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11 Signs and Disclaimers That Are No Longer Necessary

1. “The Captain has turned off the ‘No Smoking’ sign.”

This announcement was heard less frequently beginning in 1988, when smoking was banned on all domestic flights of two hours or less. Ten years later smoking was verboten on all domestic flights, and by 2000 smoking on any U.S. airline was banned by federal law.

2. In Stereo (Where Available)

The FCC adopted a standard for stereo television transmission in 1984, but it took several years for the networks and local affiliates to update their equipment to accommodate the second audio channel. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was the first network show to broadcast in stereo (in July 1984), but only New York’s WNBC had stereo capability at the time. Stereo TV sets were just hitting the market and most viewers had to connect their TV set to their home stereo system (that meant a turntable/radio combination back then) in order to enjoy the enhanced sound. As different stations slowly adopted the new technology, more shows included an “In Stereo (Where Available)” announcement during their opening credits. Some syndication copies of older shows still include the notation.

3. Please Be Kind and Rewind

You're not going to believe this, but people used to actually drive to the video store and rent VHS tapes. (Just so we're all on the same page, a VHS tape is that oversized cassette shown here.) A lot of renters had a habit of returning a movie after watching only half of it, or worse, after watching the whole thing but without rewinding it. Special rewinding machines were a common component of home entertainment systems back then, because using your VCR to rewind tapes tended to wear out the video heads. But it was darned frustrating and inconvenient to come home from Blockbuster, pop The Crying Game into the VCR and have it start right at the shocking reveal. At first, stores tried using these types of gentle reminder stickers to nudge their customers; eventually many of them would charge a rewind fee for violators.

4. Unleaded Fuel Only

Lead was added to gasoline beginning in the 1920s when it was discovered that the chemical reduced engine “knock.” But in the 1970s, the federal government admitted that lead was a poison and started taking steps to remove it from our fuel. Catalytic converters were added to new vehicles, which required a new (and more expensive) unleaded gasoline. For many years gas stations offered both leaded and unleaded gas. Since unleaded was more expensive, a lot of owners of newer vehicles purchased a special gadget that allowed the leaded nozzle to fit in their unleaded gas tanks. The government intervened and made “Unleaded Only” warnings standard equipment on new vehicles. Leaded gasoline was banned completely in the U.S. in 1986.

5. No Deposit, No Return

During the Great Depression, most stores in every state charged a two cent deposit on every glass soda pop bottle, which was refunded when you returned the empty. Glass bottles were heavy, so folks returning huge sacks full of them wasn’t a problem for merchants at the time and the nuisance factor was minimal. When the 1960s rolled around, soft drink bottlers started using plastic instead of glass, and they weren’t going to re-use the empties, so consumers were free to just toss them (and save 12 cents per six-pack to boot). “No Deposit, No Return” was printed or embossed on pop bottles until the late 1970s when so-called “Bottle Bills” started passing through various state legislatures. Too many folks were littering the landscape with their discarded containers, so deposits on not only bottles but also cans were once again implemented. Even if your state doesn’t have a return law, your soda labels still have the various requisite deposit amounts printed on them.

6. No Cyclamate

Sodium cyclamate, usually abbreviated to simply “cyclamate,” was an artificial sweetener that was approved by the FDA in 1958. It was sweeter than sugar and had much less of the bitter aftertaste of saccharin. For diabetics, dieters, and kids prone to cavities, cyclamate was nothing short of a miracle. Sugar-laden products were able to offer sugar-free varieties that tasted the same. But then a study published in 1967 announced that cyclamate caused bladder cancer in laboratory mice, and manufacturers started voluntarily pulling their products from shelves before the FDA officially banned the additive in 1970. Research done since that initial study found that the mice in question were of a certain genetic strain that might have been prone to cancer in the first place, and the amount of cyclamate given to them was equal to 350 cans of diet soda pop per day. Cyclamate is still legal and used in many countries around the world, including Canada and the UK.

7. Brought to You in Living Color

All three major networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) began broadcasting in color during prime time in the fall of 1965. Many of the daytime soaps were holdouts, though, and all-color programming didn’t begin until 1972. In early 1968 economists predicted that color TV sets would outsell their B&W counterparts for the first time by the end of the year (they were off by a few years; it didn’t happen until 1972). Only 20% of U.S. households had two or more sets at the time, and almost all portable TVs (usually the choice for a second set) were still black and white due to the technology involved for color. As a result, the networks hyped their color broadcast capability until the mid-1970s in order to get those last holdouts out to the appliance store to buy an RCA console model.

8. This Film is Rated GP

The MPAA started issuing ratings for films in 1968, and the Original Four ratings were G (for general audiences; all ages admitted), M (mature audiences), R (restricted; children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult) and X (no one under 18 admitted). The M rating confused a lot of patrons who equated “mature” with “nudity” or “sex scenes”, so in 1969 M was changed to GP (general audiences, parental guidance suggested). The MPAA officially changed GP to PG in 1970s so that the “parental guidance” angle was more obvious, but a lot of studios stuck with GP long afterward. The 1980 Olivia Newton-John bomb Xanadu was the last commercially released movie with a GP rating.

9. Quadraphonic

If the two channels/two speakers used for stereo sound were good, then quadraphonic sound, which required four channels/speakers, was better, right? Quad sound was originally available only on reel-to-reel tapes until 1971, when Columbia and Sony started marketing quadraphonic vinyl LPs. In order to enjoy the full effect of four channels, however, one needed to buy a compatible (very expensive) quadraphonic audio system. Some quad albums were “stereo compatible,” meaning they could be played on standard stereo equipment, but they didn’t provide the full “surround sound” experience that was intended. A few radio stations experimented with broadcasting in quadraphonic, including Detroit’s WWWW.FM (W4).

