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Preserving the people, places, and things from the pop culture past...because some of us still believe in yesterday.

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  • 01/04/16--09:05: A Call For Giveaways!

  • Before I delve back into the retro-related content, I just wanted to put this out here for anyone that may see it...I'm always on the lookout for companies that want to donate an item for a giveaway here in exchange for me giving your brand some promotion via a post. In the past Go Retro has given away gift certificates for vintage-style clothing companies, a cookbook inspired by Mad Men, a retro style men's bowling shirt, BBQ skewers, retro inspired greeting cards, and probably a few more items that I can't currently think of off the top of my head. (So far no one as of yet has offered to give away a 1971 AMC Gremlin, but hey, anything is possible!)

    The only really qualifying factor is that the product your company is giving away has retro/vintage appeal. And you have to be contacting me from a legit business/email address.

    Go Retro averaged about 10,000 page views per month in 2015, but I expect that number to increase this year because of the new template -- there's definitely been a bump in sessions, unique visitors, and page views ever since I updated the look and contacted a virus/malware screening company that resolved an issue with my site that was blocking it to people using their product. I have 500 followers on Twitter and the Facebook page is growing steadily, with currently over 1,790 followers (just a few months ago it was at 1,500.) I'm not on Instagram just yet for a few reasons -- one of them is I simply don't have the time right now to take on updating yet another personal social media channel -- but who knows, maybe I'll give it a whirl later this year.

    So if you have a cool retro product that you think my equally cool, retro loving readers would dig, just send me a message via the contact form at the bottom right hand-side of the page. Thank you!

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    Of all American car companies, I believe Dodge has the best advertising campaign going strong right now. Last year, in honor of the company's 100th anniversary, they brought their brand's founders -- brothers Horace and John Dodge -- back to life in a series of commercials that do a nice job paying homage to the auto manufacturer's heritage. The quality of their cars and customer satisfaction has been on the upswing the past few years and their current models such as the Charger, Challenger, and Dart are helping to preserve the glory days of 1960s and 1970s driving.

    They look like fun, these two natty young men that look like they stepped right out of Downton Abbey. But the commercials, of course, can't tell the entire story of the Dodge Brothers, and they may be fudging their reputation and legacy, just a bit.


    For starters, both brothers died while in their 50s in the year 1920 -- a mere five years after their company started producing complete automobiles. So when you see Horace and John burning rubber and racing each other in classic Dodge vehicles ranging from their very first model up to the present day, obviously that never happened (and the actors chosen to play them in the advertising campaign are younger than the brothers were in 1915.) They also were the bad boys of Motor City at the time and developed quite a unfavorable name for themselves drinking and starting bar room brawls. Their crude manner actually got so bad, Detroit society shunned them even though they were among the city's wealthiest residents.

    John Francis Dodge was born in 1864; his brother, Horace, was born four years later. The two "red-headed urchins" were inseparable both as kids and later on adults. Biographies about the brothers claim that they dressed exactly alike well into adulthood and refused to respond to mail unless it was addressed to both of them. Their father was a boat engine mechanic which fostered the boys' love of transportation and mechanical engineering. John was good at selling and marketing, while Horace was a mechanic and gifted inventor. Horace invented the first dirt-proof ball bearing and he and John ran a bicycle manufacturing business in the late 1800's.

    But as the country entered the 20th century, the attention was turning away from bicycles to automobiles. Detroit -- which was starting to boom with the likes of Henry Ford -- needed auto part suppliers. Seizing the opportunity, the Dodges sold their bike business in 1901 (which was failing anyway due to a lack of royalties from a third party and botched business deal) and set up their own auto part shop in Detroit.

    By the following year they were building transmissions for the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. In 1903, they turned down the chance to renew their contract with Olds to instead make chassis and engines for the Ford Motor Company. The deal also included ownership of Ford stock. By 1910, their factory had been moved to a larger space in Hamtramck, Michigan, and John Dodge had become the vice president of the Ford company.


    Despite their hell-raising reputation during off hours, the brothers treated their employees extremely well. Their plant provided perks that sound like a foreshadowing of Google; their workers had access to a fully staffed on-site medical clinic, and lunch consisted of sandwiches and huge pitchers of beer, paid for by the company. There was also a machine shop called "The Playpen" where the men could tinker with or fix things after their shift.

    For ten years, the brothers' company was the main supplier for Ford. John and Horace, however, weren't content to just make car parts; by 1913 they were dreaming of creating their own automobile. Much to Henry Ford's distaste, they terminated their contract with Ford which put their stock earnings in jeopardy when Ford decided to stop paying dividends. They sued Ford, and were awarded $25 million when the court ordered the company to pay special dividends to its shareholders.


    Henry Ford had another reason to be disgruntled with the brothers; their first Dodge car was meant to directly compete with Ford's popular Motel T. The Dodge Model 30 put out a whopping 35 horsepower compared to the T's 20, and also boasted several innovative standard features such as all-steel body construction, a sliding-gear transmission, and a 12-volt electrical system. Heading into 1916, Dodge Brothers Cars were number two in sales behind Ford.

    Dodge Brothers was also making military and medical vehicles, some of which were used during the Pancho Villa Expedition in Mexico.

    Both brothers were heavy drinkers. In 1911, John Dodge and a friend beat up a handicapped attorney at a bar in Detroit. Previous to this incident, the brothers were just dismissed as troublemakers, but after this particular brawl made the papers any affection for them was lost and friends and acquaintances stopped inviting them to social functions. Both brothers married and built exclusive homes in one of Detroit's toniest neighborhoods.

    By 1919, the Dodge Brothers Company was manufacturing 500 cars daily and still couldn't keep up with customer demand. The following year, however, Horace Dodge got sick. The rumors at the time said he had consumed bad liquor, but the physician said he contracted Spanish flu, which killed over 500,000 Americans during the epidemic. John Dodge, who slept outside his brother's bedroom while he was ill, soon caught the same influenza. He passed away at age 55 on January 14, 1920. Horace recovered but by many accounts was a broken man from the loss of the older brother he was so close to. He died at age 52 from cirrhosis of the liver on December 10, 1920.

