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 Post subject: CAN YOU NAME IT?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:49 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13564
Location: CT
Quick, before the virus gets everyone and all our history is completely lost, who can identify these strange foreign objects? (Old folks, help the youngsters!)
Comments and memories are most-welcome.


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 Post subject: Re: CAN YOU NAME IT?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:40 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13564
Location: CT
Here are the answers to the 28 mystery photographs:

1. Back in the days of blackboards and real chalk, elementary teachers used this chalk holder to make perfect parallel lines across a blackboard. That let them teach writing proper English btwn the lines. Music teachers also used these to quickly make FACE and EGBDF musical lines for G-and-Treble Clef musical scores. In middle school math teachers used this to make quick graphs for plotting.
In today's world neither these, blackboards nor even chalk exist in classrooms anymore. If the Corona virus doesn't quit soon, we won't have classrooms anymore, either.

2. Back in the 1950s elementary kids still learned to write using pen and ink. Each desk had a glass inkwell set into it. Kids being messy, the ink often got splashed onto them, their books, and the little girl sitting ahead of them. This school desk ink bottle solved those problems by giving the kids a small sliding hatch which they could close to prevent the ink from spilling out.

3. Back in the Rock and Roll days, everybody's phonograph had a thin 33-1/3 rpm spindle in the center of the turntable. But R&R records were released in 45rpm format, with a huge hole in the center of the record. This record adapter snapped into that huge hole and allowed you to play your 45rpm record on the 33-1/3 rpm turntable.

4. Sliderules (or "slipsticks") were the pocket-carried mechanical calculators of the 1950s and '60s. Before battery-powered portable calculators were invented, these weird rulers allowed you to add, subtract, multiply, divide, square-root, and convert metric into standard measures. It took a whole semester class to learn how to use one, and they were universally hated by everyone. The only place you could actually carry one of these was sticking up out of your shirt pocket, which signaled to everyone that you were a "brain" or a "geek". And by the way, just so you know, the clear-plastic sliding window under which the answer appeared was called a cursor!

5. Classic bicycle handlebar bell !!! This kind spun as you pressed the trigger, but most were much simpler.

6. The Hula Hoop! Craze of the late 1950s, it was intended to be fun for kids. But parents discovered it was great for waist reduction and adopted it for themselves. You could do weird things with HulaHoops and they gave Chubby Checker the idea for The Twist.

7. A "Church Key"! A bottle and can opener was mission-essential survival gear for any teenage hood who snuck a beer with his buddies when nobody could see them. This cherished device was often worn around the neck, concealed down the front of the shirt and proudly produced whenever a can or bottle of beer was discovered. The kid who always had a church key with him was the leader of the pack and looked up to by the other kids, even if he never got to open a beer can or bottle; it was like carrying a concealed PPK without shooting anybody.

8. Upright reel push lawn mower. Some of these weighed 20lbs and required a lot of effort to push thru the tall grass. However, they did excellent jobs. (I got my first blisters on one of these at age 9-10, and used it to mow peoples' lawns for a whole summer to save up to buy my first transistor radio. It was a GE the size of a brick and it broke each time I dropped it). Somebody attached an upright single-cylinder air-cooled gas engine to these, which became ubiquitously known as a "lawnmower engine" to make life easier for little kids. However, it increased the weight to 55 pounds and required an adult to start it with a pull-rope.

9. TV-top antenna. Before cable and satellite TV service, all broadcasting was local. Your reception depended upon how far you lived from the nearest TV broadcasting stations, or what hills or buildings were in the way. You either erected a rooftop antenna on your house (and turned it when you wanted to watch different channels), or you bought one of these really-expensive electrically-boosted TV top antennas (commonly called "rabbit ears").

10. CITIZENS BAND RADIO. I don't know when interstate truckers began using CB radios, but the general motoring public adopted them in the 1970s. Many drivers bought and installed them in their personal cars (I had one mounted upright behind my Z's passenger seat). They were real theft-bait and people would break into your car just to steal the CB radio. They were basically 4-watt power, which gave you a talking range of maybe 3 miles under good conditions. This model was the 12-watt Cobra 40-channel Sideband, considered the ultimate version of inter-car communication. You could talk to other cars 50 miles away on the Kansas flatlands. With cellphones, speaker phones and social media so prevalent now, I don't know if anybody even uses these anymore?

11. & 12. Automobile FENDER SKIRTS covered the rear wheels for a more streamlined and esthetic look. Presumable more aerodynamic, they were very popular in the '40s, '50s and '60s. But they were a pain to remove, collected dirt and rust-causing moisture, clogged with snow in the winter, and trapped heat in the summer which shortened the life of your rear tires. Our Buick Roadmaster even had wasp nests in both of ours, adding real adventure to changing a flat tire.
Still, small prices to pay for looking so cool. Without rear fender skirts, there could have been no LedSleds.

13. When we were kids, these SKELETON KEYS were universal to everybody's front door! We kids often locked ourselves out of the house and ran down the road to borrow a neighbor's key to let ourselves in with. They were widely copied in various sizes for small chests and trunks, as well.

