Friday, July 17, 2015

Opinoin* (for Opinion*)

I recently heard someone refer to the "court of public demand," accidentally conflating "public opinion" and "popular demand." I'm not sure what a court like that would look like, but I sort of like the sound of it! If you too like sounds, would like to be in popular demand, and plan to go a-courtin', you could do a damn sight worse than to heed the advice of this 90-year-old newspaper ad, which boldly trumpets: "Play a Sincere Instrument and POPULARITY LOVE and ROMANCE will be yours." That's the opinion, anyway, of a music store in New York City called "Sincere Studios," where banjos and ukuleles once sold for $2.98 and a dream. (I'm honoring the house style by leaving the word "Sincere" in quotation marks, although as one reader comments, "I imagined the point was to pretend to be sincere while really trying to seduce an innocent young lady with your ukulele music," while another one wonders, "Why does the name 'Sincere Studios' make me less trustful?") A mail-order purchase also promised to bring you (along with guaranteed happiness) a free copy of the "Peter Pan Uke Method" and one "green felt pick." It's easy to snicker, and yet I feel rather oddly beguiled by this: "Win friends and popularity! Own and play a 'Sincere' Hawaiian Ukulele or a Banjo Ukulele! Get into the swim! The girl or fellow that can play a musical instrument has an open invitation to partake in social gatherings. There is no more excuse for being a wall flower..." And I like that they put the girl first, in both the text and the picture, where she's shown seated above the man and facing directly into the camera. Perhaps I'm a little late to the party here, but it looks like ukuleles have always been popular with the ladies. There were two cases of Opinoin* in OhioLINK, and 34 in WorldCat.

("Sincere Studios" advertisement from 1926 Art and Beauty Magazine and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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