Aerial Hijinx: “Blondie,” 1955

Blondie 1955

This 1955 Blondie cartoon shows how much some things have changed — remember aerials? Or paying  five bucks for a service call? — and how much DIY’ers still face the same pitfalls. Well, some are steeper than others …

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties, Toon Time

A day in the life of a tech nut (1947)

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“Mr. Breger” was a comic that began as “Private Breger” during WWII. (Its other name, “G.I. Joe,” later became widely used.) During the war, his cartoons were signed by Sgt. Dave Breger. After the war it became “Mister Breger” and ran until 1970.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, Toon Time

Future Visions #2: What 2000 Was Supposed To Look Like (in 1958)

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Cutline: “Catching the 8:07 ‘copter will be a breeze for urbanites, who’ll be whooshed down to the heliport in a space scooter.”

It’s a Wonderful World – Tomorrow!

The Same Science That Has Put Satellites into Outer Space is Working to Make Your Home Out of This World. Here’s a Preview of What’s on the Horizon

By Joan O’Sullivan, New York Mirror Magazine Home Editor

New York Mirror Magazine, May 25, 1958

IT MAY NOT BE PLAUSIBLE but anything’s possible in the world of tomorrow. Your most extravagant daydreams will come true because the same science that rockets Sputniks into orbit is conjuring up a multitude of modern miracles that are strictly down to earth, designed to make everyday living easier.

The progress possible in the closing years of our century isn’t nearly so remote as the moon—and man expects to reach that satellite, go on to other planets, within the next few decades.

The Atomic Age is coming home but to houses that will be far different from any we now know.

Some will be plastic and vinyl rubber. A model, made by U.S. Rubber, resembles an igloo. You’ll buy them deflated, then hunt for a foundation over which to inflate them.

When a job transfer occurs, you’ll be able to deflate the house, fold it into a neat parcel and move it to Pittsfield, Plattsburgh or Kalamazoo.

Other dwellings will be constructed of new lighter, stronger steel, now being researched at laboratories of such companies as Sharon Steel. It will revolutionize architecture, give houses new shapes—triangular, semi-spherical, globular.

You won’t run down to the cellar or up to the attic. Both will be eliminated. New storage areas will be found in extra rooms, cheaply available because homes for the average-income family will be mass-produced prefabs. You’ll be able to put up a house in a day, two at most, which is far less time than it now takes merely to find a vacant apartment in the rent-bracket you can afford.

Furnaces? They’ll be outmoded. Solar heating units will keep the new homestead snug and comfy during the Winter. If the sunshine supply runs out, an auxiliary heat pump will go to work during the exceptional spells of snowy, rainy, cloudy weather. Come season, go season, solar heat and air conditioning will maintain an even indoor temperature of 72 degrees and 50 percent humidity. In Phoenix, Ariz., a completely solar-heated house has just been built, architectural proof of what’s to come.

There will be no need for Pop to snow-shovel the driveway in the year 2000. There won’t be one. The family car by then will have given way to a helicopter, which will land on a plastic roof (it will never leak!) automatically heated to shed snow as it falls.

Transportation, which will definitely include atom-powered boats and planes so rapid you’ll be able to commute daily from Paris to a New York office, will likely produces a space-scooter, a sort of second family car. Mom will use it to scoot after groceries or deliver the kids to school. Pop might hop into it and take off for work.

Such transportation is a long way off but within the next few years will come a local travel change. Helicopter commuting will be as common as bus or train trips. New York Airways even now picks up a few commuters from Stamford and Westchester and delivers them to a heliport on the Hudson River at West 30th St. The company expect to enlarge up this service greatly with a fleet of two-motor ‘copters that seat 15. By 1970 and probably even before that, there’ll be numerous commuter runs daily. Intra-city service, such as New York to Philadelphia, will be scheduled soon, too.

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Just a Hint of What’s to Come

The interior of the modern house will be heavenly form a homemaker’s viewpoint.

Much furniture will be built-in—the trend is already underway—a boon to apartment-dwellers for whom moving day will be reduced to packing a suitcase and a few odds-and-ends furnishings.

John Van Koert, well-known designer, sees quick color changes possible because walls will be replaced by sliding panels. Sick of one color backdrop? Pull out another.

There will be no special-purpose rooms, says  Van Koert, as we know them. Instead, uniformity of decoration   through the house will be thin. Bedrooms and dining rooms will be decorated to look like living rooms. When wall panels are pushed back, the entire house will be furnished suitably to make one huge living area, if such is required for large-scale entertaining.