10. Home Quarantine Signs

These are actually even before my time, and I’m fairly ancient. But both my parents remember seeing similar signs in their neighborhoods when they were kids. In the pre-antibiotic days, scarlet fever was highly contagious and frequently caused damage to the heart valves. The U.S. achieved measles eradication in 2000, and cases since then have mostly been imported by unvaccinated folks returning from overseas. Other conditions that were cause for quarantine by local health departments at one time include whooping cough, influenza and diphtheria.

11. Free TV! Telephones in Every Room!

Today’s travelers look for lodgings that provide free Internet access. But at one time free TV was a selling point for Mom & Pop motels. And we’re not talking free cable – we mean an actual television set. At one time TVs were such a luxury item that many motels and hotels only had a limited number available for rent from the office. And in-room telephones? Forgetaboutit. They were another luxury that usually added a dollar or two to the price of the room. Unless you were a businessman who lived and died by the phone, most folks saved their money and used the payphone outside.
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As always, we love to hear from you! Share your memories of signs you haven’t seen in a while, or other similar disclaimer-type thingies.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
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getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (female writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), and Beery won for The Champ, which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Toni Morrison—who was born on February 18, 1931—made a name for herself with The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, but it wasn’t until 1987’s Beloved, about a runaway slave haunted by the death of her infant daughter, that her legacy was secured. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a key factor in the decision to award Morrison the Nobel Prize in 1993. All the awards aside, Beloved is a testament to the horrors of slavery, with its narrative of suffering and repressed memory and its dedication to the more than 60 million who died in bondage. Here are some notable facts about Morrison’s process and the novel’s legacy.

1. IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

While compiling research for 1974's The Black Book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave from Kentucky who escaped with her husband and four children to Ohio in 1856. A posse caught up with Garner, who killed her youngest daughter and attempted to do the same to her other children rather than let them return to bondage. Once apprehended, her trial transfixed the nation. "She was very calm; she said, 'I’d do it again,'" Morrison told The Paris Review. "That was more than enough to fire my imagination."

2. MORRISON CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER BELOVED AFTER SHE STARTED WRITING.

The book was originally going to be about the haunting of Sethe by her infant daughter, who she killed (just as Garner did) rather than allow her to return to slavery. A third of the way through writing, though, Morrison realized she needed a flesh-and-blood character who could judge Sethe’s decision. She needed the daughter to come back to life in another form (some interpret it as a grief-driven case of mistaken identity). As she told the National Endowment for the Arts’ NEA Magazine: "I thought the only person who was legitimate, who could decide whether [the killing] was a good thing or not, was the dead girl."

3. SHE WROTE THE ENDING EARLY IN THE WRITING PROCESS.

Morrison has said she likes to know the ending of her books early on, and to write them down once she does. With Beloved, she wrote the ending about a quarter of the way in. "You are forced into having a certain kind of language that will keep the reader asking questions," she told author Carolyn Denard in Toni Morrison: Conversations.

4. MORRISON BECAME FASCINATED WITH SMALL HISTORICAL DETAILS.

To help readers understand the particulars of slavery, Morrison carefully researched historical documents and artifacts. One particular item she became fascinated with: the "bit" that masters would put in slaves' mouths as punishment. She couldn’t find much in the way of pictures or descriptions, but she found enough to imagine the shame slaves would feel. In Beloved, Paul D. tells Sethe that a rooster smiled at him while he wore the bit, indicating that he felt lower than a barnyard animal.

5. SHE ONLY RECENTLY READ THE BOOK HERSELF.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report last year, Morrison said she finally got around to reading Beloved after almost 30 years. Her verdict: "It’s really good!"

6. THE BOOK INSPIRED READERS TO BUILD BENCHES.

When accepting an award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1988, Morrison observed that there is no suitable memorial to slavery, "no small bench by the road." Inspired by this line, the Toni Morrison Society started the Bench by the Road Project to remedy the issue. Since 2006, the project has placed 15 benches in locations significant to the history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, which served as the point of entry for 40% of slaves brought to America.

7. WHEN BELOVED DIDN’T WIN THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 1987, FELLOW WRITERS PROTESTED.

After the snub, 48 African-American writers, including Maya Angelou, John Edgar Wideman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., signed a letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review. "For all of America, for all of American letters," the letter addressing Morrison read, "you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people."

8. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS.

Between 2000 and 2009, Beloved ranked 26th on the American Library Association’s list of most banned/challenged books. A recent challenge in Fairfax County, Virginia, cited the novel as too intense for teenage readers, while another challenge in Michigan said the book was, incredibly, overly simplistic and pornographic. Thankfully, both challenges were denied.

9. MORRISON ALSO WROTE AN OPERA BASED ON GARNER’S LIFE.

Ten years ago, Morrison collaborated with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour on Margaret Garner, an opera about the real-life inspiration behind Beloved. It opened in Detroit in 2005, and played in Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York before closing in 2008.

10. MORRISON DID NOT WANT IT MADE INTO A MOVIE.

Although she publicly claims otherwise, according to a New York magazine story, Morrison told friends she didn’t want Beloved made into a movie. And she didn’t want Oprah Winfrey (who bought the film rights in 1988) to be in it. Nevertheless, the film came out in 1998 and was a total flop.

11. THERE'S AN ILLUSTRATED VERSION.

The Folio Society, a London-based company that creates fancy special editions of classic books, released the first-ever illustrated Beloved in 2015. Artist Joe Morse had to be personally approved by Morrison for the project. Check out a few of his hauntingly beautiful illustrations here.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

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