Inspired by this, here's a mini-quiz. First examine the following images from LIFE (18 November 1946), and then answer the questions below.
Exhibit A: The man with the huge pointy thing on his head is:
about to commentate on an international doughnut-tossing competition
doing research into psychic abilities
demonstrating an early answer to Bluetooth
being a finely honed weapon in the fight against Communism!
probably compensating for something
I don't know, but he can tick my box any day
Exhibit B: Would you say you were a cacographer or a graphomane?
Mind your own business
I'm a high-functioning sociopath, do your research
TICKYBOXOHOLIC AND PROUD.
Well, here are the answers:
- Exhibit A:
Well, the nearest answer is c) it's an early answer to Bluetooth. In fact the gent in question is a TV director and he's wearing a radio aerial so he can receive messages from the control room when he's on the studio floor. This picture accompanies an article about how smaller radio earpieces had just been invented, so this kind of fabulously Martian headpiece was becoming a thing of the past. Nonetheless, it would seem that there's a fair amount of truth in this Mitchell and Webb sketch after all. Who'd have thought it?
- Exhibit B:
The image was taken from an ad for ball-point pens, so writing is the clue. A cacographer is someone with bad handwriting (the "caco-" part means "bad", as in cacophony, not as in cack). A graphomane, meanwhile, is someone who suffers from graphomania, an obsession with handwriting.
So which are you? I was a bit of a graphomane as a girl, but it seems that technology has turned most of us into cacographers now, and I'm no exception. You should see my post-its, they're shocking. My primary school teachers would look at me most severely.
And to conclude today's history lesson, here are a few other nuggets from the same issue that caught my fancy:
From an ad for Bird's Eye Frozen Green Beans, it's the least appealing supper-dish ever! The bit in the middle is scrambled eggs; the beans are covered in something dreadful and cheesy. But there's no come-on here, unless it's "come on, let's give this crap to the dog and get a takeaway".
Yes, this gentleman's P.A. is the talk of the town. It must be because it's "really masculine!" So much so that both the girl AND the guy are giving him the glad eye. Something for everyone, then. Of course, it's all entirely above board because the P.A. in question is Prince Albert tobacco.
(By the way, if you're unsure about what else a Prince Albert could possibly refer to, other than Queen Victoria's other half, I'm afraid I'm much too innocent to tell you. But it's probably best to avoid hunting for the answer on Google or Wikipedia, especially if you're at work, because there IS such a thing as too much information.)
And finally, an ad from a slightly later issue of LIFE (22 November 1954):
Hmm, apparently the 1950s were rather less glamorous than Hollywood would have us believe. Oddly, the "plastic bags on the feet" look has never really caught on with anyone other than very small children, strange old street people, and anyone forced to clean up radiation for a living, but you never know, when global warming hits and the sea levels rise, we might all be out hunting for "fashion fit" rain boots of our very own...