The Karen Files, pt. 3

Every old-movie buff has seen scenes set in nightclubs in which a pretty gal with a camera sidles over to the protagonists’ booth and asks if they’d like to have a picture taken.

We’ve often wondered, when watching one of these movies, just how common a practice it was for night spots, tony and otherwise, to employ someone whose job it was to take and sell souvenir photographs. Was it always a woman?

And if it was common, what’s become of all those pictures?

Well, we can tell you what became of one of them.

As part of our ongoing weekly tribute to our mother, we’re very pleased indeed to share with you this shot, discovered in the days following Mom’s passing, as we explored hundreds of stashed-away photos and documents that she long meant to take down from the attic and organize.

The cover of the folder that held the souvenir photograph Karen and Lloyd in the middle, Marilyn and Ronnie on the left, Katie and Lowell on the right

The setting, as you can see from the cover of the folder in which the picture was stored, was Louie’s Club 29, which was located at 2929 S.W. 29th Street in Oklahoma City.

We’re guessing the year was right around 1955, give or take a year or two. Mom and Dad can be found smack dab in the middle of the picture, and she hasn’t yet gone blond, a transformation that occurred in the late ’50s. And that’s Dad’s younger sister, Marilyn, and her first husband, Ronnie, on the left, each sporting a wedding ring. As Dad recalls it, they were wed in 1954 or so.

And that’s Katie and Lowell (Lo-Lo to us kids) on the right, backyard neighbors to our folks from 1955 through 1964. The two couples were so close they ran a fireworks stand together for a couple of summers in the mid-1950s (doesn’t that sound like the plot of a forgotten I Love Lucy episode? Fireworks: Lucy hatches a get-rich-scheme, convincing the Mertzes to go in with the Ricardos on a seasonal fireworks stand).

There are other details we find intriguing about this photo. For one, everyone appears to be limiting themselves to Coca-Cola—there are several bottles scattered about the small table and what appears to be an ice bucket. Was that how soft drinks were served at Louie’s: self-service, with bottles, glasses, and a bucket of ice provided?

We note from the cover of the photo folder that Louie’s Club 29 featured three floor shows nightly. We don’t mind admitting we’d give our eyeteeth to see one of those shows.

And the photograph, as the cover touts, was taken by a gal named Peggy. We can’t help but wonder where Peggy is today. Is she still snapping souvenir photos somewhere at some time-capsule of a night spot? Probably not, but here’s hoping she’s still going strong somewhere—taking photos of her great-grandkids, perhaps.

Take it from me, Joan Crawford…

Joan Crawford has long since crossed over into a camp icon, remembered by many more for Mommy Dearest, her adopted daughter’s damning memoir of alleged parental excess and misdeeds (and Faye Dunaway’s over-the-top performance in the movie made from it), than for her long, multifaceted movie career.

That’s a shame, because until Crawford was forced to stoop to making cheesy exploitation pictures, she was a solid actress and a great movie star.

We make it a practice to catch just about every Crawford picture we have the chance to view, and her performances are generally a pleasant surprise (one wonders when we’ll stop being surprised).

One odd aspect about the arc of Crawford’s long career is how thoroughly and completely her appearance changed over the years. Sure, everyone ages, and we are certainly in no position to point fingers at anyone else for the degree to which the ravages of time has impacted their appearance, but honestly, one could view an early shot of Crawford alongside a portrait from her later years, and you’d never guess they were the same person. The same couldn’t be said of, say, Katherine Hepburn or Myrna Loy, to name just a couple of examples.


Of course, the pressures on female movie stars to retain their physical appeal is much greater than on us average Joes and Jills, so I don’t mean to pick on Ms. Crawford unduly. But even taking in the passage of time and the demands of her career, her face underwent an astonishing transformation over the course of five decades, one must admit.

It’s a testament to Crawford’s enduring appeal that there are many web sites devoted to her life and career, but one of the best of the bunch, The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia, has a section that particularly appeals to us: It’s a collection of images from Crawford’s side career as a commercial spokesperson and endorser, print ads spanning from the 1920s until 1973, four years before her death.

Here are some of our favorites:


But those are just a few samples — follow the link above to enjoy more of Crawford’s work as a print pitchwoman.

Pitch perfect: beverages

As part of our ongoing series of collections of old advertising slogans, culled from a 1949 book called American Slogans, we today share a list of slogans that were utilized by companies that manufactured and marketed beverages (soft drinks and juices):

America’s Dry for dry America (ginger ale)
America’s finest cola drink (Lime-Cola)
America’s finest ginger ale (Anheuser-Busch)
America’s finest mixes (White Rock club soda)
An aristocratic beverage at a democratic price (Hires)
Appollinaris mixes best with holiday spirits (carbonated water)
Aristocrat of flavors, The (Certified Extracts, Inc.).
Aristocrat of ginger ales, The (Saegertown Mineral Water Co.)
Automatic water (Jacuzzi Bros.)

Base for soft drinks and desserts (Kool-Aid)
Be alert, bottle Alert (Alert Beverage Co.)
Best always costs more, The (Celo Company of America).
Best by taste test (Royal Crown Cola), Nehi Corp.
Blended for and by appointment to H. R. H. King Palate (Citrus Juice Co.).
Bottled only at the springs (White Rock).
Bottled sunshine (Sun Spot Co. of America).
Buy a rack of Rooties (Krueger Beverage Co.).

Canada’s Fresh-up (Dominion Seven-up Co.).
Carbonated with its own natural gas (Appollinaris).
Champagne of table waters, The (Perrier).
Corking good drink, A (Korker) Virginia Dare extract.

Delicious and refreshing (Coca-Cola Co.).
Delicious food drink, A (Cocomalt).
Difference is in the flavor, The (Aromint Mfg. Co.).
Drink a bunch of quick energy (Welch Grape Juice).
Drink Coca Cola.
Drink for you, The (Honey Dew).
Drink your apple a day (S. Martinelli & Co.).
Drink that tastes like real fruit, The (Peachy).
Drink you remember, The (O’Keefe’s ginger ale).
Drink your prunes (Calif. Prune & Apricot Growers Assoc.)
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