I grew up during the 1960s and 1970s then attended college in the early 1980s. Those years were three significantly different decades of historical events, change, rebellion, peace, love, big hair, spandex and bell bottoms. The eras defined the music and the clothes, the toys, candy and, of course, the commercials. Thanks to YouTube, antique stores, TV Land, and catalogs from places selling some of the same products from that time, we’re able to relive a little of our childhoods. The vintage kitsch makes us nostalgic.
For some reason, I receive a mail-order catalog from The Vermont Country Store. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered anything from them but I do get a kick out of some of the things they sell. Does anyone remember the aftershave called Hai Karate from the 1960s and 70s? They sell it. YouTube triggered my memories of the commercials, too. Campy and silly with a martial arts theme, each one ended with the slogan, “Be Careful How You Use It”. It reminded me of the Batman and Dark Shadows television series.
After viewing those ads on YouTube, I then spent about twenty minutes watching a compilation of 60s and 70s commercial clips. I remembered all but two or three of them. Some of the catchphrases that brought an “Oh, yeah” from me: “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut”, “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing”, “Frito Bandito”, “How Many Licks Does It Take to Get to the Center…”, “People Start Pollution…”, “Let Noxzema Cream Your Face” (Joe Namath & Farrah Fawcett); “It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature”, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, “K-Tel Records”. I could go on.
Whenever I wander through antique stores, I always find something that reminds me of my youth. I used to think that if toys from my childhood made it into a vintage store then I had to be getting old. Now I just appreciate seeing the occasional Lite-Brite, ViewMaster, Etch A Sketch, Operation and Spirograph games. Tip-it, Toss Across and Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots (my brother had this one)…I loved playing with all of them. And I’m referring to the originals, as I know that updated and newer versions are still being sold today. I guess kids know a good thing when they see it.
I associate many of the items in the Vermont Country Store catalog with my grandmother. I remember butter mints and pecan divinities, peppermint puffs and peppermint straw candy as things she always had on hand. My grandmother loved to drink TAB (until she discovered Diet Pepsi) and she wore White Shoulders perfume. I learned about Dippity-Do at her house because my aunts used it; and I recall accidentally spraying myself with a bottle of Wind Song cologne and gagging over the smell. Mosser glass, percolators and soft-bonnet hair dryers. Clarks Teaberry Gum, princess phones and mood lipstick. Wella Balsam, Breck Girl and Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoos. It’s amazing what a little vintage reminder will do to a person.
Finally, candy (at least the kind I ate and not the kind my grandmother had on hand). Milk Duds and Sugar Daddy were two of my favorites from back then and it’s amazing that people of my generation have any teeth left. Who can forget wax lips, bubblegum cigars and fake candy cigarettes (Camel and Lucky Strike come to mind)? Perhaps not the best choices for youth back in the day, but those were the times. And I still love Almond Joy and Goobers (yes, I do) but I rarely eat candy nowadays, so it’s a treat if I ever indulge.
I suppose I should give credit where credit is due for this blog post. I’m always searching for things I can write about and share here. A Facebook friend inadvertently triggered this one by expressing surprise when finding Prell shampoo at a local CVS Pharmacy. That caused this little trip down memory lane. It is appreciated.