Busy Office, Busy People

Well folks, I got some pages scanned of that vintage children's book, Busy Office, Busy People, that I mentioned earlier. It was part of this "Community Helpers Series," that were made for kids to see and learn more about the community that they lived in. The book's date says 1968, but I can tell that the images (by illustrator Charles Lynch) were probably done a few years earlier, based on the hairstyles and style of dress shown.

Some very nice work by Mr. Lynch here, with pen and ink along with color marker for some pages. Too bad the book is incredibly sexist and chauvinistic as all those books were at that time. And that's why I love them so. Genuine naiveté fascinates me as male chauvinism was so much the norm then, and now, we are so far from it. (Well, at least it's much better.) It's appalling now to see the subtle messages being forced upon the young kiddies -- that if you're a female, expect to work seemingly menial jobs such as typist, file clerk and secretary when you're older. But if you're male -- well, expect to live like a fat cat in a high rise building, lording over your shoe empire.

Here is the inside cover of the book. Apparently, brown was in.

The following two pages are a "picture dictionary" for characters that we'll meet later on in the book. The two pages are practically divided between the two sexes, save for a lone factory worker. Perhaps she took a wrong turn?

Ah, the artist's background in fashion design and illustration is showing here. Miss Lee looks like she's come straight from a Milan runway. "Dah-ling! There you are!"

"I'm lost."

What a strange scene. As Miss Lee contemplates her Parisian vacation, Mr. Star seems very absorbed by the office foliage.

Three more models working for the Star Shoe Company. I'd like to think that they're quietly preparing to overthrow the male-dominated establishment. All in due time, gals. All in due time.

Boy, they're not making these jobs look all that fun, are they?

Featuring Miss Lee and her patented "pinkie finger-point." Man, she is on it today. I get the feeling that she's the unsung hero behind the Star Shoe Company, what do you think?

So, there ya go. I've got plenty more odd and quirky books and ephemera from where that came from. Stay tuned.


  1. Fun illustrations! I can't but think about the movie 9 To 5 when I read these pages. Is the secretary mislead into thinking that she poisoned her boss at the end of the book or is that in a sequel?

  2. I love all these beautiful line drawings!

    Does Mr. Star do any work?

  3. Just think...

    There are children who read those books who are working in an office right now. What a shock that must have been.

    Where's my bookkeeping machine?!

  4. I think Miss Lee and Mr. Star are having a sordid office affair. The whole book was brimming with a sexual undercurrent that fairly lept off the page. Uh, yeah. Anyhoo, has anyone ever noticed that it must be very hard to draw heavy-set or unattractive people? Of course, when you're swiping from the May company ads in the Thursdays paper, everyone looks like Twiggy.

  5. What about Mr. Star's drinking problem and penchant for groping? What about the picture of Mr. Star stumbling in after another 3 martini lunch? Where's the picture of Ms. Lee cleaning up Mr. Star's vomit?

  6. All that is depicted in the next installment, Lazy Office, Drunk People.

  7. Okay. My turn. Since I grew up during that "quaint" era everyone is making jokes about, I decided to educate you young whippersnappers. One of my first jobs was as a secretary in training when I was 16 years old. I really thought I was something. In fact, I was very proud of what I could do - and my job. I felt that I was contributing in some small way to the growth of the company. You know, the old "tiny cog in the wheel" idea. No, I didn't realize I was "oppressed" or being used by those old "chauvinists," I really thought my job had value.

    Looking back from your perspective, sure, you have all the information NOW; but back then, that's just the way it was. I'm not saying it was perfect, because it was NOT. And fortunately, some people felt that women COULD do more than that - and I'm glad the doors are open.

    But all I want you to do is look back and realize that - that's the way things were - it's like a person growing up poor and not realizing they're poor until someone points it out to them. They thought they were rich!

    So things are much better for women now, aren't they? Or are they? Sometimes I look back on those times and realize I did have it pretty good. Now women have to prove they can do EVERYTHING! I didn't have to back then. I just wanted to get married, have kids and raise them to be good people. If you think about it - raising kids to be good people is pretty difficult - or haven't you noticed? There are a lot of kids out there I'd like to give a good smack to - and I don't mean smooch!

    So go ahead and make fun of that time. It was pretty simple then - "black and white." Women married and raised a family -- that was about it (except for teachers and nurses), but I still think being a mother is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs I'll EVER have. I'm still a "secretary," and I'm still proud of what I do. Things have definitely changed, but I respect other women who decide to stay home and raise those babies. It's difficult today because you're "expected" to get out there and use your brain! It'll turn to mush. Nah. It won't - I promise. Hope y'all take this in the vein it was sent - just trying to educate you dummies. (Keep up the jokes -- they ARE funny.)

  8. Sing it, wardsmama! I'm not quite that old, was but a child in '66 or so, but my dad was enough of the times to insist, when I was a 19 year old working to get into animation that if I didn't take "secretarial" classes--shorthand, folks! Typing!--that he'd kick me out of the house, as obviously to want to be an animator was a fool's errand(this long, LONG before "Little Mermaid" and "Roger Rabbit" actually made money). I took the classes, was dismal at them, never considered getting a job taking dictation-went to CalArts, and the rest is history. The business "school" I went to, next to the Cinerama Dome, is long out of existence, and I'm happily working on feature films. Bwahahahhaa! Take THAT, Mr. "Star"!

    But anyway, back to the great drawings: my spanish textbook had ones so similar in style I wonder if the artist's career didn't extend into the late 70s? What was his whole story? I'm sure these illos paid the proverbial peanuts...thanks for putting them all up here-and for the genius captions. Jeez-parts of the original book-as-written read like Jon Stewart parody, don't they?

  9. I get berated by my mom even on my own blog! Nah, we talked about all this before she posted her comment. And it is a very interesting subject that she brought up. The fact that while living during that time, it was just the norm. You just accepted it. We should think about history and how societal norms and mores (that's "mor-ayes") really shaped and formed a particular era. It is so easy to look back and poke fun at that time, especially in a way that may uncover the "awful truth," so to speak -- alcoholism, sexism, job politics, etc. -- because we've had the opportunity to see the after-effects that that type of work ethic had. And living in the Age of Irony, it's no wonder we take a thriving, popular decade and turn it on its head. In a way, we are making our current time seem better, much like the way we poke fun at the new kid in class, just so we make ourselves look better. Thank you mom, for your words. I'm a proud son, that's for sure.

    As for Jen -- I did do a search for the illustrator, Charles Lynch, and it looks like he did some more educational books in the early 70's, but I don't get anything else about him until the 90's -- and I'm not sure if it is the same guy. The books are on quilting and such. It could be him, but I don't really know. AND -- I'm very curious as to what company you work for! If you feel so inclined feel free to email me. (You can find my email by clicking on my profile on the main page.) Thanks for visiting.

  10. Ogmygod your commentaries are hillarious! I can't stop laughing!