Saturday, May 21, 2022

Times Square, October 1954

I have some scarce night shots from New York's Times Square, circa 1954 - with the slow film speeds of those days, these are kind of a miracle. Sometimes called the "crossroads of the world", Times Square was (and still is) famous for its gigantic neon signs and movie marquees - some of them were the largest in the world at the time. Here we have ads for Canadian Club whisky, Admiral television and appliances, and Pepsi Cola. To the left, the movie theater is showing "The Adventures of Hajji Baba", which debuted on October 1, 1954. To the right is a huge billboard for "Suddenly" starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden.

Also in Times Square was this large billboard for Kleenex, featuring the then-beloved comic character "Little Lulu". Lulu debuted in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935 as a character from artist Marjorie Henderson Buell, but became even more well-known when John Stanley began writing and drawing comic books with Lulu and her friends in the 1950s. She is largely forgotten today, but those comics are widely regarded for their clever writing.

Here's an old ad for Kleenex featuring Lulu and her dog Rover. They sure love Kleenex!

There was even a Little Golden Book with Lulu and Tubby showing you "things to make and do with Kleenex tissues"! Synergy.

I almost threw this one away, but figured I'd post it just for kicks. Besides giant ads for Budweiser and the Capitol Theatre, we can just see the enormous electrified ad for Camel cigarettes to the right. It changed over the years, but always had a character blowing real smoke rings. It was there from 1944 to 1966.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Times Square!


Nanook said...

What lovely images. What a time: "With the wonder of Stereophonic Sound"; and the "Sav-a-Tissue Box that prevents tissue-fumbling". Throw SpaghettiOs into the mix, and I do believe no finer innovations have been achieved by mankind-!

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, you are so right! But don't forget, at this exact time, there was some pretty interesting stuff being 'innovated' - about 2,800 miles west of here.

Nice shots, Major!

TokyoMagic! said...

These are beautiful nighttime photos, Major!

Nanook, what about Chef Boyardee's "ravioli in a can"?

Sue, Marineland of the Pacific, right?

JB said...

#1: The first thing I had to do was remind myself that these are not video billboards, like they are now, but (mostly) neon and marquee lights. The Pepsi Cola sign is especially nice. I wonder if it is translucent, and lit from behind or from the front? The text seems to be lit with small individual bulbs.
I see that Howard got his name up in lights. Is that a HoJos? Or just something I've never heard of?
The unlit sign to the left of the Admiral Appliances sign looks like it says "The Cuba(?) Hotel"

#2: I remember reading Little Lulu comic books as a young kid. I can't recall any specific stories, but I do remember a bizarre one that involved a spooky bus(?) with a bunch of strange eyes drawn against a black background. I know, doesn't really make any sense. But that's all I can recall.
I also remember when Kleenex came in the type of box shown in this billboard (the right side).

#3: There's that box again. Seems odd to have Little Lulu hawking Kleenex; I don't really see the connection. Oh well, I suppose anything goes in the ad business.

#4: Lulu doesn't quite look herself here; strangely drawn. Sort of like how Mickey didn't look right when depicted in non-Disney ads and toys.
Really odd to make a Little Golden Book centered around Kleenex.

#5: Wow! The car in the foreground must be getting sucked into a black hole! It's becoming "spaghettified"!

Tokyo!, I think Sue meant the Alligator Farm.

Thanks, Major. I DID enjoy my visit to Times Square.

Melissa said...

Meet you for drinks at the Astor Bar! (I bet they have Budweiser.) There is a lovely dreamlike quality to all these pictures. Howard must’ve been pretty important to have his own neon sign in Times Square. I wonder what other tissue packages were like back then if only Kleenex had the pop-up box?

Andrew said...

Neon signs get me every time! I’m about to leave for my school orchestra’s children's concert where we just play Disney music. Costumes are encouraged, so you know I have to be a character that will be instantly recognizable by little kids: a 1982 EPCOT Center UNIVERSE OF ENERGY Cast Member!! I actually have an old Universe of Energy CM costume that I purchased for cheap years ago… don't know how that happened!

Melissa said...

Andrew, that is awesome.

Bu said...