14. This weird little shack was called a PUBLIC TELEPHONE BOOTH. It could be found on most city street corners or outside bars and restaurants in every city and town. As strange as it may seem to imagine it today, these were places where anybody could step in, deposit a dime and make a phonecall! You could even call long-distance if you had enough change in your pocket. You simply dialed "0" and told the Operator you wanted to call Germany (or wherever) and she told you how many quarters to deposit into the top of the phone, or you could "call collect" if anyone at the other end would accept the charges to speak with you. You could even close a little folding door for more privacy as you spoke. The top of the little shack was always lighted so you could spy one in the dark from a block away. Our folks always made sure we kids had a dime in our pocket to call home with in an emergency, before we left the house. China killed these little shacks all across America within a single decade, by making pocket-size cellphones. Dick Tracy's two-way wrist-radio gave them that idea.

15. S&H GREEN STAMPS (Sperry & Hutchinson) were a marketing ploy which allowed citizens to trade in books of stamps (which they got for 'free') for 'valuable' merchandize which they probably wouldn't have bought otherwiZe. When a citizen bought normal everyday items (such as food or gasoline), the cashier would give them a number of Green Stamps commensurate to how much money they had spent. The customers then licked (yuck!) and stuck those stamps into free paper books which represented dollar amounts when full. 'Free' catalogs showed a number of items you could trade for with your full books of stamps; bicycles for 20 books, fishing poles and reels for 7 books, shotguns for 100 books, etc. In reality the items you paid for included a slight price increase to cover the cost of the 'free' stamps, and the items you traded for were "seconds" which could not be sold for the advertised price on the market. My fishing pole reel never completed a successful cast and never caught a fish. After running for more than 50 years, the stamps were sued and ground to a halt. They exist today in a much-reformed format, on a very narrow scale.

16. ROTARY DESK PHONE. This was the world's standard communication device for nearly a century. Every office desk and household had one of these, in some form. They were made by several companies (Western Electric, Bell, etc) so they might look slightly different, but only slightly. They weighed a few pounds, had some sharp edges and were made of indestructible Bakelite. They were useable as defensive weapons in an emergency; several homicides were committed with these over the decades. Watch any Alfred Hitchcock movie.
You stuck your finger in the hole of the digit you wanted to dial, deliberately spun the dial clockwise until that digit reached a finger-stop ring, then released it and let the dial re-wind back to the start position. You then went on to the next digit and the next, until you completed the entire 7-digit phone number. Any mistake required you to hang up and start again. No speed-dial 911 buttons on these babies. (No 911 back then, either; you dialed the operator and asked for the police department). There are kids today who have never seen these and actually don't even know what they're for. This style went out of favor in the 1960s when "Princess" phones and other smaller designs became popular. I am told some of these are still in use in Russia and other baltic nations, possibly for home defense.

17. DRIVE IN SPEAKERS! These bring flashbacks to any Boomer who had to take his date to a foggy Drive In theater to make out because he couldn't afford a motel room. These indestructible 5 pound metal speakers hung two to a post at normal parking intervals in the big drive-in parking lot. Two cars would park on opposite sides of the pole and take the speaker nearest them. They rolled their car window almost completely closed and hooked the speaker over it, with the speaker inside the car, of course. A single knob let you adjust the volume ~ at least that was what was intended. Many things went wrong with these speakers. Exposed to the constant weather and malicious hoodlums, the diaphragm often died, leaving the box nearly inaudible (of course if you were only there to make out, you didn't care about that, anyway). People forgot the speaker was hung on their window and simply drove away, sometimes pulling the speaker off the pole, but always breaking their door window. Hanging the speaker on your window required you to leave a space open for voracious mosquitos, the bane of every drive-in. Getting naked in the back seat of a mosquito-filled sedan was self-sacrificial. Also, if you drove a sportscar with side screens instead of windows, there wasn't much you could do with these speakers.

18. CAR COOLER! Before car air-conditioning was widely available these non-electric, aluminum and steel cigar tubes full of cold water could be hung outside your car window to make the interior somewhat cooler as the air rushed thru them. Some people actually filled them with ice, which worked better. They are a post-war item which made your cheap Nash Rambler almost as cool as a Cadillac Brougham. They were dangerous; you could break your window by slamming the car door shut as you left (or as you entered the car). They could simply fall off the car at speed and hit other cars behind you. If you slammed on your brakes they could break free and fly into the car ahead of you. You could mis-judge the distance and rip the cooler (and your window) off the car driving into the garage, and you could accidentally clip innocent pedestrians walking in Cape Cod beach parking lots. Please don't ask how I know those things.

19. MOSQUITO COIL. The solution to the mosquito problem mentioned in #17 was the slow-burning mosquito coil. Sold at every concession stand in every drive-in theater (until they sold-out), these were a 2-for-a-buck defense against mosquitos. You lit the end of the coil, sat it on your dashboard and/or rear window deck and let it fill your car with acrid citronella smoke (which drove away flying insects and often, your date). Each coil burned about 45 minutes.

