I’m pretty good with dating what I’ll just go ahead and call generational aesthetics. Graphic design, commercials, hairdos… heck, even just nature photos. Like, I can date photo of a waterfall based on the visual texture of the film and stuff alone. That’s the 90s… ah, probably early 80s… oh, definitely mid 70s.
But, apparently, I ain’t perfect. Case in point: The Eagle Through The A (ETTA).
Judging by the design, and the prominent use in the 70s, I’d always placed its birth early in the disco decade. (And I’m not the only one.)
Then I talked to Fritz. Yes, that Fritz — Fritz Siler, who one night in 1966, with a bass drum, some butcher paper, and some beer, gave birth to the iconic, seemingly inviolate (not-so) interlocking AU logo. And hey, speaking of beer…
Fritz: You know that eagle through the A? I know who did that, too. That was done about the same time as the AU.
Me: Really? I thought that more of a late 70s thing or something?
Fritz: Well, what happened is, Anders Bookstore came (to Auburn). And one of my [Lambda Chi Alpha] fraternity brothers… and another one of the fraternity brothers who were wise for their age… liked that eagle on the Anheuser-Busch…
Me: … oh man, keep going… keep going…
Fritz: … so ,what they did when they were enjoying what the eagle produced from Anheuser-Busch… is that they put that eagle with the A in their back windshield. And so Anders picked up on that; I think one of them may have been working at Anders. Anyway, Anders picked up on that, and they got a trademark on it. But he and his buddy came up with the Anheuser-Busch eagle flying through the A. Crazy things were going on and we didn’t give it a second thought.
Now, even with so great a witness as Fritz Siler, I still just instinctively assumed that the ETTA hadn’t reached, say, sticker-on-an-airplane level until the 1970s.
Then I saw Nelda. Yes, that Nelda — Nelda Lee, Auburn aerospace engineering legend… I interviewed her here, you should check it out… posing presumably by the plane she flew while earning her private pilot’s license before graduating in 1969.
I promise to do better.