Archive for the Americana Category

Rockin’ Around the Clock with Happy Days trivia

Posted in Americana, cartoons, Happy Days, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , on March 3, 2009 by Paxton

Happy Days logoSunday, Monday, Happy Days!  Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days!  Man, I used to love watching the show Happy Days when I was growing up.  I loved Fonzi and his catchphrase, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeey!”  I loved the show’s catchphrase, “Sit on it!”  I loved the theme song, I loved the setting and the sets, I loved the other characters.  It was just a lot of fun to watch.   I still enjoy it.  I DVR it every once in a while to see some of my favorite episodes.

Just a few weeks ago I got an email from Ticketmaster letting me know that tickets for Happy Days the Musical, showing in Jacksonville, were only 20 bucks during the week.  I didn’t realize there was a musical based on the TV show, but it’s not surprising considering the Broadway shows based on Saturday Night Fever, Xanadu, Road House and other movies from the ’70s and ’80s.  I thought it would be fun to see how they managed to translate the show to the stage so I bought Steph and I tickets and we went this past Saturday.Happy Days The Musical

The show was very good. The guy who played Fonzie was spot on. He had the mannerisms and voice inflection down cold. The guy who played Ritchie was familiar to me because he was in the cast of Avenue Q which I happened to see on Broadway in 2004 right before it won the Tony for Best Musical. Overall, the musical was like watching an episode of the TV show, cheesy and cute. The songs were fun, too. Steph and I really enjoyed watching it. If it comes to your town, and you loved the TV show, then give the musical a chance. I think you’ll like it.

Anywho, after watching the musical, I started Googling Happy Days. I was surprised how much info and trivia was out there. I was reading for like 3 hours about behind the scenes information and background info on the show and characters. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would pass along some of my favorite tidbits.

So, without further adieu, here’s everything cool about the show Happy Days that you never knew.

* Originally there were three Cunningham children. Ritchie, Joanie and the eldest, Chuck.  Chuck Cunningham was phased out of the show  in Season 2 (off to college for basketball).

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What our favorite fast food joints looked like back in the day Part II

Posted in advertising, Americana, Burger King, fast food, food, Pizza Hut, pop culture with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by Paxton

Last week I introduced you to the early incarnations of some of our favorite fast food restaurants. You got to see McDonald’s, Arby’s and KFC the way they looked when they were opened in the ’50s and ’60s. If you missed this trip down vintage fast food lane just click here to be transported back to a simpler time. Back to a time when people knew that a bacon double cheeseburger and a side of chili-cheese waffle fries was a gift handed down by God himself unto the people of Earth. That a triple thick strawberry milkshake was made from happiness and love, mixed together by a benevolent soda jerk who only wanted to stop the pain of the real world…if only for a little while.  But I digress…

If you’ve already read Part I of this article, and you are ready to see a few more vintage fast food eateries, then continue on, intrepid reader, for looks at yesteryear Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Burger King.

Burger King
Vintage BKVintage BK 2
The founders of BK visited one of the original McDonalds Brothers burger stands in California and thought they had a good system going. So they returned to Miami, devised their own production line burger system and opened up the first restaurant in 1954. The restaurant was named InstaBurger King (yes, that is a horrible name). When deciding to franchise, they changed the name to Burger King and the rest is history. Above you can see a magazine ad for one of the original Burger Kings in the ’50s – ’60s. On the right is a picture of that same building architecture as it stands in Naperville, IL. Amazing that this building is still intact.  Until this picture I had no idea that a Burger King ever looked like this.  Very similar to the original McDonald’s architecture, don’t you think?

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What our favorite fast food joints looked like back in the day Part I

Posted in advertising, Americana, fast food, food, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, pop culture with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2009 by Paxton

Vintage Burger ChefFast food franchises have been around for years. Some of the first ones were started back in the ’50s as malt shops or diners. Since then, there have been many different variations of the fast food franchise; burgers, chicken, ice cream, seafood, family-style, etc. As the type and menu changed, so have the styles, image and logo of the establishment. Many of the most popular fast food franchises of today have been around since the ’60s and if you were to travel back in time to see your favorite restaurant as it stood back in the day, you may not even recognize it.