Lulu, Kleenex and Times Square...who knew?! If I would have found that Lulu book making fanciful toys out of Kleenex as a kid I would have been BEGGING my mother to buy it for addition to Kleenex. Kleenex were for fancy people, we had either hankies or toilet paper. Same thing. (?) I liked reading Lulu- and whilst the others were reading Spider Man and the darker books, I would much rather read Ritchie Rich, Dennis the Menace or Ducks looking for square eggs in the Andes...and Lulu of course. Times Square! Something everyone should experience once in their lives. It really hasn't changed all that much...pretty much crazy then, crazy now. If I have to go anywhere near it, I first cringe. Once you pass Eighth going West it gets more normal- with NY neighborhoods. Most of my early 2000's were spent around Hells Kitchen- at the time the last vestige of somewhat squalid but affordable housing. The Astor hotel was a "thing" in it's time- gone now of course. TRE-ing today is very difficult with Landmarks telling you what you can and cannot do- including paint colors. Very tricky in NYC commercial real estate. I once took a clock off a building- it was a cool clock- but from the 90's, and branded and even though it looked "historic"- the company I worked for designed it, built it, and it was anything but historic. Well...Landmarks thought differently as it had become a "fixture" of the neighborhood. We were required to have it fixed (it hadn't worked in years) and returned to 5th Ave. Luckily, I had stored it in the basement (for a YEAR).... (for a future trip to my home...) We also changed the paint color...which we had changed a few years before...but they thought it was the original color to the when we changed it again they tried to make us change it back (to the non-original color). Forget how much that fine was. The building has now become a tourist destination, so a few things changed again (they constructed their own clocks.) The building was built in 1898- very haunted- for another time. The current building I'm in won't let me change the color of the paint around the windows, which is kind of an ugly battleship blue. Not striking, not anything....Landmarks says "no". Building is from 1911. The Astor is long gone, and the Astor Bar- written about by the likes of Cole Porter has it's own interesting history. The Waldorf Astoria became the Astors cousin and of course survives restored just recently and converted into apartments. The Waldorf still has it's own train stop underneath Grand Central- that is an interesting story as well.

Chuck said...

That sign in the second photo is badly misleading. There is more than one Kleenex in that box.

My mom had a subscription to Little Lulu. None of her childhood copies survive.

Guys, I think Sue is actually referring to the introduction of the first Knott’s Berry Farm View-Master reels. That was a game-changer that altered the SoCal entertainment scene forever.

“Most of my early 2000's were spent around Hells Kitchen…” Good grief, Bu - how old are you? Of course, that would explain why you have so many fascinating stories to share…

JG said...

Major, I love old neon and old New York, so these are perfect Saturday fare. I’ve enjoyed my visits to New York, but couldn’t possibly live there. It is a fascinating place though, so many hidden treasures.

I vaguely recall Little Lulu, but that’s all.

Andrew, enjoy your concert!


"Lou and Sue" said...

The movie Suddenly also starred one of our Disneyland favorites - Paul Frees.

Kleenex ads were truly successful. Most folks, including myself, ask for a Kleenex, not a 'tissue,' when the need arrises. Just like Jell-O. Who asks for gelatin??

Andrew, if any video of your concert ends up on YouTube, please let us know. Am serious.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if only they could make stereophonic Kleenex tissues, there would be no wars.

Lou and Sue, WHAT STUFF?! ;-)

TokyoMagic!, I ate that Chef Boyardee ravioli when I was a kid. Looking back, it was kind of gross! My brother still likes it. And yes, in 1954, Marineland of the Pacific was rocking people’s worlds.

JB, the art of neon signs was really going strong at this period; it amazes me to see these huge signs that were made for individual movies, that would presumably only be there for a few weeks until another one came along. I have some other night photos from Times Square that I will share someday, Look at the previously-posted photo of a 1949 sign for The Third Man. I’m not sure what “Howard” is all about. Could it be a HoJos?? As a kid I thought that Little Lulu was lame, but I have read accounts from comic experts that sing the praises of the clever stories and genuine humor of the John Stanley version, so I choose to believe it is so. It is fascinating to see the effects of a black hole right in front of our eyes, PLUS I love spaghetti.