    After the brothers' deaths, the management of their company went to their widows, and then through a few more hands before becoming known simply as Dodge, producing classic models by the mid 20th century such as the Coronet, Charger, Challenger, and more. We'll never know what might have been had the brothers lived a couple of more decades -- but no doubt they'd be tickled by their company's advertising campaign...as well as their company's legacy.

    Here's just one of the many Dodge commercials featuring the brothers; you can find all of them on YouTube.



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    Ladies, are you a woman that briefly looks at a man you find attractive with a sexy gaze and then averts your eyes? Have you ever dropped something in front of him so he could pick it up and hand it back to you? Then guess what -- by 1952's standards, you're a certifiable slut!

    This highly informative article comes from the November 1952 issue of "The Boyfriend And the Girlfriend" magazine; a juicy find on Flickr credited to the user clotho98. Don't worry if you can't read the copy; we're going to zoom in on each section here so you can see exactly what it takes to be a bad girl. I could see where some of this behavior was considered slutty in the 1950s, but on the other hand it makes you wonder just exactly how a woman was supposed to flirt in the decade. Well, let's a take a look here and see what exactly the loosey gooseys were doing in 1952 to snag an unsuspecting man...


    The opening copy reads:

    "High on every boy's list of pet peeves is the type of girl shown on these and the next two pages. Why? Because she is a teaser. Almost all girls that are pretty flirt a little. It's the natural thing to do. But a girl who is a teaser is not content with simple, wholesome flirting; she goes out of her way to bait boys with an obvious display of her physical charms -- baits them with unspoken promises that she hasn't the slights intention of fulfilling. In addition to her other unflattering qualities, therefore, a teaser is dishonest. She has no real sincere interest in the boys whose attention she sets out to capture; she is simply playing a game in which she holds all of the cards and doesn't mind resorting to the cheapest of tricks. A few of these tricks are illustrated here. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But whether they are successful or not, a teaser never wins in the long run. For no boy wants to marry a girl who enjoys showing off her charms to others."

    Ah, I get it. Well, there is a lot of truth in that and that hasn't changed much today. Very few men would want to marry a woman that constantly flirts with other men and vice versa.

    "When she straightens the seams of her stockings with a great show of her legs, she is testing. Nice girls never go that far where boys can see them."


    "When she looks at a boy she has never met, or has just been introduced to, with half-lidded eyes and lips poised to be kissed, she is teasing."

    (I believe this is what the Grass Roots were singing about when they recorded "Temptation Eyes.")


    "When she favors a boy with provocative, sidelong glances while she pretends to be fixing her hair or freshening her face, she is teasing."

    This doesn't happen that often because most women use the ladies room today when checking their appearance. Having said that, I believe men do like it if you casually run a hand through your hair or gently brush your neck/clavicle area with your fingers.

    Moving on, here what the next two pages look like before we zoom in on each tip.



    "When she habitually wears a tight-fitting sweater and a tight-fitting skirt which boldly outline her figure, she is teasing."

    Totally disagree with this one. I'd say she's confident with her body and appearance. Her outfit is sexy, not slutty, by today's standards...and shows off just the right amount of leg. We now live in a world where people wear sweatpants and pajamas to the supermarket and some women don't know how to dress sexy or simply don't care.


    "When she drops her purse and stoops to pick up the spilled contents with her dress above the knees, she is teasing."

    GREAT tip! (Filing away in noggin for future use.)


    "When she looks over her shoulder with a lingering gland and a half smile of invitation, she is teasing."

    Guess what? 100% of dating coaches today give this very advice. Maybe not glancing over your shoulder, but holding a gaze, smiling and then looking away often works wonders.


    "When she invites a boy to light her cigarette and looks deep into his eyes the whole time he is doing it, she is teasing."

    How many times have we seen this move done in old films? Again, I have to disagree that this is questionable behavior, as long as the girl's attraction is sincere.

    "When she fixes her garter in public, where anyone is likely to see her (and she hopes that they will), she is teasing."

    Well this one is irrelevant -- women today don't wear garters, nylon stockings, or even pantyhose anymore.

    "When she appears on the beach in a bathing suit that is briefer and more revealing than a nice girl lets herself be seen in, she is teasing."

    Revealing, huh? Just these magazine editors wait until the thong bikini is introduced!

    Well, I don't know about you, but I'm awfully glad I don't live in the year 1952. Maybe it's time to stop being such a nice girl...

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    Pure retro gold -- that's what I'm about to show you within the pages of this awesome scanned book I found on Flickr, Sunset Ideas for Clothing Decoration. This book was published in 1977 and amazingly, you can currently buy a copy of it on Amazon.com with a description that says it was "rarely opened." That's a shame, because a book like this was meant to be enjoyed and poked fun at on a regular basis. You want to keep scrolling because things go from groovy to grotesque in a heartbeat. I don't think there's any further introduction I can give it before we delve in other then announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 1970s."


    I'll admit it -- the Polish girl in me really digs this vest; it has an Eastern European look to it. I don't think we can say the same for the model; I've seen happier women in laxative advertisements.


    I do like this skirt, too. A few years ago I started embroidering flowers on an old pair of jeans; I'll admit seeing this is inspiring me again.


    Very Bohemian. Not sure what I think about the eagle on the back of the sweater but this was the 1970s, after all.


    The purple flowers in her hair is a nice matching touch. I honestly can't tell if the top model is a boy or a girl but either way, that is the worst looking bowl haircut I've ever seen.


    Thumbs up on the dress and that embroidered denim skirt again. Not sure what I think about Joseph's amazing technicolor dream coat at the top, though.


    And now we're starting to get a little weird. The girl has an image of a rather rotund lady appliquéd on a smock, while dad looks like his shirt is trimmed with macrame. The tunic on the "mom" is the only fashion statement I'd approve here.


    Was that previous page not weird enough for you? Well then, here you go. I still haven't figured out what we're supposed to be looking at here. It's a little scary.


    South American inspired duds and patchwork.


    Back to more over-the-top weirdness. A quilted coat from this decade wouldn't be complete without a rainbow somewhere on it.


    I honestly can't think of anything to say. Let's keep going.


    Tie dye and Native American influences...now we're talking!


    That's right, why should only the women be humiliated in this craft book?


    Oh boy. I hope someone told the dude in the cow shirt with the dour expression up top how lucky he was that he at least didn't have to model the outfit on the bottom.


