Top Five Posters from the Bedrooms of my Youth

Great Escape

We had a very brief discussion on a previous post in which some members of our commentariat speculated on what kinds of posters other members had on their bedroom walls when they were kids.

I decided to share what I put on the walls of some of my many bedrooms (as a Navy brat, I moved around a lot).

And the Web being what it is, I was able to find actual images of five of them. So we’ll just call those the Top Five — especially since I can only remember six, and I can’t find the Eric Clapton poster I had on my dorm wall at Memphis State, or even remember what it looked like.

The first two of these were on my walls in Tampa and Honolulu in high school, the next two from college, and the final one high school (I think):

  1. Steve McQueen from the set of “The Great Escape” — That’s the one above, or close to it. I think maybe the poster I had included more of the frame, showing the sidecar. I found that image on the Web, but the file was of poor quality. Note that this is not an actual still from the movie, because he was nowhere near the Stalag in the motorcycle scenes. Of the posters on this list, it’s the first one I acquired (when I was in either the 10th or 11th grade, so sometime between 1968 and 1970), and easily my favorite. Which stands to reason since, when I was a kid, this was my definitely my favorite movie. Back when it came out in 1963, the scene where he jumped the barbed wire was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in a movie. Tame stuff today, but back then it was really something.
  2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — See below. The very last frame of the movie, with our antiheroes coming out, blazing away, to their certain death. When I was in high school, I found that moment way existential. I thought no one could be more alive than Sundance was a moment before that, when he was out there in the plaza alone with two six-guns, spinning left, right and all around, firing at the adversaries who surrounded him, giving Butch covering fire. (From 00:56 to 01:24 in this clip.) Yeah, I was a dumb kid. My romanticization of that moment is all the evidence you need that teenage boys are candidates for protective restraint.
  3. George Harrison poster from “All Things Must Pass” album — It came with the boxed-set album, which I loved, so of course I put it on my wall at Memphis State. This was George in his Garden Gnome phase, post-Beatles. That video that I embedded the other day, “It’s Johnny’s Birthday?” That was from the bonus third LP in the set.
  4. The Hawaii State Flag — This was quite small, like a foot by a foot-and-a-half (or a bit less) and made of nylon. Not strictly a poster, but it’s the only thing I remember having on the cinder-block wall of my dorm room in the Honeycombs that one semester I went to USC, the fall of 1971. It was sort of a homesickness thing, because I was missing Honolulu, where I had graduated from high school the previous spring. There was an Englishman on my floor, a student from Manchester. One day when my door was open, he was passing in the hall and stuck his head in to ask why I had a Union Jack over my bed. I explained what it was, and he nodded and said, “Oh, yes. Sandwich Islands, Captain Cook and all that. Quite.” And he walked away on down the hall. I thought that was cool.
  5. Bobby Kennedy in a flight jacket. This is an unusual-shaped and -sized poster — a full-length photo, almost life-sized, of RFK in a Navy flight jacket standing casually with a couple of dogs. I don’t remember where I got this, and I have no specific memory of where I hung it, although I vaguely recall it hanging somewhere. But I can tell you exactly why I liked it. There were two reasons. First, the jacket he’s wearing is exactly like my Dad’s. My Dad wasn’t an aviator, but some pilots he had worked with had given it to him as a gift, and he had given to me, and I thought it was way cool. Second, I had never given RFK much thought when he was alive. But I got really interested in him when I wrote a research paper about him for a high school civics class in the spring of 1971. And I can still remember how differently I perceived time back then: I thought of his life as being way in the past at that point — even though only three years had passed since his assassination. That’s a long time when you’re 17.

Actually, I changed my mind in mid-list. I ditched this Dylan poster, which was on my dorm room wall at Memphis State, because it never meant that much to me and I wanted to include the Hawaiian flag.

How about your poster memories?


2 thoughts on “Top Five Posters from the Bedrooms of my Youth

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    You’ll note there are no pin-ups, no Farrah Fawcett or whatever.

    When I was about 10, living in Ecuador, my family was friends with the family of a Navy chief petty officer who served with my Dad. The chief’s son was WAY older than I, about 17, soon to go into the Navy himself. His bedroom was decorated with a Playboy calendar. Whenever I was at their apartment for any reasons, I’d slip into Mike’s room and study this calendar quite closely. I think he had a centerfold or two up as well, but I focused more on leafing through the calendar. All that wealth, all that variety of pulchritude…

    But I knew that was never going to fly at my house.

    Mike also had a couple of guns — like a rifle and a shotgun — on a rack on his wall, which I thought was also way cool, although I didn’t spend quite as much time studying those.

    I happened to mention to my parents how cool I thought it was, and how I’d like to have a gun to hang on MY wall, but they nixed that. My Mom explained that it made sense for Mike, because his Dad was a gunnery chief. That didn’t sound persuasive, but I dropped the subject.

    And I didn’t even bring up the Playmates…

  2. Bryan Caskey

    I actually had the exact same Butch and Sundance poster on my W&L dorm room wall in the fall of 1999, so that shows the longevity of that young boy nostalgia ethos. The only other poster-size thing on my dorm room wall was a South Carolina flag I brought from home. That pretty much covered all the available wall space in my freshman dorm. It was a single, corner room, and it was really small.

    In fact, my dorm room was so small, when I got there with my parents on move-in day, we looked at the number on the door, matching it to the index card I had been given in the quad, opened the door, and immediately assumed it was a mistake. We all really thought that this was a broom closet, and not actually where a person would…live.

    Turned out I lived there for a whole year. I could sit in a chair in the middle of my room and touch my bed in one direction, open the door the other direction, and be basically sitting at my study desk as well. Like I said, not super-spacious, but it was a great time.

    Somewhere I have a photograph of me and a college friend sitting on my bed drinking beer (doing the “cheers” toast with each other) and that Butch and Sundance poster is right behind us.


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