I was perusing some of the photostreams in Flickr as well as some of my favorite fast food groups and you can see plenty of awesome pictures of fast food franchises and how they used to look back in the day.  I even remember some of them!  So let’s take a look at a few of the more popular franchises and how their “look and feel” has changed from ’60s until now.

You can click any of the below pictures to see them BIGGER.

McDonald’s

'60s McDonalds
McDonald’s began in 1940 with a restaurant in San Bernandino, CA opened by (surprise, surprise) the McDonald brothers. They developed their “SpeeDee” delivery system in this restaurant that has become the basis for all modern fast food franchises.   Ray Kroc, a salesman providing milkshake machines to the brothers, convinced them to let him franchise their operation in 1955.  Kroc bought out the brothers and took McDonald’s to the lofty heights you see today.  Due to its long history, McD’s architecture has had more face lifts than Joan Rivers.  There are so many different styles of McDonald’s restaurants that it’s almost impossible to nail down different eras of buildings.  Don’t even get me started on the different styles for the “golden arches” signs as there are too many to even begin a listing here.  I could probably do an entire article on McDonald’s architecture and store design (*note to self).  Moving along, the picture above is one of the earliest building incarnations from a McDonald’s in the ’50s – ’60s.  Many McDonald’s restaurants today are being built in this “retro” styling.  Check out the huge, modern, 2-floor McDonald’s in Chicago that was built in this style.

'70s McDonalds
This is probably one of the more familiar versions of the McDonald’s restaurant.  It’s brown roof with white striping has become iconic for McDonald’s lovers as it’s visage was used throughout the ’80s in commercials.  This style started, I believe, in the ’70s or ’80s.  There was also a version of this building with yellow striping on the roof.

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Roadside Giants: Discovering the Muffler Men

Posted in Americana, Muffler Men, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , on February 7, 2008 by Paxton
Interstate Signs

As many of you know, I was born in Birmingham, AL. I lived there for 31 years until I moved to Jacksonville in 2005. Since I was a kid, I’ve ridden and/or driven interstate 65 North through downtown (then on to 20/59) towards the airport more times than I can remember. After graduating Auburn, when I became a software consultant, that route was passed almost every weekend for years. As a kid, when I would go interstate 65 into downtown, there were two things I always looked forward to seeing from the car window. The first being a tall rectangular building filled with windows called the AmSouth Center (now the Regions Center). Ever since I can remember, during Christmas time, the building will put up colored cells in its windows to create pictures on all four sides. Click here to see the side with the Christmas tree. The other sides include a stocking and a candy cane. The building was always cool and even during the non-holiday season was fun to gaze upon.

Stan the GCR Tire ManThe second thing I fondly remember noticing on my ride downtown was the giant statue of a man on top of a building holding his arms out in front of him as if he was holding something, but he wasn’t (peep the picture to the right). He appeared to be dressed in a mechanic’s coveralls and he stood on the roof of what looked to be an auto repair shop. I just thought he looked cool standing there as it was a very neat looking statue. The guy was obviously very large, and I can’t recall the first time I noticed him, but he’s been there as long as I can remember that drive. I remember thinking “Where did he come from and what’s he supposed to be holding in his empty outstretched hands?” It was all so mysterious. I was fascinated. As I grew older, he was just always there and I really didn’t think anything more about it.

It wasn’t until years later I found out that my auto repair statue/mascot was just one of a large group of statues collectively called, “The Muffler Men”. My particular one was on top of GCR Tire Repair and his name was Stan. I couldn’t believe it, my dude had a name and there were more of these things? When I sat down and thought about it, I do remember seeing statues similar to my auto repair guy in pictures. I remember seeing a lot of differently dressed auto repair guys that looked suspiciously similar. I started researching their history and what I found surprised me. These statues are regarded as vintage Roadside Americana. They have a many varied and interesting history and have been around for many, many years. They sit in auto repair shops, miniature golf courses, carnivals, gas stations, antique stores, etc, etc. Some dressed as mechanics, Indians, lumberjacks or space men. The ones we see now have just been passed down for generations and most likely are not with their original owners. But how did they begin? What was their original purpose? Was it a standard mold made by many different companies or did one company crank these things out? Well, I finally found out the Secret Origin of the Muffler Men, so if you are not already bored to tears by this article then read on for the amazing history of the roadside “Muffler Men”.

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