Retro fun at “A Day in 1960”!

The event I organized around the VanCity Theatre’s showing of a typical day’s TV from our local CBC TV outlet in 1960 was a roaring success!

A Day in 1960

There was a total of five of us – just enough to squeeze into a booth at the vintage Templeton Diner for a tasty pre-show lunch.

As you can see, everyone was true to the vintage spirit of the thing, with a real variety of great outfits and looks. And the sociability was outstanding, with a couple of guests discovering they had a co-worker in common. Holy six degrees of separation, Batman! (Or one, in this case!)

I brought my authentic Brownie camera, and will get those pics developed ASAP, but who can wait that long? So I did sneak along the digital.  Check out the photos here.

Over at the VanCity Theatre, we had a request for a group photo – yay! And also I ran into my friend (and former co-singer in The Broadway Chorus), Barbara Clague. Her husband Michael was in his tweedy, becapped finest, but said he didn’t dress up – he’s just still wearing the same clothes he wore in the 60’s!

The program of clips and short programs was a treat to watch. Yes, there was the casual sexism – an ad for a service station chain set up a gag where the host presumes that women don’t know or care about the nitty-gritty details of auto maintenance. Then he sidles up to a fashionable lady who’s giving the attendant an informed to-do list of service checks. But the implication is that she’s a comic anomaly.

A Day in 1960

But there was plenty that was intriguing in its own right, while at the same time very much a record of another era, like the mini-doc on – wait for it – barrel making. Actually it was kind of nifty to see how they make the things. One in a series aimed at kids called “Follow Me”, it featured a big, burly, gruff-voiced man guiding our nominal 10-year-old “host” (who in fact was totally overshadowed by his guide) barking out descriptions of each step in the process. Though he seemed to use his factory-floor voice at all times, even outside where it was whisper-quiet. Inside, the whirling, whining saws and constant, staccato roar of the machinery made this seem less like kiddie fare than some terrifying vision of hell. I bet their little host didn’t sleep for a week.

Other clips included “Meet Lorraine”, a 15-minute musical show where the host, songbird Lorraine McAllister (and Dal Richards’ first wife!) crooned a few tunes, and shilled for the sponsor at regular intervals. It was half ad and half music show, the pitches integrated into the host’s banter like cherries suspended in a jello mold. But the band was definitely cookin’! And I think it was telling of the cultural assumptions of the time, that Lorraine asked the bandleader what he was thinking about, by way of a musical segue, and he launched into an instrumental-only version of “I Love Paris”, which features the line, “I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles”. Lorraine responded to that thought after the song. They assumed home viewers knew the song, and the lyrics.

The last selection, while a touch overlong, was quite poignant and beautifully done – a sort of elegy for Michel, BC – a “coal town” clearly on its way out, even as the Labour Day picnics and bocce ball games were still happening. (The town indeed doesn’t exist any more.) The framing device of the story is one young man who is leaving Michel, never to return. Wise choice. Seeing the up-close shots of soot-blackened miners toiling in sweaty underground passages, it seemed to me that a good title for this one would have been, “DON’T Follow Me”!

All in all this was a great presentation, and a great, fun afternoon! I hope to do something like it again before too long.

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