Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wig-Wagging With Wallace

Hanging out in the Mister's studio sometimes yields interesting results. Today, he has been archiving some of his records and I came in just in time to hear a little bit of "Keep Fit To Music", a "reduction" record set put out in 1941 by Wallace Reducing Records. The set was produced and distributed by the man himself, Wallace.

Yep, that's Wallace!

It's a lively mixture of marching band music, swingy tunes and other instrumentals mixed with Wallace's ever-present and enthusiastic voice of instruction.

The set includes six records and assorted guides, along with a letter from Wallace encouraging the lady of the house to pay seventeen dollars on his "easy payment plan" to lose weight, shape up and regain their "lost pep". Why, he even brags that many people pay as much as three hundred dollars to attend his classes. Even though that was a boatload of cash in the forties, it's still easy to believe Wallace. The enclosed booklets written by him practically ooze assurance - and the ever-present photos of his trustworthy face put a person at ease right away.

Or make one feel on edge. It's the eyes really.

One of the high points of the set for me is this booklet:

You may be asking yourself, "What is this 'Woman's Birthright' that is spoken of? Menstruation? Unwanted facial hair? Pay scales that don't match those awarded to male counterparts?" ( or you might just be thinking, "I didn't know that they could show naked lady nipple silhouettes in the forties") Either/or. Let's look inside, shall we?

First, a note from Wallace (and again with those eyes):

Whew! I bet he was really sweating bullets when those radios came in to vogue!

And how about a little of the introduction?

Thanks for the guilt trip, Wallace! I love the part where he says, "And beauty is a normal condition. If more women realized this - there would be more beautiful women."

Oh, snap! I also like the line: "Beauty is not a 'gift', but a reward for obeying Nature's laws."

Got it. Obey nature's laws. Can do.

(Unless nature has a law against Cheeto's and then well, slap the cuffs on me, Wallace!)

The booklet also includes some testimonials. This one from Mr. Frank Peterson:

Frank is enjoying his "new wife"! Let's hear it for those streamlined broads! Admittedly, she does look much more svelte and happy. One point for Wallace.

Here is another testimonial. This time from Mrs. Walter Smith:

Go Mrs. Walter Smith! She may have lost a couple of chins (color me jealous) but she didn't lose her taste in sweeeet hats. Oh okay, another point for Wallace.

Now before we get too excited and get our workout mats ready, a warning from Wallace:

And maybe we should look at his reduction tips:

So, wait..wait..he not only wants us to exercise but he also wants us to sweat ourselves into heat exhaustion? Who among us has ever worked out inside of our homes while wearing men's thermal underwear with fleece lining and thick Winter socks? After drinking hot water and before wrapping ourselves in a thick blanket while our life slowly drains from our body as we wait for our warm baths to reach capacity in our steam filled bathrooms? (If you have, don't tell me because I can't even bear to think of it.)

Before I get too riled up (and I am sure at this point that it's easy for you all to tell that I don't like to suffer for weight loss), let's take a look at the diagrams:

The Wig-Wag!

The Bicycle!

Wait one New York minute! That broad isn't wearing the grungy old, fleece lined long underwear that she got out of her husband's drawer! What's up with that??

Oh! There's Wallace again! And he's looking straight through to my soul!

I swear to you, Wallace! I've obeyed every single law that nature has put forth!

I'd better pipe down. Or else he's liable to send me to his torture chamber:

Nah, that's only one of his homemade workout machines:

(For you ladies who don't want to make the men in your life mad by screwing eye hooks and rope into the nice baseboard, just put your feet under the front of the couch. Disclaimer: This isn't Wallace's tip but mine - from the days when I wasn't afraid of exercise.)

Now, I think it's time for what I'm sure your hearts have been longing for - a little bit of ear candy from Wallace. Here he leads us through the mule kick. Don't miss how he kind of loses himself towards the end and starts to sing. I love it!:


Upon researching Wallace, I learned that his last name was Rogerson and that he did these records for many decades. I found ads for the record sets from the twenties right on up to the fifties. It seems that one could send away for the first record for free and then the sales pitch for the other records in the set would begin. From what I can tell from reading a pretty confusing legal affidavit regarding the use of his name, he passed away in 1943 and his widow continued the mail order record business until 1959. Here is one of the ads from 1950:

                                               Photo Courtesy of Duke University Libraries Digital Collections


As evidenced in the ad, he also used to have a "Get Thin To Music" radio show. I couldn't find much more except that where his office used to be is now a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant. Considering the calorie counts in that place, I don't think he'd appreciate that!

