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The Amazing "Touring Rockets" of the 1950s!
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Bud Brewster
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Joined: 14 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Oops! Embarassed

I don't think I can even blame my typo on the fact that Eadie wrote "peddle", too! I just made exactly the same spelling error, with no help from anyone else! Rolling Eyes

It reminds me of the old joke about the call girl who rode a bicycle around to display the fine quality of what she was selling. Folks said she, "She peddled her tail all town!" Laughing

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2019 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I'd like to revitalize this thread by spotlighting the "other" Touring Rockets of the 1950s — those gorgeous hood ornaments which tantalized young sci-fi fans by sitting right there on the front of our family cars and reminding us just how beautiful the spacecraft of the future would look! Cool

Here's a gallery of images from the 1953 Ford, a rocket that should have cruised the solar system instead of just being bolted to hood of our cars! Cool
















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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Consider this a bit of an update-recap on the subject.



"During the mid-1950s Standard Carriage Works built a number of promotional trailers that were outfitted to look like rocket ships, which were a common fixture in early children’s television programming.



In 1953 they built two Ralston Rocket promotional trailers, a deluxe one used in promotional tours to promote Ralston’s Space Patrol TV Show (aired on ABC 1950-1955), and a second smaller version that was awarded to Ricky Walker, the winner of the show’s “Name the Planet” contest. They are also credited with building the similarly-styled Luer Meat Packing Company rocket which first appeared in late 1955.

The Ralston Rocket was later sold to the Blakely Petroleum Co., who sent the re-christened Blakely Oil Rocket to promote its ‘Rocket Gas’ on promotional tours of the firm’s Arizona and California outlets during the late 1950s. The Luer Rocket featured a 24-seat, 16 mm movie theater and a vibrating floor and was used to promote the firm’s products at supermarket openings and other public events.
It had certainly known better days — days when rockets in a variety of designs toured the main streets and supermarkets of an optimistic U.S.A., when kids dreamed of donning fishbowl space helmets and defending the galaxy with their pointy-shouldered, jumpsuit-wearing television heroes.

/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?




It was an era of robots and death rays, a time when men like Rocky Jones, Tom Corbett and Captain Video toured the cosmos to protect the innocent.



It was also an age when brand-name foods bankrolled heroism. Science-fiction serials were big business in the fifties and proved to be an effective vehicle for promoting marshmallows and sliced bread.

One of the most popular space operas of the time was Space Patrol, starring Commander Buzz Corry, and sponsors like Ralston Purina made the most of the show's popularity by finding inventive ways to tie the program in with its line of cereals.



The most creative promotion, involving what is possibly the most exciting giveaway in history, was Ralston's "Name the Planet" contest. Cadets were to submit, along with the correct number of coins found in Ralston cereals, a name for the new planet that had materialized on Space Patrol.
The viewer to submit the best name would win a clubhouse in the form of a life-size rocket ship. Billed as Commander Buzz Corry's very own Terra IV, the grand prize was a 35-foot, 10,000-pound, trailer-mounted spaceship, complete with bunk beds, cooking apparatus and equipment lockers. It even came with a truck to haul it.

The Ralston Rocket, as it was nicknamed, had been one of two ships that toured the country, visiting fairs and strip malls in promotion of Space Patrol and Ralston Purina. Think Weinermobile, but with a nose cone and fins.
When Ralston was finally done driving it from state to state, they stripped out all the space gadgetry, refitted it as an RV and offered it as their contest's coveted award.
/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?

The prize ultimately went to 10-year-old Ricky Walker of Illinois. But as these things go, Ricky eventually tired of his big toy and the two parted ways. The dream prize desired by millions of cadets was sold to an amusement park in Kansas.





So, was Ricky's the rocket that eventually ended up in the hands of Steve LaVigne?
Unfortunately, no. Ricky's rocket was later tracked from Kansas to a wrecking yard in Illinois, then to a cable network in New York, and finally to a construction company that — terror of terrors — dismantled it and sold it for scrap in the 1980s.

There was, however, the second Ralston Rocket, the one that was not given away in the contest. Evidence places this twin craft in the hands of Blakely Oil, who used it to promote their "Rocket Gas" following Ralston's campaign.
According to a man named Rodney Welch, Blakely then sold it to the Luer meat-packing company. Welch had purchased it from Luer to use in a small amusement park he called Welch's Mountain Fantasy. When Welch closed down the operation, he donated the rocket to the City of Prescott, which subsequently unloaded it onto a local rehab center. And that's where LaVigne found it. He and a friend paid a hundred bucks for it.

The craft differs significantly in appearance from the Ralston Rocket, but there are those who have suggested that Luer remodeled the exterior before using it in their own promotions, which means LaVigne's craft is a reskinned Ralston. Yet, there are others who disagree, including LaVigne himself, as further evidence suggests that Rodney Welch had been mistaken about the connection between Luer and Blakely.



This would mean the Luer rocket is one of the copycat ships built to take advantage of the hype initiated by Ralston and that the second Ralston Rocket is wasting away on someone else's property somewhere.
So, in the end, it's very likely the Luer vessel is a totally separate ship, built from scratch with some bizarre correlation in mind between meat and spacecraft. Much like Ralston's, it toured grocery chains, but carried cape-adorned space hotties who waved to the crowds and promoted "Luer Quality Meat." That's why most people in Steve LaVigne's neighborhood referred to the ship corroding up on Sweetwater Drive as the Meat Rocket or the Meat Missile, names for which LaVigne admits he carries no fondness.



Regardless, LaVigne recognizes that the Luer rocket is a hunk of nostalgia in its own right. He considers it an artifact of better days. "Kids would really get a kick out of simple things back then," he says. "Now that we've got all the computer simulations and everything that we've got, simple just doesn't cut it anymore." He reminisces about the 16 mm projection screen locked inside, possibly used by Luer for some kind of anti-vegetable propaganda film. He also speaks with appreciation of the deteriorating sci-fi control panel and the little motor mounted to the frame that vibrates the floor and makes a rockety "hrrmmmm" sound. "That's why the rocket is a cool thing.""


http://www.roadsideresort.com/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?page=0,0
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Last edited by Gord Green on Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Nice combination of the articles from the Standard Carriage Works site and the Roadside Resort site, two of the great websites we’ve used to trace down the history of these wonderful touring rockets from the 1950s.

I also applaud the way you interspersed some of our better jpegs with the text, along with several new ones I don't think I've seen before! Thanks for pumping new life into one of All Sci-Fi's most interesting discussions. Cool

You've put me in the mood to share a few more episodes of Space Patrol in the chat room.

"Roaring Rockets, Commander Gordon, when do we blast off!?"

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