Coke & American Diversity-It’s the Real Thing

Coke Ad - 1948

“Hospitality-So Easy and Welcome with Coke” vintage Coca Cola Ad 1948

Real America is causing a controversy for some real Americans.

Coca Cola’s multilingual Superbowl commercial celebrating American diversity has stirred up xenophobic rage across social media.

In the great cultural cauldron of 21st century America there still seems to be one basic ingredient to being a real American…English-speaking, heterosexual, and Caucasian.

Vintage Coke Ad 1946

Once upon a time no one reinforced this more than that all American beverage Coca Cola.

Their sentimental mid-century ads portraying an America that existed primarily in our Norman Rockwell fueled fantasies, were as syrupy sweet as the elixir they sold. Like all advertising at the time, their heartwarming illustrations of small town America were a color and ethnic free zone.

#SpeakAmerican

The internet was abuzz with angry comments after the ad appeared, creating a deluge of pseudo patriotic hashtags to break out on twitter. The outrage at “America the Beautiful” being sung in anything but English resulted in some calling for a boycott of Coke, that most American of products.

Well apparently that old-fashioned recipe for prejudice is still being used by some real Americans who are outraged at a Coca Cola commercial showing real America. The spot features people from diverse backgrounds singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages.

Vintage Coca Cola Ad

Coke is as American as apple pie and baseball - Vintage Coca Cola ad

Face the Facts

The fact is, some conservative pundits are uncomfortable with the look of America and its diversity.

The fact is, the America Coke displayed, is the Real Thing!

That a broadcast commercial might reflect this actual diversity of thought like the multicultural and sexually diverse fabric of modern America is as refreshing as a frosty bottle of Coke!

While All-American Coca Cola has now beautifully embraced American diversity, the cranky critics of the Coke commercial crying “un American” seem stuck in a time warp .

This isn’t “their” America – that is the Mad Men mid-century America where the “other” was best kept in the shadows. Perhaps they long for a simpler time like the ones served up with extra sugar by Coke in their vintage advertisements.

Their notion of what constitutes an American is as dated as the portrayal of real America that Coca Cola once pictured in their ads

 The Right to Happiness and a Bottle of Coke

Coke at the Soda Fountain - 1946

“There’s always a welcome – at your favorite soda fountain.This congenial club is as warm and American as an old-fashioned barbecue or band concert right in the village square.” vintage Coca Cola ad 1946

Coke has long been associated with the American way.

“The soda fountain” that dispensed Coca Cola was, they explained in a 1946 ad, “as American as Independence Day …the very expression of Democracy!”

These slice of life images showing Americans enjoying a refreshing pause in their American dream life often took place in that neighborhood soda fountain- “the friendliest place in town”- that is, as long as you weren’t Asian, Hispanic or African-American.

The “friendliest place in town” was also the whitest place in town.

Americas Friendliest Neighborhood Club

“Not far from you right now is a neighborhood branch of Americas friendliest club-the soda fountain,” begins this folksy Coke ad from 1946.

“Here folks get to know each other better. There’s always something going on in the friendly exchange at the soda fountain.”

Now instead of a “friendly soda fountain the place where everybody can good-naturedly air their opinions, parade their pet peeves and add your 2 bits worth to world opinions,” we have the internet where friendly folk can rage to their heart’s content.

To read the article in its entirety jump over to Envisioning the American Dream

A Thing of the Past

The Doctor is Always Within Reach

Vintage ad Mallory Electronics 1949

 A Thing of the Past

Today when it is unthinkable to go anywhere without your smartphone in hand, it’s hard to imagine the excitement and wonderment generated by this post war ad that hinted at the future possibility of a mobile car phone that functioned merely as a…. phone.

Traditionally, progress was what Americans could always count on…new and better ways of doing things.

Replacing one convenience for a new improved model that would irrevocably improve your life for the better has always been the American Way.

Calling All Doctors!

Mallory Electronics

It may be two in the morning raining buckets but in 1949 you could always count on Dr. Higgins. Like the US mail neither rain nor snow nor dark of night could stop the beloved family doctor from making a house call.

When a call for help comes the doctor can’t say no!

But imagine the time when Doc Higgins can be reached even when he’s at the wheel of his old Buick just by picking up his mobile phone. That was the near future offered up to the hopeful reader in this optimistic 1949 advertisement.

Thanks to Mallory, a manufacturer of parts for modern electronic equipment and their contribution to the future of the mobile phone, “the family doctor would always be within reach of his patients. In emergencies he can give directions over the phone as he speed to the side of the stricken.”

“Modern miracles of communication were already happening,” the ad explains. “The spoken message is no longer chained to fixed routes defined by existing wire lines. With equipment now available, explained by Mallory “oral messages can now be sent from one moving vehicle to another and to central control points.”

