The Retro Room

CRAZY FOAM

What's that one on the end with the green head and pink nose supposed to be?


A parrot?


I remember an identical looking Crazy Foam can sitting on a shelf in the bathroom of my home way back in the misty-eyed mid sixties of my childhood.


Crazy Foam had the consistency of a heavy volume shaving foam.


It smelt like a cross between swimming pool chlorine infused with perfume.



ACTION TRANSFERS

  Many, many an hour...


SWEET TOBACCO


This consisted of 'worm-like' shreds of coconut that came complete in its very own pouch. 


Sweet tobacco was cool but times change. 


I don't ever remember my mum or dad worrying back then when they saw their 9 yr old son pretending to smoke sweet cigarettes or puff on a liquorice pipe or chew this sickly sweet stuff.  

CLACKERS

Bruised wrists in the late '60s / early '70s anyone?


CEREAL BOX TOYS

Ah the memories and the excitement of delving deep down into the Sugar Smacks (aka Sugar Puffs) cereal box and at last finding the cellophaned toy. 


Which character was it going to be? 


What colour was it going to be? 


Eventually I would manage to pull the said toy out.. along with several bits of cereal that had got stuck to my wrist and lower arm in the process. 


THE SINGING RINGING TREE

Kids' TV consisted of several foreign series when I was a kid.


Believe me when I say that this 1957 East German production (that was repeated several times in the sixties) still plays with my brain today.


INDOOR FIREWORKS

Smoking dogs. Smoking elephants. Smoking clowns. Silver paper being lit and Bengal Matches. (See below)


As well as coming boxed around November 5th every year I'm sure these indoor fireworks were sometimes found in Christmas crackers as well!


The Bengal matches of my childhood mainly came in just two colours if I remember correctly: Red and Green.


For Bengal Matches think mini olympic torches or lost-at-sea flares licensed especially for your living room.

SPANGLES

No 60s / 70s retro article should be without Spangles.


Ask anyone who remembers these and the chances are The Old English flavours will be the ones that spring to mind.


Think very intense liquorice, mint, pear drop and..er.. 'cough medicine' flavours and you're on the right track.


PUBLIC INFORMATION FILMS

And Charlie says "...run like hell if you find any Bengal matches.."


THE SPACE HOPPER

The idea was good - me bouncing around until my heart was content in front of all my mates.


In reality I was shattered after 5 minutes. 


It was quicker walking.


And I was left carrying the thing.

RAVIN' BONKERS

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots was first manufactured in the USA by the Marx Toy Company in 1964.


It wasn't until the '70s that this game was introduced in the UK under the name Ravin' Bonkers.


My sister got this as a Christmas present in 1972.


If the robot took a hit on the chin the head sprung up.


Problem was the head sometimes sprung up even if it wasn't hit...


Fustrating in the heat of a family battle you understand.


THE WHITE HORSES

I don't ever remember watching one single episode all the way through from this series -The White Horses aka Ferien in Lipizza (Holidays in Lipizza) that was made jointly circa '66 / '67 by Yugoslavian & German TV and first aired in the UK in 1968. 


I was however captivated as a kid by the haunting and sombre theme tune sung by Jacky Lee (She also sang the theme tune to the early 70s kids' programme Rupert the Bear)..


Sombre indeed..Austrian actress Helga Anders who played Julka (I thought it was Julia but apparently it was Julka) died at 38 of heart failure following problems with alcohol and drugs and the actor Helmuth Schneider (seen holding the horse's reins about 30 seconds into the clip) was killed in a car crash in Brazil in 1972.


Welcome to the real world.

SPIROGRAPH


Who would have thought that a box of plastic circles that produces mathematical roulette curves of the variety technically known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids could make a great Christmas present for a generation of kids in the mid to late 60s?


Yes..who?


THE CHOPPER

Designed in the late '60s by Raleigh employee Alan Oakley (open to debate apparently) this 10 yr old was particularly captivated by the three speed gear stick and how different it looked from all the other bikes at the time.


