So the 1949 film The Third Man is to blame for the proliferation of all those Zithers in schools all over the nation. I don’t believe there was one classroom anywhere in the United States in the 1970s that didn’t have at least one vintage Zither sitting on a shelf. Where are all those millions of Zithers today? Sitting in landfills leeching toxic chemicals in our ground water? Precariously stacked 15 feet high in a forgotten storage closet in some elementary school, waiting to tumble down accompanied by tragic yet hilarious noises on the vulnerable and unsuspecting heads of curious children exploring the auditorium? Shipped to puzzled children of developing nations as critical teaching supplies? Cool tune, though.
The Zither is a fine example of vintage Trend Ort.
Found on the back of Planet Comics #43 (July 1946) is this house ad for Jumbo Comics featuring Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, a popular Fiction House jungle-themed heroine with origins going back to Britain in 1937. In the ad a letter from a school faculty sponsor addressed to the house pseudonym responsible for creating Sheena declares that the character has been chosen as the mascot for the 1947 Graduating Class of John Bartram High School in Philadelphia.
When I showed this ad to my Mom she asserted that her school would never have allowed such an icon to be used as a mascot since Sheena was such a provocative female figure. I can only speculate that the parents and faculty of the school of the 1940s didn’t mind as they had friends and family that were used to glamorous pin-ups in the home, workplace and military barracks and a culture that was a little more rough and tumble from years of war and working the shipyards. I don’t know what the long ago class of that high school was like but I can’t help thinking that Sheena would not go over as well today with the students as it may have done in 1947. The image of a Caucasian female dressed in leopard skin as the Queen of an African region would be as more unpopular (though for different reasons) than their current school mascot, what some have called a stereotypical Indian brave.