When the Dept. of Homeland Security recently got rid of the rainbow threat level system (that seemed to always be orange) it reminded me of this Cold War era card I had seen in my Grandfather’s billfold. CONELRAD was part of Civil Defense, the Great Great Grandfather of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
The CONELRAD (CONtrol of ELectronic RADiation) system was set up in 1951 with a dual purpose in mind. The first was the shutting down of radio (and eventually TV) signals so that enemy bombers couldn’t use their transmission as a homing beacon to large cities. This method of navigation had been used during WWII including by the Japanese when they attacked Pearl Harbor. So there was some good basis for this step.
The second purpose of this system was the taking control of the airwaves. What would happen is all stations would go off the air and then different stations would take turns broadcasting emergency information on AM 640 or 1240. This would mean that the origination of the signal would geographically come from different locations, thus making it useless as a beacon. The government could then broadcast to the public prior to and after a nuclear attack. This information could come from a local State run agency or all the way up to the President. The government viewed this system as such an important part of Civil Defense that a law was passed stating that all radios manufactured must carry the CD logo on the dial at 640 & 1240. The advent of ICBMs made the idea of mixing up the transmission locations useless so the law was rescinded in 1963 when CONELRAD was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System. (If you ever see a radio with the CD triangle on it, you can know with certainty that it was built sometime between 1953 to 1963.)
Chicago was always considered a major Soviet target, so keeping a card like this in your wallet was probably not unreasonable. Though the idea that you were supposed to have the wherewithal to be able to remember that you had this card after hearing those horrid air raid sirens (the same used to announce tornados), that is bit beyond me. I would have been too busy whimpering in a corner to bother reading both sides of these little instructions.
Paulina Street is where my Grandmother and Grandfather lived while growing up in Chicago. So having a token from an establishment on that block isn’t that surprising. Unfortunately, not only is the Old Village Inn gone, the building has disappeared as well.
I tried looking up info on the Chicago History Museum’s web site and found nothing (including the Encyclopedia of Chicago which brought back way too many entries to try and weed through). If I was still in Chicago I could try searching old city directories for a possible lead, but since I’m not I’m limited to the internet. I then hit the archives for the Chicago Tribune. I came up with some leads on articles with titles about some banquets. Since I don’t want to pay the Trib to read these pieces, I’m going to assume that the dinner mentioned was taking place at the Old Village Inn. (The best title was a 1953 article: “Women of Moose Group to hold benefit dinner.”) This would make sense since the now empty lot is a pretty good size and could have easily held an old fashioned banquet hall.
The last remaining question (besides why did they keep this token) is what could you have gotten for 25 cents in trade?
This typewriter ribbon tin is a classic from the Atomic Age of the 1950s. The atom and the jet engine were the most influential aspects of pop culture and style from that era. Everything from cars, to toys, to bowling shirts were designed with either atomic or jet influences, or in the case of this tin, both. Both because not only is this a classic design of a jet bomber but it also happens to be a bomber that was designed to drop a nuke.
If you are a plane nerd you’ll probably notice that the canopy of this B-52 doesn’t look quite right. Your hours of Rain Man like attention to detail has finally paid off. This cockpit is indeed different. From what I found searching the web this is the experimental version of the B-52 known as either the XB or YB-52. In those versions the pilot and copilot sat in tandem and the cockpit had that bubble on top instead of the now standard looking front. But you most likely already knew that.
With the warm weather upon us, and schools about to let out, the summer vacation time is upon us once again.
The summer vacation really became a part of Americana in the 1950s. The old jingle “See the USA in your Chevrolet” was copyrighted in 1950. This came along with a push from any and all organizations that had something to gain from people getting out there and taking a road trip. Included in this list would be the local Chamber of Commerce, as we see here in this pamphlet for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
This brochure on one side totes all the benefits of visiting Great Smokey Mountains National Park, while the other side is classic boosterism. This propaganda offers some interesting insight into life 60 years ago. For one, we know thing cost more now than back then. Well this brochure reinforces that with the subtlety of a hammer. Some of the new civic works in Gatlinburg, along with their price tag, include:
New city water system: “three quarters of a million dollars”
New highway construction with a new sewer system: “one and a half million dollars”
New golf country club: $250,000
New civic auditorium: $400,000
The brochure also states that Great Smoky Mountains NP is the most visited of the National Parks, a fact that remains true today. Along with this bit of trivia the brochure also informs the potential visitor that “At all times dress for both men and women is carefree, but in good taste.” The American Legion & Elk’s Club are present “to add to your enjoyment” along with a large list of entertaining activities in and out of the Park, including: motoring, quin-pin bowling, roller skating, candy making, trackless train, and television.