    I appreciate that the boy's shirt is made of recycled...er..."keepsake patches". But sending your child off to school looking like this is just begging for them to be beaten up.


    It takes a confident man to wear painted jeans.


    And we've finally reached the end, which is good news because the sentence on her top makes no sense (much like half of this book)..."Good take care of your boy today." Huh?

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    "Planet earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do."

    Like a lot of music fans today I'm shocked and saddened to hear about the death of David Bowie. He'd been discretely battling cancer for the past year and a half, and passed away on Sunday, January 10, just days after his 69th birthday and releasing his 27th and final album, Blackstar. As an eery parting gift to his fans, his last music video for a track from that album, "Lazarus", is brave and prophetic, announcing his death (and concludes with Bowie backing himself into a bedroom wardrobe, off to the land of Narnia, we can assume.) Knowing his time on this earth was preciously short, he sure knew how to make an exit as well as an entrance.

    I don't consider myself a huge Bowie fan, but I do like his music (although I'm unfamiliar with most of what he recorded during the past 25 years) and I've been touched by seeing the outpouring of tributes and affection for him on social media. For kids that grew up feeling left out or misunderstood, the "Thin White Duke" was a rebellious musical hero and not afraid to push artistic limits with his gender bending, makeup draped personas.

    Amazingly, Bowie (he adopted the made-up last name because his real name, David Jones, was already taken by one of The Monkees) didn't considered himself a musician. He told Charlie Rose that he was more of an artist who was using music to express himself.

    I'm not knowledgable enough to list ten underrated songs from Bowie's catalog, but I am going to list ten of my favorite songs of his as a small Go Retro tribute. No surprise, several of these come from the '80s, the decade of my preteen and teenage years. RIP and godspeed, Ziggy Stardust.

    1. Space Oddity (1969)





    It wasn't until a couple of years ago that it occurred to me just how perfectly composed Bowie's big early hit is. First it all, it tells a story which is an uncommon theme in most of today's music, and second, you can easily envision the rocket ricocheting upward after takeoff thanks to that wavering guitar effect. There were two music videos filmed for the track -- I prefer the second one above which is from Bowie's promotional film Love You Til Tuesday (but definitely favor the radio version of the song we're all familiar with.)

    By the way, the song inspired the '80s hit by German singer Peter Schilling, "Major Tom (Coming Home)" released in 1983, in which the astronaut character comes back home to earth.

    2. Changes (1971)



    My go-to "soother" song each time I was laid off. That, and Bobby Darin's "Change."

    3. Rebel Rebel (1974)



    "Rebel Rebel", to me, could have been David Bowie singing about himself. "You've got your mother in a whirl...she's not sure if you're a boy or a girl. Hey, baby, your hair's alright." It's thought of as Bowie's farewell song to the glam rock genre and his most covered song.

    4. Fame (1975)



    In 1974, David Bowie met John Lennon for the first time and no surprise, the two became fast friends. At a speech Bowie gave to the Berklee College of Music in 1999, he called Lennon his "greatest mentor." (Yoko Ono said on Facebook that Bowie was a good friend and like a father figure to Sean after Lennon passed away.) "Fame" was partially motivated by Bowie's unhappiness with his management at the time. "I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing," he said in a 1990 interview. "The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants."

    The above performance is a rare one; Bowie appeared on Soul Train, obviously lip-synching his hit (and without his Beatle backup singer present.)

    5. Heroes (1977)



    It's a beautiful love song about a fleeting romance, but I will always remember how it got noticeable radio play after 9/11.

    6. Fashion (1980)



    Of all of the songs on my list, "Fashion" is probably the most underrated. The first time I heard it, it quickly became one of my favorite Bowie songs. The music video features G.E. Smith of Hall & Oates' band, and May Pang, John Lennon's mistress during his lost weekend period.

    7. Under Pressure (1981)



    Bittersweet now because it was a collaboration with Freddie Mercury and Queen, Under Pressure is as timely today as ever.

    8. Let's Dance (1983)



    Brings back great memories of Friday night junior high school dances.

    9. Modern Love (1983)



    Although the song was released nearly ten years before he married her, I think it's worth mentioning Bowie's wife Iman, the gorgeous supermodel from the '70s and '80s. Bowie met Iman at a dinner party and was immediately smitten; she was suspicious because she didn't want to get involved with a rock star. Bowie pursued her and wooed her, and when he bent to tie her sneaker lace that had some undone in the middle of the street she knew he was a keeper. "My father gave me a positive connection with men because he is a gentleman," she told Harper's Bazaar in 2010. "And that is what attracted me to David. He is a gentle soul."

    They married in 1992, had a daughter (Bowie also had a son with his first wife), and right up until Bowie's death had by all accounts something rare in the music biz -- a happy, strong, and fulfilling marriage.

    10. Blue Jean (1984)



    I would like to know if David Bowie did his own makeup for this video, or a makeup artist...because the contouring job is amazing!

    What are your favorite David Bowie songs?

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    While everyone has gotten themselves worked up in a Powerball frenzy, I've been thinking about sweepstakes, and how much cooler they seemed back in the day. I occasionally enter an online giveaway and have noticed that they don't just seem as unique as ones from previous decades (and some magazines, like Shape, have become cheap skates and aren't even offering giveaways anymore.) I mean, who wouldn't want to win a baby blue Mustang, or the chance to fly on Hugh Hefner's jet, or a walk-on cameo on Laugh-In? Today's sweepstakes rules also make you do so much work sometimes to enter...you have to upload a photo with a hashtag to Instagram, or make a video showing why you should be chosen as the winner.

    Just give me an old fashioned entry form to fill out with a ballpoint pen. Here's a look at some of the prizes you could have had a chance at winning from the '60s or '70s.


    For me, it doesn't get any cooler than this...a Volkswagen that looks like Peter Max designed it. Five lucky winners got a custom designed Bug...I wonder if any of them are in existence today? I was surprised to learn that Ultra Brite toothpaste still exists.


    Yardley's giving away an exciting role in a new TV show filmed in London. Hmmm...Benny Hill?


    Catch a Mustang, catch a man.


