I had my late mom's old advertising portfolio out yesterday to check that Detroit police headline, and came across another ad she wrote on behalf of the Campbell-Ewald advertising agency, for Boeing Jetliners in 1964. The ad attempted to squash five myths about flying, so more people would do it. (And Boeing could make more planes.)
The myths included, "Only the rich fly," "Flying is complicated," "You can't take enough luggage," "Flying hurts your ears" and "It's hard to fly with kids."
Mom dispelled that last one by writing, "Kids fly very well—even the very first time they try it. Partly because airline hostesses are notorious push-overs for kids. Even the restless kind. Airline hostesses are such softies, in fact, they will usually get you on board first—just so you and the youngsters can all sit together."
In contrast to that rosy portrait was the copy for another police recruiting ad. Brace for a flood of 1967 attitudes and realities:
When Are There Ever Enough Big Men to Go Around?
It's a job too big for most men.
It's lonely. You pull one woman off the ledge of some hotel—only to have another call you Copper, Fuzz or Flatfoot.
It's dangerous. If somebody chooses to drive off in a stolen car at 110 miles an hour, that's the speed you chase it at.
It's cold and wet. Thieves and thugs and pushers don't stop thieving and thugging and pushing just because it's January.
It's depressing. For every person's life you save after a bad accident, you get to watch another ebb away because the ambulance got stuck in five o'clock traffic.
It's tedious. Giving people tickets for missing headlights and ducking their flak isn't the big party it's cracked up to be.
It's frustrating. You sweat to keep a paroled kid going straight, and he turns toes up in jail again, because the slum depresses him and he fights back by smashing in school windows with bricks.
It's a big job all right.
But for men big enough to fill that job, the returns are big, too.
There is the kick big men get out of the fraternity and friendship of other big men.
A cop never gets bored.
Nobody ever laid off a policeman because the economy got a little tight.
Finally, the bigger the job a man does, the bigger he feels at the end of the day. The prouder he walks. The taller he sits at the end of his table.
And that's what makes the loneliness and the danger and the inevitable sadness worth it.
If you feel there is a bigness in you, and if you feel you're how wasting it on a way of life that isn't worty of that bigness, stop in at your local police precinct and ask for more information about becoming a policeman.
We need you.
Detroiters not so big as you need you.
There are never enough big men to go around.
To this loving son's mind, that copy comes off as crass, presumptuous and flip—and simultaneously idealistic, direct and irresistible.
It makes me long for the more cohesive society that seemed to exist on very trembling eve of the 1967 riots that destroyed Detroit and exploded from depressing slums all over the country.
It gives me a tinge of shame—ad agency lady with fancy University of Michigan English degree writing to working class "big men" about how tall they sit at their dinner tables.
Ultimately, I guess it inspires me to write and speak in my own voice in my own time, in the secure knowledge that some of my readers and friends will find my ideas or attitudes wanting, or even laughable.
As my mother would say: "Fuck them if they can't take a joke."