Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Two Castros

There were two Castros who came to prominence during the 50’s and 60’s. Fidel, the leader of Cuba, was the most prominent and then there was Bernadette, the daughter of the founder of Castro Convertibles who became famous for a television ad, where she demonstrated the facility with which a four year old child could open a legendary sofa bed. Now Bernadette, according to a recent Times story (“The Girl From Castro Convertibles’ Early Commercials Is Back," NYT, 6/11/12), is creating a line of “pullout ottomans” that she is advertising on the Home Shopping Network. The Castro convertible did not overturn a dictatorship or result in the Bay of Pig fiasco, but it was revolutionary in its own way, to the extent that it represented the beginnings of the DYI lifestyle that was also epitomized in a less domestic setting by Hugh Hefner’s Playboy lifestyle. The Castro convertible brought a little elegance into otherwise cramped quarters. Those living in a one room studio suddenly had a living room. Those with a living room now found a way to turn their bedroom into a den and it was in these new living quarters, sitting on a Castro that had been folded into its sofa mode, that many Americans first saw images of Fidel Castro with his legendary cigar on the small screened televisions that were ubiquitous in the era.

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