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Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's the honest truth when I say I'm happy to be single this Valentine's Day. While the couples will be freezing their private parts off as they trudge off to dinner reservations in the coldest air mass to hit the U.S. this season, I'll be staying warm and cozy with my cats while watching Downton Abbey. Yes, I know that makes you matched people painfully jealous.

Joking aside, in honor of the day when a Christian priest has his head cut off by the Romans for secretly marrying couples (because nothing says candy, cards, and flowers like a good beheading) here are some great vintage ads from the '70s I came across not long ago that all feature couples. Love is in the air, everywhere you look around...

Nothing says machismo like a good '70s stache and going shirtless. I know they're on the beach, but don't you get the feeling he walks around looking like that all of the time?

For a lot of married couples, this is probably their idea of the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day.

These two may want to follow the lead of the couple before them. As an aside, the woman looks like Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA.

I sense a porn photography career about to be born.

These two have clearly already gotten that career well underway.

She's dressed like an Austrian. There's a monkey mask on the table. I don't want to know what they've been up to!

"Very long. Very thin." Very interesting, especially as I've never heard of Dino cigarettes. It looks like he's smoking a pencil.

Now we're about to get into some more alcohol ads, because there was a LOT of drinking taking place in the 1970s. I like the little life saver he has especially for his drink.

I know before I head out for a bike ride, I hydrate and fuel up with a copperhead.

Then there's rehydrating yourself after skiing with whiskey.

OK, this ad happens to actually be from the '80s...because bathing in champagne WAS a very '80s thing to do.

I suppose it doesn't matter that he's clearly ill-prepared for deep-sea fishing, with his attire and equipment only suitable for rivers and streams. Looks like he caught himself a lively one nonetheless.

Blame Canada, as the South Park song says...ladies love a man in uniform, eh?

So many of these '70s male models seem cut from the same mold, huh?

"I'll call you late, every night, just to tell you I love you" is code for "Thanks for the one-night stand; have a nice life." (OK, she's clearly leaving on a trip due to the presence of luggage...but I still thought it was funny.)

I looked up this Randall Lawrence character that this ad speaks of, and apparently he was a male model at the time, although there was very limited info and these are the only photos of him smoking a pipe which makes the mystery all the more stranger. And who's the intimidating looking dude behind him...a bodyguard?

I didn't realize that the Bing Crosby look turned some women on.

Well that's one way to make a Winnebago sexy! Note the "love" pillow behind her.

There's plenty more where these ads come from, but I'll have to post more another time. In the meantime, I hope all Go Retro readers have a happy, safe, and warm Valentine's Day weekend!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

All photos via West Milford Jungle Habitat
If you were a kid or teen growing up near northern New Jersey in the early-to-mid 1970s, then there's a good chance you may have visited Jungle Habitat. It was a Warner Brothers-owned safari park encompassing over 900 acres of land in West Milford, New Jersey. During the four years it was in operation, 1,500 animals and 70 different species called Jungle Habitat its home. But in late 1976, after it failed to secure permission from local residents to expand and build rides on its premises, it abruptly closed its gates. For decades afterwards, its failure inspired fodder for urban legends, as many locals claimed to have seen escaped animals roaming the woods and residential areas years after it went out of business. Like the New Jersey devil, UFO sightings, and ghost encounters, Jungle Habitat has its own rightly place in what makes up the Garden state's notorious weirdness.

It seemed like such a novel idea at the time: an open zoo of sorts where visitors could view lions, elephants, camels, rhinos, baboons, and more from their cars (provided they kept their windows closed at all times, of course -- though not everyone followed this rule, which led to one lawsuit.) Other attractions of the park included performing dolphins, a petting zoo, a reptile house, fire breathing shows, snack bars, a gift shop, and costumed Warner Brothers characters. The "walk through" portion of the park was called Jungle Junction, and was kept separate from the drive through portion where the larger animals roamed. During Jungle Habitat's grand opening in July of 1972, cars were backed up for miles.

