Blast from the Past

A lighthearted look at our industry’s storied history.

I remember the May Fair growing up. It was the school event of the year. And while I spent eight years toiling away in the classrooms of St. John of the Cross parochial school, I did live around the corner from a public school that had an awesome May Fair.

The anticipation would mount as soon as you saw the first sign go up. Excitement grew because we knew the fair was going to be chock full of kid-goodness. Where else could you get an orange stabbed with a paper straw?

One year, our friend Chico went early and came back with a pair of glasses with battery-operated wipers. I don’t remember what game he won them on, I just remember scrambling to get our nickels, dimes and quarters and sprinting to Hamilton Elementary School. Even though I wore prescription glasses, I needed that novelty item damn it. (Please don’t tell on me for cursing.)

Though we all scored a pair, the big draw, as it was every year, was the goldfish. For the unlucky who don’t know, you could win a goldfish by tossing a ping-pong ball into a goldfish bowl. We won a goldfish every year and brought it home … to die. Seriously, they never had a chance, and my friends and I would trade stories on whose lived longer.

So, in honor of the May Fair and all those deceased pets, enjoy this offering from past May Counselors.

Where Goldfish Go To Die

I guess we are to assume that some sales techniques were pretty brutal in the past. “Buy my stuff before I thrash you with my walking stick.” From 1970

The premise of the Brush Away is that if you ever forget your toothbrush, you won’t have stinky breath. OK, but what if you also forget your Brush Away? Then what Mr. Not-So-Smarty Pants? From 1977

The tag said to “make it a memorable experience for the kiddies.” Sure kids, reach into this creepy-looking thing, (is it animal or human?) and get yourself a balloon. Nightmares later that night? You can thank the good guys at Buster Brown Shoes. From 1967

The modern incarnation of Mr. Peanut is actually a little creepy. Have you seen the commercials? However, the Mr. Peanut bolo tie was the must-have accessory in 1960.


I love the levels of drawings that permeated ads in older Counselors. And this guy? Well, I only have four words, “Dude, where’s your neck?” From 1975

We Wrote That!

This appeared in an anonymously (chicken) written article in May 1967 in which a sales manager for “a well-known distributor firm” takes suppliers to task. “To put it bluntly, many – too many – of the suppliers in this industry have grown soft, slack, sleazy and sluggish during the last few years. And they’ve done it at our, the distributors’, expense. They are spoiled, and the taint, like the taint from some rotten apples in a barrel, is gradually spreading. It used to be, a few years back, that only a few notorious few of the suppliers were like this; now more and more of them are.