An ad found in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1956: “HOW IS YOUR ROBOT SUPPLY HOLDING OUT?” Is last year’s model broken, or have they all just wandered off? I suppose there’s also subtext as to whether your robots have revolted and killed all their masters, or…well, I suppose that’s where all roads lead anyhow.
It’s offering a ‘turtle’, a light-sensing robot with ‘hungry’ and ‘avoid’ states called the Machina Speculatrix, which was actually a significant leap in technology: remember, this is the mid-1950s, experimental robotics wasn’t something they taught in an afterschool program using Legos, Radio Shack was still focusing on radios, and the original plans are vacuum-tube based. The ad was from Oliver Garfield Company, whose biggest contribution was the Geniac calculators, and also offered basic instruction in ‘hyperspeed reading’, modelling a nerve cell in electronics, and digital and analog computers.
The instructions for the Machina Speculatrix were $5, which is a pretty hefty amount — $50 in today’s dollars — and buying the unassembled kit would set you back a cool grand in 2019 money. But, really, isn’t a few weeks’ salary a small price to pay for cutting edge robotics technology?
From the January 1982 Howard Binford’s Guide, an ad for the sporting event of the season – women’s mud wrestling, “Like You’ve Never Seen It!” I don’t know exactly how much women’s mud wrestling the Old Broadway thought Fargoans had seen, but it was apparently nothing compared to what the Chicago Knockers would bring to the Fargo Civic Auditorium on that cold Thursday night.
The Chicago Knockers were worth above-the-fold crediting; if you’re a fan of G.L.O.W. on Netflix, you’d appreciate that there’s more to women’s wrestling in the 1980s than nationally syndicated WWF-style rings and wacky characters. The Chicago Knockers toured internationally, bringing their muddy messiness to audiences everywhere.
It appears the “celebrity matches” were generally local celebrities dragged into the athletic hijinks, but I’m not sure who they would have taken to the mat: my votes are for Dewey Bergquist and Kay Burgum, but they probably weren’t available.
At it’s most basic, the 1960s to 1970s experienced a reaction to the clean-cut Modern look by casting an eye back to the 1800s (via cowboy movies and TV) and colonial times (via Bicentennial nostalgia), resulting in some of the most god-awful furniture seen at rummage sales today.
Every so often I get a VHS urge; I have boxes of old VHS video tapes that I’ve gotten from relatives, exes, rummage sales, and who-knows-where. Many have no labels, and many aren’t what the label says, so I put them in my VCR and fast-forward to see if there’s anything interesting. I’m always surprised at the obscure things that are already on YouTube, but for the most part I’m digitizing interesting and iconic commercials and posting them on my YouTube channel. These two caught my eye — see if you can see what they’ve got in common:
These both aired in different slots during a 1992 episode of Jeopardy! — that time period was during the oil bust, but Williston was still the “big city” to a lot of communities in the Bakken and eastern Montana.
Apparently, though, it was still small enough that the best way to tell customers how to find you is based on the Pizza Hut’s location. Of the two, I would have guessed furniture would outlive the fickle, ever-changing world of communications, but while Kotana is still around selling radios — still right behind the Pizza Hut! — Thrift House Furniture is no longer on the map; I Keating Furniture looks like they’re the current furniture shop two blocks west of Pizza Hut. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There’s few things that make me go, “What’s that – I need one!” than when I saw this guy:
Three wheels, a space-age half-steering wheel, and a grill off a muscle car?
This is the Probe Jr., a pedal car made from the late 1960s to early 1970s. I can’t imagine it’d be very stable, being so narrow and on three wheels, but crashing is just the fun of it, right? That pressed-steel body will absorb most of the impact.
Overall, they seem pretty rare — most discussion on the internet starts with, “I found this, what the heck is it?” and there’s a few restored that show up on eBay and Etsy from time to time.
The 1980s were a golden time for cartoons: they came on at 6am, ran until you had to go to school, then as soon as you walked through the door after school, more cartoons until dinner. At least it was that way on KVRR, the UHF station that aired Fox affiliate shows in the evening but the rest of the day was a cornucopia of syndicated content.
KVRR was so devoted to children’s programming they even enlist the help of this guy: Vorr-Trexx the Defender:
For the life of me, I don’t remember the dude, who looks like he would have a fine career in pro wrestling if he hadn’t devoted his life to cartoons and other cartoon-like TV programming. He was so awesome he did in-person appearances when necessary, as documented in these three spots I found on an ancient video tape:
I hope he was well-compensated for this role; the lives of children were at stake! Or, at least it kept us out of our parents’ hair for a while, which is almost as important.