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Inventors Imagine a Water-Grabbing Fog Farm

This week a study revealed that California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering the state’s treasured coastal redwood trees.

And that’s not all! It potentially endangers these old and passed-over ideas, too, as detailed in a June, 1931 Inventions feature in Modern Mechanix. (Fog Drip May Hold Key to Drought Relief”)

Especially curious is this drawing which illustrates a novel idea:

Inventors in California once proposed to set up a tall screen of wire netting to catch fog near the coast and to store the water in reservoirs, from which it could be piped to adjacent farmlands. This beautiful plan was knocked in the head by a cold-blooded meteorologist, Dr. W. J. Humphreys, of the Weather Bureau. Humphreys showed that a screen 250 feet high—the cost of which would doubtless be prohibitive—would provide irrigation water for a strip of land only about half a mile wide back of it. However, the scheme may still have possibilities, and inventors are continuing their investigations of the odd phenomena in various parts of the world. Their findings have proved interesting

Following are the article’s first two pages, but you can read the entire thrilling feature here!

Groovy! Mid-Century Modern Water Storage

If Mike Brady had designed water towers or water tanks, I imagine they’d have looked like this!

These are pages from a 1965 promotional book from the Committee of Steel Plate Producers, American Iron and Steel Institute, obviously to introduce industrial designers and engineers to the coolness and versatility of steel plate for water storage products. (This copy was missing the middle-section pages.)

We love the 60s-era illustrations depicting that happy time when balloon-festooned children always strolled hand-in-hand with their parents. Below is a small sampling; the entire booklet can be seen on my Flickr site by clicking any of the pictures below.

Many thanks to Angela Blann for saving this book from the trash bin!

h2o mp3: Suzy Snowflake – Rosemary Clooney

A retro musical tribute to water’s most festive form! Rosemary Clooney’s 1951 version of Suzy Snowflake is an enduring and popular holiday tune. Break into your own acapella rendition of this song if you need to shake someone out of a crabby mood…works every time!

Lyrics

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Dressed in a snow white gown
Tap, tap, tappin’ at your window pane
To tell you she’s in town

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Soon you will hear her say
Come out everyone and play with me
I haven’t long to stay

If you want to make a snowman
I’ll help you make one – one, two, three
If you wanna take a sleigh ride (whee!)
The ride’s on me.

Here comes Suzy Snowflake
Look at her tumblin’ down
Bringing joy to every girl and boy
Suzy’s come to town

Play the track

[audio:http://thirstyinsuburbia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/03-suzy-snowflake.mp3]

Download Suzy Snowflake – Rosemary Clooney
Like it? Support the people who make music – buy this album or track at amazon.com.

Bonus animated Suzy! If you’re from the Chicago, Illinois area you might also be familiar with a 1953 cartoon-short based upon the song. Made with super-cool-at-the-time stop-motion animation, the film became a treasured annual Christmas tradition for countless children who grew up in the Chicagoland area.

When Protozoa Came to the Big Screen

Fierce and cannibalistic! The battle to the death will be primitive and unmerciful! This is not a sensational film coming to your local multiplex, but a way-back look back at 76-year old street science.

These days, we can watch protozoa battling on screen whenever we’re online, but in 1933 this was shocking, amazing stuff! The article from the February, 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix covers the jaw-dropping marvel that awaited visitors to that year’s World’s Fair Hall of Science…a protozoa death-match unfolding in a single drop of water. (Side note: deflation! Was 25¢, now 15¢!) The article in its entirety:

Screening Fierce Battle in Drop of Water

YOU might not believe it, but ferocious and cannibalistic battles are staged every moment of the day in the drops of water that make up the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world.

A few of these battles are to be brought to the screen for the amusement and amazement of visitors to the Hall of Science at the 1933 World’s Fair. What will make this feat possible is a special projector which throws on the screen in a greatly magnified scale what is seen at the eyepiece of a powerful microscope.

Drops of water containing various species of unfriendly protozoa will be joined on the slide under the microscope connected with the projector. The battle to the death will be primitive and unmerciful, for protozoa are hungry and they ask no quarter and give no quarter. The artist’s drawing above shows how the projector and screen will be rigged up for the show.

And looking closer, the devil really is in the details! What are these creatures doing battle? Are there any microbiologists out there who can identify these “unfriendly protozoa?

Detail: Two unfriendly, unidentified protozoans

Not having any microbiology reference works available, our “research department” turned to a freely available tool, the Tin Eye reverse image search engine, which diligently checked 1.12 billion images but failed to find anything quite like it across the wild, wide expanse of the Internet.

Retro Water Advertising Film Fest Part 2

Part Two: And now, a word from our water sponsors from decades past! We’ve been interrupted by advertising for drinking water for at least a half a century. Following, more of of “the way we were.”

Brita Filter Ad from 1989 using the then-relevant “Funny British Guy” marketing tactic.

1986 Soviet dance party featuring Michael Jackson’s “Killer” and Varska Mineral Water.

Combine the 1986 coolness of Flashdance and Pumping Iron, then add Evian water.

“Nothing else will do” but Perrier in this jazzy, stylish-in-’87 animated spot.

Hey, Culligan Man, It’s 1984 and “the future is calling for you!” Little did we know!

Retro Water Advertising Film Fest, Part 1

And now, a word from our water sponsors from decades past! We’ve been interrupted by advertising for drinking water for at least a half a century. Following, a taste of “the way we were.”

1958 Perrier Party, the only thing missing is the Rat Pack and Vegas imagery.

Technically for Hamms Beer, but includes a “rain dance” for the beer that’s “refreshing as the land of sky blue water.” (1950s-vintage)

1978 Arrowhead Water tastes like “mountain snow, not chlorine!”

Those naughty French marketers! Perrier’s hysterical, risque 80’s spot promoting their larger bottle.

Bo Derrick look-alike and hipsters on the tennis court for Perrier in ’82

How to Trap Children in the Dark and Lonely Water

Somehow, fear as a motivator has fallen out of favor. Back in the day, though, scaring the tar out of kids was a perfectly acceptable method for keeping them in check. This 70s-era water safety clip from the UK was designed to educate by terror, with a creepy grim-reaper type character lurking in the waterways, ready to “trap showoffs and fools.” I’ll bet this put a damper on waterside playtime for the young Brits of the time!”