Many current decorating problems will vanish.

You won’t have to wonder about where to put the television, for example. Its working parts will be so small and so flat, says RCA’s David Sarnoff Research Center, the TV will be installed in a picture frame and hung on a wall.

Lamp wires will be non-existent—and lamps may well be, too. Westinghouse has already developed a method of coating glass, metal and plastic with phosphor which produces light. In the future, it’s expected that this process will be used for window shades, drapes, table tops, even ceilings and walls. They’ll all light up, lamp style.

Housekeeping will be a breeze-literally. You’ll wave a wand and dust will vanish. According to Westinghouse experts, the wand will be electrostatic. Like a magnet, it will draw dust from under beds, behind books and form all the remote crevices and corners where it hides out nowadays, stubbornly resisting the efforts of the homemaker’s dust mop or vacuum.

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A Brave Look Into the Crystal Ball

WHAT WILL MILADY wear in the years to come? It’s a tough question to answer. Predicting fashion changes from one season to the next stumps most experts right now. Sack or chemise, trapeze-look or sputnik-influence, new clothes will be made from wonder fabrics now being researched in laboratories of such companies as E.I. du Pont and Chemstrand.

What will result from these studies is anyone’s guess but here a few predictions:

1. Marvel elastic fibers that will produce doll-size dresses capable of stretching into sizes from 14 to 40.

2. Plastic frocks that will deflate for storage, inflate for wearing.

3. Spray-on waterproofing that will eliminate galoshes and rain gear.

4. Disposable wear-them-one-and-throw-them-away dresses made of specially treated paper.

5. Air-conditioned fabrics that will cool in Summer, insulate in Winter.

6. Shoes packaged with a special solution that will mold them to feet, insure perfect fit without fuss or bother.

7. One-piece undergarments designed to mold the body into Monroe shape sans ribbing or other uncomfortable features.

Whatever results, it’s possible that, instead of cutting dresses, Seventh Avenue will be “pouring” test-tube mixtures into dress molds.

Even beauty is in for some revolutionary improvements, says Madame Helena Rubenstein, who has revolutionized the glamour field over the years. She believes that the creams and lotions we now spread hopefully on our faces will be concentrated in liquids, pills and capsules taken orally. Permanent waves will be speeded into a matter of minutes. A remedy will be found for the male ego’s curse, baldness.

Food preparation even now gets closer and closer to the completely push-button era it will be a few years hence. Frigidaire, Whirlpool-RCA and other companies have designed kitchens that preview what’s to come.

For a meal of the future, you’ll press a selector dial that will move food from freezer to oven at a specified time and guarantee a perfectly cooked dinner at just the right hour.

There’ll be an automatic service cart to take meals from oven to table, from table to cabinet. In the future dirty dishes won’t go into sink or dishwasher but will be cleaned right on the storage racks.

Portability may even be extended to the kitchen itself. Westinghouse has designed a futuristic kitchen unit on wheels. You’ll be able to push it about, plug it in any place there’s an outlet.

Food itself won’t change radically. We’re not headed for an age of capsules and pills—and who wants it? You can’t toast the bride properly with a champagne capsule and perish the thought of putting a candle on a birthday pill. Food will stay as people like it, the way it is.

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Won’t Have to Catch the Waiter’s Eye

It’s a lovely day, tomorrow. You’ll dial Paris to reserve pate de foie gras for lunch at Maxim’s—you’ll actually be able to pick out the portion you want by teleview-phone. Then, you’ll hop a plane and whiz to your luncheon rendezvous abroad. If you miss a must-see TV show, a see-hear tape will record and photograph it for play-back on your return. Of course, that push-button kitchen will have dinner ready and waiting.

It’s going to be an era of togetherness. Time-saving devices will bring mother, dad and the kids together for longer period. There’ll be no need for calm-you-down or pep-you-up pills, for “tension” will be an obsolete word.

If progress continues to jet ahead—and each coming year will turn fantasy predictions into fact—three-to-four week vacations and time to spare. What to so with it? Travel and hobbies are two answers that come to mind. As for us, there are a few books we’ve always wanted to read …

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Illustrations by Bob Bugg

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties

Archive-O-Rama: Switchboard Blues

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New York Mirror Magazine, 1947

Drawings by Michael Berry

OF ALL THE PEOPLE who make daily use of Alexander Graham Bell’s remarkable invention–the telephone–none are screwier than those who call up newspapers. Take it from a newspaper’s chief operator.

