Let’s Read Sunset, June 1978!

Sunset magazine has been around a long time. Like, a long time. I was under the impression that it had grown out of a carefully maintained patch of ivy in someone’s perpetually remodeled natural wood patio sometime around 1972, but research tells me that it actually has been running since 1898. Initially created as a promotional magazine for the Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited railroad line, the magazine nudged readers to fall in love with the American west. Early on, the magazine worked to create an image to counter the wild wild west by emphasizing beautiful natural sights such as Yosemite, and welcoming contributions of poetry and fiction from local readers. For a detailed history of the magazine, check out its Wiki. The magazine eventually grew into the lifestyle publication that it is today, with features on home improvement, recipes, parties, gardening, and travel. I can personally attest that Sunset set an aspiration for California living – the good life, watching your kids play in your beautifully landscaped backyard, with a drink in your hand while the coals in the grill heat up. If my dad saw a house that embodied the aesthetic of unfussy, rustic-but-classy design, the first words out of his mouth would always be that the house was “like something out of Sunset magazine!”

Slightly altered for privacy, this particular copy being the property of a library that I work at.

You want content? Here, have an entire textbook’s worth of readin’!

YA romance: two queer girls fall in love at a fat camp in the 70s. Bam. Gimme a tv show.

As someone who grew up on the edge of Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains, of course I had to look up what happened to the Circle School, and…it was a cult! Surprise!

Was Disneyland always marketed to adults as well?

Apparently Polynesia looks like a douchey white guy?

Pictured: Portland Hipsters, 2019.

“Cactus…observatories…trails…trains…copper mine tunnels…And Fort Huachuca, where the army is developing new electronic weaponry.” whhuh?

The exoticism of Asia, captured in this blurry photo of people in western clothes eating at a table!

Canada promises not to show off their developing electronic weapons technology at you, unless you want them to.

I went to Knott’s when I was four. Literally all I remember about it is eating mashed potatoes and gravy at one of their restaurants. I don’t remember eating mashed potatoes at Disneyland on the same trip, so: advantage Knotts!

“See the strange symbols which may have been aerial signals for astronauts thousands of years ago” WHAT? “Nevermind, look at this hot nearly naked woman on a beach in Rio!”

Hyatt Resorts now offers a service in which this man and his horse will come get your wasted ass off the beach and back to your hotel.

Keep on dreaming, badly photographed man who looks tiny, someday you will have a car massive enough to make up for all the, uh, shortcomings that you perceive to be in your life.

I tried to find what happened to Jennifer Haynes, who seemed to get some minor limelight recognition in the late 70s, and although her name shows up in a few books about Rodeo competitions the only tantalizing lead I got was “Haynes did not live long enough to see her potential realized.” So chew on that for a while.

Dick Van Dyke is so into the Kodak Colorburst that he matched his skin tone to the burnt orange leather facing!

You’re going to learn through this issue that America in 1978 was terrified of two things: the Japanese import market and women working outside the home.

Describe your mood today using Robert, Diana, Judith, or Gregory.  I’m a Gregory.

Even the advertising for Japanese products is just “Bend over, we’re coming.”

“I’m so glad I left my wife and children and ran off with my secretary of 20 years for this!”

I’m like 90…no, 98…percent sure that I was conceived in one of these.

Those of my generation not conceived in a 1978 VW Campmobile Bus were very likely conceived in one of these.

You’ve got it all, Warren. A beautiful wife, two great kids, and a custom detailed camper van with a tupperware storage bin that you shit in. Any man would be lucky to have what you’ve got, and yet – you aren’t happy. What’s the real problem, Warren?

It took 40 years and six packed storage units, but Barbara’s grandchildren finally solved a dark family mystery when they uncovered the mummified body of Uncle Harold under yet another box of painted owl figurines.

Well, here’s the good news: there’s a lot of fun stuff to do at Lake Tahoe.

Here’s the bad news: all the fun stuff that you can do at Lake Tahoe is very bad for Lake Tahoe.

Since Tahoe spans two states, obviously an extra hurdle is getting two state legislatures equally committed to preserving it. It looks like the deal to limit casino growth on the lake shore went through, and 40 years later it’s still a beautiful lake, thanks hugely to the efforts of Keep Tahoe Blue.

