What Day Is It?
Happy New Year, everyone! It’s a new year, and we need a new calendar. Of course, here at Roadtrip-‘62 ™ we need a new 1962 calendar! You’re in luck, as I have not just one but a whole pile of calendars to look at. I have wall calendars, desk calendars, pocket calendars, even pin-up calendars, and some surprises. So let’s see what day it is on our new calendars.
Today you don’t find nearly as many advertising calendars as you did in 1962. But back then, it seems the cost of printing was very low and every salesman worth his commission handed out calendars like candy. Here’s a selection of advertising wall calendars. First up is a SOHIO gas station calendar featuring a March view of the ice on the cliffs of Hocking Hills State Park, one of my favorite Ohio places.
Though the cover bills this as a “calendar magazine” it’s really another wall calendar. The pages had items advertised each month to try to convince you to buy something each time the Fuller Brush Man visited. These door-to-door salesmen would visit homes and businesses at regular intervals to sell a wide variety of cleaning and personal care brushes and related items. As late as 1985, all of the company's sales were still door-to-door. The company is still in business today, but on the internet, of course. Over 2,000 products are made in Barton County, Kansas, though the original factory was in East Hartford, Connecticut until 1973.
This Mutual of Baltimore calendar probably was a low cost option, as it featured 3 months on each page, resulting in only 4 pages needed instead of the usual 12. But this calendar from Zimmerman’s Liquor Store in Chicago, Illinois is the ultimate in low cost. It has just a single page to hang on the wall, with small monthly pages stapled to it. I loved the daily images on this kind of calendar when I was a kid. They were somehow especially fascinating on miniature desk calendars.
The Travelers Insurance Company has been distributing wall calendars using public domain Currier & Ives images since at least 1940. They are still available for purchase today directly from Travelers over the internet. They could continue these calendars for a long time yet, as Currier & Ives produced over 7,500 images during the firm's 72 years of operation. Here’s the Delaware River for May.
Even foreign companies were handing out wall calendars. Here’s August on a calendar from Scania, a Swedish truck and bus manufacturer. It’s not quite a pinup but there were plenty of those available too in 1962, as the next group shows.
There were many well-known pinup artists doing pinup calendars in 1962. Fritz Willis, Gil Elvgren, Duane Bryers, Alberto Vargas, Bill Medcalf, and others are all represented. Gil Elvgren was active as a commercial painter from the 1930s to 1970s. Today he is best known for his pinup paintings for publisher Brown & Bigelow. Besides his calendar paintings for them, he also did advertising art for Coca-Cola, General Electric, and many other brands. During the 1940s and 1950s he illustrated stories for many magazines including The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping.
Fritz Willis and Bill Medcalf did not seem to have a gimmick like Elvgren’s ladies always dropping things, including their clothes. But both had a high fashion air to their art. Enjoy April from Fritz Willis and December by Bill Medcalf. Alberto Vargas painted his pinups under the name Varga and the first pinup was published in Esquire Magazine in 1940. Besides calendars, his art was carried in Esquire and Playboy magazines for many years, into the 1970s.
Duane Bryers created his famous Hilda, a plump beauty who generally found herself in tricky outdoor situations in good weather and in her red underwear in the winter months. Bryers painted Hilda for calendars from1957 through the early 1980s. After he stopped painting commercially, he took up fine art painting in western themes
Of course, no discussion of pinup art in 1962 would be complete without Playboy’s pinups. This calendar is all photographs instead of paintings. I don’t know who is on the cover, but the interior boasted Playmates Barbara Lawford and Heidi Becker.
Let’s look at some smaller calendars from 1962. There are many styles of pocket calendars, the simplest of which is this style from Texas & Pacific Railway, with the entire calendar on one side. This was wallet sized, to fit in with other cards. It typically would have advertising on the reverse like this Spanish language pocket calendar from Champion Spark Plug.
