Mad Men: “The Fog”

This episode begins with Don and Betty having a conference with Sally’s teacher. Apparently, she’s been acting up and causing trouble since Gene died. Sally’s teacher, Miss Farrell, knows that Betty is pregnant but also knows that she has a little brother… so she asks if anything else has changed in the home. Betty says that her father died “last week.. the week before, two weeks now”. Miss Farrell apologizes for prying, the asks why they didn’t send a note along with Sally. She also notes that Sally didn’t miss any school from it, to which Betty says that they “didn’t want to put her through that” and Don says that “children don’t belong in graveyards”. Miss Farrell also says that this explains why Sally has been asking so many questions about the death of Medgar Evers. Betty excuses herself to go to the ladies’ room, while Miss Farrell talks to Don about “the pain of losing someone at that age”.


Meanwhile, back at Sterling Cooper, Lane heads a meeting where he takes everyone to task for wasting money on expense reports and office supplies. Don, having been at the teacher conference, walks in late. Lane complains about the discrepancy between Don and Sal’s expense reports from the Baltimore trip ($70 vs. $82), to which an irritated Don notes that he signed all of Sal’s receipts. Lane sighs and then complains that the amount of pens, pencils, pads, paper and postage “suit a company four times our size”. Don, having heard enough, gets up and leaves.

In Paul’s office, Paul waves eloquently about how Karl Marx was the best economist who ever lived, while Pete looks over some sales figures from Admiral. He notes that Admiral’s sales are only up in Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, Washington DC, St.Louis and Kansas City. When he wonders aloud what that means, Paul says that they’re all “great jazz cities”. Pete then realizes that black people might be buying these TVs. Harry bursts in to the office, saying that Lois got her scarf caught in the Xerox machine. Paul dreams of the day that Joan leaves so he can get rid of Lois. Pete hands the Admiral sales figures to Harry and asks what he thinks of them. Harry guesses that black purchases might be the cause of the increasing sales. Ken walks in with the news about Lois, and asks the gang what they’re doing tonight. “Baby, married… Kinsey! Want to go to the Mets game?” He then holds up a watch that Bird’s Eye Foods gave him. Pete, obviously jealous, asks if it has “Bird’s Eye” written on it.

Back in Don’s office, he begins to dictate a letter to Morris at London Fog when he’s interrupted by Lane, who wants to give him a rundown of the meeting Don had just walked out of. Lane continues to complain about the waste at Sterling Cooper, while Don defends his team as “throwing away bad ideas”. Lane continues, complaining about Creative’s drinking and afternoon naps. Don says that Lane came to Sterling Cooper because they (the agency) “do this” (sell advertising) better than you, and that part of that is letting the Creative staff be unproductive until they aren’t. “Pennies make pounds, and pounds make profits”, Lane says. An agitated Don says that he “doesn’t want to talk to Lane this way”, and advises him to “get his hands dirty” with Bert Cooper and Harry Crane if he wants to learn the business. He further tells him to back off, that spending is necessary for the men’s morale. Lane says that Don must have seen The Bridge On the River Kwai. Don says that he sees everything, and that Lane should know, since Don sends him the receipts.

Pete is in his office looking over some papers when he’s buzzed – apparently his “Uncle Herman” is on the line and refuses to leave a message. Pete, thinking something is wrong, reaches for the phone and asks if everything is OK. Only “Uncle Herman” is actually Duck Philips, who is now at Grey, a competing agency. Duck invites Pete to lunch, playing up their previous relationship. Pete sounds unconvinced, but agrees. Duck says that he’ll get his girl to call Pete’s girl under the “code name” Clorox.

That night, Don walks in the house to the sound of a ringing phone. He calls out, but no one responds. He picks up the phone to find Suzanne Farrell on the line. She apologizes for possibly interrupting dinner, then apologizes for that morning’s meeting. When Don asks why, she says that her father died when she was young, and she might have overreacted to the news that Gene died, and might have upset Betty. Don says that it’s no problem, and Suzanne, with a drink in her hand, babbles that she doesn’t know why she called. Don ends the call when Betty calls out to him – she’s in labor and it’s time to go. At the hospital, Betty is admitted by a less than friendly nurse, who tells Don that his job is done. As the nurse wheels Betty down the hall, she sees a janitor that looks like Gene from the side. She calls out to him, and the nurse says that she can yell in the hallway, but not the nursery that’s coming up soon.