And here’s an article on “sushi”, written for rich white people in 1978 who have probably never met a Japanese person in their lives. They’re weirdly clueless about almost everything having to do with sushi and weirdly traditional about things that seem to have been phased out of the contemporary Japanese-American sushi experience.

Such as: they insist that sashimi has rice (no), they treat the process of making sushi like it’s a make your own taco bar (noo), and they put dill pickles in their sushi (BREATHE!). The method of steaming shrimp for typical nigiri-style shrimp is on point. They’re also weirdly insistent that you include pickled melon, which is kind of bizarre because they don’t expect you to be able to find nori in a grocery store but they seem totally blase about narazuke.

“Bob, I’m going to Lucky’s for some sushi ingredients. I’ve got ham, chicken, and dill pickles already. Do we need more narazuke?”

Going by the completely undecipherable signature of John F. Mutrphonrworthy Jr., M.D., of Odessa, Texas, I’m thinking that he was a famous doctor of the time who dispensed gravelly straight-shooter medical advice on a radio show or something. Because without context, this just looks like a mean old man about to throw his coffee in your face because you looked at his granddaughter in a funny way while she was doing her homework in the whirlpool while wearing a parka.

“Hey Fred, how was your Memorial Day?”
“Well Howard, you won’t believe what Margie did at the barbecue.”
“Oh? What did your crazy wife do now?”
“She put a slice of…cheddar cheese…on a hamburger.”
“She did what?”
“That’s right. I had my pizza burgers and my cream cheese burgers and my chef salad burgers all ready to go, I had browned all the mayonnaise for the Dixie Belle burgers, and Margie went into the kitchen and she put cheese – just a slice of cheddar cheese – on the burger that I grilled.”
“You don’t say, Fred. You don’t say.”
“Just goes to show that you think you know somebody for fifty years, but you can never really know a woman.”
“Cheddar cheese. On a hamburger.”

Better not make fun of this guy’s groovy silk belt, lest he call forth his fire powers and roast you.

This is what I generally expect from Sunset, which is just pictures of rich people’s gigantic backyards full of elaborate fire pits.

This is also very much what I associate with Sunset. Such as random shag-carpeted holes in the wall to corrugated steel shower stalls, which I’m sure are just a brilliant idea in Phoenix. “It seemed a good choice” is some key wording there.

I was raised in the mountains, where for some reason every single house in the neighborhood had beautiful skylights built into the roof that were constantly under attack from falling tree branches. If you were between rebuilding your whole damn roof for the summer, plastic sheeting over your broken ceiling-window at least kept some of the vermin out. It is not a permanent solution, people.

Why…why would you buy an outdoor ceiling fan.

“I’ll never say it out loud, but sometimes I fantasize about this thing catching on fire and burning down the house with everyone in it.”

Why is this so foggy? Why are they all wearing white? Is this a sex thing? Is this a cult thing? Are they dead? Is this 70s post-orgy brunch heaven?

Melissa knew that the $20,000 remodel of her bathroom to make it a complete death trap in an earthquake-prone area was worth it, for every time she slid into the luxurious foaming Jacuzzi she openly challenged God to bring down his wrath and shatter the mirrors into jagged shards of bloody glass, smother her with towels from towering open shelves built to the ceiling, and bring all manner of ceramic knicknacks crashing down on her head. With every bath survived, Melissa grew increasingly defiant to the forces of inevitable destruction.

Ham! It’s like tuna of the mud!

I had nothing for this, I just thought the donkey was adorable. Ask your parents if they were into recreational donkey owning in the 70s.

…I just, I have no words.

The “purple sunset” (also a weed strain?) recipe was apple juice, grape juice, and Bigelow plantation mint, garnished with sugared blueberries, if you’re wondering. I’m a fan of the daisy lime slice – both hippie-cute and just a little threatening!

I like that the display picture up top has all the usual ridiculous 70s plating with the radish rosettes and the random fruit, and the actual photo with the kids is just “yeah here’s some fries in a basket far out of their reach while I loom over them, not moving a centimeter until the children have actually eaten something.”


I know that when I search for that perfect gift for my lover, racist plastic bobbleheads that magnetically kiss are absolutely the first thing I think of.


I only blow my nose with chiffon by Una.

That’s it for this week! Whoo! Thanks for reading! Next time we’ll be looking at some weird god stuff with The Christian Herald, June 1937!