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The Incredible Life of the American Boomer Family

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                                          What’s a Baby Boomer?

It’s time to transport ourselves back to our parents’ Age of Innocence, a time when the country was so happy to have survived World War II that we even tolerated Joe McCarthy as a dangerous pest and Richard Nixon as a Vice President. It was a time to start feeling young again and go after the American Dream with gusto. If you were a soldier who spent three or four years fighting for your country all you wanted to do was go home to the woman still waiting passionately for you. It was time to get on with your life. The term “Baby Boom” originated out of the fact that along with every other industry and new technology that was roaring full speed ahead after the war, so was the production of babies.  

Yes, we had to worry about the evils of Communism, and nuclear weapons were threatening the future, but a young ex-service man was able to go to college on the G.I. Bill and was soon out to find a job, security, get married, raise a family and get that house in the suburbs.  Between the years 1947 and 1957: 54 million new cars were bought, 11 million new homes were built, and 3 million people graduated college. Ah yes! 50 million television sets were sold.

             The Ultimate Boomer Family

The America portrayed on TV was an antiseptic country, a drug-free culture with no political, economic or ethnic strife -- a simple, middle-class white suburban world represented by the likes of Ozzie and Harriet, I Love Lucy, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, Make Room For Daddy and that last gasp on television in the guise of The Brady Bunch -- a strange, distorted environment where parents didn't raise their voices in anger.

'American Thrift'

(Jam Handy and Chevrolet, 1962)

According to the June 4, 1962 issue of Boxoffice Magazine, 'American Thrift' is a "tribute to the American woman" created by Jam Handy Organization and funded by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors Corp. The film was the fifth in the "American Series," which began in 1952 and profiled different aspects of post-war American culture. 47 million Americans viewed the first four entries in the series. The film played in movie theaters before features like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's "The Road to Hong Kong."

Natural Gas Company Commercial for Wives

Black Label Beer Ad with Multitasking Mom

 

  What's a Baby Boomer Wife?

On television every one loved each other and there was no such thing as divorce. Money was seldom a problem or brought up in conversation and neighbors always got along one way or another. In this TV culture, moms never worked. They took care of the households. Sometimes the dads might try some role reversal – “job switching” in the parlance of I Love Lucy -- but let the women out of the household and they became more and more inept.

Jello Instant Pudding

AD  Clothing Detergent

Dentine chewing gum

Reddi Starch Spray

 

Minute Rice and the Astronaut 

In most commercials women are presented as a homemaker and a matriarch without professional opportunities or aspirations. Much of this footage is campy and shocking to our contemporary concepts of gender equality and feminism. Too many of these visions, however, continue to influence our national culture and deserve a retrospective analysis. How can we know where we want to go as a society without understanding the historical messaging that has brought us to our present reckoning?

Everything we would eat, wear, and use in everyday life was up front and personal, and presented to us on television. How could we possibly get through life without these items? And, yes I was one of those Boomers to be dazzled and delighted (just like my parents) by those tempting cookies, candies, cereal, cigarettes, beer, soft drinks, cars, hair products and toy ads (well, maybe my parents weren’t thrilled by the toy ads).

Tootsie Roll Lollypops

Speedy Alka Seltzer

Quisp & Quake Cereal by Geberal Mills

Sominex Sleeping Aid Absolutely Not Habit-Forming

General Electric Portable TV

Day by day rooftops gave birth to television antennas all over town, throughout the suburbs and slowly the entire country. The first hotel to install television sets in all their rooms was the Pierre Hotel in New York. The pioneering owners of television sets also found themselves doing a lot more entertaining. It became an event for friends and neighbors to see what this television was all about.

Magazine and Newspaper advertisements for Television Sets

Coming Soon

“Oiltown USA” AJAX laundry detergent

Promotional Advertisement licensing cartoons on Television 

Coming Soon

It was a time of transition in the entertainment industry with television as the catalyst emerging as a threat to the status quo of both radio and films. By 1948 the film industry pretended to ignore television; some felt it had potential but most were in denial, just like they did when silent films were forced to speak. All the film studios made it clear they were opposed to anyone in their employ doing television work. Again history repeats itself in the arts -- theatre producers during the birth of silent films threatened to blacklist you from stage work if you were caught making pictures for the nickelodeons.

RCA TV Serviceman Week

Keystone 8mm Film Projector & camera.

RCA tape recorder

Steve Allen, the legendary television host, said in an interview, “There were stores, mostly radio and appliance shops, selling television sets. They had them displayed in windows, and there were crowds that would gather on the sidewalks. It was as if somebody put a Martian in the window and everybody would say ‘Hey, get a load of this.’ The bright, the dumb, the rich, the poor, the left, the right, everybody was standing on the sidewalk watching these strange boxes with the moving pictures in the store windows.”

Gunther Beer 

Muriel Cigars

Campbell Soup  

 Kent Cigarette with Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore

For more then twenty years when it came to making money, radio was the Fort Knox of minting gold bricks over the airwaves. Now in 1949 television was about to make toast of radio’s bread and butter.

Clorets Chewing Gum

Cheerio's 

Anacin Aspirins

Standard Oil with Chuck McCann

Radio shows soon found themselves being shuffled out of their own studios while cameras and sets were being pushed in and installed. What television was turning into was a remarkable way to sell products and Madison Avenue started trying to figure out how to re-work the science of selling advertising on radio to television. Most of the advertising geniuses knew how to phrase words to listen to or read; now they had to figure out how to make it visual.

Girl Toys

Tiny Tears Doll

by Ideal Toys

Mystery Date Board Game  by Milton Bradley

Dawn the Fashion Doll Sales Film

Boy Toys

Mr. Machine 1959

Mr. Kelly's Car Wash

by Remco Toys

Robot Commando by Ideal Toys

Their concentration would be on the appeal of household products, beer, wine, soft drinks, tobacco, household products, medical products, toiletries, apparel, appliances, cars and trucks, automotive products, gasoline and consumer services among others. It was like a narcotic, or a simple minded game of brainwashing a nation into schizophrenia, as we had to own those products showing up in between our favorite television programs. It started in the late 40s when advertising agencies tried to start perfecting the one-minute commercial.

Most Americans in 1948 had never seen a live theatre production of any kind. The closest to a drama, musical or comedy was if they heard it on the radio, or watched it on a movie screen.

 

Now not only could you watch old movies starting to appear on television for the first time, but you had a chance to see first rate theatre productions being staged live.

 

What made it so enticing was it was all free, and you were experiencing it all in the privacy of your home.

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