By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]

Beyond the Byline: Of twin-zipper girdles and Miracle Mart

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Bill O’Boyle
Ad for a girdle in a 1959 edition of The Times Leader.

WILKES-BARRE — Who needs a girdle?

Apparently, in 1959, plenty of women needed these garments and an advertisement in The Times Leader Evening News told of a big sale.

Since Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine apparently has never been perfected, time travel can only be accomplished through more rudimentary means — like perusing vintage, discolored, frayed editions of The Times Leader.

The editions before me — thanks to colleague Jennifer Learn Andes — are dated Tuesday, Oct. 27, 1959, and Monday, Nov. 23, 1959, and feature everything from national and international news, local events, weather, Wall Street, comics, car ads and Little Studies.

These editions would make good reading for cartoon characters like Mr. Peabody and his trusted assistant, Sherman, who was a nerd/geek long before those terms were invented.

Perhaps the most intriguing ad is from Pomeroy’s Department Store for the “all new deduce-eze girdle.” Apparently, this item featured two “twin zippers” that would help the girdle “hold ‘n mold.” The ad says, “Makes inches seem to vanish. Don’t struggle, don’t tug, don’t strain, don’t pull.”

It actually says: “It’s eased, not squeezed,” and “It’s active, not captive.”

Who can tell me what “it” is that they are talking about?

This ad obviously is the ancient precursor to the ads of today that tell people “you might not be fat — you may just be bloated.” Yeah, right.

By the way, the deduce-eze girdle sold for $4.99 — a small price to pay to, as the ad says, “slim 2 inches off.”

As far as news of the day goes, one banner story’s headline read: Slides Block Cascade Mt. Routes. A sub-head tells of 4 missing in an Illinois hotel fire. Another story is about President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vacation to Augusta, Georgia.

So prepare now for a trip back in time — get into Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.

There are advertisements for The Hub — men’s gift sweaters sold for $5.99. Kresge’s was offering Halloween costumes at $2.98 and below, and a rather handsome couple were enjoying their Tareyton new dual filter cigarettes — the ad took up most of Page 3. You remember Tareyton cigarettes. don’t you? One of their ad campaigns featured an actor with a black eye, who would rather “fight than switch” his brand.

And to be sure another vice was equally represented, an ad for Bellows Partners Choice Whiskey ran adjacent to the Tareyton ad — the bottle sold for $4.57. Page 3 also had a story about the capture of 11 escapees from Kis-Lyn — the place our parents threatened to send us if we didn’t listen, eat our vegetables or make our beds.

Percy Brown’s had a near-full page ad that told shoppers about all the Thanksgiving dinner “fixins” that were for sale —pumpkin and mince pies for 63 cents; turkeys for 47 cents per pound; hams for 39 cents a pound; chuck roast for 37 cents a pound; and a layer cake for 98 cents.

Food Fair had a full-page ad featuring lobster tails on sale for $1.19 per pound — marked down from the regular price of $1.59 per pound. And there is an ad urging customers to come to Bell Telephone to try the new Princess phone — a sharp deviation from the normal black dialer, this was “new, modern, small and the dial lights up when you make a call.”

As I flipped the pages, ever so gently, the next ad I saw took my breath away. It was for Miracle Mart, touted as a self service department store. This is 1959 and this was the first store of its type in our area. Miracle Mart was here long before Kmart and Walmart ever arrived.

Miracle Mart had ladies’ slacks for $1.58, ladies’ blouses for 57 cents, men’s coat sweaters for $5.74 and plastic storm windows 4 for $59 cents.

I remember going to Miracle Mart with my mother. It was an experience I will never forget — rows and aisles of merchandise everywhere and you could buy just about anything at a reasonable price. Plus, there was a huge parking lot where you could park for free. This was groundbreaking in the retail world.

One more thing, The Times Leader Evening News sold for 7 cents a copy. The motto across the top of Page 1 read: “The paper with a policy — all the news the day it happens.”

Quite a contrast to today’s news gathering, where deadline is always right now.

How far we’ve come — right?

Bill O’Boyle O’Boyle

Ad for a girdle in a 1959 edition of The Times Leader. for a girdle in a 1959 edition of The Times Leader.

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email [email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email [email protected]