My husband and I watched the entire Mad Men series together, one season after the next. In nearly every episode, I noticed some things that were very different from today. This list covers the things there were different in Season Three.
Warning: There are spoilers.
* Roger brings Don a box of Cuban cigars and a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka. Roger said these items “came through Greece”. In 1960, the United States had an embargo on Cuba. Today, Americans can visit Cuba (under certain circumstances).
* Joan puts the British male secretary into an office. The office has a large ant farm on display. There are ants in it, digging tunnels.
* Don comes home late at night. Someone left the black and white console tube television on. The TV stations had stopped broadcasting for the night, so the screen was filled with static – and a scratchy sound – often referred to as “snow”.
* Roger has a big party. He sings to his wife while wearing blackface. Most of the people at the party think this is acceptable and amusing.
* Don meets a man at the party who says he was from New Mexico “before it was a state.”
* Don breaks the ant farm that was in one of the offices. Joan covers her mouth and nose with a thin scarf that she held with one hand while spraying the ant farm, the table it was on, and everything else near it with an aerosol can of RAID. The windows in the office do not open.
* Betty gives birth to their third baby at the hospital. The nurse injected her with something referred to as “twilight”. It was a mixture of morphine and scopolamine. This drug combination did not prevent pain. Instead, it created retroactive memory loss – so a woman wouldn’t remember the pain involved in childbirth.
Many of the women who had the drug combination administered had to be physically restrained. Some would try to hurt themselves or leave. This was part of the reason why husbands were not allowed to be present during the birth of their child.
Previous to using an injectable combination of morphine and scopolamine, the nurses would use chloroform on women who were going into labor. The drugs were considered to be a better alternative.
Betty ends up hallucinating while under the influence of the drugs, and fighting the nurses because she doesn’t know what is happening to her.
* Don drives Betty home from the hospital when she and their new son are ready to come home. Betty sits in the front seat and holds the baby in her arms all the way home. There were no seat belts in the cars, and there was no such thing as a baby rear-facing carseat at the time.
* The soda vending machine in the emergency room waiting room at the hospital dispensed glass bottles of Dr. Pepper soda.
* Betty calls the office of a man who is an advisor to the Governor. He’s not available, so she gives his secretary her phone number. Her phone number starts with Wilson.
In the middle of the 20th century, phone numbers started with a letter that was then pronounced as a specific word. A few numbers followed that letter.
When a person wanted to make a call, they actually had to call the operator and tell her what phone number they wanted to be connected to. They called a telephone exchange. Each telephone exchange could facilitate about 10,000 subscribers. Full words were used in order to help customers remember the telephone exchange name, and to help switchboard operators connect calls.
* I didn’t see anything in this episode that you wouldn’t see today (that wasn’t already mentioned in this list or on the lists I put together about previous Seasons.)
* Betty brings the laundry downstairs in an actual laundry basket – not the kind made of plastic that we use today.
* Peggy and Paul are asked to work on an ad campaign for Western Union’s telegram. It is no longer possible to send a Western Union telegram. The company stopped offering telegrams as part of its services in 2006.
* Betty speaks with her family’s lawyer about selling her father’s house. Betty privately asks the lawyer about if she should get a divorce. The lawyer basically says she can’t because she wouldn’t be able to prove to the court that Don had an affair.
* Halloween is coming, and Betty and Don’s kids want their parents to buy them costumes from the store. Don says no because those costumes are plastic. He thinks they are garbage.
* Betty sews hand-made costumes for her two oldest kids. (The baby is too young to trick-or-treat.). Sally was a gypsy. Bobby was a hobo.
* This episode was focused on the Kennedy Assassination.
* Don, Roger Sterling, and Bertram Cooper stage a coop and start their own business (with a few select others). They have to locate the paperwork connected with the accounts they are taking with them. They go through rolodexes to find phone numbers. Today, all of that would be digital.
* Betty wants to divorce Don. She can’t do it in New York state because she can’t prove Don committed adultery. The only way to get the divorce is for her to move to Reno, Nevada, for six weeks to establish residency, and then file for divorce there. Don agrees not to contest the divorce.
Things from Mad Men that are Different from Today – Season Three is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.