One reported her woes to the Telephone Order of Personality and Smiles (TOPS) at a meeting in Bridgeport, Conn.

Talk about foolish questions! Can you imagine asking, “What was the maiden name of Gargantua, the gorilla?” Or, “My canary just laid an egg. What do I do? Separate the parents?”

Folks frequently phone at 2 in the morning to ask where they can get married. then there are executives, who, to show they’re big shots, have four assistants call before they deign to get on the wire … and the girl whose business is so secret she won’t even tell the operator whom she wants to talk to.

Anyway, our cartoonist Michael Berry, using the same deft fingers with which he dials our number to tell us his drawings will be late, depicts some of the situations poor operators are up against.

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Remind Editor’s note: Until the mid-1960s, switchboard telephone operators manually connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into appropriate jacks. Eventually came operator distance customer direct dial calling.  Into the 1980s, companies often used receptionists to screen and funnel incoming calls. Automatic phone systems eventually took over, forever separating callers from live bodies on the other end of the line.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech

“Having Fun, Wish You Were Here!” — Vintage Postcards Reveal Our Past

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By Lucie Winborne

Looking for an affordable pastime that doesn’t require too much space and tells a great story to boot?  How about the increasingly popular hobby of postcard collecting?

In the early part of the twentieth century, these miniature missives were treasured by Americans and Europeans alike, who pasted them in albums that became coffee table conversation pieces.  And while many states today boast colorful cards, “Few states can rival the amazing wealth of Florida material, for depth, breadth, and quality,” notes Sarasota author Liz Coursen.  The Sunshine State’s remarkable transformation from wilderness to vacation hotspot is charted in scenes of horse-drawn buggies, alligator trappers, citrus groves, beachcombers, and art deco hotels.  Cards of photographers like E.G. Barnhill, known for hand-tinting his pictures to give them a unique coloring, are still considered works of art.

But it’s not just pictures, including the infamously cheesy sort, which afford modern collectors entertainment.  Written messages range from the exaggerated (“I am way down in the jungles of Florida”) to the humorous (“What do you think of this hotel?  I tried to get a room here but they wouldn’t have me!”) to the historical (“I just landed a good job picking strawberries.  I will be paid two cents a quart, and that means if I can pick fifty quarts I will earn a dollar a day”).

Ready to start your own collection?  Yard and estate sales are a good place to start, not to mention eBay, flea markets and antique shops, or even vendors of old books.  You’ll want to care for your treasures with postcard sleeves (the rigid variety offers the most protection), keeping them away from humidity or direct sun.

Then gather some friends for an old-time “postcard party” – and enjoy your trip back in time!

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Tarpon Springs Postcard

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Fisherman's Prayer Postcard

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Deer Ranch Postcard 1960s

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Guest blogger Lucie Winborne is a Central Floridian. Check out her blog at Postcards From My Head.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: $50-An-Hour Models Find It Doesn’t Pay To Be Natural

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By JEROME ZERBE

Sunday Mirror Magazine, December 2, 1951

Have ever said to yourself, on looking at a photo of a model striking one of those grotesque, angular poses one constantly sees in the slick fashion magazines: “Gosh, she looks silly!”?

We’ve got news for you. The model feels as silly as she looks.

We can offer this exclusive hunk of information on the best possible authority–a handful of the leading models themselves. On a recent trip to Bermuda under the auspices of Catalina, one of the leading manufacturers of bathing suits, the writer made several orthodox shots of the beauties showing off various new swim suits.

Then, more or less as a gag, he said: “Now just pose any way you want to. Let everything go. Relax!”

The reslt is the photo you see above. The girls simply satirized the ridiculous postures they are obliged to take when posing ‘professionally for fashion pictures. Considering they get paid as much as $50 an hour for striking absurd attitudes, the models found it a wonderful relief–if not a profitable one–to be their natural selves.

Lou Campbell, at the extreme left, went into a “dying swan.” Pamela Rank, in white, struck a “la-de-da” pose. Pat Hall, seated, and Ruth Woods, at the right, were struck with the same idea, the Lady-with-her-hands-to-her-head theme. Ann Andrews is the one showing off her panties, while Jo Kuhlman thought up-all by herself-the idea of displaying her pretty legs at a “different” angle.

And it’s not a bad picture, at that.

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Model Lee Campbell in an orthodox pose. 

Blog Editor’s note:  Top models today get about $150 per shoot.