And if you're interested, here is a really cool website that shows the most awesome ad for the record set from the twenties and tells about how a "History Detectives" show has been done for PBS on these very same reducing records:

History Detectives

That ought to be a great episode and it's definitely going on my calendar. Maybe there will be some fascinating inside scoop on Wallace! It should air in September.

I'm planning on talking the Mister into doing a month of Wallace's plan with me. I'll report back. I'm sure that I'll reduce down to just a tiny sliver of a thing!

Until next time (
x's and o's,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Five Alarm Color Critique

Recently, I was standing in the kitchen making dinner when all of a sudden this huge ear piercing alarm went off. I was completely confused because it was going off in the dining room and we don't have a smoke alarm in that direction. Cats were running terrified everywhere, doing that low-to-the-floor run as if they thought that a barrage of bullets might fly through at any second.

Clutching my ears, I ran into the dining room and realized that it was our carbon monoxide alarm. It came with the house and we'd never heard it before. And let me say that I have never heard anything that loud and ear splitting in my life! So, I stumbled over to look at it and it's flashing in big red letters "GAS" over and over with a heaping load of urgency.

So, I immediately realized that we had a carbon monoxide leak which I knew could kill us really fast. The Mister runs in and we're both like, "What do we do?!?!" I mean, we knew that we should get out of the house but the thing was, all of the cats had run off to hide and were completely missing. I jumped on the internet and learned that a carbon monoxide leak can kill you within just a few minutes and soon, we would pass out and not wake back up. The internet information said to open windows and to not turn any lights or electrical appliances off or on. Oh, and to get out of the house!

We opened as many windows as would open (which in an old house means that we opened three) and meanwhile I'm screaming, "Oh god..I AM dizzy!" as the Mister called 9-1-1. The operator told him that we needed to get out of the house immediately and to not look back (how many times do we have to be told anyway?).

But, of course, we were too worried about the kitties to leave. Would they be dead soon? What do we do? And of course, we didn't see a single one of them. Then we realized that even if we DO see them, we don't have enough cat carriers for all of them. My eyes darted around the room as I surveyed each and every item, wondering if it might carry a cat in an emergency: Bread box? Pillowcase? That ottoman with the lid?

We finally decided that we had better get outside and as we were talking to the 9-1-1 operator, this big ole fire truck comes roaring up with the siren and the lights on, illuminating the entire neighborhood into an ear piercing disco. "Hello, neighbors!'s us! The Kitsch Family! The ones with the paint samples all over our trim and the pink toilet in the driveway, tackying up the neighborhood! Nice to meet y'all!" Three big ole burly firemen leaped out of the truck and said, "Where is it?". We pointed to the back door and they skedaddled. Suddenly, they're all in our house, walking around with these fancy meters beeping. The Mister and I were outside gasping, "OH MY GOSH! THE KITTIES! THE COMPUTER SAID JUST MINUTES IS ALL IT TAKES!!" as we watched the firemen doing recon through the windows.

Sooner or later, the fire chief came out and told us that they didn't detect anything. Nothing at all. They said that it could be a faulty detector. I must have just been caught up in the moment and thought that I felt dizzy. Or maybe it was an adrenaline rush. I mean, the good news is that we didn't die - but hello - SO freaking scary... and kind of embarrassing!

After he told us that we weren't in any danger, two of the other firemen came out and were absolutely dying laughing. One of them said to us "which one of y'all were born in the fifties?" and we both said, "Neither". He then kind of rolled his eyes and pointed in our dining room window and said, "Are y'all seeing what I'M seeing?"

I answered, "Oh! Well we were born in the 70's but it wasn't our favorite time so we're trying to..uh...capture... something?" It was obvious that while we were outside freaking out because we thought that our cats were dying or that our house was going to explode in a giant fireball, they'd been inside making fun of our house colors. The other fireman then said "What color are you going to paint the outside? BRIGHT PURPLE? NEON GREEN?" and they all erupted into laughter. The Mister and I both chirped, "Aqua!" and they looked at each other and shook their heads as if they'd just seen a two headed calf walk up the sidewalk.

Needless to say, we learned a lot that night: Carbon monoxide detectors can save lives. We need three cat carriers. Oh, and that one minute, you can be making yourself a sandwich in your kitchen and the next, you're being made to feel like a freak show by the local fire department!

Until next time (make those emergency plans, folks)
x's and o's,