The Kennedy Center is Almost 40 Years Old

And I have been looking through the opening night program from September 8, 1971, a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, which I am sure many of us remember.

But, boy, has the world changed since 1971, when Richard Nixon was still in his first term, when the 60s were behind us but Vietnam still raging on.

For example,

1. The Tobacco Institute had a full page ad, not about the performing arts, but with the headline: “After millions of dollars and over 20 years of research, the question about smoking and health is still a question.”

2. Lufthansa was still advertising itself as “the Route of the Red Baron”, while United Airlines was touting its food, prepared by Trader Vic (including coco shrimp, Indonesian lamb, or sirloin teriyaki). And American Airlines talked about its “coach lounge”, bigger than most living rooms.

3. Safeway was promoting its “Safeway International” on F Street, where you can get foods representing the four great cuisines of the world: French, German, Italian and Chinese. (“The German cook wouldn’t bother with a dish that wasn’t hearty and nourishing.”)

4. The headline of the wartime Columbia Federal ad (5% on passbook savings): “Our country, may she always be right, but our country, right or wrong”. (That was a quote from Stephen Decatur)

5. Hungry? Very hard to find a restaurant that still exists in 2010, but most entrees seem to cost between $3 and $6. And those with the $5 entrees were all noted as “expensive”. And, of course, most good restaurants were closed on Sundays.

6. The best in sound? Try a limited edition Sony 780 reel to reel tape recorder with “feather touch solenoid control buttons”. Only $995.

Boy, have things changed in what really doesn’t seem like such a long time.

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