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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Industrial Archeology: "You could be only 1/16 of an inch from eternity"



Chemstrand Nylon ad: Life
, 4 November 1966

GOODYEAR TIRES TIME 07/13/1962 p. 37

Goodyear Tires ad: Time, 13 July 1962


Seiberling Tires ad: Saturday Evening Post, 4 June 1960


Firestone Premium Quality Tires ad: Sports Illustrated, 27 April 1959

CHEMSTRAND NYLON TIME 09/15/1958 p. 95

Chemstrand Nylon ad: Time, 15 September 1958

ARMSTRONG TIRES LIFE 04/01/1957 p. 125

Armstrong Tires ad: Life, 1 April 1957


General Tire ad: Newsweek, 3 September 1951


General Tire ad: Newsweek, 11 June 1951


B.F. Goodrich Truck & Bus Tires ad: Life, 21 February 1944


Goodrich Safety Silvertown Tires ad: Life, 18 February 1940

MILLER TIRES LIFE 10/04/1937 p. 1

Miller Tires ad: Life, 4 October 1937


Firestone Tires ad: Life, 13 September 1937


Goodyear Tires ad: Life, 6 September 1937


Goodrich Safety Silvertown Tires ad: Life, 6 September 1937

Images via Gallery of Graphic Design


Ed Baker said...

when tires WERE tires!

(and ads WERE ADS!
I always go GOODYEARS
the 2-ply tire rated 4-ply


when I traded in the old tires I ALWAYS
kept the old inner-tube...

many-a pleasant day going-with-the-flow
laid out across that trusty inner-tube.

and diving through the hole "watch the valve-stem!"

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Something about that safety disc ad - I'd completely obliterated it from my mind these last 40 years and its power is still there. It has a frightening element, too - reminiscent of knuckledusters.

The glib Liberia rubber plantation ad is something no one would advertise today. This pdf shows how as recently as 2006, abuses by multi-national companies were still rampant.

As to Firestone specifically, things are still the same old, same old. Notice how the full report linked to in the article has mysteriously disappeared.

In the interest of fairness, Firestone's response.


Anonymous said...

I love these beautiful ads, including (politically incorrectly, admittedly) the Firestone rubber plantation effort featuring the white man in the pith helmet (I once owned a pith helmet; a monocle also; please don’t say anything) and the African men. Seeing them reminds me of the advertisements in my parents' remarkable collection of Playbills from the mid-1940s on and other happy, quiet parts of my childhood, although I admit I never saw an ad like that particular Firestone – A Safer Tire one.

Ed's and Don's comments, of course, fill out other important aspects of this intense flashback experience.

"Industrial Archeology: "You could be only 1/16 of an inch from eternity" really hits home after our rough drive north today to the frozen tundra of our part of New York State. The roads were/are sheer ice. Tires routinely get ripped to pieces. Several times I felt, quite unhappily, about 1/16th of an inch from eternity.

Eventually we arrived at the Fortress of Solitude where we’ve been falling and fortunately only bruising, not breaking, for several hours.

I allow Caroline to drive in order to avoid insulting comments about my own poor driving. But she shouldn't say things like "you shriek like a girl" when I feel eternity closing in (on my side of the vehicle). We’re home now (thank heaven). I hope things are less slippery where all of you are.

Looking at my bleeding wrist, just torn on the driveway, inching awkwardly toward the front door and falling on the way, I’m not clear where I come out on the pro/anti/indifferent toward technology improvements side.

Personally, my most acute view relates to Jane’s schooling. Using my own car, I can get her to school, which starts at 8:15 am, in 20 minutes. If I were to rely on the school bus, she would need to be there and ready by 6:30 am. As Lou Reed’s good lyric goes, “I guess that I just don’t know”.



Johnny and I would note that in Tintin in the Congo (Herge's second volume, 1930-31) Tintin cuts into rubber tree to get some rubber with which to make slingshot to defend himself against charging rhino (correction, as Johnny has just reminded me, it's a water buffalo -- the rhino has appeared earlier, is blown up after Tintin drills a hole in its armor into which he inserts a stick a dynamite and blows it up, another of this book's political incorrectnesses ) . . . .


