Thursday, December 26, 2013

The American Gas Association's holiday lineup for 1971-72

Gaslight was a four-page pamphlet from Columbia Gas System that I'm assuming was included in the envelope with customers' gas bills about four decades ago.

One of these that I came across is from 1971 and includes tips for cutting heating costs in the winter, tips for using your dryer properly, a recipe for Italian Meat Loaf from someone named Betty Newton, and a guide to the 1971-72 television specials sponsored by various gas companies and the American Gas Association.

These were the six gas-sponsored shows that were set to air on NBC:

  • "Snoopy at the Ice Follies,"1 on October 24, 1971
  • "Festival at Ford's II," from Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1971
  • "The Little Drummer Boy," starring Greer Garson, Jose Ferrer and the Vienna Boys Choir, on December 14, 1971
  • "The Spring," a documentary about Africa, on January 16, 1972
  • "Bing Crosby Show," featuring Carol Burnett, Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason, on February 10, 1972
  • "Circus Town," documenting how a city stages a circus, on April 1, 1972

A newspaper article titled "Networks Plan wide Variety of 'Specials'" in the September 10, 1971, edition of the Arizona Daily Sun2 adds a bit more detail about "Festival at Ford's II," stating that is "the working title for NBC's sequel to last Thanksgiving salute to American music at historic Ford's Theater. [sic]"

Regarding "Circus Town," NBC first aired the documentary about circus performers in Peru, Indiana, in 1970. According to the Chronology of Clowndom page, its "featured performer was 'Joey' Kelly, son of Emmett 'Weary Willie' Kelly, Jr. and grandson of Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett 'Weary Willie' Kelly Sr."

I can't, however, dig up anything about the African documentary titled "The Spring."

1. This was the first of four Peanuts-themed ice-skating television specials. Here's the full list.
2. That 1971 newspaper article in the Arizona Daily Sun begins this way:
"A FCC ruling cutting prime-time network programming to three hours per night was almost certain to reduce the number of special telecasts this year — but it didn't. The list of specials is already lengthy and the political conventions, President Nixon's visit to China, the Apollo program, and Vietnam are naturals to add to the list."
And the article concludes with this throwaway sentence:
"A few other specials, including an ABC investigation of invasion of privacy by the government, will fill the special program season."
The invasion-of-privacy special referred to was hosted by ABC's Frank Reynolds. I found some more about it in the January 8, 1972, issue of The Morning Herald of Hagerstown, Maryland:
"The ABC News special, 'Assault on Privacy' ... details the many ways in which vast volumes of information are being gathered on millions of Americans. Hosted and narrated by ABC News special correspondent Frank Reynolds, the program focuses on two specific areas of privacy invasion — law enforcement and consumer credit reporting. Law enforcement agencies contend that surveillance and information-gathering are essential to their work. The growing number of consumer and credit reporting companies claim they are only providing a service to retailers, lending institutions, insurance companies and the consumer. The net effect is the compilation of a staggering amount of data — accurate, inaccurate, properly used, sometimes abused — on virtually all adult Americans. As correspondent Reynolds points out on the program, 'the invasion of privacy takes many forms. Some manifestations are the result of population — the pressure of people in our overcrowded cities. Some result from an affluent and automated society in which we choose to make a trade-off between personal privacy and the benefits of modern technology. But some deprivations of privacy are man-made. They have to do with Constitutional rights, with political beliefs, and with personal and commercial information about individuals."
That was four decades ago, but it sounds like it could have been spoken or written yesterday!

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