History beats fiction. To wit, the 1975 country music line, "Look and see; you'll agree. He's got personality." If "Sears Catalog, page 602" means nothing to you, you weren't paying attention back then. If you weren't born yet, you missed some fun times. Of course Bobbi's story is fictional (who, me, draw from autobiography?), but these Author's Notes are dead true.
Page 602 advertised men's underwear with the model's you-know-what hanging out. The Sept. 21, 1975 Knoxville News-Sentinel headlined, "602 Sets Off Catalog Rush."
"A look at page 602 of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Fall catalog has made some under shorts shoppers think the huge mail-order operation was striking up a rivalry with Playgirl magazine. Not so, a spokesman for Sears says. The picture on page 602 shows a handsome man modeling a T-shirt and high-waisted boxer shorts. Anyone who thinks they're seeing more than they should is mistaken, says Sears. 'The subject in question is actually a flaw which happened by water, grease or dirt being on the plate. It didn't pick up ink, ' a spokesperson said... She denied reports that Sears was facing unprecedented demands for the catalog."
News in Knoxville is music for Nashville. Written by Dallas Corey and recorded by the Grand Ole Opry's resonant Jack Barlow, "The Man on Page 602" soared into Country's Top 30. Rather than risking Barlow's stardom however, the 45 credits "Zoot Fenster" as the twangy vocalist. Add banjo and Nashville waitresses for backup and sing along!
"Look and see; you'll agree. He's got personality.
"Hey, have you heard the latest story that's bringing on the smiles?
"It has caused some blushing laughter and some anger for a while.
"For those who shop by mail for all their family clothes,
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog more than fashion is exposed.
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog on page six-hundred two,
"I see this advertisement that makes me come unglued.
"The picture's got me out of sorts 'causes I don't understand,
"Are they advertising boxer shorts or are they trying to sell them man? (I don't know.)
"You know, when these wish books are delivered, anxious people start to look.
"And what they find in them there boxer shorts, they suddenly get shook.
"Some say it's all in error. Some say, all in fun.
"He could be tarred and feathered, or maybe even hung.
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog or the wish book, so it's called,
"In my mind there's no question of what I'd like most of all.
"I'd send them all my money if it could make a wish come true.
"I just wish I was than man on page six-o-two."
Unfortunately for American music, Sears lawyers pulled the plug on Zoot's recording.
Songster Rick Dees wrote a competing "Page 602" that didn't get the airplay. But then Dees gave us "Disco Duck" which sold 4,000,000 and was number one, beating Paul McCartney and Chicago.
I've posted the graphic evidence on http://www.asstr.org/files/Authors/Holly_Rennick/Sears.jpg . There's no question that he's got personality.
So if history beats fiction, what beats history? People being together, of course. You've probably heard some songs about it.
"I'd almost given up trying to clasp my scantily-clothed body to the overturned lifeboat. Only when the swells lifted me to wave crest did I see the island, green against the blue of the sea. It was the vision of the island that kept my free hand holding my cello, the only other thing floating after the shipwreck. Cast upon the sand of this uncharted strand, like a leaf of seaweed lost in the vast expanse ocean, I was a castaway!"
Bobbi thought that this was a nice beginning. The really fun part would be how she encounters a Lieutenant from the HMS Conqueror. They'd be castaways together and make love under a coconut tree.
To write about finding breadfruit, etc., she'd need to go to the library to see if it resembled regular bread. Was it "coconut", or "cocoanut"? She'd given most of her thought to how the Lieutenant would feel her up. Her friend Betsy would want steamy allusions, how you said that he had a big cock without using certain words. Bobbi was toying with "ready manhood" or "unsatiated desire".
It was too bad that she had to write about less-engaging things for English, the plight of Central American immigrants, for example; her castaway story was so much more engaging. Bobbi's friends loved her plots when she read them at sleepovers and usually she'd end up with ten more ideas. Her girlfriends, for example, thought that rather than being a shipwreck, it should be more modern, a plane crash. Be a stewardess on a jet carrying the Beatles before they broke up and be castaway with Paul.
