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