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Old-Fashioned Things That Let Us Know That We Were 'Making it'

Updated on April 14, 2014

Remember "that" day when you strolled into the name-brand department store in your hometown, or opened your Sears-Roebuck catalog and said, "I am buying that 8 millimeter movie camera today."

You felt at that moment all of the overtime, long hours, sweat and toil was worth it. Now you are free to make home movies of your sweet wife and kids and show them every time you get a chance. What a subtle way to tell your friends of how much status you now have.

Just with the purchase of an 8 millimeter movie camera.

But as we found out years later, this merchandise and marketing strategy was not made by your local politicians, but huge corporations to reached-out to high-dollar advertising agencies to promote their products on a nationwide level.

Before long, two out of three American workers owned an 8 millimeter movie camera. Apparently the marketing strategy of the huge corporations worked.


Take a close look at this photo and notice how the consumers (on left) are pointing to the next run in the "status ladder," that will ultimately lend this all-American family even more clout and status with their friends and neighbors. Also pay close-attention to the salesman dressed in a suit, tie, and shined-shoes. These things tell us how people have changed in wardrobe and achieving status.

When "Mr. and Mrs. American Consumer," get this color television home, they will evolve from "Dr. and Mrs. Clairbone,: to "Dr. and Mrs. Clairbone," proud owners of their neighborhood's first color television. In 2014 most anyone with a job and good credit and haul one of these beauties from the store to their home with no trouble. But notice one more thing in the above photo. "Mr. American Consumer," whom I referred to "Dr. Clairbone," didn't find it tough to purchase this color television, but in their day, circa 1952, only the professional and privileged could afford such a luxury as a color television. The average factory worker or day laborer would have to save-up for the television set or do without certain things In order to buy such an invention for their family.

Answer me this. Who, in this couple's neighborhood didn't want to spend an exciting evening sipping cocktails and munching appetizers while watching "Gunsmoke," or some other action or drama from the comfort of the "Clairbone's" living room?

We soon learned how to master the weather


First came a neat invention called a "hand fan," that people who were hot-natured could fan themselves and combat the hot air currents. This is not the photo I was seeking. I wanted to use the vintage church fan with an ad from a funeral home on the back. That ad idea was probably the one of the wisest things Americans conceived. Point is, when we first started "making it," we learned we could influence the very weather around us.

The office fan (seen in this photo) is a marvelous way for early American companies to save money on cooling their offices. See how it blends into the character of the office? If I hadn't told you that there was a fan in this picture, would you have noticed it? This is just another step forward in the "progress parade," that told company owners that they had "made it."

This little beauty saved a lot of housewives a lot of anger, frustration, and melt-downs. Remember the oscillating fan? I do. It was so much fun to talk through the whirling blades and make your voice sound like a spaceman. This great early home appliance did give the owners a feeling of having "made it," with their 40-hour work weeks on the assembly lines, but like I told you, it served the need for children of "have-not" families to have a toy to occupy them.


Rocking in the good life as Americans grew more prosperous, so did the trimmings of their new homes. This photo features rocking chairs that the homeowner's grandparents used not as a fixture of status, but of necessity. But what other way can you think of than to join the wife on the front porch of your mortgaged-home with a front porch with a lovely view of your neighbor, "Clark Teenstein,'s" front yard, and rock in these imitation-wood rocking chairs and have a cold one? You have earned it, Mr. American. You have an almost-new car, plenty of work at the auto plant and money in the bank. Rock awhile. Enjoy.

Talk about making it this early 1960's American laborer and consumer has it all going his way. He is on his way to work the day shift so he can meet his financial obligations. He has his coffee, breakfast, and his trusty transistor radio to keep him informed with newscasts all throughout the day ahead. If he keeps going, he might change his name to, "Mr. Making It."

This lovely girl has a good reason to smile. See in the background, her window air conditioner? She is nearing "Easy Street," with her job at Ford Motor Co., a steady boyfriend, her own apartment and a window air conditioner for those hot summer nights. She dreamed of a window air conditioner as a little girl, and now she has one. Yes, even in our country's infancy, women knew when they had "made it."