Of course, a park with wild animals allowed outside of their cages came with its own set of problems. Some animals climbed upon cars and did damage; baboons and monkeys would sometimes succeed in ripping fenders off and a horny male rhino once mistook a grey Mercedes Benz for a potential mate and tried to mount it from behind. The incident was one of three lawsuits filed against the park during the time it was open. One of the others, which was well-publicized, was when a tourist from Israel got mauled by a few of the park's lions. He had hired a taxi but didn't follow the park's rules about keeping car windows closed at all times and instigated cats by yelling "here kitty" and "here you mangy beasts." One of the 500 pound lions put his paws on the open window and forced it down before trying to make a meal of the obnoxious customer.

During another incident, a young elephant reached its trunk over a four foot fence and picked up a grandmother by her arm, thrashing her about before dropping her. Then there were the reports that animals were occasionally escaping from the park. Mostly the eyewitnesses claimed to have seen ostriches and peacocks wandering through their yards, but rumors began spreading that more dangerous animals such as wolves and one of the lions were on the loose. A West Milford resident also claimed to have seen baboons in the town's pharmacy.

Reading comments left by local residents and visitors on other articles about Jungle Habitat, there may be some truth to these rumors; one commenter said a few years after the park closed, he and his friends were riding their bikes when a kangaroo crossed the road they were on. Another remembered a police officer telling residents of one neighborhood to stay indoors as a black panther had been spotted in the area.

Initially, Jungle Habitat did a thriving business -- by the time it closed for the winter season after its first year of operation, a half million visitors had passed through its gate. However, its limited operating season was one of the eventual causes for its demise. The animals had to be fed and kept warm through the harsh New Jersey winters, which cost a lot of money. Some of baboons suffered from frostbite, the giant tortoise died during its first autumn in the park, and the marine animals had to be transported to Florida during the winter season. Sadly, it sounds as if Warner Brothers got ahead of themselves by opening up the park without enough planning to ensure all of the animals were well cared for, despite having an on-site veterinary staff and hospital.

After a few years of operation, attendance at Jungle Habitat started to drop. Warner Brothers realized they had to add more attractions, so during 1976 they petitioned for the right to expand the park and install rides including a roller coaster, log flume ride, carousel, ferris wheel and spinning rides. While the park normally closed at dusk, Warner Brothers wanted the ride section to stay open into the night. West Milford residents balked -- they were already concerned about the traffic, noise, and the risk a dangerous escaped animal could pose. The township, which was divided on the project, narrowly defeated it and Halloween that year was Jungle Habitat's last weekend in operation.

There's been a lot of creepy stories circulated about Jungle Habitat. One of them is the allegation that Warner Brothers abandoned all of the animals and left them to die in the harsh New Jersey winter or fend for themselves. Fortunately, everything that I've read so far about Jungle Habitat's demise confirms that that is just an untrue rumor. All of the animals were sold to other buyers (and sadly, the deer were sold to a shooting preservation) but it is true that dozens of animals including an elephant that had already passed away (mostly from tuberculosis) were left to decay on the land, and weren't buried until the spring of 1977 when the ground thawed.

And like something out of a 1970s horror movie, another myth is that escaped animals crossbred with native New Jersey wildlife, creating terrifying "hell hounds" and other mutant animals. I'm going to have to take a guess here and say that it isn't true.

The entrance of Jungle Habitat today.
As most of us are aware, Warner Brothers would go on to develop its Six Flags theme parks. Jungle Habitat was left behind to disintegrate, and for years afterwards much of the original fixtures and buildings were left intact. In 1988, the state purchased the property for nary $1.5 million. In 2007, a local off-road cycling club cleaned up the park and miles of tracks were constructed for pedestrians, bike riders, and equestrians. An annual mountain bike race called "Rumble in the Jungle" takes place there annually, and the town has shot off its fireworks there on the Forth of July.