In the waiting room, Don meets Dennis Hobart, another man about to become a father. Dennis complains because he hasn’t gotten an update about his wife, Pamela. The nurse (almost as snippy as the first one), says that Pamela is having a breech birth. She also asks if no one has asked for his permission to do whatever it takes to save the baby. Dennis says no, but then gives his permission. He sits down and pulls out a bottle of Scotch which he had hoped to celebrate with. Don says that it’s not a party, but he’ll have one. Dennis pours them drinks, then says that he’s been there all day. He asks Don if he’s “done this before”, and Don calms him with tales of Sally and Bobby’s births. Dennis admires Don’s gold watch, but says he couldn’t have one as a prison guard. This causes Don to ask about life as a guard in Sing Sing, which Dennis describes. Of special note is when Dennis talks about how he sometimes thinks of the prisoners when they were kids, and how they all blame it on their parents, which Don immediately calls a “bullshit excuse”. Dennis agrees.

In a room, we see Betty getting an injection from the nurse, who says that it will put her into a “twilight sleep”. Betty asks for Dr. Aldrich and is told that he was unavailable and that “Dr. Mendello” will fill in. Betty insists on Dr. Aldrich, but the nurse says that she’s “at 5 centimeters, halfway between here and the Hebrides and other mountain ranges, which we are currently studying in chapter 12”. Betty then fades into a dream in which she’s walking down a street and a caterpillar falls into her palm:


Our pleasant dream is interrupted by Don and Dennis, who are manhandling a cigarette machine to get a pack of smokes for Don. Dennis is worried – he’s afraid that if something happens to his wife, how will be be able to love the baby that killed her? “Our worst fears lie in anticipation,” Don says.

Betty continues making problems for the medical team. She calls out for Don, and when the nurses say that he’s in the waiting room, she says that that’s “bullshit… he’s never where you expect him to be”. She then asks the mean nurse if she’s been with him.

Back in the waiting room, Dennis finds out that the delivery went fine, and that both his wife and the baby (a son) are doing well. Don congratulates him, and Dennis says that he (Don) is all right. He then says that Don is an honest guy, and they he knows because he’s an expert. Dennis then wonders why women put up with them, that they don’t deserve it. He says that this is a fresh start, and that he will be a better man because of it. Don stares off into the distance as Dennis walks away.

Betty has another dream. This time she’s still pregnant and walking down the hall of the hospital. She turns a corner and finds herself in her own kitchen. She sees Gene (as the janitor she saw earlier) in a corner, mopping the floor. Gene acts like he doesn’t know her at first, but then turns around and says that yes, it’s him. He says that he had to go away, but that he misses her. He tells Betty that no one knows that he’s here, and continues to mop the floor using the mop, which is now soaked in blood. Betty sees the blood, then asks Gene if she’s dying. He tells her to ask her mother. Betty turns, to see her mother standing next to black man who is seated at the kitchen table. “Shut your mouth, you’ll catch files”, her mom advises her. Betty says that she left her lunch pail on the bus… and that she’s having a baby. She points to the black man and says “see what happens to people who speak up? Be happy with what you have”. Gene says that she’ll be OK, that she’s a “housecat” who’s “important” but has “little to do”.

Betty wakes up, holding a baby:


Betty says that she’s beautiful; Don corrects her: it’s a boy. Betty says that Don looks terrible. He asks her how she feels. She says that she “needs to put her face on”, to which Don says that she’s beautiful. “Gene”, Betty says out of the blue. “His name is Eugene”. Don, not happy with the choice, says that they don’t have to decide on names now.

