Stop Traffic Boners

Shell - 1939

Shell – 1939
Scan credit: Dandy Vintage Advertising (dandyads) on Tumblr

As most of my regular readers know, I try to stay at least a couple weeks ahead on the retro/vintage/Americana posts I put in the queue to show up here every day. When I last put things in about four weekends ago, I stopped with this date next to be filled.

I always like to put up something special on the day I celebrate the Earth and me having tolerated each other’s presence for another year. However, nothing fitting was coming up in all the sources I use. I was starting to wonder if I would find anything in time.

Then, Dandy Vintage Advertising came to the rescue.

Shown above is one of the "Holy Grails" I have been seeking ever since I saw another one in the series about seven years ago. There seem to have been multiple versions of this "Stop Traffic Boners" campaign. However, search after search only yielded partial ads or very small scans that were not worth posting.

As I look through several sources — and what a difficult search this is considering the word in question — "boner" seems to have originated during the time of traveling minstrel shows in the United States when the standard Mr. Bones character (who played two bones as a musical instrument) would be asked a question and would provide a silly answer. It then morphed in the early 20th century to the use seen above to describe a mistake or something really stupid.

I cannot find a specific time when the word changed meanings again. Whenever it happened, at least it now makes all the old stuff that uses it an easy laugh. With how current times seem to be so full of hate, I’m certainly not going to pass up the opportunity to give out a snicker especially on this notable-for-me day.

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