Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is Next . . . Pocketvear

When I saw this one come up in an online auction, I had to have it because I just knew there would be a great story behind it:

This "Hi Pardner Genuine Western Pistol Pencil" is mint and in the box:

Pull back on the "trigger" a bit and the pencil pops out the front end – so vigorously, in fact, that the first time I tried it I shot the pencil right out of the barrel!

The tiny pistol has great ‘50s kitchy detail to it. The grips, made to mimic pearl handles, have horseheads embossed on them. The little green "button" on the butt of the gun is an eraser:

At the end of the instructions inside the box is a copyright date of 1951 and an indication that the pencil was made by "H.F. & Co." Fortunately, the information on the side of the box was a little more complete:

With a name as unusual as "Fishlove" and the power of the internet, I knew that finding the story behind this one would be fun, and it only took a few minutes to find out more than I ever dreamed. H. Fishlove & Co. was established in 1914 as a novelty company, according to the Chicago Sun Times, which published Howard Fishlove’s obituary on October 22, 2012 after Howard, the founder's grandson and the company’s current president, died at the age of 76.

Some of H. Fishlove’s other products are thoroughly engrained in our pop culture, including wind-up chattering teeth, fake vomit and fake water spigots that would attach to walls with suction cups.

But Howard, who took over the company after his father’s death in 1968, was also an aspiring actor. He’s one of the terrified moviegoers stampeding from the theater in the 1958 movie, "The Blob." According to the Sun Times, Fishlove’s "performance" as an extra earned him high praise from the film’s star, Steve McQueen.

Fishlove’s true five minutes of acting fame, however, didn’t come on the big screen. During the 1980s, commercials by Wendy’s Restaurants dominated pop culture with taglines such as "Where’s the Beef?" Second in popularity only to Clara Peller’s performance as the crotchety carnivore was a commercial poking fun at a Soviet fashion show, in which a large woman parades up the runway three times wearing the same dress – dayvear, eveningvear and svimvear. The full commercial is on youtube, in case you’ve forgotten this one:

But when the commercial was being cast, the director couldn’t find a woman big enough and ugly enough to play the part of the announcer – so guess who that is?

That’s our man, Howard Fishlove!

UPDATE:  George Kovalenko left a comment, below, to indicate that he'd found the patent for the "Hi Pardner."  It was applied for on June 15, 1950 and was granted on July 29, 1952 as number 2,604,877:


George Kovalenko said...

I like de eveningvear best. It's the flashlight that really makes it for me.

But here's the patent for the pencil.

George Kovalenko.

George Kovalenko said...

Late update. It's in the book.