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Filed under Beach Party, Then and Now, Vintage Fashion

Jane Got The Part, but Jayne Swam Off With the Gold

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Underwater! was a Howard Hughes 1955 adventure film starring Jane Russell and Richard Egan. Russell and Egan are a husband-and-wife salvage team looking for sunken treasure in the Caribbean when they are menaced by a band of modern-day-pirates.

The wreck is found teetering on the edge of a 300-foot underwater cliff that experienced divers like Russell and Egan have a rough time negotiating.

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For the world premiere in January 1955, the film was projected on a submerged movie screen in Silver Springs, Florida. Invited guests were encouraged to don aqualungs and bathing suits so that they could watch the picture while swimming.

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Jane Russell and Reporter Preparing for Underwater Premiere

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In the above photo, United Press writer Aline Mosby (right) and Jane Russell prepare to submerge for the premiere. Miss Mosby wrote of the premiere, “Except for fascinating fish, seaweed, bubbles and wriggling reporters floating by, we could have been in Grauman’s Chinese Theater.”

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At the same time, a young Jayne Mansfield had been brought out to Silver Springs for the promotional junket. She’d been luckless in finding work in Hollywood until then, but a wardrobe malfunction during the premiere—she lost her bikini top—helped her land a Warner Brothers contract. And that was that.

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Jayne Mansfield during the Underwater! publicity junket.

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 Underwater! was supposed to be Jane Russell’s star vehicle, but the (possibly self-imposed) bikini blooper at the premiere by then-unknown Jayne Mansfield changed the tide—and fortunes—of the two.  Actresses, we mean.

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A 1955 Sunday Mirror Magazine article about the Jayne Mansfield’s sudden “discovery” on the “Underwater!” junket.

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From the vault: “Surfside Story’s New Rumble” (1963)

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“Kooky” Combos Hit the Beach in Teen Designs

 

NEW YORK MIRROR MAGAZINE, May 26, 1963.
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By Jane Worth
New York Mirror Fashion Editor
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Teeners may be limited to the number of Summers they can enjoy before they hit the sedate world of adulthood, but they sure can crowd a lot of living into the short, fun-filled years of carefree youth.
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Look what they’ve done to the beach scene. They’ve taken the new designed here by Rose Marie Reid, added a few heady touches and lo, the beachwear is forever young.
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Leading the parade (from the top, left to right) are: one-and two-piece cowboy catchers, in denim: a straightline top and hip-high shorts combo; two-piece cotton-check charmer; bold-printed beauty hitting the cycle; (bottom, from left): knitted Helanca piped in white; cover-up shift for shifting sands; wild-flower printed maillot for untamed youth; striking striper; sold top and flower-appliqued shorts ensemble.
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Young dynamite, no? Or Teen-N-T!
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Blog editor’s note: Why is it that none of these models look within five years of being a teenager?

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VINTAGE TRUE CRIME: The Law’s Zombies (3/3/1947)

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 Waving to his wife, the man swam out to sea and disappeared until a few weeks after the courts declared him dead. And the ruling till stands. (ART: Ed Vebell)

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Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 3, 1947

First appeared in ReMIND Magazine issue 4.6

By JOSEPH JOHNSTON

“The Zombie is a human corpse, still dead but taken from the grave and endowed by sorcery with mechanical semblance of life.”

Thus the late W.H. Seabrook, greatest of all authorities on voodoo, is quoted by Webster’s International Dictionary on the fascinating subject of the reanimated dead.

The law courts of the United States have created many a legal zombie — by the simple process of pronouncing missing persons legally dead. This is usually done on the application of some relative or other interested party to facilitate settlement of estates. There are, of course, minimum time limits that vary from seven to twelve years in different states. But once a person has legally been declared dead,  legally coming back to life presents many more difficulties.

Where life insurance payoffs are involved, the companies usually oppose court action in declaring missing persons dead. They hire legal batteries for this purpose, and staffs of private investigators to track down the suspected living dead. Although they will publicly deny it, insurance company executives privately admit that there are thousands of such legal zombies walking around, many of whom don’t even know they’ve been interred by the courts.

About ten years ago, a young New York couple went for a day’s outing to a resort on the New Jersey shore. As his spouse sunned herself with their small child on the beach, the husband plunged into the surf and swam out to sea. He turned once, smiled, waved, then continued plowing powerfully through the waves until he was no more than a speck to those on shore. A number of bathers commented that he was dangerously far out. But his wife smiled confidently and remarked that her husband was a strong swimmer and was accustomed to going out a mile or more.

After a reasonable time, when he didn’t return, his wife became alarmed. By nightfall, the Coast Guard patrol was searching for his body, but no trace of the missing swimmer could be found.

