Friday, December 14, 2007

That J.C. Penney Viral Email

The originator of a viral email about a 1977 J.C. Penney catalog was surprised at how traffic was driven to his site by what he thought was a rather quotidian item.

I was one of the recipients of one of those emails (mine came from a college classmate who, of course, graduated from high school in 1977, as I did), which apparently have been making the rounds since Johnny Virgil first posted his snarky comments about 1970s fashions on his blog, "15 Minute Lunch."

I'm disinclined toward reprinting someone else's material, but I encourage a visit to the original post. It really is funny -- especially if you were around in 1977. (The music was great but the clothes were, let's face it, atrocious.)

To give you a taste of what you'll find there, here is one photo scanned from that old catalog:

For those under 30 years of age, it may be hard to believe that people once wore colors and patterns like those. Yet that's among the mildest of the images. I hate to admit I once dressed in similar "fashion":

(And that's for a formal sitting. You don't want to see the candid snapshots. It's for good reason they did not end up in the National Gallery's current exhibition on "The Art of the American Snapshot" -- which I also highly recommend.)

In pre-Internet America -- even in the 1970s -- the J.C. Penney catalog was your Christmas shopping wish book. (Or was that the Sears catalog? My memory fades.) People dressed themselves and decorated their homes according to the examples they found in the J.C. Penney catalog.

Question for readers: Did anyone else receive the email about the 1977 J.C. Penney catalog? If so, when did you receive it? Did you pass it along to others? Did you trace its source, as I did?

1 comment:

Tom Birkland said...

Penny's had a great catalog, but when I was a kid, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was the Sears Christmas Wish Book, which is what they called it--it was the abbreviated Sears catalog, with a lot more toys. I always wanted the Tyco combination HO train/slot car set, with the RR crossing for the cars/trains. Imagine the Daytona 500, with a RR crossing. We just knew we'd be crashing cars into trains, and vice versa.

The clothes, of course, were hideous. I had a shirt once that...well...just, ugh.