Melissa, it’s fun to imagine what it would have been like to actually experience Times Square back then, and to go into places like the Astor Bar. “I’ll have a Zima - on the rocks”. What? A world without Zima?? The other packages of tissue just had wads of paper crumpled up and stuffed inside.

Andrew, what are some of the songs that you will be playing! I wish we could see a video or two! My nephew plays in a school band, he gets all dressed up in a tuxedo and looks pretty slick. I haven’t been able to see him perform live for a long time, but hope to do so soon. I love that you will be wearing your Universe of Energy costume, so fun.

Melissa, YES.

Bu, now that I think of it, in Sunday school we did make Kleenex “angels” to hang on our Christmas trees. They were lame, but hey, what do you expect from kids? Pipe cleaners, glitter, and those smelly permanent markers… takes me back. I never really got into comic books, I read either MAD magazine or Peanuts comics (in book anthologies), though when I was really young I did sometimes get an Archie comic or a Little Hot Stuff. I kind of wish I’d had an older kid to introduce me to the wider world of comics. The first time I remember seeing Times Square was when I went to NYC; we arrived very late, and wanted to eat dinner at one in the morning. So we walked out of our hotel, and after just a block or two, saw the glittering glow of Times Square, which drew us like moths. I have to admit that it was pretty neat to see, even if it was also tacky. How can it be both? We looked at restaurant after restaurant, and they were all so expensive, we wound up at an Applebee’s (we were so hungry, and just wanted something to eat). Yes, I am ashamed. And the food was terrible. I’ve never been back to an Applebee’s! I remember that Studio 54 was closed, but there were cloth banners that were almost within reach if I could get on my girlfriend’s shoulders, ha ha! What a souvenir that would have been. We also walked over to CBGB’s, and wound up going through some dicey neighborhoods.

Chuck, back in those days, there really was only one Kleenex. You had to cut it up yourself, it’s sort of like the days before pre-sliced bread. The More You Know. I guess we’re just going to have to ask Sue what she was referring to, because we all have such different theories. I thought she might be referring to the debut of The Tonight Show. Isn’t “Bu” the name of an Egyptian deity? He must be many thousands of years old.

JG, every time I go to NY, I wonder, “Could I live here?”. I’d like to think that I could, but man, it would take some getting used to. YES, there is SO much there, I could just do a museum every few days, there are dozens and dozens of them.

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, did you just happen to know that Paul Frees was in "Suddenly"?? That is some DEEP knowledge. And you are right, I never ask for a "tissue". But I do like to eat Knox gelatin right out of the box.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, I'm an 'Old Hollywood' buff. I even had my Suddenly dvd sitting by the TV to watch, next, because it's been a while. Tonight we're going to see Roman Holiday at a cute little local coffee shop (with lots of tasty food). Come join us!

What flavor KNOX gelatin? I hope NOT unflavored.

Andrew said...

Here’s your video link, Sue. ;-) I know I shared one of my school performances on here before, so it can’t hurt. You can see my costume at the 37:30 mark when we “stroll” around playing “Beauty and the Beast.” Everyone in the orchestra is part of Strolling Strings, where we memorize music to perform in the community. (Here’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” from my spring concert.)

All of the songs in the children’s concert were from modern Disney movies or properties, but we sometimes play a “Disneyland Medley” for Strolling that includes several songs like “It’s a Small World.” It’s great playing at retirement homes where everyone starts laughing when we play the opening to the “Mickey Mouse Club March” in the Medley, probably because they remember watching the show as a kid.

JB said...

Andrew, I bet some kid in the audience will jump up and squeal, "Ooh, that guy looks like a 1982 EPCOT Center UNIVERSE OF ENERGY Cast Member!!"... It could happen... maybe... probably not.

Bu, my dad always carried a 'snot rag' (handkerchief) in his back pocket, back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. I remember 'using' it a couple of times as a little kid. Makes me cringe now, thinking back on it.
We still have that Donald Duck/square eggs/Andes comic book! It was one of my favorites.

Major, "Pipe cleaners, glitter, and those smelly permanent markers", don't forget the white paste that never stuck to anything!