Call Waiting

Doctors Smoking!

The Doctor Makes his Rounds.

“Wherever he goes, he is welcome…his life is dedicated to serving others” the copy in the ad reads. ” Not all his calls are associated with illness. He is often friend and counselor. His satisfactions in life are reflected in the smiling faces of youngsters like this one and countless others whom he has long attended. Yes, the doctor represents an honored profession…his professional reputation and his record of service are his most cherished possessions.”

Of course this illustration appeared in a 1946 ad for Camels cigarettes, where our kindly family doctor heartily endorses smoking, so perhaps his professional reputation was less than sterling.

Of course modern miracles of communications like the car phone did come to pass, but the idea of a doctor making house calls has become as antiquated as the ad itself.

You may be able to speed dial your doctor on your mobile phone but good luck in getting a timely appointment.

Now all you can count on in our ailing health care system is interminable office waits and astronomical costs.

Today, the smart phone has replaced the car phone but the house call by a family doctor…irreplaceable.

An Uncomplicated Christmas

Seatrs Christmas CatalogIt was the year 1961 and we were planning our Christmas shopping.

There weren’t many choices for us living in a small town in the Pocono Mountains of

Pennsylvania. In those early years much of our shopping was done through catalogs. We would get the big catalogs and also the Christmas issues from Sears Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward.

We would spend hours looking through those catalogs and try to decide what to get other family members. I had received many presents in my younger years from one of those catalogs. The presents were always delivered by mail. No UPS back in those days.

Continue reading

When Flying Was Fun for Thanksgiving

As millions crowd our airports for the traditional Thanksgiving trek home over the river and through the woods, the tension mounts at the thought of long lines, insufferable crowds, and the dreaded delays that inevitably await the weary and wary traveler.

Gloom is cast before the holiday even begins.

But for the Post-War population, the new air travel was a breeze.

For the modern mid-century family, the notion of flying home for the holidays was a novelty and a grand experience at that.

“Over the River and Over the woods. To grandmothers house we go,” this 1951 TWA ad announces gaily.

The gleeful modern family fairly bursting with pep and anticipation couldn’t wait to board their flight to visit Grandma. Why let old-fashioned distance keep a family apart?

“There’s a new road now to an old tradition. It’s the TWA high way home for Thanksgiving. And what a blessing it is to families separated by too many rivers and too many woods….and so many years!”“If you’ve let distance and lack of time keep you away too long, try traveling this high way. Find out how TWA can make it very near to someone dear- for even an ocean apart is only hours apart…by skyliner!”

TWA went out of their way to make flying a family affair! Flying was no longer just for Dad and his business trips. Once the airline, started their Family Budget Plan, “…parents have had cause to cheer'” boasts TWA in this 1949 ad. “for now they can take the whole family by air at down to earth prices.”

By traveling on a Monday Tuesday or Wednesday, they could save substantially. “As head of the family,” they explain “Dad pays full fare. Mother and the children under 22 go for only half fare each”…and best of all crying infants and toddlers under 2 could fly free of charge!

Tempting you further, TWA promises, “The flight is a delight, the service supreme, with delicious hot meals served free. Best of all…and oh how mother loves this!…you’re there long before the kids start to fuss or fidget!”

“Snowtime’s no time to give up flying! Vintage American Airlines Ad 1950

Compare the cheery disposition of Mr. and Mrs. Modern who have chosen the up -to-date way to travel to visit Grandmother with their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Outdated who chose the more antiquated mode of travel- their automobile.

Hampered by a snow storm they are unable to dig out in time for the turkey. Mrs. Outdated, with visions of stuffing and cranberries dancing in her head, looks longingly at the speeding plane in the sky, carrying the wise Moderns to the destination.

Vintage ad American Airlines 1949

 

“Don’t Give Up- Go Up,” declared American Airlines in this 1949 advertisement , touting the benefits and wonders of the new air travel that most post-war families had yet to experience.

“Air Travel- and only air travel can often make the difference between the accessible and the impossible. This is especially true during the holidays when the earthbound are frequently snowbound. Hence, wise travelers plan to go by air.”

“Also, air travel is little affected by the challenge of distance and time. The miles on the map lose their menace- the hands of the clock become friend instead of foe when you use this modern means of transportation.”

“So when holiday travel plans seem likely to get ‘bogged down’ don’t give up- go up.”

Siri – The Voice with a Smile?

Welcome home Mac! The first Mac Pro to be Made in America will be unleashed in December. This news got us to thinking about all things Mac and we zoomed in on Siri because the real voice of Siri was recently uncovered.

Siri Speaks!

Exactly two years after Siri made her auspicious debut on October 4, 2011, the mystery woman’s identity can now be revealed. Apple’s voice activated virtual assistant never quite took off in popularity the way Apple envisioned her, but the closely guarded identity of the oft time snarky Siri has been widely speculated.

