Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I WAS RECENTLY LEAFING through a January 1969 issue of Popular Science, which says something about retirement, life priorities, and proprietorship of SimanaitisSays. This particular Pop Sci had a 16-page extra on “How to Repair Your Small Electric Appliances,” one of which was an electric iron. (“What’s an electric iron, Grandpa?”)

But what really caught my eye were the ads.

Microwave Oven. “People on the go will welcome an oven that makes cooking chores a pleasure…. Bake a potato in 5 minutes instead of 60 minutes. Fry crisp bacon in 90 seconds on a paper plate.” 

This and the following images from Popular Science, January 1969.

This kitchen wonder went for $545 back in 1969. Figure on $4200 in today’s dollar.

Daughter Suz remembers when an even larger microwave showed up. She and her sister Beth eventually got tired of paper plate bacon, even if it had a waiting time of only 90 seconds.

A Lincoln Penny for 35¢. This, mind, was no ordinary penny: “Kennedy Looks at Lincoln,” the ad read. And sure enough, for only 35¢, three for 85¢, there were the 16th president and 35th president on the same “genuine penny.” 

Or, for pipe fanciers, there was Lincoln smoking what appear to be a Meerschaum. “Unusual and rare,” the ad read. 

A penny back then has inflated these days: The Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator sets an equivalent value of $2.70 today for the 1969 35¢ investment. 

Maybe readers recall machines in amusement arcades that mashed a penny into a birthday souvenir or some such.

Throwing Knife—Pierces Steel! It’s the steel-piercing aspect that dismays me. You’d think wearing a suit of armor would offer some sort of protection. But no, “Positive accuracy. Deep penetration! Easy throwing! Hard hitting!”

“Price Postpaid $1.00. Matched Set of 2 $1.95; Set of 3,  $2.65. Leather Sheath 50¢. Professional Knife Throwing Book 25¢.”

Gee, a dozen knives, the book, and some practice could set you up in one of those knife-throwing cabaret acts. 

What’s more, if you’re careless and have to go on the lam, has Pop Sci got a deal for you. 

Enjoy an Exciting Romantic Impressive Look Anytime! “Wear it confidently WHENEVER you care to have the LOOK you WANT for YOURSELF!”

For example, if you were clean-shaven in your cabaret act, “Now at last you can enjoy the experience of wearing sideburns, mustaches or Van Dyke that is so real looking your friends will think it is your very own….”

Curiously enough, there were two different companies with ads for these disguises, er… enhancements. But this ad has the deal-clincher: “Simply check the color you want in the coupon or send a sample of your hair and leave the matching to our expert. Your hair sample is color matched at no extra cost….”

On the Other Hand. Maybe you should just stick with repairing that bum electric iron. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021.

2 comments on “ADS, A HALF-CENTURY AGO

  1. phil
    November 9, 2021

    In the autumn of 1969, while visiting S.F., was robbed by two young men (I was all of 18) armed with a similar stamped-steel, throwing knife. I believe I was less nervous than they were! It was a very under-funded trip and they only got a few dollars and an aging Gruen wristwatch for their trouble. I still remember thinking that they must be hard up to be using such a cheap knife. 😎 Does PopSci still have tiny ads for young daydreamers in its back pages? Thanks for the memory jog!

    • simanaitissays
      November 10, 2021

      Hello, Phil,
      Wow. Quite a scary tale.
      I haven’t looked at PopSci or similar mags in years. This is one reason a treasure trove of late 60s has captured my attention.
      Perhaps other memory jogs to follow.

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