20. STEERING KNOB or SUICIDE KNOB. Officially named Brodie Knobs in 1936, Steering knobs were considered a 'cool' way to turn your steering wheel one-handed while you kept your other arm around Sweet Sue sitting beside you. They earned the sobriquet "suicide knob" because so many things could go wrong, resulting in a crash. The fancy ones were usually spring-loaded and folded out of the way when you weren't using them, but had a nasty habit of folding out of your grip at the wrong time, tangling in your shirt sleeve or breaking your knuckles when the wheel spun hard, resulting in embarrassment at best or death. When you did crash, the ultimate insult was having your own steering knob knock a few of your teeth out. They were immensely popular in the 1950s and were widely sold or even offered as promotional gifts (such as this Studebaker knob).

21. CONTINENTAL KIT. The ultimate 'cool' of the 1950s was a continental kit attached to your car to hold your spare tire. They added a hundred pounds to your car weight, 4 feet to your car length (but really, what difference did it make?), and made your headlights aim at the treetops at night. I've never had to actually open one to change a tire, but it looks as if it might have added some work to that job, too. My mom had enough trouble backing into the garage or parallel parking, without adding these problems. I guess we weren't cool.

22. FUZZY DICE! Every hotrod in America (except Milner's Coupe) had a pair of these hanging from the rear-view mirror. Maybe someone can tell me why? I have no clue.

23. 8-BALL SUICIDE KNOB. See #20, above. The 8-Ball, the death's head and the spider were the most-popular suicide knobs of the 1950s and '60s. This one attaches to the wheel with a screw-down clamp, as they all did. These clamps relaxed occasionally and could leave you holding a sliding or detached knob in the middle of a turn, while your other arm was full of Sweet Sue. Steering knobs had some purpose on large steering wheels on slow speed vehicles such as tractors, forklifts, buses or trucks, but they were dangerous on faster cars. My father was a professional driver and had a drawer full of these knobs, but refused to mount them on any vehicle he drove. Steering knobs were outlawed in most US states during the late 1960s, altho they are allowed on classic vintage hotrods for period style.

24. TRAFFIC LIGHT VIEWER. Certainly one of the handiest automotive devices ever made, this frensel lens allows you to see a traffic light suspended above your car without breaking your neck to look out the top of your windscreen. They were very popular in the 1950s when passenger cars began sporting windshield shades to reduce sun glare. These little clamshells-on-a-stick mounted to your dashboard and allowed you to see the light change above you while you were first in line parked directly beneath the light. (They are replaced today with a small contact-mounted clear decal which sticks to the top of your windscreen. Created by the German firm JustBlauMitWeiss [BMW] for the Mini Cooper, they fit every vehicle and are transferrable from one car to the next; they just peel right off and stick onto the next windscreen. $15 from http://www.LightInSight.com. I own several and give them as gifts to other drivers).

25. WINDSHIELD VISOR / SUNSHADE. These were a well-intentioned automotive failure. Designed to shade the sun glare from driver's eyes, they caused multiple problems during the 1950s. You couldn't see traffic lights suspended above you, which is the reason for the frenetic lens viewer in the same photograph. Also, dirt collected under the visor and was hard to clean off. Snow or ice were simply impossible to reach under the visor, which caused them to become unpopular.

26 & 27. CURB FEELERS. You certainly didn't have to be a hot-rodder in the 1950s-'60s to want curb feelers attached to your car's fenders. These "cat whiskers" scraped against the curb to let you know when you were close enough to park without scrubbing your precious wide-white-sidewall tires. Car bodies in those years were not designed to let you judge ambient distances while parking; you often crept slowly in one direction until you bumped something, which told you to drive in the other direction. Bumpers were massive steel and chrome for a reason back then, were all the same height and were well-worn parts of all cars. Curb feelers were alarm systems for your tires.

28. STEERING WHEEL HORN RING! Until the late 1960s, car horns were activated by a separate chrome steel ring mounted on the steering wheel. This one was an example of the Mercury Comet wheel ring. Beginning about 1969 many American cars began copying the British (and Japanese) sportscars which used a simple horn button in the middle of the steering wheel, ala Austin-Healey, MGB, and Datsun 240Z.

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 Post subject: Re: CAN YOU NAME IT?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:27 pm
Posts: 475
Location: South Meriden, CT
Hey Frank, 23skidoo!

I was able to name all but the two listed below. May still have a pair of drive-in speakers in the garage somewhere!

2. I attended public schools in Connecticut 1948-1961. Never saw the ink bottle...only the hole where it resided.

8. Did you know there was a right way and a wrong way to cut grass with any rotary style lawnmower. Reason being the clippings always went to the same side of the mower. According to my Grandfather, "there is no need to cut the grass twice."

19 and 24. Not at all familiar with these devices.

I did get to use a bug shield in Florida once. Just can't imagine all those Love Bugs getting to the radiator. Had to scrape 1"+ off the license plate. Don't know if they were sexually active, hence their name, or just hitching a ride. Always flew as a couple!

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