What My Father Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him

London has been an adventure (so far), and today only proved that as all 16 members of my class rode the underground to a dead end, marched through the pouring down rain onto a bus, only to get off that bus and run to catch another one (that we missed anyway), and finally ending up at the Museum of Brands.

I have yet to feel at home in this city that is 2,900 times larger than my own home. However, today – despite the confusing and bumpy start involving London transportation – took me to a new place, a little closer to home.

We visited the Museum of Brands today, and unlike all the other museums with ginormous marble archways, ancient monuments over hundreds of years old, and crammed full of people, this museum is small, orderly, with fewer people than I have seen in most restaurants here.

Maybe it was the size of the place that took me home, or the quite street that it was located on, or the orderly but chaotic fashion that the brands were displayed in, the same fashion that my family is far too familiar with.

But what I really think took me home is when I first stepped into the museum of brands, finally off the wet and cold streets, I looked at the displays and thought to myself:

“My dad would absolutely love this place.”

It’s true, it was like walking into an American Pickers heaven. The first and short hallway that we walked down had a showcase from floor to ceiling filled with radios. Every radio I have ever heard of was on those shelves. Our class walked past them and into the next room with only a few short glances towards the case, but I knew that if my dad were with me, it would have taken over an hour to walk down that hallway that only took me 12 paces to pass.

But that was just the beginning, as we walked into the other two rooms, I know the hour long radio hallway walk would have been the least of my problems if I was with my dad.

The first and smaller room had advertisements and some miscellaneous displays showing how brands and advertisements have changed over their time in the market.

(I’m guessing this would have taken about an hour to watch the two short advertisement reels on the two TV screens, an hour to talk about the TVs, and maybe 30 minutes to finish the rest of the room.)

The next room, I personally found very interesting, as the brands and advertisements were organized by the years they were popular in.

Starting in the 1910s: all the advertisements were military or war based. One advertisement even had a father sitting on a chair with his daughter in his lap and little boy on the ground playing with army men and it read “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?” (I mean, can you say guilt trip?) Children were dressed up in wartime attire with medic outfits and decorated military uniforms. This was the advertisements used to recruit in the 1910s.

The 1920s and 30s were a little different, with women cooking and cleaning and little girls helping out with chores and buying groceries.

Move on the 1940s though and you can again see war taking a toll on advertisements and logos. All the portions in this time period are smaller. Rationing was very evident in the 1940s and this particular display made that known. This time, war affected advertisements and logos by making a lot of something seem like a bad thing.

As I walked along the displays I could practically feel my dad (more than 10 paces behind me) peering at the brands behind the glass. Every now and then I would see something (like the Guinness display) and I knew that if my dad were here, I would look at the display and then move on, only to have my dad call over to me a little later when he finally made it to that display and start talking my ear off about all the different brand logos that he had seen is his time and then how far back it dates and then he would probably end up somewhere near the subject of his high school years.

(And don’t even get me started about what he would talk about when he would have made it to the 1980s when the Star Wars and Star Trek made up a lot of the advertisements.)

All in all, I went home for a little bit today, and I still feel a little bit of guilt for not gawking at ever little detail like my dad would have wanted me to.

Oh well.

This is our little secret, London, don’t tell my dad.


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