Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A dim memory cell tells me that was the title of a blues song from way back....I believe Louie Armstrong had a rendition of it....on a CD that's buried somewhere with some other old timers. It only applies to the first ad engine additive for snowmobiles and skidoos. Can't recall the product, or how the ad was used. This week's CAWS will be mainly B&W ads from a variety of years and clients. And once again, working our way through the 'shrinking inventory'.

The next scan, a newspaper B&W for Chevron....a gull's eye view of the Golden Gate Bridge. A large ad, so hard to scan....and cropped on the right and lower sides. Done in the mid to late 50's.

A change-up ad for the Olympia Beer Co. scheduled for trade or consumer magazine publication with a better quality of paper. The general concept and humor was a spoof of nineteenth century, or turn of the century, steel engraving art and technique. Done sometime in the 60's.

After that, three B&W ads for FMC, a San Jose manufacturer of large motor homes.

The company was better known for military tanks and vehicles....and like many manufacturers, was converting to civilian products.

Again, these were destined for trade ads or brochures on better paper than newsprint....and again, done sometime in the 60's.

Following are two B&W plus halftone horizontal spots for Mercury autos....various features of the then new Mercury.

Viewers should notice the price in the copy....under $4000! I haven't checked lately, but what can you get for $4000 today....maybe a clunker? Next, a newspaper ad for Chevy....this one from a local agency, Allen/Dorward. For a regional Chevy dealer's promotion, as I recall.

Finally, a line B&W for a mattress company....the familiar 'hard bed vs. soft bed' pitch....and I can't remember the brand of mattress.

My wife was the 'semi-willing' model for Poloroid shots on this....again done in the 60's.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



Ah, yes....two lines from 'Sentimental Journey', the famous big band hit by Les Brown, sung by Doris Day, on juke boxes everywhere in 1945....and played probably a dozen times each evening in our bar. Our bar??!! In the closing months of that year, we were in the 'Occupation', in Tokyo living 'in style' in a four story former Japanese Army and Navy officers building, across the moat that surrounded the Emperor's Palace. We had just moved up from dirt (or mud) floor tents on Okinawa....and now had bedrooms with real beds, furniture, a dining room with table cloths and kimono clad waitresses....and yes, a bar....warm Japanese beer the only beverage! Army food was still being served, almost all of it dehydrated or canned, but it tasted a lot better in those surroundings. I was with 5th Air Force headquarters, hence the royal treatment. That building, and a few larger buildings further around the palace, where Gen. MacArthur had his staff and headquarters, were spared the devastation that befell the rest of Tokyo by the close proximity to the Emperor's palace. That was technically 'off limits' during the large bombing attacks earlier that year.

A CAWS challenge the past year has been to make the blog long enough to be of some interest....but short enough to not bore the socks off viewers. It may be a test this week with the nostalgia thing. First, some non-ad illustration....and then some photos. Somehow, in the busy 70's, I found time to explore a print biz.

This was long before the 'limited edition print' fad arrived in the 80's.... another story for another day. My 'business model' (no one had heard the term....there were no MBA's in those days) was flawed, as are many amateur endeavors. Long on production, short on sales distribution. Intended for 'kids' and kid's rooms, dirt cheap compared to later on, a series of four illustrations of several subjects....antique sports autos...

... WW l airplanes, horses, African animals, for a start. All, of course, subjects that I or my daughters liked. In my 'spare' time finished a bunch of these, the old cars were reproduced. Those were a 'test market' the author, entrepreneur, and I found they sold rather easily to several bay area book stores....but it took a lot of time and effort to move a few dozen prints. The light finally dawned.

Needed was a real sales plan....without enough product to warrant one. I wisely gave it up.

Enough....I knew this blog would get long winded!

Unlike Harry Borgman's fine illustrations, and a host of other old airplane illustrators, these were intentionally more airplane portraits than combat scenes. I envisioned the 'buying moms' accepting the ideas!

Next, a few photos I had promised earlier. A first 'homebuilt' design by the now famous Burt Rutan (designer of the around the world non-stop 'Voyager', 'Space Ship One', etc,).

This one, the 'Variviggen', was made from plans and a few fiberglass parts....and before today's complete kits, pre-drilled,every rivet and nut included, etc. Mainly Sitka spruce, aircraft plywood, almost all parts and metal fittings made by yours truly, the builder.

A retractable gear, delta winged, rear engine pusher....really too sophisticated for a homebuilt. For eight or ten years into the 80's, an evening hobby and a 'diversion' from regular work.

At least it was close by....across the walk to the garage. Never finished, I'm sure fortunately!