What a great idea taking those swinging tunes with you. Yes, a sharp-thinking engineer in Detroit, Michigan, thought it great to have radios in cars. The rest is a great history for car makers. If a car owner had a car radio, it said outloud, "The owner of his car is making it by playing popular songs for his date to enjoy."

The glue that held early American families together in the evening: The home radio. This started a wave of various styles, colors and shapes of radios that were battery-powered or electric. But dad, the head of the house, was the only one who could touch this ingenious invention. The family would gather after dinner to listen to news, presidential speeches and some adventure from a "Terry and The Pirates," or "Lone Ranger," show before bedtime. The radio was the last step before every home in America owning a television and people around the world knew that "we" had "made it."

Ladies, who were smart made themselves available to rich men who could take care of them for life, but it took lavish gifts to win the woman's love. The mink coat, a sure-sign of upper-class status and someone who had really "made it," made the woman sporting it the center of attention to any party she and her fiancé attended. And the cost alone was in the thousands, another conversation-topic that only added to the couples' "made it," station in life.


But nothing, and I mean nothing said, "I have made it in life," more than being the proud owner of a

FLAT-BOTTOM BOAT you might be turning up your nose because I am using a flat-bottom boat instead of an outboard motor-powered boat. But a smart American male consumer would start easy, then finish tough with a bigger "toy" to show-off for his buddies. So naturally a flat-bottom boat was the perfect purchase. The hard-working man of the house could spend his Saturday's on the lake with a few cold one's and fish the day away while his wife attended her club meeting and this was before the couple had any children.

I think that a purchase such as a flat-bottom boat brought the owner a lot of pleasure, I think also that it stood for a necessary-escape or place to hide from his wife and kids, and the job he really hated . . .

"But that was the price you paid if you 'made it.'"


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, teaches12345,

      I agree. Flat-bottom boats are sure fun, but I told my wife years ago how I felt about murdering animals for our pleasure, so for her not to expect a fur coat.

      She agreed. We both love animals.

      Thanks for your comment and nice visit.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your article and found a few items I tossed but should have kept. I've never had the urge to buy a mink coat but I would love a flat-bottom boat for fishing.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Grand Old Lady (you are not old)

      You made a great point here. Keeping up with the Joneses is near-impossible. Unless you are Donald Trump.

      And I am glad that I am not.

      Come back anytime for a visit.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Catgypsy,

      Thank you kindly for your sweet input. I love looking back to things from my childhood, even teenage years. I guess I am an old softie when it comes to vintage things--especially Chevy pick-up trucks from the years 1955. Those were my trucks.

      I wonder if Heaven will have one for me?

      Love, K.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hey, SheilaMyers,

      You and I must be near the same age for I too remember those things like LPs, 8-tracks, and other nostalgia.

      I not only remember it, but I lived it. Was that a pun or what?

      Thanks for stopping by and come back anytime.



    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      So true. Pure consumerism at its finest. And we caused it . Thanks for your comment.

      Feel free to visit me anytime.



    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Oh my, this brings me so far back to my childhood. I remember the first time we bought a TV, we thought we were rich. Today, there's always a better tablet, a better phone, a better this and that, it seems to change every few months! Keeping up with the Jones is practically impossible now. Which is why I'm glad I like vintage and shabby chic stuff.

    • catgypsy profile image


      4 years ago from the South

      What a nostalgic was fun to remember things I had forgotten! Things change so fast now that you can't even keep up with what's the latest. I miss the good old days!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks for the nostalgic look at the "good old days". I'm old enough to remember our first color TV set. That means, of course, I lived through the days of LPs, 8-track tapes, and cassette tapes to finally make it to the days of CDs. Thanks for a look back. It was fun.

    • mgt28 profile image


      4 years ago

      I noticed the import of "Mr. Making It", consumers buy cars so that they drive to work for those cars in a never ending povery cycle. Consumerism!


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