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by Tavis Coburn

Did hazy memories of Melton wool, rye whisky and classic (makeout) cars, brought back by reading Larry Smith’s exercise in retro-living (“Tech ’54, Where Are You?”), make you want more of ’54? We did too, so we harvested some typical advertisements found in the pages of Popular Science to feed those nostalgic tendencies. How better to appreciate the ’50s culture of consumption than to look at what was up for sale?

1. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>July 1954: Ford capitalizes on the popularity of “carefree summer trips,” emphasizing the need for a tune-up to “travelize” your vehicle (presumably a Ford) before hitting the road. Ask yourself: Is your car in “trip-top” shape?

2. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>July 1954: Harley-Davidson celebrated 50 years of being American-made in ’54 with its Golden Anniversary 74-overhead-valve motorcycle. For the company’s centennial, the whole line of bikes had special 100th anniversary logos.

3. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>August 1954: This German hunting knife graced the inside of the August ’54 cover. As sharp as a razor and versatile, the knife’s $3.95 list price of would barely get you a Bic today.

4. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>August 1954: This ad for Aqua-Lungs, the first open scuba diving equipment, appeared frequently in the early ’50s. And the Frogmen suits? Our ’50s readers would have recognized the reference–before there were Navy Seals, Frogmen were the underwater demolition experts of WWII.

5. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>August 1954: A typical business reply card from the early ’50s–notice the lack of zip code. (Zip codes weren’t adopted by the U.S. Postal Service until 1963.)

6. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>August 1954: John Wayne warmly endorses Camel cigarettes in 1954. Twenty five years later, Wayne died of lung and stomach cancer.

7. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>October 1954: Shaving soap and brush, begone! New “canned lather” AeroShave will “wilt toughest whiskers in a jiffy.”

8. onClick=”window.open(”,’popup1′,’height=575,width=575,scrollbars=yes,resize=no’)”
target=”popup1″ class=”sidebar”>December 1954: DeVry Technical Institute recruits future electricians to (eventually) fix the 7.4 million black-and-white, and 5,000 color, television sets sold in 1954. At the time, 56 percent of U.S. households had a TV.

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