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Diamond Alkali: 1950ish

Every photo needs a caption, please. View full size.

Every photo needs a caption, please. View full size.

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Ladies' Room Lady

She's there for the hordes coming in for ladies' room supply education and training. But what she's thinking is obvious: "Where did my life go so completely wrong?"

A Singular Lack

With all due respects to the lady seated here, there is a singular lack of "booth babes" here at Diamond Alkali's display. Maybe I'm used to trade shows like CES or the late (and mostly unlamented) E3, but these days a trade show would be filled with beautiful women wearing outfits that showed them off, whose knowledge about the product is slightly - and sometimes significantly - less than that of the people coming to the booth to find out about the product. Those guys in suits would never do today.


Boy, if this isn't a stereotype of the typical business-to-business trade show and its inhabitants back in the 1940's, I'll let Shorpy scrub my mouth out with soap! I attended and manned so many of these booths for 30 years that they are beyond counting! Most of the ones I got sent to were in Chicago.

Welcome Back... "What's Behind My Back", brought to you by the Diamond Alkali Company. Each week a contestant tries to guess what I've got back there. He is joined by our panel of celebrities who help by determining what level of discomfort the item is causing me. Today's hints: "I really should be wearing gloves" and "It burns! Please for God's sake take a guess before it dissolves my wedding band!"

Holy smokes!

Apparently, there was so much smoking going on at that booth that two ashtrays were necessary. I believe I remember my grandfather having a similar ashtray to that: freestanding, and high enough that he could deposit his ashes from the comfort of his easy chair.


"Well, are you going to buy from us, or what?"

Another one

"Even if the Men's opens next, I'm goin'!"

"Next Year's Going to be Different!"

"Look at all the people at the electric motor booth! I'm telling you, next year we've got to have a giveaway... maybe those plastic bags with the handles. See, that way, we could put the pamphlets inside the tote bags, and hand 'em out. And hey, why not give out little sample size modified alkalai bars for the kids?"

Sours and Liquid Blues

"No, we don't sell whiskey sour dispensers for washrooms. Why do people keep asking us that?"

Next Stop: Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills

That looks like Milburn Drysdale standing there.


"Only 15 more minutes until Happy Hour!"

Cast of Characters

Here is my guess as to the players in this booth. The two fellows seated to the right and left of the man standing in the middle are in the sales department at Diamond Alkali. The one on the left is probably the road man, he visits and sells to the customers. The one on the right is the home office sales support dude. He handles trade shows.

The fellow in the middle is probably an engineer that the two sales guys brought over to add some "science" to the booth in case anybody asked for that kind of information.

The man and woman seated to the left on the sofa are hapless trade show patrons.

"Washroom Control Kits"

Nominated for caption: "Washroom Control Kits" or maybe "Modified Alkalies," right off their stirring backdrop. Might be a good name for my next rock band.

A Jewel

"Diamond Alkali, the Gem of Washroom Control"

Oh we are having fun

Probably not as popular as the Ginsu Knife booth. More info found on Wikipedia:

Diamond Alkali Company was an American chemical company incorporated in 1910 in West Virginia by a group of glass industry businessmen from Pittsburgh. The company soon established a large chemical plant at Painesville, Ohio, which would operate for over sixty years. In 1948, the headquarters of the company was moved from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. In 1967, Diamond Alkali and Shamrock Oil and Gas merged to form the Diamond Shamrock Corporation. Diamond Shamrock would go on to merge with Ultramar Corporation, and the combined company, Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corporation|Ultramar Diamond Shamrock, would in turn be acquired by Valero Energy Corporation in 2001.

Manning the Diamond Alkali Booth

"It's a living."

Trade Show Booth

Looks like to me.
Pittsburgh and Everywhere!

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