Lotus Appetizers & Tunisian Coffee

Nat Geo, March 1937

Seen here are the adorable faces of Jewish pupils and their schoolmaster, who has just led them outside of a Tunisian synagogue to take their picture. These children were descended from Jews who fled the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, to the island of Djerba.

Never heard of Djerba? Well, allegedly, it is the island of the lotus-eaters where Odysseus was stranded on his voyage through the Mediterranean Sea. Eating lotus left the natives in a perpetual state of bliss. Shall we go?

Well, if you’re a single woman, probably not. The men there tend to verbally accost the weaker sex, per travelsafe-abroad. com, which also advises all LGBT to avoid it all costs, as they are not welcome. It also suggests that should unwanted attention be cast your way, that you say, “Harem Alayki,” which means, “Shame on you!” Feel free to use it today, if your dog has made bad choices.

If, however, you are a straight male, as usual, you can go wherever you’d like. May I suggest the Hotel Meridiana? The help will happily pour you coffee in the lobby, while you can’t decide if you’re in the movie Aladdin, or at the Cheesecake Factory. Either way, you win.

When A Plate Of Ribs Was $1.35

Today we take a quick look at yearbook ads in the back of my 1955 University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida yearbook. Yes, ads might seem banal, but I enjoy the localized details, like this dry cleaning ad.

The cartoons are simple but fun; you can even see cleanliness emanating off the fabric. I like the dime price, the cellophane, and the so very Florida salute to the explorer who led the first Spanish expedition to the state over 500 years ago, Ponce de Leon. In case you’re wondering, yes “peaceful protesters” did vandalize the Ponce de León statues in Miami. What else are you going to do when you’re on unemployment to kill time?

Next up is a BBQ menu with prices one can’t even begin to process.

Have you ever heard of “corn-on-cob”? I’ve only eaten corn on the cob, but I respect the brevity. To think that in one lifetime, a rib plate could go from $1.35 to now $19.00 under this administration is absurd. Why, two chicken plates back then would barely buy me an iced tea today. Another fun fact is the location on the Dixie Hi-Way, which of course, doesn’t exist. The Dixie Chicks had to become the Chicks, Lady Antebullum had to become Lady A, so the Dixie Hi-Way gave way to a series of roads with boring names.

With Florida only being a stone’s throw from the not yet communist-oppressed Cuba, how could they not peddle some cigars? And look! If you buy two instead of one, you save an entire penny! One red cent! Go on, get your college kids some smokes to burn off the steam from finals.

We wrap it up with an all-American product that may surely contribute to diabetes, but don’t it go down nice?

Ah, yes, the delicious and refreshing teeny weensy bottle of Coca-Cola. Imagine how much energy it could provide to the person who had to draw that ad, with all those little lines upon that hand. Plus, it’s fun to note the six digit phone number. Well, that’s all from Coral Gables, y’all. Go out and enjoy a $19 rib plate.

But I Only Like Domesticated Cherries

Both of these ads are tucked inside my January 1951 LIFE. Both cough drops, both wild cherry, both manufactured by brothers. Which to choose?

The Smith Brothers were the first to produce cough drops in the US, initially sold from glass jars on countertops. However, to ensure that drug stores sold their quality product instead of fakes, they began to shove them in little boxes with the faces of the bearded brothers.

The Pine Brothers, by comparison, began selling their glycerine tablets out of a confectionary shop, not a drugstore. In these ads, Pine Brothers cost twice as much. Is it because glycerine doubles as a laxative or because they have PINE printed on them? The drops are still stamped PINE to this day, and softish as could be. Softish? Yes, as in stool softener.

Personally, I’ve never had either. We’ve always been Luden’s folks. What about you?

When CVS Has Mom’s Bipolar Meds On Back Order

etsy, 1960

Poor Dad. When Mom’s off her mental meds, he’s on the receiving end of her crazy. Sometimes it’s diluted Coke or the cold poke of an unwarranted hose spray. Either way, Mom’s a handful with a devilish grin. Shouldn’t she be grateful Dad’s kept so fit, in spite of sipping soda? He’s still got a great head of hair, a healthy tan, and can rock lemon yellow shorts like nobody’s business. Perhaps it’s not her meds at all. Maybe she’s just going through the change. In that case, she needs the pause that refreshes for the menopause that depletes. Hand Mom a Coke and a smile today!

Swiss Miss Chooses Coke

Ah, springtime in Switzerland! Love is in the air, on the cool of the crisp, pure breeze, the crusts are cut off our picnic sandwiches and a German Alpine hat-donning senior has just procured more bottles of Coke for us! How could life get better?

1958

Over 60 years have passed, and Coke is still going strong in Switzerland. Although the national Swiss drink is Rivella, which sounds like a lot like rubella (aka German measles), Coke is still number one. If you ain’t first, you’re last. Sorry, Rivella. I won’t even show you the ugly label of a Rivella bottle, which looks like a second grader won a label art contest, and the contents appear akin to diluted tea. Hard pass. Coke wins.

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Vertical Vacations

Back in 1937, TikTok didn’t demand five hours of each day, so folks would actually sit and read a 44 page article about a foreign country in National Geographic. The folks at Nat Geo knew their fascinating photos and clever captions would wet the whistle of those with the traveling bug, so travel ads were placed in portrait style near the end of the magazine.

This first ad designated certain activities for different ages, like remodeling a colonial cottage, an easy task for a 100-year-old to tackle.

images from National Geographic, March 1937

Other ads designated the means of travel, like this one for Oregon highways. Why not drive? Gas was cheap, and you were probably about to be evicted due to the high unemployment during the Depression. Hit the road, Jack!

Other ads just plain scared the tar out of you with images of Irvin Cobb’s unfortunate countenance.

Who wouldn’t want to angle or loaf or tramp in Canada? It’s where they film all the Hallmark movies. And as long as you’re already up north, might as well hop aboard a nine day Alaskan cruise, for just under $100. You might see indigenous peoples wearing blankets and holding indigenous art. They may or may not come in peace.

Alaska not your cup of tea? Well, 1937 is a great time to tour Germany. Hurry, before war breaks out. At that point, they may not offer so much Gemütlichkeit, or good cheer, for which they’re famous.

Need more neutral surroundings? Nothing like a travel ad to seduce you with the devaluation of the franc, and how much more you can buy with your boss US dollars. Think about it: reduced rail fares, no visas, no “money formalities,” no vax card. Don’t overthink it; just go.

Perhaps neither cruise, plane, nor Oregon highway tantalizes. Then all aboard the Milwaukee Road Hiawatha (fun word alert), headed toward the unspoiled Northwest.

Take in the “sea-girt” peninsula. That means surrounded by sea. Feel free to use that word later today. I can think of lots of things that the Northwest is surrounded by, especially in the inner cities. But not in 1937! So there you go, folks. Do you think any of these ads would have enticed you if you had been alive then? Which one beckons most?

I’m Leaving Formal City For

1962 Marietta, Georgia

Actually, this nation has gone too far to the casual dark side. Time was, when a gal wouldn’t show her bra strap in public, much less her thong whale tail. Now, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a high school girl’s bum cheeks spilling out of her shorts. If I never saw another fool wearing pajamas out in public, it would be too soon.

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It takes just as long to pull on pants as it does pajama bottoms. Have they no sense of decency?

I’m not going to go so far as to say a parent who allows their children to wear pajamas in public is a bad parent, but there is a time and a place for everything. Pajamas are private.

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