    Yesterday marked 50 years since Batman premiered on television. $50,000 -- and $1,000 -- were pretty generous cash amounts for 1966. But perhaps the coolest prize listed here? The "official" Batman equipment package including a hood, cape and utility belt. No word on whether it was meant for kids or their parents.


    Really, Nabisco? The best you could do was Neil Sedaka and The Marshall Tucker Band? OK, maybe this doesn't belong in a post of "cool" contests to enter. No offense to their fans, but I'd rather win a lifetime supply of Junior Mints.


    I'd temporarily take up smoking for the chance to win a pair of these cars.


    "No jingles to write, no boxtops to mail." I love that Wheaties kept it simple!


    You bet your sweet zippy that this is definitely the most unique sweepstakes shown here, as the first prize was your own franchise of a Laugh-In restaurant, something I wrote about a few years ago. The second prize sounds swell -- a walk-on appearance on Laugh-In. Sadly, after that the prize quality goes down...a statue of the Fickle Finger of Fate and the Laugh-In record album.


    Hefner's selling his Playboy mansion...I wonder whatever become of the Big Bunny Jet?


    Don't snicker -- this was a technological wonder at the time. The second prize isn't too shabby. You get a collection of cassettes to play including albums by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and The Mamas and the Papas.

    Good luck to everyone that bought a Powerball ticket for tonight!

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    This post is going to be short, sweet, and personal, but a few weeks ago I found out that the closest movie theater to me -- which happens to be the main one I've been going to since I was a kid -- is closing for good; this weekend, as a matter of fact.

    It's just a generic Showcase Cinemas; not a fancy independently operated theater or anything like that, but I'm disappointed just the same. For starters, it was incredibly convenient for me to get to -- just 15 minutes away on the regular back roads in the town next to mine. The ticket prices have always been cheaper than nearby competing chains. And I loved the fact that there was always plenty of parking up close to the entrance because it wasn't a busy theater...but unfortunately that's also the same reason why it's closing. Attendance had dropped off in recent years as people have been going to a newer Loews theater in a shopping center a bit up the highway. But I'm going to miss this theater.

    I saw everything there from The Empire Strikes Back to E.T., Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, James Bond movies, and all of the Indiana Jones ones. In fact, my first vivid movie memory took place there when my brother took me to see Jaws in 1976. I was only three and a half years old but I remember most other than the movie itself (which I loved; I wasn't scared at all) were all of the Jaws toys and promotional items being sold in the lobby, something that doesn't happen today. (My brother bought me an orange rubber toy shark that I put in my backyard wading pool the next day.)

    In high school, it was where my friends and I would go on half days followed (or proceeded by) lunch at Denny's next door.

    Construction of the original 1-6 theater side in 1964. Photo credit: James V. Roy at pbase.com
    I found out that the theater was built in 1965 and two of the first films screened there were In Harms Way starting John Wayne, and The Train with Burt Lancaster. Theater one was the only one of its kind in the area because it could screen both 70mm as well as 35 mm film. By the 1980s this particular movie theater actually consisted of two buildings; the original, on one side of the main drag, showed movies 1-6. The second structure, across the street, was constructed to accommodate movies 7-14 as well as viewer demand.

    Then, in 2008, the original 1-6 side was shut down and stadium seating was added to all of the theaters on the newer side (another reason why I loved it, because my legs and knees suffer in a more cramped Showcase in another town that has really outdated seating.) They also improved the sound system and size of the screens.

    The last film I saw there was The Peanuts Movie (two thumbs way up, by the way) and there was a substantial crowd in the theater, including men with their kids, which was surprising given the Pats were playing that afternoon. But not long ago an older woman from my church that's friendly with my mother and her friends told us the last time she went to see a movie there, she was only person in attendance. She felt creeped out about being alone in a dark theater and left. The ticket attendee told her more people were favoring the Loews.

    And it's not that I have anything against Loews; the one people are flocking to features big reclining seats, something I definitely appreciate. But it costs more, and the theaters themselves are smaller, and I'm not thrilled at the idea of driving on the highway to get there. The other Showcase is pretty big and has plenty of parking, but like I mentioned they really need to update the actual theaters and make them bigger and more comfortable. And I guess it's just the stab of knowing another place from childhood is soon to be gone, joining the likes of the local five-and-dime store and a favorite restaurant my parents and I went to often that disappeared years ago.

    I'll be curious to know what will become of both buildings eventually; will they be knocked down and something new built in their place(s)? Probably likely...but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that perhaps a different movie chain will look into taking them over and resurrecting them so that they can compete with the others nearby.

    Either way, the screens go dark -- for now -- this Sunday. :(

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    (Spoiler alert: I reveal the movie's ending towards the end of this post!) In 1990, two romantic movies involving a deceased boyfriend and a love story were released in theaters. One of these, Ghost, was a huge commercial success, grossing over $505 million at the box office, driven by the star power of Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg.

    The second movie, Truly, Madly, Deeply -- starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman -- only earned just over $1.5 million. But because I've always felt that our friends across the pond do stage and screen much better than us Americans, there's no question which of these movies is (in my opinion) the superior film. Ghost was well-done and entertaining, but Truly, Madly, Deeply (I'll refer to it as TMD) is beautifully acted, delivers more heartfelt emotion, and most importantly, makes you think. (Come to think of it, one critic declared it "the thinking person's Ghost." And well, I do love to think, after all.)

    And since we lost Alan Rickman the same week as David Bowie, at the same age (69) and also from cancer, TMD is worthy of some accolades because it featured Rickman in a romantic role (when his death was announced here in the States, it was mostly his villainous characters from Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that were cited.)


    What I appreciate most about this movie is how realistic the emotions are portrayed, so much so that it's easy to forget Rickman and Stevenson are acting. When Stevenson sobs, "I miss him, I miss him, I miss him!" and declares that she hates seeing couples in love in her therapist's office, your heart is breaking for her. When she's clowning around with Rickman, you're smiling because it's how a real couple acts; it's completely natural. There's nothing corny or contrived about this film (except for the romantic gestures of Stevenson's Polish-born landlord.) TMD was written and directed by the late Anthony Minghella, known for The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

    On a personal note, I first saw TMD for the first time a few years after my father and the man who had been the first love of my life passed away (within 5 months of each other) and seeing this movie and the message behind it helped me put my lingering mourning behind me. Watching it again recently reaffirmed that it should be on any list of required Valentine's Day movies -- whether you've lost someone close to you or not.

