Corinthian Leather: A Fond, Gas-Guzzling Reminiscence of Shag-Luxury

It’s funny what passes for luxury when you’re a kid.

Laura with JimBob kids in pool 1972

In 1973, we visited my Uncle Bob and his family in Winter Haven, Florida and I couldn’t believe they had a fountain in their backyard.  Along with so many in-ground pools, lizards running all over the yards was added the magic of my grandma’s mobile home park three miles away where they actually had adult bikes with three wheels!

Hard to decide what's more startling, the carpeting or the jumpsuits.

Hard to decide what’s more startling, the carpeting or the jumpsuits.

Moving into our new house that same summer, I was amazed to see that each of the kids’ rooms had its own color scheme of shag carpeting—pink, green, orange and yellow.  My parents’ room was a deep blue shag and the family room was a tasteful blend of all of the colors listed above.

A Sears Catalog necessity

A Sears Catalog necessity

But what made me know we had really arrived was the plastic rake that the previous owners had left behind to tend the fluorescent blades of carpeting.

Throughout my life, we had playing-card sized samples of 50 types of glass in the garage, trunks of cars and dining room.  And, until we started getting our driver’s licenses, we only had one car we had to buy.  The other car was furnished by Ford for my dad’s traveling, which averaged over 100,000 miles per year in the tri-state area.

mercury_grand_marquis_blue_4door_1978

My dad worked for Ford’s glass division for ten years in sales.  While I doubted he ever had to pick up someone at their private jet, it certainly added to the luxurious image that was felt in that plush, wonderfully pleasant smell of new-car toxins.  I loved the headlights hidden behind the panels, the fake-wood and the electric windows–how decadent could one be.  No need to turn that handle!

What's missing.  The 8-Track deck found only in the elite vehicles!

What’s missing. The 8-Track deck found only in the elite vehicles!

The other day I heard Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” and was reminded of Jack Jones’s version on an eight-track that came free of charge with my dad’s company car.  I didn’t even know who Gordon Lightfoot was for a few more years when “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” topped the charts.

Regardless of the Jonesian or Lightfootian version, I am always transported to the back seat of that monstrous vehicle with the decadent details outlined in this ad.

photo 1

My dad’s company’s competitor, Chrysler, also tried selling the pre-energy crisis gas-guzzling ticket with the bogus, but very plush sounding “Corinthian leather” all parto of the illusion for the Bozell advertising firm promoting the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba–and who better to promote the fantasy than Mr. Roarke himself, Ricardo Montalban.

Even 13 years later, the phrase was a bigger catch-phrase than “Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!” as the seaplane arrived at Fantasy Island.

Montalban exemplified the perfect faux-fantasy of my shag-filled, velour, jump-suited childhood.

The salad days of wide-lapels, Gerald Ford and parking on the lawn of one's mansion.

The salad days of wide-lapels, Gerald Ford and parking on the lawn of one’s mansion.

About Kevin Walsh

Before creating MyMediaDiary.com, Kevin taught high school video productions and language arts for 25 years. He is the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at www.mmdphotovideo.com which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His text, "Video Direct," is used in 40 states. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two teenagers. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kwteacher
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