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, bright silver planet by branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

white lights on tree, child
sleeping under yellow

quilt, black of pine branch
as wind passes, Orion

silver line of sun reflected in channel,
sunlit green of pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...

"It has a frightening element, too - reminiscent of knuckledusters..."

Yes, Don, in the knuckleduster ad, as in most of the rest of these ads, irrational fears are the "psychic instrument" being played upon; and when that's not happening, what's brought into play are other sorts of drives equally unrelated to the practicalities of ... driving per se.

The last decade of the National Security Anti Terrorist mania -- a sort of mutation/engorgement of the old Cold War Nuclear Terror mania -- reminds us that fear and apprehension involving the ongoing jealous maintenance of Our Sacred Way of Life are so entangled with the secret parts of the American psyche that no amount of logical sorting by the "conscious mind" will ever untangle them.

Boasting about your Liberian rubber plantations, now there's an ad strategy that might have made Rudyard Kipling blush like a Liberal.

We're so used to the automotive culture and all it entails keeping us at every moment 1/16 of an inch from eternity that people must actually love this sort of danger and tension.

Otherwise there might be an increase in pedestrianhood.

But as I have learned, as things presently stand, your best chance of being 1/16 of an inch away from eternity, when there are cars around, is not to be in one.

The improvement in tire "protection" (by the by) has been kept pace with by the the corresponding anti-tire technologies (tire-piercing parking-lot spikes).

The ones that impaled and broke my bones in December are quite "advanced".

It's good to know we're always A Step Ahead...

It's also good to try not to be surprised too much by things, but... thinking about the Motor Culture and what may ultimately become of it (and us), I am reminded of Robert Louis Stevenson's "bottle imp paradox," in which a buyer is offered the opportunity to purchase, for whatever price he may wish to pay, a bottle containing a genie who will fulfill his every desire.

The only catch is that the bottle must thereafter be resold for a price smaller than what he paid for it, or he will be condemned to live out the rest of his days in excruciating torment.

Obviously, no one would buy the bottle for 1¢ since he would have to give the bottle away, but no one would accept the bottle knowing he would be unable to get rid of it. Similarly, no one would buy it for 2¢, & c.

However, for some reasonably large amount, it will always be possible to find a next buyer, so the bottle will be bought.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


You touch on so much here - it is just overwhelming.

While living in Jersey for many years I commuted 50 miles to and from work where I drove a truck (bookmobile) all day long. It plays havoc with your psyche.

I am now fortunate enough to live two miles from work and so can work back and forth everyday and have for years. The downside of being a pedestrian brings us face to face with that havoc ridden psyche. How cars are an extension of people's personalities has never been so apparent as it is now in an age when, despite (or maybe because of) all this social media, we are ever more alone than before. Nothing is more frightening than an isolated, angry man behind the wheel of a two ton vehicle when you are on foot trying to thread the urban maze.

Your point of how fear has been a primary thrust of advertising as well as propaganda really has hit the mark with me. That knuckleduster ad just plain scared me, a 59 year old man, and I couldn't have articulated the real reason because I was subconsciously too scared to think clearly.

And, so, your observation is even more frightening than that angry guy behind the wheel. Jeesh, I think it's time for me to crawl back under the bed!


Anonymous said...