The story of Jungle Habitat may be a sad one, but the park's legacy lives on through a marvelous website (from which I gathered most of my information and the accompanying photos.) You can discover a lot more tidbits and paraphernalia there. And if you visit the actual site of the park, who knows. You may hear a roar or a howl if you listen carefully enough.

Here's a wonderful video uploaded to YouTube of a Super 8 film shot at Jungle Habitat back in the day -- accompanied by appropriately chosen '70s instrumental music. It does look like it was a fun place to visit! If you were fortunate to remember or experience Jungle Habitat yourself, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Friday, February 05, 2016

It's been a while since I've written a post for my Retro Product Fail series, but when I saw this scanned Playboy article from 1972 on Flickr (credited to rchappo2002), I knew I had a winner on my hands.

Behold, the inflatable bubble house as created by a design firm at the time called Chrysalis. Here's what the descriptive copy at the top reads:

Regardless of whether you call the inflatable edifice pictured below a bubble building, hemisphere house or pumped-up pleasure palace, we’re sure you’ll agree it’s the most revolutionary concept in mobile living since somebody invented the trailer—and a lot more fun. Created by a Los Angeles design group named Chrysalis, the polyvinyl Pneudome, when collapsed, fits into a 42”x60”x12” box. To turn on the bubble-house machine, simply spread the dome out on a flat surface, fill the base ring with water (optional cable anchorings also available), then attach the portable air blower to an external port—and up she rises. 

In about eight minutes, you have nearly 500 square feet of living space to do with as your imagination dictates. And, to make sure your air castle doesn’t crumble, you keep the blower going; a gentle current of air not only ensures that the pad remains inflated but ventilated and dust-free, too. 

Although opaque models are also available, we prefer the transparent number, shown here. The price for a Pneudome that’s 25 feet in diameter and ready to rise is about $1950 including blower—a sum that surely won’t blow your bank account. 

So basically, this is like a giant bounce house for adults (without the bounce.) It sure does look and sound cool and I love the concept of environmentally friendly living spaces that was so prevalent in the 1970s. But it's a stretch to call this a house and I think any of us can have a gander at why it never caught on. Obviously there's no way to hook up plumbing, heat, or electricity to it. The only use I can really think of for it is to throw a party in it when you want to be outside on a rainy day or away from the sun. And...it would be very easy for someone to slash that thing and there goes your nearly $2,000 down the drain...

Speaking of which, that amount of money for such a contraption, even back in 1972, sounds like a lot of moola to me for something you can't do much with. Maybe Playboy had the right idea by referring to it as a pleasure palace, as that's all it's really qualified for.

I couldn't find any info on Chrysalis, how long they were in business, and what their other houses looked like. Here's the rest of the article:

Wait a minute...how did they illuminate that thing at night?

Thursday, February 04, 2016

I actually blogged about this video find on YouTube a good five years ago, but feel I didn't do it justice at the time. What brought it back into my mind was seeing the following gif that a Facebook friend posted a few weeks ago:

Now, you KNOW you are a retro addict when you can recognize the video clip this was taken from, as I immediately did. And that is, believe it or not, a little 1970 etiquette lesson filmed for women in the military called "The Pleasure Of Your Company," posted by the U.S. National Archives. It was featured in "Media Matters," the National Archives' blog, and there's two other videos in the same series: "Mind Your Military Manners" and "Look Like A Winner" but the one I'm going to do a mini review of is clearly the most entertaining (in "Look Like A Winner," women are actually educated about the importance of taking a daily shower.)

There's a lot of awkwardness in "The Pleasure of Your Company"...awkward acting (mostly by the cute but kind of ditzy brunette above, who could have later auditioned to be one of Dean Martin's "dingaling sister" back-up singers)...and awkward situations ("I...I never know which one (fork) to use...now let me see...I...oh well, I wasn't too hungry anyway.") Yeah, that's right...just starve yourself instead of risking picking up the wrong fork and embarrassing yourself! #1970sProblems

The best line is when the brunette above is describing a run-in with an older female captain about their miniskirt discussion. "She happens to be an absolutely groovy person...and quite a swinger!"

