Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Price of Fried Chicken in Old Florida

Winter Haven, 

When Cypress Gardens opened near Winter Haven, Florida in 1936, it was billed as the state's first commercial theme park. Carved out of a swamp, the botanical gardens later added water-skiing shows and other attractions like hoop-skirted “Southern belles” who strolled through the grounds, chatting with guests and posing for photographs—a little like Mickey Mouse, but prettier. Reminiscent of a bygone era in tourism, the souvenir shop sold alligator ashtrays, flamingo figurines, and other kitsch. Nevertheless, economic woes surfaced during the Korean War, even in paradise. Three menus from 1949 to 1952 reveal food prices at the park were increasing faster than inflation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer of Love

Glassboro, New Jersey

In early June 1967, the Six-Day War was fought by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. In response, President Lyndon Johnson proposed to meet with Aleksei Kosygin of the Soviet Union during his counterpart’s upcoming trip to the United Nations. In addition to the Middle East, there were other issues to discuss, such as nuclear arms control (China announced the explosion of its first hydrogen bomb that month) and the Vietnam War—Johnson was looking for ways to end the conflict in Southeast Asia. A menu from this meeting recalls a time when the superpowers engaged in a continuous process of summits and treaties called détente, trying to ease strained relations at critical moments.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wake-Up Special

Atlantic City, 

Some believe the adversarial relationship between the press and the White House started with Watergate, the political scandal that led to President Nixons resignation in 1974. However, there were already signs of strain in the 1960s when the term “credibility gap” came into widespread use, describing skepticism over the veracity of the Johnson administration’s public assessments of the Vietnam War. Although it may not be possible to pinpoint an exact date, trouble began soon after the first large-scale military deployment in March 1965, when the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed at Da Nang.