We then see Don walking in to Sterling Cooper. He secretary asks if he got any sleep. “No, and I don’t expect to for the next six months,” Don quips. He walks in his office and sees a giant pile of presents. The phone rings; it’s Roger Sterling, who is eating a sundae down the hall. Roger asks for the baby’s name (Jane wants to know); Don says that they don’t have one yet. Roger says that there are a lot of people “twittling their thumbs” down in the art department, and that Lane was poking around down there. He says no one will move forward without Don’s approval; Don says that he was only gone a half day. Roger calls Lane a tick, then says he’ll see Don at the “traffic meeting”.

We next see Duck and Peggy in a restaurant. Peggy is visibly excited (“no one ever buys me lunch!” she says). A relaxed Duck wears a turtleneck and sips coffee as Peggy talks. Pete walks in, shocked that Peggy’s there. Duck begs him to “sit down and have a nosh”, and when he does, Peggy says that she didn’t know about Pete being there until just now, either. Duck then paints a picture of Pete and Peggy’s “secret relationship” and how they’ll be able to spread their wings at Grey. Pete says that he’s not going anywhere, but that Peggy can. Peggy asks if they have to go together. Duck says that Sterling Cooper will never reward Pete, who gets up and walks away, but not before telling Duck he’ll have to buy him his own lunch if he wants to woo him. Peggy says that perhaps she should go to. But Duck plays her like a fiddle. “This is your time”, he says.

Back at the Sterling Cooper building, Pete asks Hollis (the black elevator attendant) many questions about his TV and why he bought his specific one. Hollis apparently doesn’t want to talk about it, and Pete tries cherry-picking their conversation to re-enforce his own ideals about Admiral. When Pete starts yammering about the American Dream with Hollis, he realizes that he’s gone too far.

That afternoon, we see Don and the kids outside the hospital, looking up at Betty and the baby who are standing in the window. Later that night, Don cooks some corned beef hash on the stove when Sally walks in. Don asks why she’s up, and she says that she smelled something cooking. Don asks if she wants some; she says yes, then says that she didn’t know he could cook. Don says that Mom does a much better job than he does. Don takes out an egg to crack into the hash, but holds it up to the light. Sally asks if he’s looking for a chick. He says that he is. Sally says that Miss Farrell told them about eggs when they went to the farm, and you’d never find a chick in an egg from the grocery store. Sally then asks if the baby will live in Grandpa Gene’s room; Don says that it’s not Gene’s room, it’s the baby’s. Sally says that she thought it was going to be a girl. Don says “[a]nd I thought you were going to be a boy… not all surprises are bad”. Sally smiles, and the two of them eat their hash.

The next morning, Don visits the hospital. As he walks down a hallway, Dennis walks past, pushing Paula in a wheelchair. Don looks at him as if he’s going to nod, but Dennis immediately looks down.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Pete has two Admiral representatives in the conference room. He lays out his strategy to sell to blacks by advertising in magazines like Ebony and Jet. Despite the fact that the Admiral guys know that “Negroes” are buying their sets, and despite the fact that ad space in black magazines is far cheaper than mainstream ones (making each ad dollars all the more effective), the reps aren’t buying it. Pete then talks about running different TV campaigns targeting both blacks and whites. One of the reps wonders if this is even legal, to which Pete says “of course it is”. The other Admiral executive then wonders if blacks are only buying Admiral sets because they think that white people want them. Pete, hurt by their dismissal of his campaign, looks shellshocked.


Don, napping on his sofa, is interrupted by the buzzing of his intercom. Peggy walks into his office and hands him a gift (which she says are clothes, and she begs Don to not return it “because I was the youngest, and I never had anything new”).  After some quick chit-chat, they get to the heart of the conversation: Peggy wants to be paid equally for her work. She says that she’s paid little, that her secretary doesn’t respect her as she only makes $70 more a week than she does, and that Paul Kinsey gets paid more than she does for work he often doesn’t do nearly as well. Don says that it’s “not a good time”, and that he’s “fighting for paper clips around here”. Don isn’t very… comforting to her at first, but when he sees her looking at the present she brought him he pours her a drink, sits down next to her, and says that she’s going to be OK. Peggy says that she looks at him (Don) and thinks “I want what he has. You have everything… and so much of it”. Don says that that’s probably true, then sips from his drink. He asks her what she wants him to say. Peggy says that she doesn’t think she could be any cleaner. Don asks if she’s seen what’s been going on at the agency for the past six months. Peggy stands up and asks “what if this is my time?”, echoing what Duck said to her at lunch. She turns and walks out the door.