(By the way, what do miniskirts and '70s fashion have to do with etiquette? I have no idea...but the film was definitely conceived by a man because we're treated to a mini fashion show with the nameless brunette posing in different outfits and biting a giant flower.)

Alas, her female friend, Sandy, has had a tough evening out with a gentleman...she's talking over the waiter and her date while trying to order her dinner. The solution? The lady should always tell her date what she wants, and he will place the order for you.

Wow. I wonder when's the last time a man actually ordered for a woman in a restaurant. Feminists probably didn't approve...on the other hand, I think it might be kind of cool and old school to tell a date what I wanted, and let him order it for me.

I won't reveal anything else...here's the video below so you can see and enjoy this time capsule for yourself!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Once in a while I like to venture off the mid-20th century pop culture path and explore the nooks and crannies of truly vintage times. Since Valentine's Day is only a couple of weeks away (repeat after me, husbands and boyfriends: "Thank you, GoRetroPam, for reminding me and saving my a$$!") I thought it might be fun to have a look at what they used to call acquaintance or flirting cards back in the day.

Way back in the 1800s and early 1900s, before there was such a thing as texting and that God-awful Tinder app, gentlemen that were taken by a lady would slip her one of these cards as a way of indicating interest or infatuation. Two interesting things I noticed when perusing these cards online: it seemed appropriate for women to use these cards as well, although they also didn't seem to have a rejection card available for their disposal. It kind of makes you wonder how they were supposed to let down someone gently.

Just a distinction: these cards are a little different than calling cards that were being used at the same time. Those were left at someone's home as a polite way of trying to be introduced for the purpose of social or business arrangements. Acquaintance cards were for making a score....er, scoring a date. They were also known as escort or invitation cards and were meant to help break the ice with a member of the female sex.

And just like pick-up lines from any other era, some of these are cute and charming while others are borderline creepy.

Just one quick note before we delve in...these are all credited to a Flickr user named Alan Mays. I reached out to him and asked for permission to use them, since another site has featured them as well. He never got back to me...so Alan, if you see this, I hope it's OK to display your fine collection of vintage acquaintance cards and link back to you.

Just a tidbit of trivia that these cards were once made and found pretty much all over the country. You could buy a box of 1,000 of them for around $1.35 at the time. I guess you would need that many if you were being continuously shot down.

Speaking of shot down, this one was apparently dispensed only by the bravest, besotted man who's willing to risk his life for a date.

If you turn me down, I'm just going to sit on the fence and stare at you as you walk past. Nope, not creepy/stalkerish at all.

Red flag alert: "our" new lamp/sofa? Really makes it sound like the man is not living alone, just saying.

Whoever wrote this one is a real poet (and probably does know it.) But considering you could buy a thousand of these cards for a buck, it seems they were the Victorian equivalent of the carbon copy messages women sometimes get online, where a guy just copies and pastes the same introductory message over and over again. Not exactly the way to make a woman feel unique and special.

For those that met and married later in life...for those old maids that defeated the odds. (It also reminds me of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey.)

I found this one to be a little creepy, and I wonder how vintage it is considering I thought "spooning" was a relatively modern term. And what's up with the "special attention paid to other fellows' girls" line? Yeah, this one is for creeps...let's keep going...

Now we're talking, ladies: a ragtime millionaire! And he's single! But I'm guessing that "knockers" had a different meaning in the 1800s then it does now.

I think it's amusing that there was once a time where women were referred to as creatures.

My goodness, there were a lot of millionaires and millionaires' sons looking for love back in the day, huh? This one is obviously from the 20th century judging by the more modern clothing on the characters.

Anna the "Butch" wants to know who the devil you are. You may want to proceed with caution here, fellas.
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