During a recent attempt to clean out my family's old attic, I came across a greeting card. It was never filled out, never mailed, and was just sitting there in a perfectly preserved state among otherwise dusty, warped items. The front struck me as odd—missing all those classic greeting card tropes of cuddly animals and cartoon hearts—so I picked it up. The outside featured a chaotic collage of city scenes, and the inside conveyed a pretty dark message for a greeting card:
Greetings from hell. (Jen Carlson/Gothamist)
Pressure dominates it can't be denied.
There's no retreat; and if you run, it multiplies.
The mail brings bills; newspapers read bombs and riots.
It's the human race, a race for prestige, bargains, comfort and illegal parking places.
Yet amid all the confusion there remains one refuge... because of you.
Really rolls off the tongue!
I briefly wondered if one of my parents DIY'd this card, but then I spotted the logo on the back: Soft Touch, American Greetings. Turns out that in the 1970s, the greeting card company launched a new line called Soft Touch, which was meant to paint "a better world" for the recipient. Man, they really nailed it with that laundry list of stress-inducing stimulus.
Here's a little more on their mission, from their own website:
Following the tumultuous '60s, many of America's youth distrusted "anyone over age 30." They bonded with each other and talked idealistically about building a world based on love, sharing and caring. The new Soft Touch card line took the dreamy idealism found in John Lennon's rock-n-roll reflection "Imagine," and translated those feelings into a new genre of sensitive greeting cards. Soft-focus images were combined with tender words. Sales skyrocketed.
I reached out to American Greetings to get some intel, like if the person who wrote this card had ever even heard the song "Imagine." A company rep, Patrice Molnar told me, "I do not have any specifics on the card." Very disappointing, Patrice.
However, she was able to tell me more about the Soft Touch line:
"The Soft Touch name referred to the fact that the sentimental verses were run with soft focus photographic art. It frequently depicted couples. Soft focus photography was a fashion of the time, too, in movies and in magazine photography. The original Soft Touch line began in 1973 and ended in 1980. It was revised again in the early '90s, but is no longer a card line we create. Most likely it was retired because it was no longer reflective of the current generational trends."
American Greetings, meet 2018...