Since the 1930s stewardesses had been ubiquitous in airline advertising. But by the 1960s they carried even more figurative weight as the embodiments of airlines' mass-marketed personalities. Gone were generic references to friendly staff alongside offers of specific services and amenities; in came promises of a hand-picked servant for every passenger. An advertisement for Eastern from 1967, for instance, titled "Presenting the Losers," pictured a group of nineteen applicants whom the carrier had rejected for stewardess positions. The attractive, slender, and well-groomed "losers" were distinguishable from "winners" only by their frowns and lack of airline univorms. The text explained that they "were probably good enough to get a job practically anywhere they want," but that because of its high standards of appearance, intelligence, and personality, Eastern turned down nineteen desirable candidates for every exemplary one hired. With mock defensiveness, the ad read, "Sure, we want her to be pretty... don't you? That's why we look at her face, her make-up, her complexion, her figure, her weight, her legs, her grooming, her nails and her hair." In addition, Eastern boasted, it screened each applicant for "her personality, her maturity, her intelligence, her intentions, her enthusiasm, her resiliency and her stamina." With such an exhaustive list of qualifications, readers may have marveled (or doubted) that women so wondrous existed, let alone would serve them on Eastern.
In 1969, Alfred Mardarello et al. were granted a patent for a "noisemaking device" which could be attached to a missile. When the missile was fired and flying through the air, their gadget would create "weird, alien sounds" intended to terrify the enemy. From their patent:
The invention relates to a projectile that is adapted to produce frightening noises while in flight, whereby such alien sounds will have a terrrifying effect on people nearby.
The psychological effects of weird or unexpected noises, which accompany an artillery projectile or missile, have been explored in many ways, prior to this invention, with minimum results. The Germans, in World War II, attached a noise producing device to aerial bombs, somewhat similar in construction to the organ pipe. A high pitched noise was created. This could be used only on large bombs and was too massive for use on artillery projectiles...
The insufficiencies of the prior art are overcome by the noisemaking adapter of the instant invention. The adapter ring is so designed that they attach to an existant missile without requiring modification of said missile. Centrifugal force, as a result of the spinning motion of the missile after being fired, causes the noisemaking arms or fins to extend and to produce weird, alien sounds of such magnitude as to be heard over a substantial area. The psychological effect, to create panic to those in the vicinity, is thus effected.
I have no idea if this patent was ever used in combat. But I don't really understand the point of making something that's already terrifying (a missile) even more terrifying by having it produce weird, alien sounds. Isn't the terror of the missile itself enough?
These Mr. Leggs ads offer a window onto the twisted male psyche of the 1960s. They ran in newspapers and magazines (Esquire) from 1963 to 1965.
"Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks."
"It took him years of practice and dozens of bruised, outraged ladies, but he's perfected it. She's under his spell."
"Get all knotted up when she floats by? Relax."
"There they were at the snack bar... this one and her sister Eileen (roughly 38-20-38). He smiles; she smiles. He spoke; she responded eagerly. Asked him to watch the kid for a few minutes. That was two hours ago."
"Why torture yourself? Be flexible!"
"Our hero's had a hard day. He had to set up the hammock. And he had to crawl into it. Exhausting. Now he's ready to collect his reward."
"Even Cora the Cobra can't resist getting next to the man in a pair... proving that at times they're downright dangerous to wear. For other species of Cora's sex (like girls) are also apt to over-react to Slats' virile appeal."
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.