I brought home a massive book I had the library order about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment. I browsed through the book, the photos, and illustrations, but what really piqued my interest was the reproduction of the November 29, 1964 LIFE magazine that was included in the back. Now that we are past all the anniversary remembrances for a president who died three years before I was born, I was intrigued by how our products have changed in 50 years. This is not a trip down nostalgia lane, but an image comparison, a visual catalog if you will, to see how remarkable and unremarkable the changes to products have been over 50 years.
Teddy Roosevelt brought cases of Schlitz on his big game hunting trip to Africa. Schlitz is still around and owned by Pabst. However, beer markets have changed so much that I have Fairhope Brewing, a local brewery and taproom, in my hometown, and have beers from Alabama, Louisiana, New York, Boston, and Oregon sitting in my fridge. I like to think that I’m part of American beer’s greatest generation, which started in 1984 when I was 17. Thank you Samuel Adams and Jim Koch and others for starting the beer revolution. Craft brewers like Back Forty, Covington, Southern Tier, Harpoon, and Rogue combined don’t come close to the amount Budweiser, no longer a US owned company, brews in one day. In the same Life magazine, Price Furniture Co. of Fairhope, Alabama is listed as a Congoleum-Nairn Floor covering retailer.
I have not gone completely digitally mental, so I still have Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary on my desk. Many people do not, preferring to access a built in dictionary on their eReader, Googling a definition on the web, or downloading the App. Merriam’s Eleventh Edition, published in 2003, may very well be the last, in print.
Maidenform still makes bras. In fact, Maidenform owns most of the bra brands, including Victoria’s Secret and Playtex, according to Wikipedia. This was a successful, bold, and sexy ad campaign in the 1950s and 1960s. So much so that it was mentioned in an episode of Mad Men. In the 410-page Hollywood 2014 edition of Vanity Fair magazine I couldn’t find an ad for a bra, even by an intimates company with the same name, Vanity Fair. However, there are lots of pictures of women with bras showing, as well as arm and hand bras. There are no pictures in the Vanity Fair magazine Oddly there are three images of Marilyn Monroe, and she’s been dead longer than JFK. Since I don’t wear a bra or a bro, I’ll leave it up to the wearers to decide how they have improved.
The most radical changes, undeniably, are phones and the services offered by phone companies. My iPhone is a handheld computer. It wirelessly stores and accesses data, programs, and apps with ease and has all the capabilities of a classic phone, right down to the ring tone. When someone figures out how to put a pint of Fairhope Brewing’s Paint it Black IPA in my iPhone for me to enjoy wherever I am in the world, that’ll be truly revolutionary.