seemed to have the right information and plenty of conviction but not enough courage, persistence, or desire to do what he promised or implied in his campaign appearances.

    What will be passed soon is in no way a reform – more band-aids; few things that sound good but will be easily loopholed by the healthcare industry; few accounting gimmicks that will make spending increases look like savings; few giveaways and favors in exchange for votes with most of the changes delayed for years. Nothing here says “vision”, “courage”, “hope” and definitely not “change”. More like “lame”, “sellout”, “weak”, “dishonest”, “gimmicky” and “disappointment”. Any talk about this legislation opening doors for more reform or debate is just that. For years no one will dare to touch this subject, and there won’t be another chance of 2 branches of Government being in sync to produce anything meaningful.

    The sad part is that most of the clowns protesting the healthcare reforms and spitting on congressmen are poor schmucks who are one or two paychecks away from begging for the government healthcare and other various forms of assistance, or are already using it based on income, age or previous military service. There may be problems with Medicare of VA but they are free or cheap and, most importantly, available. That’s the most important thing about the government services in general, they may not be the best but they beat not having any. Too bad that many protesters don’t understand that this is the direction we are headed in – not having enough/any coverage. Most of the workplace benefits disappeared or deteriorated and will continue to do so in the future, many people (including myself) now have to dig deeper in their pockets before the insurance payments even kick in. In this situation the failure of the President to pass the real reform is unacceptable; his attempt to mislead the people with the neutered bill they are about to pass is just disgusting.

    After the election, when everyone was crying with the fake tears of joy even I let my cynicism down a bit to see if something really can happen. Looks like my streak of not voting will continue unbroken.

    In conclusion, a few old photos of a socialized healthcare at work. As you can tell it looks worn out and poor. This is a small country hospital where my Father worked, you can see him making rounds with a group of colleagues (he is on the left in the top photo). The system wasn’t perfect and many times was just broken and inefficient but it was there. People were getting treatment, doctors cared, no one lost their possessions due to a medical treatment or a hospital stay. People who remember that time will tell you plenty of horror stories, but at the same time having this system available took away at least one thing to worry about.

    The best chance to have a healthcare reform in this country was wasted months ago. Even when it gets passed there will be nothing to celebrate; it’s a failure at best, but is probably worse because it will allow the President to hang a “mission accomplished” banner of his own and act like the right thing was done. Too bad.

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  • Old Photos: Thomas Hart Benton’s History of Missouri

    Previously: Thomas Hart Benton Paints the Persephone.

    In 1935 the Missouri legislature commissioned Thomas Hart Benton to paint a mural history of the State on the walls of the lounge in the State House in Jefferson City. It chose Tom Benton because he is Missouri’s ablest painter and comes from one of Missouri’s most distinguished families. The legislature, however, never expected to get anything like the Benton History of Missouri which was completed just before this year’s session began in January. No pretty glorification, the murals turned out to be a raw and animated review of Missouri’s past and present. They gave full space to Missouri’s first settlers, its first railroad, its agriculture and industry, its great Champ Clark. But they also gave space to a slave auction, a lynching, Jesse James of Clay County, Frankie and Johnny of St.Louis. Loud were complaints that Benton was vulgar, that he had distorted Missouri into a “houn’ dog State”. But Benton Supporters pointed out that Missouri was, after all , a “houn’ dog State” whose natives did call each other “pukes.” As the fuss subsided, Missourians began to look at the murals more calmly. Though they admitted that the pictures were interesting, they still felt that it wasn’t a fitting way for a son of Missouri to tell the story of his native State.

    Artist Thomas Hart Benton presents former Gov. Guy B. Park w original pencil sketch from which the governor's portrait in the History of Missouri mural was painted.© Time Inc.Alfred Eisenstaedt
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  • Behind the Iron Curtain: Brezhnev

    Soviet people were genetically predisposed to reading between the lines. When on November 10, 1982 all three available TV channels started showing non-stop symphonies and ballets, we knew that something wasn’t right. Rumors and predictions started circulating among the population and finally, when the government couldn’t keep it a secret any longer, a news anchor in a most somber voice possible announced that the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev died just a few weeks short of his 76th birthday. Twenty six years ago today many people didn’t know what would happen. Brezhnev was in power for a generation and became so associated with the Soviet Union that it was hard to imagine the next leader taking his place. Little did we know that his successor was already picked while Brezhnev’s body was still warm. It wasn’t that many people thought that Brezhnev was actually running the country; long before he died, he became a butt of many jokes (still not openly told), his 5-hour speeches broadcast in full length and couple of books someone wrote for him were required and unwelcome reading in schools and everywhere else. The regime change is always a time of uncertainty and many people didn’t know what to look forward to. During later Brezhnev years the quality of life, still very low compared to many developed nations, somewhat stabilized, people felt better, happier and more upbeat. The same years were also marked by huge levels of corruption, bribery, Brezhnev cult of personality and total disillusionment with socialist ideas.These were the years of Brezhnev Stagnation.

    When we went to school the next day, the building was decorated in red and black colors of mourning. We had a meeting where the teachers read the announcement and some even pretended (?) to cry. However, the most exciting thing about your country’s leader dying is a day off. Unfortunately all the movie theaters were closed on that day, so there was no other entertainment available except watching the funeral, and it was a funeral of a lifetime.

    The funeral procession was led by high-ranking officers each carrying a small pillow with one of Brezhnev’s 114 medals. At 12:45 the Red Square and the rest of the country went silent for a moment so everyone heard thunderous sound of a dropping coffin. Then every siren and factory whistle in the country went off. No other head of state funeral ever matched Brezhnev’s.

    Unofficial accounts of Brezhnev’s life painted him as a very personable guy, with a great sense of humor, generous and sensitive, movie lover and a fan of Chuck Connors – The Rifleman. Most of us didn’t know any of that, we just saw an old man who half the time didn’t seem like he knew where he was and what he was doing and still remained one of the most powerful men in the world.

    More photos.

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