Food, Oil Spills, Astronauts, And Sex In 1969

Every once in a blue moon, I like to drop by a certain used book store and pick up a copy of a vintage magazine or catalogue, because the past often makes us all out to be kind of ridiculous, which is heartening, because I am kind of ridiculous, and then I see that this is a common ailment, and I feel less alone and more bonded with humanity.

Okay, I lie. I mostly just laugh at how ridiculous people are and thank my lucky stars that I live in an era when smoking Virginia Slims in public isn't framed as a feminist act.

Today's pick? A copy of LIFE magazine from June 13, 1969.

This particular volume is very educational. For instance, I learned that people in 1969 were concerned about whether or not their peas were wrinkly.

peas, non-wrinkly please

I also learned that people in 1969 were concerned about flaccid beans.

virile beans

What daddy wanted in 1969, daddy got. I don't think I would have liked daddy very much. Neither would the law. Or her therapist.

daddy likes old spice

And oil spills? 1969 showed us how with their own ominous IRIDESCENT GIFT OF DEATH.

oh, the timeless gift of death

Humans from outer space congregated to drink rotten potato juice together in France in 1969.

spacemen and vodka

And, in 1969, the prospect of conceiving children in any manner other than the old in-out was a touch frightening for skeptics and people with more feelings than education.

science and sex and a lack of education

The caption beneath the above series of photos reads:
A skeptic about new techniques, farmer Eugene Heller of Geneseo, Ill. favors adoption for childless couples. On attempts to improve the race biologically, he says, "We'd all get a lot smarter so we could all blow ourselves to hell quicker."

Mother of seven Marie Whitt of Plains, Pa. feels insemination and egg transplants might cause heredity problems, but is intrigued by in vitro pregnancy. "Women would be able to help with expenses... everyone could use more money."

William Banks of Baltimore, Md. feels that the new methods should only be used for health reasons. "The mother instinct is aroused in normal birth," he says. "Kids would not know their parents who didn't even take time to have them."
science and sex and a lack of education

And the caption with the above picture, also related to alternate methods of conception, reads:
Marjorie Foster of Toledo, Ohio, a mother of three, is strongly opposed to artificial conception. "It would take manhood from the father. We could forget about the woman's role. I just wouldn't feel the child was mine. It might sprout horns or wings or something."
I really want to dawdle over how little people knew about sex and biology forty years ago, but then I would have to get into how little people know about sex and biology now, especially when a lot of jurisdictions leave most of the teaching about the actual biology of sex up to parents who know diddly squat, but that's a whole other essay that I am too lazy to research right now.

So, in short, people in 1969 were worried about the quality of their food, sex was used in a discomfiting manner to sell men's cologne, an oil spill caused massive environmental damage, and people freaked out about stuff that they swore spelled doom for the nuclear family.

What my foray into vintage magazines this weekend taught me is that 1969 looked an awful lot like 2010, only with a lot more hairspray, an O.J. Simpson with an earlier and very-much-alive first wife named Marguerite, and spacemen getting drunk in public on vodka.

Oh, I am sure that spacemen still drink vodka, and maybe even in France and in public, but nobody bothers to snap pictures of them doing that anymore. All the glamour seems to have been sucked out of astronauts getting sauced. What a shame.

I think "get sauced with an astronaut" just made my list of Things To Do Before I Die. It's right up there with "make out with Cyndi Lauper no matter how old either of us are". I wonder how zero gravity affects liver function?

Now I'm wondering if zero gravity would make Cyndi Lauper's boobs look really awesome or really weird. Hmmm. If there are any spacemen out there reading this, I'm sure you have a line on this sort of info, so let me know.

See? Vintage magazines are educational and they make you think.