Monday, August 22, 2022

The "Baby-Boomer" Generation—Where it really all began

Time Square, New York City—August 15, 1945—
VJ day
—Victory over Japan
The end of WWII


This is one of the most famous photographs ever published by Life magazine—V-J day in Times Square. The picture was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, who said he was in Times Square taking candid photos when he spotted a sailor "running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight," he later explained. "Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn't make any difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder... Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse."

I've heard the story many times but it wasn't until recently that it really hit home—I now see this day—this moment in time— as the
"twinkle in the eye" of the Baby Boomer generation.

My mother, then a 17 year old secretary working at Civil Engineering on 39th street, was one of the girls in that crowd on that exciting day in history. The news hit—the Japanese had surrendered—the war was finally over! She walked to Time Square with several of the girls she was working with and to this day, at 85 years old, when she tells the story you can feel the excitement—the absolute relief and shared exhilaration felt by everyone on the streets of New York.

(My mother, Jean Sanatass, third gal from the right, pictured with her coworkers)

She told me that servicemen were hugging and kissing the women as they passed by—

"I was shy," she says, "but it was so exciting!"

The scene took place only a few years before my parents married, and my oldest brother Marc was born—first of the seven Baby Boomers born to my mother and father.

Marc was born at the beginning of the Baby Boom but he was not the first.
It was not until recently that I was aware that there was an official "First Baby Boomer" —the first birth in the tidal wave of births beginning in 1946. Her name is *Kathy Casey Kirsching.

I've thought a lot about our entrance into this world—at that time in history. It was a time of great hope and confidence in our country; the country had come through The Great Depression, a war that lasted six long years, bringing the nation together—through their unified support and the tremendous sacrifice of lives lost.
And now our parents looked to the future with great hope. We were welcomed—we were wanted! I was one of seven children—and that was not unusual.

So this is where it all began—but where did it go?
....just who are the Baby Boomers?

From Wikipedia:
There is some disagreement as to the precise beginning and ending dates of the post-war baby boom, but the range most commonly accepted is 1946 to 1964. In the United States alone, approximately 76 million babies were born between those years. In 1946, live births in the U.S. surged from 222,721 in January to 339,499 in October. By the end of the 1940s, about 32 million babies had been born, compared with 24 million in the lean 1930s. In 1954, annual births first topped four million and did not drop below that figure until 1965, when four out of ten Americans were under the age of twenty.[1]
In May 1951, Sylvia F. Porter, a columnist in the New York Post, used the term "Boom" to refer to the phenomenon of increased births in post war America. She said "Take the 3,548,000 babies born in 1950. Bundle them into a batch, bounce them all over the bountiful land that is America. What do you get? Boom. The biggest, boomiest boom ever known in history." [2]
1951...and I was born in that exciting year. Why was it exciting? Because it was a time when our parents believed they could do just about anything! And that belief was contagious....

—we'll talk more about it in the days ahead.

*
VJ Day in New York, The End of WW II-(video)

Surrender of Japan—news reel (video)

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

"Quick Henry —the FLIT!"

(original artwork-all rights reserved)
…now my mom was probably among the most loving and caring of moms that ever lived; but I remember her doing something that would probably be grounds for child endangerment today!

Living in the country with seven children who were in and out of the house all day long on hot summer days—the screen door practically swung on its hinges. Flies were plentiful as I recall but were not welcome in our house. So my mom—along with other caring mom’s of the day, had her FLIT can ready for action!

She would pump the handle and spray directly at flies that landed on the kitchen table, or directly into the air—wherever she saw those little flying menaces.

In her defense, the advertising of the day was
very convincing.


Remember.. this was the same era when testimonial ads convinced my parents that Camel cigarettes were actually good for you!


Long before the Cat in the Hat ever made his appearance (..very interesting story there of the origin of the book) , Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr.Seuss) created very convincing ads for FLIT.


They are priceless!

This ad campaign actually began during the depression— my mother grew up hearing "Quick Henry the FLIT!"which became a common catchphrase.
So my mother, like thousands of other mothers in the 50's thought she was doing something "good" for her family.

..I have to wonder what I did for the "good" of my children that they will write about in the future!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Remember when permanents were....PERMANENT?

Home permanents had come a long way by the 50's. But not quite far enough!
This ad promotion from the 50's featured identical twins, with identical looking hair styles. One was done professionally, the other was done at home.

In his role as radio announcer for the long-running mystery series, Casey, Crime Photographer, sponsored by Toni, Bill Cullen would often deliver the commercial as if he was a character in the program. He would ask his radio audience..

"...which girl has the Toni?"


From my one experience as a child, I don't think either one of them did!

But before I take you back to the first time I saw my father cry— lets go back to 1909 and the day Karl Nessler's wife Katharine Laible had her very first home permanent. Her husband Karl had been working several years perfecting a method to curl hair using chemical treatments, electrical heating devices and brass rollers each weighing about two pounds. It was a complex system, using countering weights suspended from an overhead chandelier and mounted on a stand to prevent the hot rollers from touching the scalp. The process took at least six hours. History records him using a mixture of cow urine and water.
(urban legend? Perhaps!)
Now it's hard for me to imagine Katharine willingly subjecting herself to this process. But it is even more unbelievable that she allowed her husband to give her a
second permanent after the first one completely burned her hair off, scalding her scalp.
.....He didn't quite have it down the second time either–she lost all of her hair again.


He did eventually perfect the method and his electric permanent wave machine was patented in London in 1909 and went into widespread use.

Unlike Karl Nessler's wife, I had only one permanent as a young girl.
By the time it was my turn, Toni had produced a product that women could use at home for $2 (compared to $15 if done professionally at a hair salon)
The cow urine was gone-but it had its own distinct smell—not a big improvement.


In April of 1957 my mother was in the hospital after delivering her seventh child, my brother Chris—son #6. At that time mothers were kept in the hospital for at least a week following the delivery of a baby. A live-in baby sitter was hired to help take care of the other six children at home. My Dad thought it would be nice to surprise my mom on Easter Sunday morning with a visit from all of her children. We were not allowed in the hospital, but we could stand outside on the lawn and wave up to her at her window.

The babysitter, a very capable elderly woman, thought it would be nice to surprise my dad and give his little girl her very first home permanent. Wouldn't she look nice waving up at the window with all those curls?
The picture was not quite as dreamy as she envisioned. When the curlers were removed my head was covered with a mass of frizz and gnarled, kinky curls. When my dad arrived home he took one look at me, covered my head with a towel and escorted me next door. Mrs. McGrady was a nurse and she could fix just about anything.

"Marge! Can you do something?!

"I'll try Wally! I'll try!"



She did try. I remember standing in front of her full length mirror and watching her brush, and brush, and brush— and watching those PERMANENT curls pop right back up to where they were, springing about six inches off the top of my head.

My dad waited outside the door. But sorry to say I looked exactly the same when I walked out.

(ok...it's not an actual photo. There were no pictures taken of me that day)
I'm sure I'm not the only 50's Baby Boomer who had a bad perm experience!
We learned to do one thing when we caught a whiff of that pungent Toni solution—

.....RUN!

Update:  May 21, 2013
I have never seen this photo before today.  It is a photo from that day.  I think that my Easter hat is covering the rest of the FRIZZ!