Last year, the widow finally won her court battle to have the missing husband declared dead. The insurance companies, which stood to pay out $50,000, contested. But the verdict of the New Jersey court was that the husband had drowned.

A few months after the widow had collected the money, two unsavory characters appeared, demanding half the take. Their attempted shakedown was based upon a threat to reveal that her husband was actually alive. The woman, who wanted no part of either fraud or blackmail, notified the insurance people. The racketeers were jailed. But the resulting investigation turned up proof that reports of the husband’s death had been greatly exaggerated.

He had, it was learned, decided that he hadn’t loved his wife, and had just swum away from it all. Furthermore, he considered any attempt to resurrect him was an invasion to his right to privacy, for which he would sue the insurance companies if they tried. Before any court action could be brought, he again disappeared. You can’t, it seems, legally restore life unless you produce the body. So the court has created a zombie who prefers whatever hereafter he has found to the used-to-be he left.

On evidence of the War Department’s report that a certain G.I. was killed in action in the Pacific, two insurance companies paid a bereaved widow’s claim for policies totaling $27,000. Two days after payment had been received, investigators, making a routine check, learned that the woman had sold her house and disappeared with her two children.

They traced the woman to San Francisco, to Honolulu, and from there to an island in the Pacific. Further work by sleuths attached to the Hawaiian office of one of the companies produced proof that the “widow” had joined her legally deceased husband on a tiny atoll they had bought and over which the United States has no jurisdiction.

Every so often, an insurance man stops to call socially, and tries to sell this War Department’s legal zombie on the idea of returning to the States, where he can be sued for the return of the money. But the deadbeat prefers to sit on his island veranda—drinking, no doubt, double zombies.

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Filed under Beach Party, Vintage True Crime

Hot Social: Anatomy of a Tumblr Post

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Ed Vebell illustration to “Loneliness is Dangerous,” a story by Harry Coren. Cutline: “Alone in the midsts of millions, the girl, who longed to talk to someone, stood on her fire escape as the voices of others, enjoying the companionship denied her, drifted up through the night.” Sunday Mirror Magazine, August 14, 1955.

We’ve kept up a ReMIND Tumblr blog called Funnster since early 2012. It’s a great place to share a lot of the cool images we’ve pulled out of our archives, and there are some really hip people at Tumblr who have been doing the same for a lot longer.

In Tumblr, visitors can either Like or Repost one of your images; the two options are both tallied in the Notes count. There’s definitely a popularity pecking order–images of Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor get passed around like hot tomatoes, as do rare images like candids from movie sets.

This magazine cover of Elizabeth Taylor from a Sunday Mirror Magazine cover from Dec. 31, 1950, was posted a few weeks ago and has so far received 458 notes:

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Elizabeth Taylor, cover of Sunday Mirror Magazine, Dec. 31, 1950.

Frequently we’ll post a scan of a magazine illustration from the 1950s from our archives, and some folks seem to like them. This one posted last April has received 244 notes:

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Illustration by Victor Guise for true crime article, “Clue At The Ringside” — “The Young Boxer Handily Beat HIs Opponent, Only to Find His Profession Had Led Police to Him,” Sunday Mirror Magazine, Feb. 25, 1951.

Tumblr is a social medium that is awash in oceans of images, so it’s not surprising that stuff that you might think would be popular gets missed, like this one:

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Marilyn Monroe, Sunday Mirror Magazine cover, March 21, 1954.

Total notes for a vintage and what I would think rare Marilyn:  Five.

Go figure.

(For a peek at pix from the inside spread, click here.)

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So last September I posted the Ed Vebell illustration that leads this post, and it got hardly a flicker of attention, maybe 10 or 15 notes. Then last Wednesday, something weird happened. I started seeing notifications of activity (likes or re-posts) of that image again and again. By day’s end there were over 1,000 notes.

By the end of the next day, 3,000 notes.

By the end of Friday, 5,000 notes.

Current tally: 6,225 notes.

What is it about one image that catches the social wave? I’ve posted many others like it. It’s not especially artful (I scanned from newsprint archives in this case, where in others I have the original artboard).

Tumblr seems most popular with young women. Maybe there’s something in the vibe of retro ennui that is archetypal.  You know — that there were lonely women in the city Back Then adds a certain retro grace to the fact that many still feel that way.

Maybe it got picked up on a popular Tumblr site that flung the image up into one of the big social waves

Maybe it was just pure random luck.

Comments, anyone?

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Filed under Social Media Hoodoo, Vintage Illustration