I've always thought of the tire impaling device as particularly Californian (especially Los Angeles, where they've always terrified me), but now they've spread to other locations. Whoever thought of it, and found a way to sell it to customers as a reasonable business tool, must have been extremely evil and weird. I cannot imagine the practical need it serves that couldn't better be handled in some other way. The patent drawings for the thing must really be something. For what it's worth (not a hell of a lot, I know), I really don't think most people are "addicted" to the tension and danger, although parts of them may find these intermittently appealing in the way we all live segments of our lives as movies. I think people are just trying to get somewhere in this vast country and we can point the car (as opposed to the airplane or the train) in a direction, which allows us to accomplish this easily and efficiently. Reading about Don’s work commuting experiences as a pedestrian was fascinating. I thought the best part of living in Manhattan was being able to walk to work, where it feels like the normal thing to do, unlike say, Los Angeles, where agencies of the state conspire to make walking seem and feel freakish. But road rage and other similar insanities are not restricted to one gender. Personally, I’m ultra-horrified when I see, as I often do, a well-dressed, attractive woman – someone you could easily imagine with a totally different affect and look on her face in another situation – displaying the facial mask of Bloody Murder. And I simply don’t know how to explain those news stories that are broadcast yearly about the things people (women, especially, I’m afraid) have been ticketed for while driving – things like applying make-up at high speeds, putting on undergarments, etc., adding milk to cereal during the morning commute and then eating. Personally, I think that listening to the radio is pushing it, but I’m not a great driver and am easily distracted. But I can't feel regretful about my admittedly nostalgic reaction to the advertisements you've selected for inclusion here. Compared to the dead and deadening ads shown during last night's Super Bowl, these are each graphic and verbal masterpieces.

TC said...

By gum, I must make the terribly unAmerican admission that I missed the Super Bowl.

XLV is a nice number, though.

I spent the day (and night and day and...) hiding under the bed, in the space not taken by Don.

No spikes at least.

And plenty of quality time to spindrift through the old transportation ur-memory cycle and
Watch the Fords Go By!

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a great game or spectacle (if that's what people want) or anything like that. Caroline still enjoys football a great deal, all of the current extenuating circumstances that spoil the sport notwithstanding. AS for fulfilling another American aspect of the enterprise, we devised a really good (perfect, actually) abbreviated menu of snacks. The buffet on offer at the White House was considerably grander (J-Lo in attendance!), but we're a small family. And it was nice not to be falling on the ice. I thought the creation of the Super Bowl was a bad portent but XLV is a nice number.

TC said...

Well do I remember the early days, the Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath Era, Curtis.

Indeed, long before the first of the roman-numeral spectacles, I had as a youth rubbed shoulders with the veritable Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears.

Well, that's in a manner of speaking.

One shoulder-rub from a Monster of the Midway could of course put you in the hospital for weeks.

Those were the days when men were men and Bears were Bears and I was a teenage stadium usher. The Bears played in Wrigley Field, then. In winter, the single coldest place never to be visited by Scott of the Antarctic.

Curtis, you have mentioned before that Caroline is a big Eagles person.

(That came out sounding funny, but never mind.)

Since that time, whenever I think of her, there are interesting exotic green-and-white uniform flashbacks, to the trading card portraits of Steve Van Buren and Chuck Bednarik.

This is one hell of a country.

Still, yesterday, it did seem quite a bit safer under the bed.

(That came out sounding funny...)

Ed Baker said...

dolisThe Super Bowl?
isn't it on tonight?

heck ....
I missed another tiddie falling off...


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

As a Pittsburgher, I should have been under the bed with Tom ...

... now everything is coming out funny.

As a young lad of 13 or so, I once went to play a local pickup game of basketball and ended up standing next to Rosey Grier, who was from my hometown of Roselle and a member of the then mighty New York Giants. That day I would have sworn he was bigger than Mt. Fuji.

He was an amazingly gracious, sweet guy.

He went on to a career so varied that even John Irving couldn't have dreamed it up - he was the man, as RFK's bodyguard, who wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground, he was a consummate needle pointer, and, rather unfortunately, he had Ray Milland's head grafted on to his shoulder's in the abysmal film "A Man with Two Heads."

I'm thinking, on that last note, that I've officially ended the streak of funny, intentional or otherwise ...

Ed Baker said...

I never knew anyone who owned an Edsel &
as I recall in my entire 70 years I've only seen two...

they must-uve have been a big seller..


now decent girl would be caught dead making out in the back seat of an Edsel on plastic seat-cover.. THAT front end....
pure, 100% chromium pornography !

I want a red one...


am getting back into my Buster Brown Shoe
with my dawg Tighe
he lives in there too

the automobile? I just again beat one off with my cane!