According to CNN, she is an Atlanta based voice over actress named Susan Bennett.

Though Apple is being cagey and won’t confirm it, the sleuths at CNN found audio forensic experts to back up the actresses claim.

Would You Repeat That Again?

Staying connected with the assistance of a disconnected female voice is nothing new.

Once upon a time, the alert, courteous voice of the telephone operator was known to everyone who used the telephone. Siris’ snippy voice and quirky personality stands in contrast to the golden age of telephone operators who possessed the “voice with a smile.”

The Voice With a Smile

Bell Telephone Ad 1940

Vintage Bell Telephone Ad 1940s The familiar "Voice With a Smile' operator

Telephone operators were known for their courtesy. “It’s nice to pick up the telephone,” ads would point out, “and hear an alert friendly voice come over the wire.”

“The voice with a smile” was the familiar AT&T slogan used from the 1930’s through the 1950’s . The ads visualized the cheerful sound of the company’s female operators painting a pretty face on the happy voice of the phone worker.

The speech of operators was firmly regulated through strict codes of appropriate responses enforced by supervisors listening unannounced on operators line.

“Operator ~ May I Help You?

"The Bell system appreciates your patronage, and tries to deserve it"

From the beginning, the occupation of switchboard operators was almost exclusively female. Women were valued not only because of their gentle voice, and nimble fingers , but as an added bonus, they worked for lower wages.

According to Lana Rakow in “Women and the Telephone.” an article in The American Telephone Journal of 1902 explained why female operators were desirable: “The dulcet tones of the feminine voice seem to exercise a soothing and calming effect upon the masculine mind, subduing irritation and suggesting gentleness of speech and demeanor, thereby avoiding unnecessary friction”

What Number Did You Want?

Vintage Bell Telephone Ads

From the 1930’s through the 1950’s AT&T recruited female employees through popular women’s magazines such as American Girl, Senior Prom and True Story, appearing next to ads for weight loss, feminine itch relief and bust creams.

Ads emphasized how important women were to the telephone industry. “170,000 women are employed by the Bell system,” one ad stated. “More than half of the 315,000 employees of the Bell System are women. They are your friends and neighbors- living in the same section of the country. They average length of service is about ten years.”

Perhaps courtesy and manners have gone the way of the telephone, which itself is beginning to feel rather antiquated.

 

American Nostalgia


Bombs Away - '48 Hudson

Bombs Away - '48 Hudson Original Art by Gwendolyn

It is no secret to my family that I have a deep affection for American cars. The contemporary aluminum, fiberglass, or plastic American-made cars are not the vehicles that catch my eye, but I gape open-mouthed at those beautiful classics of steel and chrome of yesteryear. Nothing can turn my frown upside down as quick as seeing a muscle car or a vintage pickup truck driving down the road. The memory card in my cell phone is filled with pictures of gleaming classic trucks and the curvaceous or angled vehicles that have been known to stop my heart mid-beat from time to time.

My appreciation for classic American-made vehicles runs so deep within me as to affect my reading choices. I have read a great memoir by Michael Perry titled “Truck: A Love Story,” about an International Pickup, simply because of the word “Truck.” I read John Grisham’s short story collection, Ford County, just because the word “Ford” was in the title. Even though I’m not an avid reader of genre fiction, I really enjoyed Grisham’s book, and I think that the title itself had a lot to do with it. I’ve also felt that the author who goes by the ingenious name of G.M. Ford would definitely be worth my time and I have added reading at least one of his mystery novels to my “must do” list. Continue reading

Back to the Future

Back to the FutureA better life in the future is, in effect, the promise made by all advertising.

Beginning in the dark days of the Depression and accelerated during the War years, many American businesses adopted the future as an explicit leitmotif in advertising.

Especially during the deprivations and sacrifices of WWII, the glittering promises of a post-war world filled with unheard of conveniences and an abundance of tantalizing technological advances as presented by Madison Avenue, gave hope to a war-weary public.

Tomorrow’s Living Today

In the post-war push button dream world, a man would travel in 300 mph trains, translucent automobiles, four-decker planes, helicopters, buses equipped with cocktail lounges and amphibious jeeps. Television would bring the world to his living room, and he could transact his business by walkie-talkie while bagging a brace of ducks.

It was to be a world in which stockings never ran, fabrics never had to be washed, and intercommunication systems eliminated the need for a babysitter. Pants would never shine or lose their crease even in the rain since a man would ordinarily own several dozen synthetic suits, which after a wearing or two, he would roll up in a ball and fire into the automatic garbage disposer.

To read the entire article pick up the latest issue at Barnes & Noble or Book World Stores.

Envisioning the American Dream