Finally, some fuzzy photos from a tiny 18mm Japanese camera....a blast from the past. Personal cameras were forbidden by the Army when we flew our PBY overseas....from Savannah, GA, ending a couple of weeks later on Luzon in the Philippines. That was early in 1945. The hot humid climate spoiled film fast, anyway....and any photos taken by military photographers had to go through stiff censorship if sent home. In mid summer I was transferred from a squadron to 5th Air Force headquarters at Clark Field. As 'rated' (flying) personnel, we had to log four hours flying a month to receive flight pay....a third of our income....which for a 1st Lieutenant was $240. Good pay in those days. The small 5th AF 'airforce' at our disposal included a B-25, a couple of C-47's (DC-3's), a retired 'razorback' P-47, and a half dozen P-51's. The bigger planes required a minimum crew of three....hard to arrange. At Clark Field I chose the P-47....a far cry from a PBY....and kind of like going from a truck into a NASCAR open wheel race car! In late fall in Japan, I checked out in the P-51. I managed to log about ten hours in each plane, without major damage to either plane or pilot, before being shipped home in January, 1946. The first photo shows some of our 'airforce'....wooden Japanese hangars on the left

The next two, a possessive, hand on prop pose. Attitude, 'well, I tamed this beast!'

Attitude, 'well, I tamed this beast!'

Last airplane....and the only 'homebuilt' finished....was a 'Gee Bee' racer mailbox a few years back. The real one, a short little barrel of a plane with huge wheel pants....Jimmy Doolittle raced it in the 30's.

He lived, others didn't! A mailbox is a fair facsimile. Very anyone still awake?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Marcus & Millichap, as mentioned earlier was a commercial real estate investment and brokerage company located on the Penninsula (south bay) where many 'Sillicon Valley' hi-tech companies are located. I believe they are still there and still successful....through many real estate and economic booms and busts over the years. P&H worked with them for four or five years back in the 70's. Their range of business then seemed to be in the west, southwest, and in Texas when I illustrated for them....doing mostly B&W trade ads. I noticed they were consistent with a theme....which is good advertising....the 'gold miner' series, the promotion of their best salespeople each year, etc.

First, an annual report or a promotional brochure, a montage color illustration of the two young founders, George Marcus and William Millichap, with their signatures incorporated into the portraits. The others in the illustration were some of their salespeople.

Next, some of the typical montage B&W trade ads, some showing various geographic areas they covered.

Then, one of several montage ads of sales personnel who excelled during a given year.

Following, the ghost town or pioneer series featuring the 'new miner', a well dressed sales person, often with a Mercedes car.

They specified Mercedes, a symbol of success in those days.

The last of those, a comp that was a finish as well.

Filling out the CAWS this week, and totally unrelated, a few more examples of State Fund brochure illustrations that were posted a couple of weeks ago.

None of the scans lately are that different or that interesting....although to the artist, every job was of interest.

Also, in the late 70's, it was very close to a 'milestone' of 30 years of ad illustration in San Francisco....a very long time!

In the next five or so years, I was able to get into some different subjects and areas....for me, at least. For better or worse, we'll post those in the weeks to come.

Last....a teaser for next week. Identify the 23 year old lolling on the wing of a P-51. Tune in.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


No reason for the title except that it's funny. A few years back, a few of our friends belonged to an older group called the 'Half-Fast Walkers'....and I've always wanted to use the line. Again this week clearing decks.....some old to new halftone illustrations. As said before, B&W line art was used for better reproduction in newspapers....but halftones were used at times....and more for trade ads where the paper generally was better.

First....and back by popular demand....for a one week appearance only!! Ladeeez and Germs.....the one, the only, the incomparable....Lady of Steeeeel!! Right here! This illustration was a for a mid winter full page newspaper ad for Harrahs (as I recall) at Tahoe....and probably Las Vegas as well.

Our favorite model (never will remember her name) was a sweetie and good sport....not at all the show biz type! The costume, pinned in back came from a theatre supply. She wore it well, and posed like the pro she was. Next an early 50's Hexol ad. My oldest daughter and my wife, changed on this to a brunette, were the models.

A varied assortmennt this week....the next scan a newspaper halftone for a PG&E ad. Our neighbor was the model....another cheerful guy, he came over to my 'garage photo studio' where I set up the old Speed Graphic. He posed for several Chevron ads as well.

Following are two trade ads for Potlatch, a large western lumber and wood products company. They should be clear and accurate....but often the digital world and halftone screens don't 'get along'....strange patterns develop.

Both the PG&E and Potlatch illustrations were done with Perma- Grey gouache. I preferred those to Windsor Newton greys.

Next in line, a Raisin (Sunmaid?) promotion, I think for magazines....the sleeping mom. A different model used on this....and I kind of liked the result.

An old Chevron or Standard Oil newspaper ad, the scuba divers, follows. Done in the early 50's in Higgins Ink washes.

The 'new' scan, as promoted, is an Olympic Club charcoal portrait sketch done this year in January. Very occasionally, I get back on the least for short stints.

Finally, to break the all grey pattern, and because they don't fit a group, a credit card sized ad for Chevron...

... and another early and fast effort, both for mailers with bills.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set