    Now for the movie's plot...Stevenson plays Nina, a translator working for a language agency who is still depressed over the death of her cellist boyfriend, Jamie (Rickman.) We don't know how long ago Jamie passed away, but it was sudden according to Nina's boss, who tells the men fixing her rat-infested apartment that Jamie died from a strep virus. For a while, Nina has been hearing Jamie's voice in her head, instructing her on how to brush her teeth properly and to make sure the back door is locked.

    One night, Nina's sister suggests that Nina give up Jamie's cello for her son who is learning the instrument and it pushes her into another low mood. That's when Jamie suddenly manifests in the apartment. It's up to interpretation whether Jamie is a ghost or a figment of Nina's imagination, though personally I think it's the former, since he's always complaining about being cold (a downside to being dead, I guess) and talks about continuing to drop in on political rallies, something he was passionate about.

    Naturally, Nina is ecstatic at having Jamie and his company back in her life; she misses several days of work as a result. But the miracle soon becomes more than she bargained for when Jamie starts doing little things that annoy her beyond the usual inability to put a toilet seat down. He starts rearranging her furniture. He cranks the heat up to uncomfortable levels. Furthermore, he starts to get annoyed with her, even remarking at one point, "I'd forgotten you could be like this" after springing on her that he has invited some of his ghostly bros to her apartment to watch videos all night long.

    He also makes himself scarce when somebody rings Nina's doorbell and their time together is confined to the apartment; it's not like Nina can go out to eat with him or to dinner parties (although it's never confirmed it seems that Nina is the only living person who can actually see and touch Jamie.)

    Although I normally consider him attractive, even I find Rickman to be a little annoying in this film; his character at times is a little droll and grump -- especially in contrast to Nina's cheerful nature.


    At the same time Jaime and Nina's relationship begins getting strained, she starts crossing paths with a quirky psychologist, Mark (Michael Maloney), that she first encounters in a restaurant, then on a bus. Mark seems like a good guy; he's a psychologist working with mentally disabled adults and he's capable of performing magic tricks. Nina agrees to go out with Mark and while she is attracted to him, feels conflicted because of Jaime's presence back at home.

    As Nina and Jaime's relations become more strained (and more of his friends from the other side invade the apartment), the couple begins to realize that their relationship probably wasn't the grand sweeping romance they had idealized it to be. "Was it always this way?" Nina asks one evening. She remembers how she hid away many of her personal belongings because Jaime didn't approve of them. She is soon confronted by a choice: she can stay in the past with her life with Jaime or she can move forward and create a new one.

    The movie ends on a bittersweet note with Jaime, smiling and wiping back tears, with his friends watching as Nina is greeted by Mark in front of her apartment and she leaves with him.

    Some fans of this movie believe that Jamie's return -- whether imagined by Nina or real -- was necessary to heal her heart and help her eventually move on.

    It's a lovely little film, worthy of a view, and currently uploaded to YouTube if you want to check it out. Here's the trailer:


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    Today was my birthday, so when I meandered onto Facebook this morning I was greeted with the usual birthday wishes from friends and family members, accompanied by cute pictures of the Beatles...and Beetles (as in VW.) However, nothing could have prepared me for what is undoubtably one of the most far out, grooviest birthday presents I've ever received in my 44 years on this planet. I was immortalized as a retro style cartoon.

    Pete Emslie is an uber-talented cartoonist and illustrator that has gotten paid for what he loves doing best for over 30 years. That includes working for the freaking Disney Company! Pete's been a reader and fan of Go Retro for a few years now, and he also showcases his talent on his own blog, The Cartoon Cave, perfectly capturing the physical characteristics of both retro and modern celebrities with his uncanny caricatures. Please check it out, especially if you're a fan of animation and caricatures; it's so much fun to see his illustrations. The fact that I'm now on the same blog as David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and countless other celebs in the same illustrated form has blown me away!

    Not long ago, I was looking into artists posting their services on the site Fiver to have someone illustrate my photo in a Roy Lichenstein or other retro style. The one guy I liked the most was on vacation, had a long wait list, and never responded to my email. The others just didn't seem as talented. Now not only have I received a caricature by an artist that's a thousand times more talented than those guys, but I got it for free!

    Thanks, Pete, for capturing me so brilliantly in a retro-style portrait. It's seriously one of the best things to happen to me ever since Paul McCartney flashed the peace sign back at me at a concert in 2002!

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  • 01/20/16--09:17: Fond of Fondue

  • Despite extensive research by the Go Retro "team", we could find no real explanation as to why fondue parties became such a big thing in the 1970s. Some feel it was the appeal of a social meal where people would gather around a fondue pot, while others think it was the food's European roots that inspired Americans to experiment with it. Or maybe it's because it's a sexy meal during a time when the sexual revolution was still in full swing...what could be more sensuous than feeding your partner a warm, chocolate dipped strawberry?

    Or maybe it was just the fact that dipping bread, fruit, veggies, and meat into a warm, gooey, melted cheese mixture made with wine is...so. Darned. Good. Today also just happens to be National Cheese Lovers Day, which probably explains why fondue is on my mind. Fondue reportedly began to make a comeback about 15 years ago. You may have heard of the restaurant chain The Melting Pot where most of the menu is fondue-based. TMP has locations today all over the U.S., but was originally launched in 1975 -- when the fondue craze began.

    We do know that fondue originated in the 1700s in Switzerland as a way for families to use up aged bread and cheese during the winter months.

    Whatever the reason, it's definitely fondue season right now -- the Northeastern U.S. is bracing for a snowstorm this weekend and Minnesotans are making yard sculptures by freezing their jeans (but not while wearing them at the same time, thank goodness. There are some body parts that should never experience frostbite.) So it's time to take a retro romp through some fondue images from the past, collected from Pinterest, Flickr, and more. Be warned if you're a cheese addict like myself, because some of these pictures gave me a serious craving for the stuff.


    Is there a difference between teenage fondue and regular fondue? Who knows, but my best guess is maybe the teen fondue omitted the wine for underage drinkers.


    Betty Crocker's guide to all of the equipment that you need, for any kind of fondue.