Forget that the centre of gravity was not where it should have been or that I couldn't sit back and reach the handlebars very well or that it had a hefty price tag of approx £30 in the newly decimalized UK.


I wanted one some 20 years before I had even heard of the film Easy Rider.


I dreamt on.

CINEMA INTERMISSIONS


As endearing as the local adverts ("You can find us opposite this cinema") and The Pearl and Dean intro music, no local cinema film presentation was without its intermission.


The mind bending hypno-kaleidoscopic imagery had the effect of making hoardes of people get up from their seats (cue sound of seats springing up) and head off to the foyer to buy such things as "a cool glass of orange ...or maybe some nuts.."


Glass of orange?..I only remember it being sold in cheap cartons.


For many people, the word "Intermission" meant toilet time.

CHEMISTRY SET


It was all in the box: Copper Sulphate, Iron Filings, glass tubes, corks, a pipette and a whole lot more..


Who cared if the 240 Experiments had been safety tested beforehand?


Instruction manual? 


Instruction Shmanual.


It was time to mix everything together and add some flame to the process..

FASCINATION

Granted, the idea of lighting up a tower if you won was fun but once you had mastered Remco's two mazes it was no longer fascinating. 

MILK TRAY BARS OF CHOCOLATE

"Eight Milk Tray Chocolates, in a bar. 


Imagine a box of Milk Tray Chocolates. 


Now imagine picking eight of the most popular chocolates – keeping their distinctive shapes – and putting them in a bar!


The Milk Tray Bar had a cult following back in the 1970s and people still reminisce about it to this day. 


It was originally launched in 1947 and was a favourite through to 1981" 

THE ORIGINAL PANS PEOPLE ON TOP OF THE POPS

^

Try and block out Steve Wright's inane ramblings and just marvel at the music courtesy of T Rex and the dancing courtesy of Pan's People from 1971.


The Original Pan's People Line up consisted of:


Louise Clarke (1949–2012) Died of heart failure

Felicity "Flick" Colby (1946–2011) Died of pneumonia as a result of cancer

Barbara "Babs" Lord

Ruth Pearson

Andrea "Andi" Rutherford

Patricia "Dee Dee" Wilde

THE RAG AND BONE MAN


I have very vague memories of a guy on a horse and cart (early '60s) coming down our road shouting out something... 


The word "rag" followed by other words blended together in the mix which I'm guessing must have been "and bone" ??? - Didn't sound like that though..


I remember my mum sending me out to give him some of our old clothes.


In return I got a balloon...and get this...IT WAS TIED TO THE END OF A STICK! 


My day was sorted then.

PLAY AWAY

The very brilliant Brian Cant, Toni Arthur, Julie Stevens and Tony Robinson camping it up in a great kids' TV alternative to Grandstand and World of Sport circa '76 (judging by the flags and bunting)


Other noteable names who appeared in Play Away - an offshoot from Play School - include: 


Julie "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" Covington, 


Nerys "Liver Bird" Hughes and 


Jeremy " I played the piano in this video but went on to experience one heck of a Reversal of Fortune" Irons.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AND ITS 'FAMOUS' CLAPOMETER

Whatever happened to The Zaporozhian Cossacks?

CRESTA

It was "Frothy man"


Well, it certainly was when it first hit the shelves.


Somewhere along the way someone changed the recipe..and..


well, it became less frothy...


and I can't believe I'm writing this.


JOHNNY ASTRO


Johnny Astro may sounds like some sort of prophylactic but it wasn't..


It was a great toy that involved a balloon and a fan...


OK..it does sound like some sort of prophylactic but seriously it gave me hours of fun back in the sixties.

                                                                                                              


WINDBREAKS



Are these things still available to hire these days?


Just asking as The House of Commons could use a few.




BOB A JOB WEEK


Nothing worse for a cub scout (circa late '60s in my case) than walking up some stranger's drive only to be met by one of these stickers on the window during Bob A Job Week.