Only elitists ask for a "tissue". It's a kleenex, dang it! Or, as my little brother used to say, "heenakes".

Andrew, thanks so much for the concert(s)! What an interesting, and nice, concept; the orchestra strolling around and through the audience. Wonderful playing, too!

Kathy! said...

When I look at the first photo, I can hear the movie-like score, with quick
clarinets and horn honks. I can't imagine a gigantic ad for Kleenex today, but what a fun photo! "Don't put a cold in your pocket", eww, yeah JB, handkerchiefs are pretty gross when you think about it. In the last picture, the Walgreens font looks pretty much the same as today. Thanks for sharing your concert Andrew, very nice! Now to perform some magic tricks for everyone with tissue bunnies! Thanks, Major.

Sunday Night said...

Thanks for sharing the video Andrew. So cool you have an actual EPCOT costume. I liked the fact that they let the little kids jump around during the concert. Kids love music! Best of luck with your musical future!

Whoever invented the pop up Kleenex was a genius.

Sue - I'm a huge classic movie fan as well. Mostly films from 1930 - 1960, but I do enjoy the occasional silent film - especially with a live orchestra.

"Lou and Sue" said...

JB, you brought back 'hanky' memories! When I lived at home, I used to have to iron my dad's clean hankies every week. (I ironed his shirts, too, for many years.) But first they were 'sprinkled' with water and wrapped up in a plastic bag for maybe a day, for easier ironing. Those were the days. (My dad just asked for one of his hankies, a couple months ago, forgetting there's KLEENEX boxes everywhere.)

ANDREW(!), you are all grown up. We are proud of you! I loved your concert from today, and I'll listen to the other one, when I have more time. (I recognized your outfit!) Thank you for sharing!

Sunday Night, I'm on the same page with you. Give me Hitchcock's Notorious, or the original Cape Fear, any day, before any of the new movies that are out. They don't make stars like they used to. (I know I sound old, but couldn't care less. That's one of the benefits of being old.) BTW, we just saw [and heard] our first silent movie performed with an orchestra - the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra. It was a Chaplin movie, but darned if I can remember the title (one of the signs of being old). We loved it! If anyone likes Ragtime, make sure you Google that orchestra. It'll take you back to Main Street in Disneyland, as I've mentioned before.

Thanks for the fun day!

Chuck said...

Andrew, thanks so much for the link to your concert! Amazing to me that it was available live; when I was in orchestra, we were lucky to hear a mono cassette recording taped from a battery-powered recorder by a parent in the bleachers.

I listened to the whole thing, and you guys have talent. It was the perfect background music as I re-read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising for the the fourth time. I loved your costume. Anyone ask for your autograph afterwards?

Watching the other concert video, I kept waiting for the can-can dancers who never materialized. Wrong venue, I guess.

Sue, was that that Chaplin movie that was really funny? I know the one you’re talking about but can’t think of the name of it. Right on the tip of my tongue…give me a second…I know it starts with a letter…

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, hahaha! I have a cassette from my high school orchestra days - that my dad taped on his portable battery-operated recorder/player. I stumbled on it (the tape), about a year ago. I hadn't known he had taped any of my concerts, until I found it, and was thrilled.

Chuck II, the movie was funny - Charlie Chaplain was a stagehand for a movie. I just asked my husband. He can't recall the name either. I even looked online, and nothing sounds familiar. Memory's going fast.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck: "The Bewildered Stagehand"

JB said...

Sue, thank you so much for the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra tip. I just spent the last half hour or so listening to their music and watching their videos.
Back in the day (about 30 years ago) I used to be able to play a few Scott Joplin tunes: The Peacherine rag, Pineapple rag, and Maple Leaf rag. But my fingers don't know where to go on the keyboard anymore, I'm afraid.

Dean Finder said...

Andrew, good show. Nice UoE shirt, too. I got one like it for my wife and she wore it to EPCOT a few times. You can always tell who's an old EPCOT fan by who recognizes it.