Actually, her friends voted, Paul should be in the surf and she'd drag him to safety. She'd have to tear off his trousers to bind the wound and use her blouse to make a bandage. Then they'd make a baby, get rescued and form a new band.
The girls left it to Bobbi to titillate the sequence. Next sleepover, Bobbi would have a spectrum of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Not, for example, "They stripped naked", but something that spoke of shedding frayed underthings.
Though some of their classmates might have more personal tales to whisper, Bobbi's closer friends still found solace in speculation. Betsy once even announced how a particular scene got her sliding on the sheets. Bobbi, always on the lookout for word usage, figured there to be more phrases for self-satisfaction than for mutual gratification.
Despite setbacks, Bobbi's heroines persisted until willing surrender. Her women combined the attributes of resourcefulness and intelligence. Everybody thought Bobbi to be resourceful. She saw how to put odd things together, say chocolate and cherry pie recipes. Quite tasty. Bobbi's heroines tended to be smart, intellect being an attribute appreciated by the right sort of lovers. She used bimbos for literary contrast.
Bobbi liked climax. As her friends were infatuated with the term's common use, she had to explain that "climax" in fiction requires bringing events to a crucial point. Bobbi's heroines achieved climax by both definitions.
Modern maidens, unfortunately, had scant possibility of being castaway on a desert island with a Beatle. Girls that didn't read, Bobbi recognized, probably didn't know how such romance used to happen. So what's a 13-year-old to do? It's not like she had pimples or was six feet tall. There just wasn't the 13-year-old guy at her school that her heroines would go for.
SEARS FALL AND WINTER CATALOG
Bobbi's friends spirited the catalogs to their rooms before their folks sorted the mail. There it was, right on page 602, like everybody said -- two men in an underwear ad. The one on the left, anybody could see what's hanging out of his boxers! Telephones were busy, but girls in their early teens talk all the time anyway.
Bobbi didn't actually see the photo for several days. The catalog was too big to secrete to school and nobody dared tear out the page. Their folks would notice. Bobbi's first photo of a real penis was thus at Nancy's. What Nancy called his "ding dong", Bobbi just saw as something rounded below the model's boxers.
It was at Karen's sleepover that the girls voted 4-1 that it was the real thing. Sandra had seen one for real and she was in the 4. She'd not say whose real one against which she verified the advertisement, so it had to have been an accident, probably her father, Bobbi guessed. If Sandra had seen a boy their age, she'd have said who. If it were in Sandra's family, but not an accident, she'd have said nothing. So it must have been in her family, but just an accident. Maybe opening the bathroom door.
Actually Bobbi had almost seen her own dad's. She'd never walked in on him peeing, but she'd seen him in his underpants when he hadn't shut the door. Plus his baggy bathing trunks draped his front when he'd lie back on a pool chair.
So there on page 602, there one hung below the cuff. Pretty fat, unlike the pencils on little boys when they peed. The troubling thing, Bobbi's girlfriends realized, was that it wasn't even a boner. Then they stick straight out. In Health, the girls had learned about reproduction. Their book, which they had to leave in the classroom, had a diagram of male genitalia, but to no particular scale.
That Sears Fall and Winter Catalog raised consciousnesses, a stamp of that decade. Ninth-graders who studied page 602 knew that the times they were a-changin', to quote from a decade of better music. They might live far from Haight Ashbury where the hippies were, but things were going to change. Just at more of a staid Midwestern pace.
Bobbi figured that love stories might at least help a reader (well, maybe just the author) figure out something about the topic. "All you need is love," to quote the song. At sleepovers, her friends complimented her that the tales were sexy. But the fact of the matter was that they'd rather look at a model with his cock hanging out.
.... There is more of this story ...