Wagner Auto Parts - Service with a smile and a funny hat.

Sorry, joke enthusiasts. Nothing super funny about today's 1949 ad from Wagner auto parts. Just a piece of very dated clip art and some cool car illustrations. And spot color! You know how you all get excited about ads printed in black plus a color, right? Didn't think so. Well it is anyway.

I don't remember personally, but there was a time when gas stations, or "service stations" were populated with scurrying humans in uniforms who would scamper all over your car, checking fluids and stuff while your tank was filled... also by a worker bee in a crisp white uniform. They wore quasi-military hats like the one Gomer Pyle wore. That's what's the deal with the Disembodied Floating head at the top of this ad. This explanation was for the confused among you who are less than 100 years old.

In my experience, I can remember a time when there was still a gas station guy who would walk up to your driver's side window and ask what kind you wanted and how much. But, since this was The Seventies, he didn't look like the clip art guy in this ad. he looked more like Doctor Johnny Fever, from WKRP in Cincinnati, and was probably just as likely to try and sell my dad a joint as he was willing to sell him a carton of Salem 100s.

I was neither a gasoline customer, nor alive, when gas stations were run like this. But in my experience, I can remember a time when there was still a gas station guy who would walk up to your driver's side window and ask what kind you wanted and how much. Since this was The Seventies, he didn't look like the clip art guy in this ad. he looked more like Doctor Johnny Fever, from WKRP in Cincinnati. In a way, I kind of prefer to pump gas myself, rather than have even this limited conversation with a potential tilt-a-whirl operator. I'm sure if I were a lady, I'd feel even more strongly about this.

Anyhoo, the car illustrations in here are pretty good. They remind me of the Richard Scarry books I used to have when I was a single-digit human. Richard Scarry books were focused more on showing kids how things were made, built, moved, and generally done. Even his more "plot-driven" books featured vehicles pretty heavily. Good man. He encouraged curiosity.

I have half a mind to buy up some copies of these books before they're outlawed for not being "self-esteem oriented" enough. Some people seem to want a world full of people who have a very high opinion of themselves, despite the fact that they don't know how to do anything. When I make my nostalgia-driven purchase, I could use the excuse that I was buying them for my girlfriend's son, which is true enough. That would not explain, however, why I bought two copies of each (one for me and one for he). Lucy, I have some 'splaining to do.

Anyhoo again, this Wagner ad uses a very typical Fifties font for the body text: Two Cent. The title script font looks like one of the "Sign Painter" collection. If you simply can't live without either of these fonts, you should be able to find free versions of them on the web without too much trouble.

The groovy font used for the title of "Busy, Busy World" could be simulated by starting with the "Socket" or "Ad Lib" TTF and then bending, scaling and pulling on the strokes to do the nutty, uppy-downy stuff and the goofy legs on the letters. These should also be pretty findable out there on the intertubes.

Here is the gas station guy, complete with Gomer Pyle hat and misguided chalky shading. He has thos pac-man eyeballs that were all the rage in The Fifties. There are big and small Jpegs and PNG versions (with transparent alpha channel). I'm pretty sure that most applications will let you flip images horizontally, so no mirrored ones are posted. Complain if you can't flip them yourself, and we may change policy on that.  Please enjoy. You're welcome.

Big Jpeg


Small Jpeg

Small PNG


Steve Miller said...

The cap & bowtie make this guy look more like the happy guy behind the butcher case in a '50s mom & pop grocery store (you know the place -- you swiped packages of Lucky Strikes there...). But the layout & color scheme suggest Johnny Hardjaw, the convicted felon and housebreaker from the Hastings Piston Rings ads.

Craig F. said...

I love Richard Scarry books, as do my kids. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go is a favorite of my sons.

Interesting comment about buying them up because they're not "self-esteemy" enough. There's a great flickr set on the edits that were made to the Best Word Book Ever in 1991.


It made the book worse. Much worse.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

God... dammit.


Elaine said...

FYI ... in South Africa we still have 'petrol attendants'. They are men and women and there is no crisp uniform and no crisp anything about them. Its kinda friendly though, and nice sitting there making phone calls and such while your tank is being filled and your tires are being pumped. Except when 20 cars pull in at the same time and there are only 2 attendants. Then we all sit there helplessly and wait. Why has this lasted until today? Well, half the population would lose their jobs if the practice stopped and there would be protests and bloodshed and stuff if anyone even suggested it.

For an interesting comparison of the 1963 and 1991 editions of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever you should see this post on How To Be a Retronaut: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/08/the-best-word-book-ever-1963-and-1991/ The took all the red Indians out for example.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Hey, thanks for the info, Elaine. While I haven't had the time to make it to South Africa yet, I have definitely HEARD of it. I hope we can count on more of your reports in the future. If you like, you can go around telling your friends that you are our South African Bureau Chief. The pay is zero, but so are the hours.

Thanks for reading!


Gina Ross said...

haha! I see my friend Elaine (*who led me to your site) already posted that we still have petrol attendants in South Africa... she pretty much said everything else I was going to say about petrol attendants too, so this is a pointless comment when it comes down to it, except that I intended to leave a comment on your site, and now I have.

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