    Wiser words were never written. I like that the "oldest cronie" was drawn like Oliver Hardy, and the "newest acquaintance" looks like a beatnik. Ah, the power of fondue to bring people of all backgrounds together!


    One thing I'm not too crazy about is cooking meat in a communal pot, like the kind you encounter at some Asian restaurants. I tried it a couple of times but found cooking my own food when I'm paying for it to be prepared a little weird. I'm a traditional fondue person -- I'll take the melted cheese or chocolate over dipping raw meat into hot broth any day!



    Two pages from the 1972 Sears Wish Book catalog -- I wouldn't mind having one of those vintage electric fondue pots today.


    Fun and safe for kids!


    Well, I don't care if it looks or sounds disgusting...I'd totally make pizza fondue!


    This image would suggest that fondue was already becoming a thing in the 1960s.


    I couldn't tell if this photo was actually from the '70s or made to look that way, but either way that's a pretty grooving dining room...with a fondue pot just waiting for the party to get started.


    Typical cozy après-ski scene...with beer and fondue!


    And even the littlest ones had their own (safe) version of fondue, courtesy of Kenner.

    Well, not only am I all fondued-out, I'm also hungry. Time to go melt some cheese...

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    For everyone that receives Go Retro in their email via the feed, I want to apologize for the multiple test posts that went out earlier today. My snazzy new blog template that I love so dearly didn't agree with the "1976: My First Year of Music" post; something in it (the lead photo or the YouTube videos or something) was causing the entire post to display on the home page sans the title and comments section. The issue didn't seem to be affecting the test posts, so I had to just take the music one down completely and will repost it at a later date. In the meantime, to make up for it, here's a collection of vintage auto parts ads featuring beautiful women...because everyone knows nothing sells shock absorbers like a lady wearing a bikini, hot pants, go-go boots...or delightful double entendres.

    And in case you missed Part 1 of this post from a few months ago, you can view it here. Now on to Part 2!


    "They tell me it's because Rally contains Carnauba, the hardest natural wax in the world. That's a little technical for me..." Watch it there, Rally. OK, the ad is for a wax and not an actual car part, but how could I not include it?


    The Eagles sang about peaceful, easy feelings...ROH extolled the virtues of wide wheelin' feelings.


    It isn't what you think (that Caltex doubles as a tanning oil)....the copy at the end is implying your car will run so great with Caltex, you can drive it to the very best beaches! Eh, I don't know about you, but it just seems like a lame excuse to put a good looking blonde wearing a bikini in your ad.


    Just an excuse to put a girl wearing silver go go boots and a mini dress in your ad.


    Someone better tell that blonde that Kandy Apple is for coating cars, not apples (as a blonde myself, I can get away with dumb blonde jokes.)


    The grammar Nazi came out in me when I saw this ad. Shouldn't that headline read, "ESSO announces their new range..."?


    For some reason, this ad reminded me of The Benny Hill Show. Are we sure those models aren't the Hills Angels?


    This ad starts off pretty empowering for the time -- it was encouraging women to learn how to change the air filter in their car themselves, because you could save a whopping $2! Unfortunately, Lee slipped a bit into sexism with this copy: "Want to save even more money? Try changing your oil filer. Better yet, have your guy do it." Uh...well, at least they didn't use a blonde model in the ad.


    Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful.


    What a way to sell gauges, of all auto parts. With lots of leg.


    Absolutely atrocious hairstyle -- but I'm including it because I've never heard of colored seat belts to match your car before.


    Now we're getting interesting. There's no subliminal sexual imagery in this ad, no siree.


    Either she shrunk, or the shock absorbers are for the Jolly Green Giant's car.


    These Australian car part advertisers weren't exactly shy, were they?


    Special deal on the "big set" t-shirt at the bottom. Not suitable for small chested women.
    And...I think I'm going to end this right here. Yeah.

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    1976: My "First" Year of Music


    (Note: After a few attempts, I have NO idea why this post will not display properly like the others...so to leave a comment, click on the post title above which is hyperlinked and it will show the comment box at the bottom of the post.)

    Do you remember how old you were when you started remembering pop and rock songs? I ask because I distinctly remember that many of my "first" songs I remember hearing and retaining were from the year 1976. I was four years old, and it was the first time I was discovering a music world beyond what they played on Sesame Street, namely because of the songs my older siblings were playing at the time both at home and on their car radios when I accompanied them.

    Another pivotal year for me in music fandom was 1984 -- as that was when one of my sisters gave me a personal radio with headphones for my birthday -- but for this post I'm going to focus on 1976, a whopping four decades ago (ouch!) and the list of songs I remember hearing the most from that year. I guess it shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm still a fan of most of these singers/bands and they helped start me on the lifelong path of being a retro music lover. And much like the '60s, the '70s decade seemed to offer something for everyone -- from soft rock to more traditional rock 'n' rock to disco.

    "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago



    I have always loved Chicago, but only up until Peter Cetera left the band to pursue his own solo career in the '80s; after he and his distinctive voice left the group's sound was never the same again. At the age of four I didn't know anything about romantic love, but I did know that the singer was heartbroken over the thought of his girlfriend leaving him and sometimes, 40 years later, the song brings a tear to my eye. Fortunately, Chicago knew how to swing the songwriting pendulum to compose happy love songs, and they balanced this one out with a big hit the following year, "Baby What A Big Surprise", which is one of my favorite love songs of all time.

    "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee



    In the summer of 1976, this hit was all over the radio waves and somehow I knew even at that young age that it would become one of my favorite love songs of all time. Little did we know at the time that the song would be considered a bit of a curse (the "Kiki Jinx") for Elton John; he wouldn't have another number one single of him singing solo until 1997's "Candle In The Wind."

    "Got To Get You Into My Life" by the Beatles



    This was the first Beatles song I ever remember hearing -- not "Yellow Submarine", "She Loves You", or any of their other hits -- and yet oddly enough, I wouldn't become a huge Beatles fan until some 15 years later. Part of that may have had to do with the fact that my sister had Magical Mystery Tour on vinyl and I was scared half to death of that album cover! I mean, they were dressed like animals with creepy masks and I quite honestly thought they seemed a little freaky at the time. But I digress..."Got To Get Your Into My Life" is one of the only Beatles songs that became a hit some time after the band broke up. It was originally recorded (and released) in 1966 and ten years later was reissued as a single in conjunction with the Rock 'n' Roll Music album, which contained mostly the Fabs' covers of 1950s songs by Chuck Berry and his cohorts that fans were already quite familiar with.

