Inexplicable fashion fad: In 1962, San Francisco adman Howard Gossage came up with the idea of putting the faces of classical composers on sweatshirts and selling them for $4. Consumers could choose between Beethoven, Bach, or Brahms. He quickly sold around 60,000 of them.
If you want one of these sweatshirts today (at least, an original one), you'll have to pay significantly more. On eBay, the asking price ranges from $1500 all the way up to $9000.
All scholars of oddball advertising are familiar with the Maidenform Bra campaign that used the tagline "I dreamed I...in my Maidenform Bra." But I don't believe I've ever seen the campaign translated from print to 3-D.
"This is an original vintage photograph from the 1950s. It shows a surreal Maidenform Bra window display at Parsons Souders store in downtown Clarksburg, West Virginia."
In 1940, Reuben Lindstrom was granted a patent for a "wind driven vehicle". It was a toy made out of tin cans. It resembled a model train, and the wind could make it go by itself. In his patent, Lindstrom explained that he deliberately avoided using a sail to propel the toy.
In wind driven vehicles it is desirable to avoid use of elevated wind responsive devices such as sails, windmills and the like and this is particularly true in toy vehicles simulating various types of full-sized vehicles for the reason that it is desired that the toy vehicle resemble as nearly as possible the full sized vehicle which it simulates.
Instead, he had shaped the wheels "to constitute wind responsive impeller blades".
Digging more deeply into the history of this patent, it turns out that Lindstrom was quite a character. For a start, he never cut his hair because, so he said, whenever he did he got heart trouble. In America, in the 1940s, this was unusual enough that it made the news.
Warren Times Mirror - June 28, 1949
He was a regular fixture around Wisconsin Rapids. A 2001 article in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune called him "our most unforgettable character."
In addition to his wind-driven toy train, he had built a kind of motorized bicycle, described as a "weird contraption of bicycle wheel, one cylinder gas motor, pulley, levers, scooter and miscellany." He used this to get around on roads and railroad lines.
He basically lived as a street person/free spirit, always carrying around "a picture of a woman with a large snake wrapped around her neck." Some people referred to him as the "inventor hobo".
One of the quotations attributed to him: "Fashion is the main religion of this world. If you are different, they think you are nuts. Most people stay away from me because they think I'm a religious fanatic. The girls also stay away from me."
Also: "Dirt's natural and it keeps human diseases from penetrating the skin and entering my body."
This drama illustrates the contribution of free enterprise, technology, and Westinghouse products to the American way of life. The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair pits an anti-capitalist bohemian artist boyfriend against an all-American electrical engineer who believes in improving society by working through corporations. The Middletons experience Westinghouse's technological marvels at the Fair and win back their daughter from her leftist boyfriend.
Memorable moments: the dishwashing contest between Mrs. Modern and Mrs. Drudge; Electro, the smoking robot; and the Westinghouse time capsule.
PEREIRA, Colombia -- Want to lick hair loss? A Colombian hairdresser says he has found a way to lick baldness -- literally. His offbeat scalp treatment involves a special tonic and massage -- with a cow's tongue. "I feel more manly, more attractive to women," says customer Henry Gomez. "My friends even say 'What are you doing? You have more hair. You look younger.'"
In 1953, Reverend Bernard Kunkel of Bartelso, Illinois launched the Marilyke fashion movement. Dresses that were sufficiently modest, like the Virgin Mary would have worn (i.e. 'Marilyke'), were given a seal of approval in the form of a Marilyke tag they could display. The tags were "there to guide the Catholic girls."
It seems that only wedding dresses and formal gowns were tagged. As Kunkel noted, "There's not much to be done about bathing suits... We strongly disapprove of the trend in modern bathing suits."
A long-running feature of Mechanix Illustrated was "Mimi," a shapely young woman dressed in skimpy overalls with blue and white vertical stripes; and, in the early sixties, a matching railroad engineer's cap (later discontinued). She was in a picture holding, standing beside, sitting on, lying on or just in the picture with a new product each month. Each "Mimi" held the job for a year. Their names were never given except for the announcement of a new "Mimi" in the January issue. One Mimi did, however, hold the job for a few years in the sixties. An actress from Southern California, she left to live in Hawaii, and a readers' poll was conducted to choose a replacement from a short list. The readers' choice only lasted a short while, and was replaced by one of the runners-up. "Mimi" was discontinued with the change to Home Mechanix.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.