Way back when, Wednesdays

Easter Bunny or Playboy Bunny?

At this time of the year you might see the Easter Bunny greeting children and handing out chocolate eggs. Usually the character represents a confectionary company and is dressed in a soft, fluffy onesie and wearing a big rabbit head.

On page 2 and 15 of the edition dated 21 March 1967, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed an advertising promotion for the Modbury Shopping Centre at Clovercrest. The Easter Bunny would make an appearance on the Thursday evening before Easter and hand out eggs to children. One could argue that there is nothing fluffy about this Easter Bunny, with the exception of the fur trim on her costume and the image she presents.

Easter Bunny in heels

 

 

Easter Bunny with children

When you look at these photographs of the Clovercrest Easter Bunny you might wonder if the target audience of this Easter promotion was really children! The lady’s costume and footwear are more modest than, but reminiscent of a Playboy Bunny’s outfit. The late eccentric American billionaire Hugh Hefner created and published the pornographic men’s magazine Playboy in 1956. Playboy Bunnies worked as cocktail waitresses and croupiers in a chain of mens’ clubs and casinos across the world. Hefner’s first club opened in 1960 and he also used the Playboy Bunny logo on the front cover of Playboy. Not forgetting the Playboy Mansions where Hefner lived, surrounded by his harem of beautiful girls, his ‘Bunnies’.

In 1963 journalist and feminist Gloria Steinam ventured undercover for eleven days, securing a job as a Playboy Bunny in New York. Steinam wrote her two-part article in the form of a diary entitled A Bunny’s Tale, for the May and June issues of Show magazine. Gloria had managed to secure employment as she was physically attractive – The Clubs stated in their recruitment advertisements that ‘homely’ women need not apply. Her writing discredited the idea that working as a Playboy Bunny was glamourous and profitable. Steinam exposed the sexism of the club and the horrible conditions that Bunnies had to work under. It was mandatory for the girls to be tested for sexually transmitted infections when they took up the job. They were told whom they could date, namely the Club’s top tier members.

 

Gloria bunny

Gloria Steinam wearing her Playboy Bunny costume.  Image:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/gloria-steinem-bunny-tale-still-relevant-today

 

Besides being ogled and treated as sex objects, Bunnies earned low wages and were allowed only one week’s leave a year. They wore tight revealing costumes that cut into their flesh and high heels on long shifts. The Bunnies had to pay for the upkeep and cleaning of their costumes and the Clubs took a percentage of their tips.
(https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/gloria-steinem-bunny-tale-still-relevant-today)

 

Bunny working in Miami club

A Playboy Bunny working in the Miami club during the 1960s

 

By 1967 Hefner operated 16 clubs and two international Playboy Bunny resorts. Hefner was also honoured with a cover story in Time magazine in the edition dated 3 March 1967. The magazine proclaimed him a genius and a “prophet of pop hedonism.” (http://time.com/4515185/hugh-hefner-obituary-playboy/)

Time

Despite Steinam’s article, business continued to flourish. Hefner had created a mainstream brand for the sophisticated man to enjoy and the Playboy Bunny had become an icon worldwide (http://time.com/4963765/no-hugh-hefner-did-not-love-women). The dumb Bunny stereotype was entrenched in popular culture. The Time article pictured a photograph of several Playboy Bunnies sunbaking and exposing their bodies. The caption read “Young, pouty types without excess intelligence.” (http://time.com/3547122/playboy-hugh-hefner-1967/)

Hugh Hefner always claimed that by publishing his magazine and inventing the concept of the Playboy Bunny that he had contributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He had dismissed the prudery and taboos of the 1940s and 1950s by promoting free speech and free love and by having being open about sex and pornography.

Following Hefner’s recent death in September 2017 at age 91, the controversy still exists as to whether this statement was ever true in any way or if Hefner was simply a master businessman who had tapped into an existing market and who knew how to exploit women for profit.

