Treasury of truly kitschy art and photos from the 50s

Ford Treasury of the Outdoors
Every time I pass a second-hand bookstore, I dart inside and head for the young adult section, always looking for more Nancy Drews to turn into Kindle cases

On a recent trip to Half-Price Books, I spotted a stack of the yellow-spined hardbacks hidden behind a shelf. Ha, they can't fool me! But the real treasure was a few aisles away, in the Vintage section -- a 50s era book called Ford Treasury of the Outdoors.

Book butcher that I am, I bought the hardback solely for its forest green cover, illustrated with mid-century cartoon people. It will make a perfect Kindle case for the digitally inclined outdoors-man or -woman. 

But flipping through the pages, I realized that the kitschy photos and cartoonish illustrations themselves were worth the thrift-store price. 
Ford Treasury of the Outdoors
I'm dismayed but not surprised that the guy gets to do all the hunting and fishing while the gal gets stuck cooking -- it's the 50s, after all.

Probably the strangest article is "Camping with Baby." Which, in the days before REI, simply meant hauling all of baby's crap out to the forest.
Camping with Baby circa 1955

Camping with Baby circa 1955

Camping with Baby circa 1955
Clearly, Mrs. Bob wasn't having much of a vacation. I haven't figured out what to do with these photos. Yet.

Alphabet for ICAD

The first thing I made with the book was for ICAD ("Index Card of the DAY," the 2-month daily art project I've committed to this summer). The prompt for the day was "alphabet." I managed to come up with almost all the letters from my new-old outdoors book.
my card for ICAD
The large letters come from the beginning of articles. At first I thought I might be able to find all 26 letters, but that was hoping for too much. I ended up scavenging some letters from article titles and photo captions. 

Ever ambitious, I wanted the text to tell a story, too. Can you decipher it?*

Gelli print collage

The next thing that grabbed my eye was a fisherman. He had a very big smile on his face and a very big fish in his hands. He inspired this very strange collage.

Gelli print collage
I think I got carried away. I started with a Gelli print. The print's colors overwhelmed the poor fisherman, so I covered it with tissue paper before I started the collage. You can't see it, but the tissue adds a cool texture.

After stamping the tissue paper, I glued on the fisherman. I immediately thought "magic fish." So the text came next. I'm not sure why I arranged the last word in a circle and added a spinner. The word "magical" led to the halo around the fisherman's head, which lead to the rays of light around the fish, which lead to the angel in the corner, which led to the text on the side. 

The doodly green stamp at the top is overkill, I think. What do you say?

* "Anyone who has seen then, my Southern friend Big Bad Boar camping with a six-months-old baby down in the palmetto swamps of southern Florida, totes a bow. Excepting Donald Duck, foldboaters think the guides in the Candadian North Woods general take a dim view of the innumerable bridges and heavyweight fighter. Judges of fauna seldom classify moose among the kind creatures of the wild. My colleague and antagonist witnessed the large school of mangrove snappers, Nature's Model T, on a golf course near Fort Worth. Perhaps a climb up Mt. Shuksan wouldn't rate a footnote in quite a few states, but summer tourists can be grateful to midwestern housewives. Upside-down fishing won't be any vacation Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, in southwest Washington. When I took my first look at Yankee Pan Fish, our friends warned, he is a torpedo who has developed a personality equal to the zany weasel's wettest cousin, and besides, the part time (playboy) can lay claim to the country's sweetest patches of swamp buggies."


  1. Great book find! Too funny on the crib in the boat - that 50's Mom would probably be arrested for that stunt these days.

    1. I thought of that, too. Childhood used to be so dangerous!

  2. Oh wow, love that camping book so much. Hilarious. Make them into postcards! :-)


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