    One thing I learned about this song fairly recently is that, while it is a love song, it's an ode not to a woman but to another love in Paul McCartney's life at the time, marijuana! John Lennon told Playboy magazine in 1980 that it was one of McCartney's best songs.

    "Evil Woman" by Electric Light Orchestra



    I have no shame in admitting that ELO is one of my favorite 1970s bands. A lot of it may have to do with the fact that their sound was inspired by the Beatles, but I also love how they incorporated string instruments and how that helped them stand out from so many traditional rock groups at the time. "Evil Woman" was released late in 1975, but received a lot of radio play into 1976 after it became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The line, "There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in" was a little nod to the Beatles' "Fixing A Hole."

    "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy



    Remember when Walter Murphy took Beethoven's signature Fifth Symphony and turned it into a one-hit disco wonder? This and Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic?" were my first introductions to "classical" music. I can't say I'm a fan today of the classical genre but I do have an appreciation for Mozart and...PBS' Andre Rieu. (OK, I'm a fan of Andre Rieu.)

    "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tennille



    So yes, I know this song was released in 1975, but my first vivid memory of it was watching Toni Tennille perform it as a duet on her variety show, The Captain & Tennille, in 1976 with...wait for it...Big Bird. This song also has the distinction of being the first (and so far, only) one I've ever performed on karaoke. Sadly, love didn't keep Daryl Dragon (the "Captain") and Toni Tennille together -- in 2014 they announced their divorce after nearly 40 years of marriage.

    "Right Back Where We Started From" by Maxine Nightingale



    Another feel good fave of mine; it was used in the 1977 film Slap Shot but also showed up during a comical moment on last night's Blacklist.

    "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright



    This was another one released in late 1975 (ignore the fact that the video above says 1972), so to me it still counts since it charted the following year. When it came on the radio one day I remember one of my sisters remarking that the opening synthesizer sounded like noises a spaceship would make. To be honest, I've never been a big fan of this song (sorry, Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar) because even at my young age it felt so sad to me. Who wants to live a life where the only time peace and good things come to you is in your dreams? Nonetheless, Wright's hit is a standout of the year for me.

    "Life In the Fast Lane" by The Eagles



    And in light of the sad, untimely passing of Glenn Frey last week, it seems fitting to end my list of most memorable songs of 1976 with The Eagles' hit from that year, inspired greatly by Frey's friendship with a drug dealer at the time. Thankfully I was blissfully unaware about drug addiction at age four, and simply thought it was a song about driving too fast.

    Ah, the '70s. Such a great time for music and to be a kid. What were some of the first songs you remember?

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    This is just a quick personal observation post before I get back to the retro related ones, but I wanted to take a moment to say something to all of my fellow bloggers out there that I know of who still update their sites on a regular or semi-regular basis: congratulations.

    You see, last week I noticed in my Blogger dashboard that many of the blogs I used to follow at one time are now dead as a doornail. Many haven't been updated in months and a good handful haven't been touched in years -- the one on my list with the longest dormancy period I saw was five years!

    It did make me a little sad -- I'm sorry to see them fall by the wayside. Naturally, many of them had a retro/vintage theme. One of these sites that I was aware would no longer be updated any longer was 1972: The Retro WW Experiment. The WW stands for Weight Watchers and the author, Mimi, would make and post meals from 1970s Weight Watchers booklets. I thought she had a really great niche these for a blog, but after she failed to get an interview with WW's founder, Jean Nidetch (who also died last year) she closed the shop up on any new posts.

    I guess I'm bringing it up as an excuse to pat myself on the back, because there have been a couple of times I thought of throwing in the towel myself (although I'm awfully glad and grateful that I stuck it out.) When I first starting writing Go Retro in 2007 I did it with the intentions of just posting for fun; I certainly did not expect to attract a lot of readers or make any money with it right off the bat. It took about a good five years before either of those things started to happen (and make no mistake; while I run advertising on this blog, it's not like the revenue I get is anywhere near an amount to live off of; more like I'm grateful it covers filling my car's tank up with gas every couple of months.)

    And it's only due to the fact I've been out of work for a while that I've been able to update this site and obsess over the layout and other things about it so much. Blogging can be a lot of work and it can really take a while to build and audience and see results. So I get where so many folks I followed no longer have the time and/or the passion to keep at it.

    Having said that, another reason for this post is just to mention the updated blog roll I added at the bottom right side of the page, below the contact me form. I encourage you to check out these swell bloggers' sites, that are still quite active and updated regularly. Some have a retro theme and some do not, but I have my own reasons for following all of them and try to pop in on them when I can. They all deserve their own pat on the back!

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    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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    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!


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    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?

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    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.


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    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!

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    I have some really wonderful personal news to report. You may remember that it was a couple of years ago when I announced on here that my position at work had been eliminated due to a restructuring. Since that time, I've been freelancing (but not making anything close to a living), interviewing, doing a lot of looking within, and experimenting with the notion of other career paths...only to realize that what I've been doing all along is what I knew would truly make me happy.

    Well, I'm happy to report that yesterday I accepted a job offer...a really terrific one, as a matter of fact, and I start on Monday. I don't want to say the name here (partly to protect my privacy, and because it can show up on someone's news alert and will end up embarrassing me) but I'm going to be the social media manager and all around marketing go-to person for a food brand that's ready to make a big splash with consumers this year. Some of you know I believe strongly in the law of attraction and thinking positively, and I have no doubt this way of living my life helped me manifest this job opportunity. It quite literally has everything -- and then some -- that I wanted on my dream job wish list. I also knew that waiting for the right opportunity was going to be the one that would make me the happiest and most fulfilled.

    So what does this mean for Go Retro? Well, obviously, I'm making this announcement just to give the heads up that I won't have as much time to post here, but will strive to do so once a week. Suffice to say I'm going to be committed to this next phase in my career and I'm also keeping one of my freelance side gigs because it's related work. This blog is still my baby, however -- so rest assured I'm not going away! But it is such a relief to feel my life moving forward again...and I plan on reclaiming a social life, too. It was a really great run to have had two years of extra free time to devote to blogging more often. I also doubt that the Facebook page will be updated daily. (I barely use Twitter as it is, and might branch it out eventually so that there's an account for me and an account just for Go Retro.)