 
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Way back when, Wednesdays

Come in, the water’s fine at Clovercrest

Did you learn to swim at Clovercrest? It seems that everybody either went to swimming lessons at the Clovercrest swimming school or knows somebody who did. On page 3 of the edition dated 21 February 1968 the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed a feature about the opening of the new Clovercrest pool. On Sunday 2 February over 200 guests attended that official opening of the 25 metre heated indoor pool, which as the article below states, was reputed to be the most modern facility of its kind in Australia.

 

Opening of Clovercrest swimming centre

Photographs of bikini clad women have not changed since 1968!

 

The Clovercrest Pool is situated at 433 Montague Road, Modbury North. On the 6 March 1968 the North East Leader followed up with a story on page 5 about swimming lessons for pre-school children, which was named the Tadpole class. Today children aged from 6 months to 4 years of age can enrol in the Waterbabies class! The Clovercrest Pool also took out a large advertisement showcasing it services on page 2.

Tadpole class

 

Pool advertisement

A special carnival for amateur swimmers (the first of its kind to be held at Clovercrest) made front page news on 19 April 1968. Money raised from the two day event would go towards helping the Australian Swim Team get to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. The directors of the Centre donated the use of the pool to the South Australian Amateur Swimming Association. Such a high profile event would have brought many people to the pool. The young people who entered the competition may have felt very special sponsoring the Olympic athletes. Many were named in the article below.

Swimming carnival

Some of our staff members at Tea Tree Gully Library recall going to the Pool during the 1970s and 1980s. “I remember learning to swim after school at Clovercrest, when the different grades were named after sea creatures – you would strive to attain the dolphin and then the kingfisher certificates. If you completed all of the levels of tuition you could join the Centre’s swimming club. I admired these older kids who swam really fast in the lanes devoted to lap swimming.”

“It was steamy and hot inside the pool area and you could see the reflection of the water on the walls. After swimming you were always hungry and it you looked forward to buying something from the pool kiosk. It was the first and the last time I ate a huge Bush biscuit, after my parents urged me to try one!”

The Clovercrest Swim Club was also founded in 1968. It is now affiliated with Swimming SA, and is a member of Swimming Australia. Members have taken part in competitions interstate and overseas (https://clovercrest.swimming.org.au).

1976 was a special year for the Clovercrest Swimming School when David Urry, the former coach of the Australian swimming team at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games purchased the facility. It was at Clovercrest that he developed the State Swim program. Today State Swim has schools at eighteen locations across South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria (https://www.stateswim.com.au).

 

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Clovercrest Swimming School, present day.

 

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Way back when, Wednesdays

With strings attached

On page 13 of the edition dated 20 March 1974, the North East Leader Messenger featured a promotion for Ann’s Hobby Shop. Ann’s Hobby Shop used to be situated at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre on Montague Road, Modbury. Ann’s sold craft materials as well as completed projects, such as the work of string art held by Ann Barratt, who is pictured in the photograph.

Hobby gear

During the 1960s, kits and books appeared on the market to help you create string art. It was still a popular pastime for both adults and children in the 1970s. String art was cheap and fun to do.  Basically, you wrap coloured thread, embroidery cotton or wire around a grid of pins or nails in a geometric pattern, to make a picture.   More complex designs feature multiple curves and intersecting circles to produce a kaleidoscopic effect. You can also build up your layers using different colour threads, which is an effective way to draw in the eye of the viewer to your design.

String art has a mathematical origin. At the end of the 19th century, intrepid teacher Mary Everest Boole invented ‘curve stitching’ or string geometry to help get children interested in mathematics, a subject that she loved. Typically designs are modelled on the ‘Bezier’ curve, as the straight lines of strings positioned at slightly different angles intersect. Spirelli stitching, which is another form of string art, is used to decorate cards and other paper crafts.

Today, there is a resurgence of interest in vintage crafts. There are websites devoted to string art design and instruction. Crafters have created a multitude of traditional and new innovative designs and have posted their ideas on Pinterest and YouTube. You can still purchase books and kits or download patterns online.

String art designs

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