Vintage Business #1

I always suspected it was a lot better to work back in the sixties and early seventies than today. Don't give me that "times were tough" garbage - I was there (I was still wearing footie pajamas, but I was there). Back then, a man could work at Walgreen's selling aquarium gravel all day and still earn a living wage - now it takes three jobs and a Capital One credit card to do that.

While most of us GenXers work in a cubicle wasteland where the employees are more disposable than the printer cartridges, the Boomers were enjoying makin' some righteous bread in their new groovy job.

You think I'm making this whole thing up? Well, I finally have found proof: an actual Sears department store training film from 1969. Don't let the go-go dancing and mini-skirts fool you - this is not a skit from Laugh-In. This is for real..

I want you to picture yourself as a Sears employee as you watch this training film - so, you're probably smoking and still have beer breath from that Pabst Blue Ribbon at lunch. And as you watch Judy Carne gyrate in a bikini to the groovy tunes, just keep reminding yourself - this is what on the job training used to be like.... Enjoy. (part 2 can be found here)


  1. Do try and keep the reality of back then in perspective. There was the world men lived in and the world women lived in. Could a man make a decent living working at Walgreens? Ehhhhh...if your living standards were pretty low. Could a woman make a living working at Walgreens? NO. Women weren't supposed to make a living and the bosses made sure of that. Women had trouble even getting credit cards without a co-signer. So do realize what came before you and appreciate what people pre-GenXers had to deal with. Be glad you've got a cubicle because back then it was a big room with lots of desks, no privacy anywhere. A cubicle would have been a godsend.

  2. Them's some righteous sideburns that second guy's got incubating on his face....

  3. ... not that there's anything wrong with that, of course..

  4. I'm sorry about all the comments, but as I was leaving the page I was reading Tattered's comment about the credit card, and I remember seeing a re-run of the Donna Reed show on Nickelodeon, where Donna Reed wanted a credit card, but the store wanted her husband's permission first... hahahaaa that's so absurd these days, but back then it was the way it was.
    I'll shut up now, I promise ;^)

  5. Well i don't know about the equality of wages back in the 60's and don't much care when a guy can hang out in his office, smoke a stoggie and and have the sexy brunette exploited office worker light that said stoggie and mix him up some Johnnie Walker Red. My god, those are days to pine for my friends!

  6. Tatterd-n-Lost:

    I appreciate your comment. You make some good points, but let me provide you with 3 flimsy excuses.

    1. Did you see the Sears training video? There's a chick dancing around in a bikini through most of it. Boomers are going to have to expect a little ribbing for that one!

    2. I'm not naive enough to think this is actually what all workplaces were like back then - I'm being a facetious wisenheimer. My dad worked his ass off back in those days. However, this is Retrospace, and I like to keep these decades one step shy of a cheezy Utopia. No Son of Sam or Vietnam posts here. If it's all the same with you, I've got plenty of reality right here at work - let me keep my retro-workplace fantasy alive.

    and 3) This all being said, I think there are some points to consider in that a lot of positive things about the retro-workplace DID exist and exist no more. I don't think too many people will argue with me by saying the workforce has become a lot more disposable and the environment has become politically correct to an absurd level.

    I must admit I never really ever thought of my cubicle as a godsend, but I do appreciate the struggles of the previous generations. Sorry if I offend with my idyllic portrayal of days of yore.

  7. Hey Gil. Wow! I've never watched a training video quite like this before. I know that things weren't perfect back. All time periods have their problems. It sure isn't some pleasure to be living at this particular time in history. While some things might be better, there are plenty of things that are a lot worse. I love watching videos like this. Just makes me wish I could hop in a time machine and head back to those groovy times.

  8. I'd like to think that everyone was swilling hi-balls and having a swinging time. (I know that's not the case) but I'd take the 60's and 70's over today's cubicle hell.

  9. "Veery interresteeng, but incosisiquentional" If you like 60's and 70's crime soundtracks, check out our blog.

  10. I'm at work, so had to watch the video sans sound -- which somehow made it coolly surreal. I'm sure there were all sorts of injustices in the 1969 workplace that are just short of puke-inducing today, but hey, the times were what they were, and it's important to remember the good AND the bad.

    Love your blog, man. Keep up the grooviness!

  11. No offense taken or meant. I get a kick out of your site, but like any generation we idealize what we knew as kids or just what came before.

    As to the babes in the video, do remember most of that stuff was written by pre-boomers. Pre-boomers that wanted to reach the boomers. It's like old Universal Studio tv shows showing hippies. "Ironsides" was notorious for the odd drugged out hippie parties with old Ironsides being wheeled into the middle of it. It was written and staged by people who saw everything through filters so they couldn't quite get it right and or they were afraid if they made it look too real the Midwest would have freaked out.

    The only power the boomers had was with their wallets and the older generation were doing everything they could to make sure that money went into their pockets.

    One of the positive things that came out of the boomer age (geez, I even hate using that cornball term) was that people started asking themselves "Do I really want to work for one company my whole life just for stability and benefits?" So one of the paths that was open was the idea of choices. The previous generations didn't have choices. Boomers came along and said "I want to make my own choices." Boomers were all about experimenting. Trying things we were told couldn't be done. Sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed. But at least you tried.

    Off topic but you might enjoy it, search for an old advertising spoof recording called "Bloopers Soap" from the 50s. I think you'll REALY enjoy it. It's advertising at its most absurd.

  12. Remember Happy Days, American Graffiti, Grease etc.? There was a time during the 70s where the Boomers looked back to the 1950s in the same sort of airbrushed way that I do here at Retrospace with the 70s. It's all in good spirits - I'm glad to hear your perspective. I'll also have to check out the soap recording. Thanks!

  13. Definitely! The strange thing, when you think about it, is that what you saw of the world before you were around 12 is how you thought the world would be. I remember as a child riding in the backseat of my folks car to the drive-ins late at night for a milkshake and burger. I'd sit there in my pjs looking around at the teenagers hanging out, the waitress on rollerskates, and I assumed someday as a teenager I'd get to do that. By the time I was a teenager drive-ins were mostly gone and nobody rollerskated. There's always this wonderful disconnect between what we thought the world would be and what it actually was. Your site is a wonderful trip through the world that was and wasn't.

    Here's a link to Blooper's Soap:

  14. I remember sideburns like that. And very wide ties! One of my first being-shushed moments (you know, small child, piercing voice, rude comment) was asking my mother, on the street, why all the men had ugly ties on.

    I am pretty convinced I am not misremembering this. And the ties WERE ugly.

    I love the 60s though - in retrospect! :)

  15. This is why Judy Carne killed herself. I can understand.

    1. No...she recently passed on from natural causes

  16. The ONLY good thing I can say about that training video is that it's not any more worthless than any other "job training" video I've ever seen.....

    Has there ever been a job training video that was actually worth watching? Not that I've ever heard of--and I've had to sit through several.....

  17. @ Keith

    "All time periods have their problems. It sure isn't some pleasure to be living at this particular time in history. While some things might be better, there are plenty of things that are a lot worse."

    Well said, Keith - my thoughts exactly!

    And Gilligan, I LOVE this site! I'm really digging the 'When Work Was Groovy' entries most of all. :)

  18. Well in 1971, in suburban Massachusetts, my neighbor was a bank teller and made $2.12 and hourand his wife worked 15-20 hours a week as a typist and could afford a new front to back split which cost 21,000. A seven percent 20 year mortgage was serviced by a payment of 140 per month.

    What was more expensive in terms of minutes worked were any item in the Sears Catalog.
    No cheap Chinese Stuff.

    Food was also cheaper.
    Life was a bit easier, I believe.