International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, WRITING

Blame It on the White Puerto Rican Rum

The Ad Campaign That Captured My Imagination


Advertising used to be a lot more fun.  Camels could smoke and you could watch an entire episode of the evening news without having to consider the perils of a four-hour erection.  In those more innocent days, my favorite print ads promoted the sale of white Puerto Rican Rum, but alcohol was not the attraction.

coffee table 001
The Cave Family Coffee Table. Note the Frankoma Ware.

Tabletop Reading

What magazines covered the coffee table when you were a kid?  Family legend says there were no magazines on ours during my toddler days, because I thought it was playground equipment.  As soon as I was able, I would crawl through the bottom and once I could pull myself up?  Forget about it!

Though she wasn’t always able to store them on the coffee table, Mom took Better Homes & Gardens and McCall’s for as long as I can remember.  Reader’s Digest and Guideposts were more Dad’s style.  In 1966 when Southern Living started, it was added to the mix, as was Texas Highways, since we were finally back home in Texas.  The yellow borders of National Geographic were also a family standard.

Forget Recipes, Where’s the Rum?

1976 Discover your own pleasure. Mix your club soda with white rum from Puerto RicoI devoured National Geographic and Texas Highways page-by-page.  Reader’s Digest, which was usually stored in the bathroom, had great humor pages and I read some of the other articles, but I was most fond of the Condensed Books volumes, of which we had many.  Guidepost articles seemed a little melodramatic to my childhood tastes and I had no interest at all in homemaking, cooking or crafts.

Still, I was a kid who would read the back of a cereal box if nothing else was available.  So if the newspaper had already been thrown out and I didn’t have any library books, I’d thumb through whatever I could get my hands on.  (FYI, I usually read through my schoolbooks during the first week of school.)

Somewhere along the way, I got hooked on Puerto Rican  Rum – not the beverage, the ads.  I don’t even remember which magazines carried the ads, but I remember lingering lovingly on the pages of the rum ads, dreaming of doing exactly what the people in the magazine were doing.  My daydreams had nothing to do with the beverages in their hands, but everything thing to do with the photo-shoots.

Farewell to the Age of Print…or not

My current stash of travel brochures.
My current stash of travel brochures.

Though I still subscribe to Texas Highways, most of my travel dreams reach me via a screen.  The Travel Channel, Discovery, AWE, The Smithsonian Channel and National Geographic all get lots of airtime on my TV.  When I’m researching a trip I do it on my PC.  I make my reservations online and apps follow me around on my travels.

When I get home I write this blog for my personal audience and reviews for Trip Advisor, where they tell me hundreds of thousands of people read what I say.

However, those travel companies are pretty clever.  They’ve by-passed the magazines and deliver their gorgeous travel brochures directly to my mailbox.  When I go to travel shows they fill tote bags full of sumptuously printed media.  I still dream in hard copy.

Lucky Me

I am fortunate.  I’ve had the opportunity to chase my White Puerto Rican Rum fantasies.   I’ve walked hand-in-hand on white sand beaches, sailed into the sunset on gorgeous cruise boats and drank umbrella-decorated rum drinks from the hull of a coconut, but travel has been more difficult than the ads led me to believe it would be.  The Puerto Rico I saw had nothing in common with the ads I’d lingered over as a child and tween-ager.

I’ve run out of travel time today, but come back next week and we’ll follow the ad campaign into reality and see where it leads us.

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