    Thanks to everyone that offered words of support, on here, as I posted periodic updates about where I was career-wise. I really can't wait to be a working girl again!

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    When one thinks of Steve McQueen, his most notable movies such as Bullitt, The Great Escape, and The Thomas Crown Affair usually come to mind. Up until yesterday, Baby the Rain Must Fall was still on my list of unseen McQueen movies and unfortunately, I can honestly say I wasn't missing much. A lot of McQueen fans rave about this film and consider it one of his most underrated efforts. I have to disagree. A shoddy script, poor character development, misplaced harpsichord soundtrack music, and cheesy fight scenes are not the stuff that Oscars are made of. Did I mention that McQueen lip-synchs in this movie?

    Halfway through the running time I began to wonder why McQueen chose this movie, until I realized the character he was playing mirrored the off-screen King of Cool in many ways. McQueen himself never knew his dad and his mother was an alcoholic prostitute. He was raised by his grandparents and uncle, but still managed to get himself in and out of trouble after returning to his mother and a new stepfather that beat him. McQueen also drifted to Texas as a teen, holding various jobs. No doubt he saw something in Henry Thomas, his role in the film, that deeply resonated with him.


    In the film, Henry is out on parole after spending several years in the pokey for stabbing a man during a fight. He's married to Georgette (Lee Remick) who travels to Columbus, Texas to reunite with Henry and introduce him to Margaret Rose (Kimberly Block), the young daughter that he hasn't met yet. Henry was an orphan who was raised by a strict old lady named Miss Kate, but now lives with a couple called the Tillmans. Miss Kate has advised Henry to return to night school and make something of himself, but Henry prefers singing lead in a rockabilly band around the local honky tonks.

    The reunion between Henry and Georgette is one of the most awkward ones ever played out on the big screen. After traveling by bus for hours, Georgette is finally able to locate where her husband is staying, thanks to the help of the local deputy, Slim (Don Murray), who has known Henry since he was younger. Henry's reaction to seeing his wife for the first time in several years is to shake her hand (!) and his attitude upon learning he has a daughter seems to be indifference.


    Despite the aloofness, the couple and their child move into a shack on the outskirts of town, and Henry is attempting to become the next Elvis Presley. He has lofty dreams of selling his music and becoming a movie star. The music scenes where McQueen is singing are the most cringe-worthy moments in the film. They're so overacted and hammy you can practically see the veins popping out of his neck, and I was genuinely embarrassed for him watching them. Billy Strange was the man actually singing the two Elvis wannabe songs that get repeated during the movie -- the title song and another that I can only guess was called "Treat Me Right." Considering the movie was released in January 1965 -- almost a whole year after Beatlemania swept the U.S. -- the music already sounds dated.

    There is one way of looking at the musical performances: Henry is a loser, and perhaps his awful stage presence was intentional, since it's inherent to his character. We know that the best thing he could at least try to do is secure a day job just in case that moonlighting career never takes off but alas, that doesn't happen.


    Against Henry's wishes, Georgette takes a job at a local drive-in diner to help make ends meet. At first Henry makes a half-hearted attempt at family life, but old habits die hard. One night after playing a set with his band, he makes a move on another man's woman, which result in fisticuffs. Henry flashes his blade, but still gets beat up pretty badly. Back at home, nursing his wounds, he feeds Georgette a fabricated story as to how he ended up with sores and bruises all over his face.

    Meanwhile, mean old Miss Kate is dying -- and after what seems like a long, drawn-out deathbed scene where we're forced to listen to old witch's labored breaths, she opens her eyes, sees Henry, and mutters, "You're no good, Henry. You never have been. You're not worth killing."

    After her death, Henry rummages through the house (I got the impression he was looking for any money stashed away somewhere) and then desecrates the late woman's grave until Slim stops and arrests him.

    I won't give away the film's ending, but I think you can guess by now that it doesn't have a happy one. Afterwards, it's Georgette and her daughter that are forced to pick up and pieces and move on.

    The main problem I have with this movie is the lack of dialogue and any interactive emotion between so many of the characters; namely, Henry and Georgette. They barely speak to each other. Georgette never asks him about his time in prison or makes much of an effort to encourage him to keep himself on the straight and narrow. It's so strange because there's a great scene at the beginning of the movie between Georgette, her daughter, and an older woman who boards the bus and begins talking about the convicts working in the field. Margaret Rose is concerned, unaware that her daddy was one of them. Yet we never see any kind of relationship redevelop between the two lead characters, and the only hint of their love is when Henry overhears Georgette telling Margaret Rose the story of how she met his father. Remmick isn't given much to do in the film and just kind of accepts Henry and the way things are, right up until the end credits.

    Likewise, we get the impression that Miss Kate is still a formidable presence in Henry's life, but we don't learn much about Henry's upbringing other than catching a glimpse of the leather strap still hanging in Miss Kate's wardrobe (that we assume was used to discipline Henry.) If the movie were made today, we would see flashbacks of Henry's early life that may help us understand better why he allows himself to find trouble.

    One notable tidbit of trivia about Baby the Rain Must Fall: although I missed him, Glenn Campbell has an uncredited role as one of the band members in Henry's group. Also, the Texas setting seems to work for the mood of this film, with its unpaved roads and empty plains. (Be prepared to hear crickets during several scenes. Lots and lots of crickets. I've never heard so many unnecessarily in a film before; drove me nuts.) Kudos must also be given to child actress Kimberly Block, as Margaret Rose. She honestly delivers one of the best acting performances, and it's a little surprising that Baby the Rain Must Fall was her only film.

    Then of course, there's the eye candy which comes in the way of McQueen wearing jeans and an unbuttoned shirt (at 35 years of age and before the drugs of the swinging '60s took hold of him, he DID look good in this film) but that's really all I can give it. No surprise, audiences didn't receive it too well at the time of its release, either. It's a disappointment when McQueen is missing his cool.

    Here's one of the singing scenes from the movie; it isn't as bad as when McQueen is performing in the honky tonks...but, well, you get the idea.


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