I remember playing with these good luck charms when I was a kid. They all have the same front (heads) and it is on the reverse where a small shop would list their business. I don’t know when exactly these were made but we can guess. The latest date given on these pennies is 1957. That would be the rather obvious clue, but there is another one for the taking. The one from Washington D.C. for Executive Pharmacy offers one other hint. The address listed is now occupied by the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, which broke ground in 1967. So most likely these are from the 1950s or early 1960s.
That was easy.
The Catholic Church has been in the news lately because of some internal fighting between politically left and right factions. So I figured now would be a good time to show a piece of history from a time when it appears the church was much more united. That would have been in 1954, which was a Marian Year that had been ushered in by Pope Pius XII.
A Marian Year, as set by the Vatican, is a year of extra devotion and celebration towards the Virgin Mary. The Pope had ordered this Marian Year as a form of celebrating the centennial of the Immaculate Conception being proclaimed as part of the official dogma of the Catholic Church. Before 1854 the Immaculate Conception had been in essence only part of the story and not an official tenet of the Church. So Pope Pius IX basically took a survey of more than 200 Bishops to see what their views were on the matter. Apparently it was favorable and thus the Pope set the Immaculate Conception as part of the foundation of the Catholic Church. So, in honor of that centennial the current Pope had proclaimed 1954 as the first ever Marian Year. This included setting up special alters, working in various manners of charity and social justice, and in this particular instance holding one extremely large mass. That was the reason behind holding this mass at Soldier Field, which according to newspaper accounts, was attended by over 260,000, two of which were my Grandparents (and most likely both sets of Grandparents).
The last post showed my Grandfather’s great wood tool case that I now use to hold my miscellaneous stuff. As I mentioned, the box was chock-full of various tools, many of which are well beyond my skills like this caliper I posted a while back. Anyway, here is a shot of the tools that were in that case along with an old mallet. All of the other tools (as far as I recall) came from that case. Looking at this photo I just realized that there were a few other items, like a pair of scissors that I frequently use, that didn’t make the photo. Otherwise though, you get the idea.
This brings about an interesting perspective on how the Cold War effected almost every aspect of life especially during the early years. Case in point: Even your alma mater sends out a combination alumni ID and what to do in case of an “atomic bomb air burst” information card. Most of the information appears to be pretty sound advise, but the parts about radiation seem to me a bit sugar coated. Now I’m no nuclear physicist by any stretch of the imagination, but it sounds like a bit of a stretch to state that once “the debris has stopped falling, there is no radiation hazard.”
Eh, I don’t know about that one.
Another lucky penny, but unlike the others this encased coin is completely surrounded in Lucite. While the others appear to be pretty common, these seem to be somewhat rare. As a matter of fact I couldn’t find any that looked like this one from my Google search.
Beau Brummell was the original Dandy, and is credited with the invention of the modern suit and tie. The company that took his name was based out of Cincinnati and was around through most of the 20th Century. While it appears they closed their doors in the 1970s their ties are still widely collected and traded across the internet, some of which are pretty spanky looking.
My Grand Aunt recently passed away (she was my maternal Grandma’s sister) and a few items from her home made their way down to me. Included in this collection was this postcard from my Grandma to her. Obviously this came from a family trip to Niagara Falls. That would have been my mother with the cough mentioned on the back. Anyway, I was looking at the postmark to figure out the date but it only partially imprinted. So I looked up the stamp and according to the Smithsonian it was commonly used on postcards from 1952-1958. Sure enough that postmark looks like it came from July 1954, which would have made my Mom 9 years old.
There is something oddly fascinating about reading a postcard from the past.