It meant that some other cub scout had got there before you and you weren't going to be paid your shilling to weed a complete stranger's thistle infested garden or be invited into the said stranger's house to clean up their kitchen.

HERE COME THE DOUBLE DECKERS

From the misty-eyed long hot summer holidays of my childhood comes this TV programme from 1970. It featured the adventures of an "all singing and all dancing" gang of seven kids whose clubhouse was a double decker bus that just happened to have been abandoned in a London junkyard. 


All this and no health and safety issues facilitated many an adventure back then.

"Douglas Simmonds who played the lovable kid Doughnut, followed his lifelong ambition for science and made it his career. 


He was a researcher in medical computing at a major hospital in the UK. 


For six years prior to that position, Doug was a theoretical physicist and at one time was a medical student. 


He held a very responsible position with the Department of Health in England. 


Douglas took early retirement and pursued other interests. 


Tragically in March 2011 Doug died of a massive heart attack."


Courtesy of http://www.thedoubledeckers.com/now.htm 

DAVID BOWIE: STARMAN

Many people of a certain age can cite this performance by David Bowie on Top Of The Pops in '72 as one of those pivitol "Sit up and really take notice" musical moments in their lives.


My nan who was watching the television with me at the time was less impressed. She thought Bowie was a woman. 


And then my mum came in from the kitchen and said "Yes, he's definately a woman."

THE MUSIC CENTRE

The Look and The Sound - Brilliant!

CHEF'S SQUARE SHAPED SOUPS..

Kudos to the psychologists etc who came up with the idea of inserting a tongue twister into a soup advert. 


It had the effect of a sizeable proportion of the UK television viewing public circa '79 randomly reciting it and - in the process - endorsing a product to all and sundry at no extra cost to the manufacturers. 

The taste of the square shaped soup was "OK" at best but the one joke doing the rounds back then about having to use square shaped bowls to serve it in soon wore thin.


CASEY JONES

The black and white world of school holiday TV brings back so many memories.


Casey Jones the TV series had been round the block a bit even when I used to watch it as a kid but this and Champion The Wonder Horse were vital viewing.


If there had been the world wide web back then I bet many would be pointing out that the plate with the engine's name on - "The Cannonball Express" - was actually shown upside down about 10 seconds into the clip.... 


They would have..wouldn't they?  :-)


TRAFFICATORS

As a very, very young child  :-) I was fascinated by the way the trafficators just appeared out the side of the car as if by magic.


"The shape of the Trafficator arm is closely based upon the shape of the semaphore signal arm used by the Royal Bavarian Railway beginning in 1890. The only difference from the railway arm is that it is halved down its length so as to fit flush with the vehicle's exterior.


They have been increasingly rare since the 1950s, as ever-tightening legislation has prescribed the need for the modern type of flashing signal. 


Many historic vehicles (e.g. pre-1961 Volkswagen Beetle sold outside the USA) that are used on today's roads have had their trafficators supplemented or replaced with modern indicators to aid visibility and to meet legislative requirements."



ROCKET CAPS

Circa 1970 and I had just bagged the jackpot prize - A Rocket Cap - in one of those Lucky Bags you could buy for 6d. 


That was all my "sweets" money for the day back then but who cared? - Not me:



"Heh! Heh! Watch out anyone who gets in my way...and even those who don't 'cos I'm goin' to slam one of these mothers on the floor in front of you or possibly behind you and make you jump.."


Realising that I didn't have any money left to buy any caps did put a dampner on things


THE FLASHING BLADE

Or Le Chevalier Tempête (translated means Knight Storm)


It is / was a French television serial made in the late 1960s and first broadcast in the UK on BBC children's television during the 1960s and 1970s. 


The British version of twelve 22 minutes episodes was created from the original four French 75-minute episodes.


Who cared about the logistics of it all?


It had one of the greatest musical intros ever.

..To Be Continued