While pocket calendars could be printed on cardstock, plastic ones were more common and would last much longer in your wallet. Some, like this Grapette calendar, would have other useful functions included, like a ruler or automobile stopping distance calculator. While you might still get pocket calendars from your credit union or insurance agent, they are much less useful now that most people have a phone with appointment calendars.
Another style of pocket calendar is the notebook. These are either a book consisting of all calendar pages to use for noting appointments, or a general notebook that would include a calendar and other useful information. This one notebook style from Armour Fertilizer includes farm animal gestation information and other items of use to farmers.
Here’s the most unusual pocket calendar I discovered. It’s only one inch square and is made to fit on your key chain or charm bracelet. I’m not sure if you were expected to buy a set of twelve and change them each month! The red stone in December marks Christmas.
This brings us to other unusual types of calendars. How about a calendar on an ash tray? Considering how many people smoked all day long in the early 1960s, when would the calendar ever have been visible under the butts and ashes? And don't even think about encouraging smoking around the products of a fuel company.
This one is a Christmas card that includes a calendar. It has a handy dotted line where you can cut off the card portion, so you can keep the calendar year-round. It appears to have been hand stamped with the dealer’s name and address and may have been a standard item sent out by Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealers in 1962, because it has a “AutoLit” part number.
Maybe you would prefer a calendar printed on a souvenir plate? This 1962 calendar plate is done in gold over a bone-colored 9-3/8inch plate. I’ve seen several other versions of such plate calendars for 1962 and other years. The gold printing reminds me of gold-edged dishes and cups given free in laundry detergent boxes or as gas station premiums that year. Another collectible calendar would have been this linen tea towel. You can still find these in many different prints for the current year in gift stores.
A desk blotter was another common place to have a calendar. You may ask, what was a desk blotter, anyway? This was already a leftover from earlier times when writing with a pen was done with ink in a bottle or cartridge, not with a ballpoint pen. The ink would flow rather fast and often made puddles in your writing that you would need to blot up. So, your desk had a blotter pad to protect it. Advertising was most common on these calendar blotters, but this one also features Ripley’s Believe It Or Not cartoons.
There were even calendars with thermometers included, such as this advertising calendar from Fonesca Roofing & Sheet Metal of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Considering that the whole think is only five inches tall, the thermometer must be only about two inches and rather hard to read. I see January 1 fell on a Monday in 1962.
Another unusual calendar was more unique. This sterling silver calendar for October 1962 was given to Vice President Lyndon Johnson by President John Kennedy. He gave one to each of his advisers who were involved in the Cuban missile crisis. The dates of the crisis, October 16-28, are in bold type. It now resides in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library.
Recipe calendars also appear to have been popular in 1962. This example features 12 monthly recipes and is printed on durable card stock, instead of flimsy paper. This might hold up under actual kitchen use, or could be cut apart to keep in your recipe file. It’s from the Thomas D. Murphy Company, which claims to be the creators of the modern advertising calendar. Betty Crocker even published a spiral bound book called a Cooking Calendar, with a section in each month having a space for daily entries.
You could even find calendars in comic books! Here’s one from Harvey Comics, publishers of Casper The Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, Sad Sack and many other humor titles in the 1960s
There are a lot more styles of calendars, both in 1962 and today. I’ve always loved perpetual calendars, where you could flip a few knobs or insert something and presto…the calendar would be good forever! One of my favorites was a brass model my parents had which used mini metal pages that would produce a satisfying “klink” when you flipped to a new month. And of course, many watches have a calendar window. This only showed the current day and because there was no computer, you had to make manual adjustments for Daylight Savings Time and months with less than 31 days.
If you still need a new calendar for this year, I suggest the Roadtrip-’62 ™ wall calendar. It’s full of scenes from our first roadtrip down US-23. And as a bonus, the back page is a complete 1962 calendar, which was also good for 2012 because the days were exactly the same for the 50th anniversary year!
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