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Room Air Conditioners for the Suburban Family

July 20, 2018

In 1952 the Friedrich Company, on East Commerce Street, began manufacturing room air conditioning units.  By the 1960s, prices for room units, sometimes called window units, had dipped low enough for most middle income people to afford.  It was during this time that the Friedrich Company hired the Zintgraff Photography Studio to take photographs of their various units for newspaper advertisements.

An ad in the San Antonio Light on Sunday, February 16, 1964, features an idealized suburban family enjoying their individual pursuits in comfort beneath a room air conditioner.  The text reads:  “All activities will be centered in your home when you own a new 1964 Friedrich room air conditioner.”  Zintgraff produced several series of images between 1963 and 1965 showing various staged scenes in homes reminiscent of those seen on television sit-coms at that time, such as “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver.”   The studio used models to give an idyllic presentation of family life made possible by the cool comforts of air conditioning.  Families could enjoy entertaining friends indoors rather than on the front porch or in the yard.  And they could sleep comfortably in their bedrooms rather than on a sleeping porch.

These are a few of the images from our Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection (MS 355)

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