Bu, NYC Landmarks is insane. It's like they're so traumatized by the loss of Penn Station and the near-loss of Grand Central, no change is allowed to anything. The Strand bookstore has been in an expensive fight to prevent their building from being landmarked even though there's nothing particularly notable about it. Landmark status would prevent them from making changes to build a coffee shop or other things to stay in business.

"Lou and Sue" said...

JB, I'm glad you enjoyed the Peacherine Orchestra. Now YOU need to brush up on your ragtime music so that you can play for us on Main Street in Disneyland when we all meet there. We'll find a piano. After that, we're heading to Jungle Cruise.

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, I am still impressed! There are a LOT of old movies out there, and I don’t believe that “Suddenly” is considered one of the “must see” classics! I love “Roman Holiday”, one of my all-time favorites. Yes, unflavored gelatine! Yummm, dusty.

Andrew, THANK YOU so much for providing that link! So fun. Seeing this makes me wish that I’d applied myself to playing an instrument, it looks like such a wonderful way to enrich one’s life. I like seeing the kids playing down in the pit. And it’s so fun to see YOU. Look at how tall you’re getting! Or maybe the conductor is short, ha ha. Thanks again.

JB, I would have never “gotten” the Universe of Energy reference, but I love it. Now THAT’S an inside joke. My grandpa carried a real handkerchief in his pocket, I think it was traditional in that part of Minnesota. All the old men had them. And yes, thinking about it is making me queasy. Oh yeah, that white paste, what useless stuff! But I kind of liked the way it smelled. I never tasted it though, I swear.

Kathy!, I know just the kind of music you mean! It is kind of amazing that something as humble as Kleenex got a huge lighted sign in Times Square, but that just shows you how important it was to people, even if it was just for blowing noses. I love classic movies, but have MANY gaps in my viewing history, I wish I had Turner Classic Movies. I noticed that Walgreens sign too, it hasn’t changed in nearly 70 years.

Lou and Sue, oh my gosh, the thing about sprinkling hankies with water and putting them in a bag… my grandma would do that! She had a glass soda bottle with a special sprinkler thing that she stuck on, it had a cork that inserted into the bottle, and a metal sprinkler head. If you know what I mean. Ha ha, Andrew has no idea that he has at least a dozen “Aunts” and “Uncles”! I like many new movies, but there is just something about a great classic movie. The way they look, the costumes, the music, the cinematography, and of course the STARS. I’ll have to check out the Peacherine Tagtime Society Orchestra, I wonder if Mr. X knows about it? That is definitely his kind of thing. He never got into Rock and Roll! What was the Chaplin movie? I MUST KNOW.

Chuck, I’ve missed out on some of my nephews orchestral performances, now I wonder if they were streamed, and nobody told me about it! I think the movie Sue is thinking about is the one where Chaplin plays “The Tramp”. That’s a good one.

Lou and Sue, I love that Lou recorded one of your concerts. We used to have a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and we had several reels of stuff that my brother and I recorded, just dumb things that made us laugh. How I would love to hear them now, but my mom got rid of the recorder and threw out the tapes. Ouch.

Lou and Sue, I haven’t seen that one! Is that one of his Essanay shorts?

JB, I always dreamed of being able to “wow” people by playing a Joplin rag, but I was the world’s worst piano student. I’m sure my teacher knew that I was a lost cause.

Dean Finder, how is everybody getting shirts from the Universe of Engergy?? I guess they aren’t that rare! I guess preservation of architecture can go too far, but I think I like that more than Los Angeles’ policy of “tear everything of any interest down and replace it with soulless condos”.

Lou and Sue, I’m glad I admitted that I can’t play so that I have no pressure!

Bryce said...

I actually had that Little Golden Book with the package of Kleenix tissues attached to the cover which you used to make the stuff inside. Then, when you ran out of tissues, you found another little package to glue into the book. Rinse and repeat.

DrGoat said...

Good form Andrew! Playing in a classical orchestra is a wonderful endeavor that will lead to lots of good things. My Mom played violin the the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and eventually made it to first chair the last 2 years that she played (1969 I think).
Playing music with a large group like that is truly a gift and it can only enrich your life.
Outstanding job! Carry one please.
Thanks Major, I love photos of the old Rivers of America, however dark and murky they may be.