Seeing her leave Don’s office, Pete asks if she told Don about their meeting with Duck. Peggy says that it’s none of his business. Pete says that it’s fine for her to shop herself around, but that he is sharing a job with Ken and is already halfway redundant. She says that he has leverage in the relationships with his clients. Pete asks if she “said something”. Peggy says that it’s her decision; Pete says that her decisions affect him.

Pete is called into Bert cooper’s office, where Lane, Bert and Roger are waiting for him. Roger calls him Martin Luther King and says the he should “drop kick you off the roof”. Bert says that Admiral has no interest in becoming a “colored television company”. Pete says that they already are, and that it’s illogical to him for Admiral to reject new ways to make money. Bert says that it’s a sensitive issue, and Roger asks if Pete knows how many handjobs her’s going to have to give to smooth this over. Pete asks if he’s going to be taken off the account, to which Roger replies that he’s going to pretend that he had Pete killed. Pete says that sales are flat and that he had to do something. Roger reminds him that half the time the advertising business comes down to “I don’t like that guy”. Lane, who has been quiet until now, asks if they’re done with the flogging. Roger quips that it’s “never as good as you think it’s going to be”. Lane says that it does seem that there’s money in the “Negro market”, and perhaps they should pursue it in the future with some other client. Lane says that he just moved here, that he’s a “stranger in a strange land” but that he can feel that America is changing. Bert then dismisses Pete.

We next see Don pulling up in front of the house with Eugene. Francine and the kids come running up, eager to see the new baby. Sally hands Betty some flowers and hugs her, saying that she missed her. Francine says that the fridge is full of food from well wishers. She then asks Betty how the delivery went. Betty says it was “like a fog”. Francine says that she’s crazy for sending Carla (the housekeeper) away; Betty says that Carla hasn’t seen her family in a long time, and that she can manage the house for a while. Don asks her if she wants something to eat. She says “sure” then starts to get up. Don gently pushes her back onto the sofa and says the he has it. He takes the kids with him to the kitchen.

Late that night, we see Don and Betty in bed, then hear the baby crying. Betty gets up to see what’s the matter. She pauses, looking down at the floor… then walks towards the baby’s room.


– This episode takes place on or around June 19, 1963.

– I know this because Miss Farrell mentions the then-recent murder of Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Evers began participating boycotts and other forms of activism in the early 1950s. As president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, Evers began a boycott of gas stations that sold blacks gasoline but refused them use of their bathrooms. Evers applied to the University of Mississippi Law School in 1954, which, backed by Brown vs. Board of Education, effectively desegregated the school. Needless to say, all his activism didn’t go over well with the white residents of Mississippi. He had a Molotov cocktail thrown at his house on May 19, 1963 and was almost run over by a car several days before his murder (which happened on June 12, 1963, hours after President Kennedy’s speech on civil rights that was featured on last week’s episode of Mad Men). Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was tried twice for the murder, but acquitted by all-white juries. Based on new evidence, Beckwith was convicted of the murder on February 5, 1994 and died in prison in 2001.

– Don billed the agency the equivalent of $487.20 for the Baltimore trip, while Sal billed them the equivalent of $570.72. If travel isn’t included, then that does seem to be a lot for an overnight trip!

– Many economists have since decided that perhaps Karl Marx wasn’t a great economist after all. Not only, they argue, is capitalism “a more effective means of generating and redistributing wealth”, but Marx and Engels seemed to ignore the fact that “economic self-interest” appears to be an integral part of the human condition. Marx’s reputation took a further (almost complete) beating with the collapse of most Communist countries, like the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.

– In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco, leaving the Yankees as the only baseball team in town. On July 27, 1959, attorney William Shea announced that he was creating the “Continental League”, a new baseball league. The league tried to get older, established National League teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies to join, but no team was interested. The entire league, in fact, fell through, but the National League offered to let the Continental League’s New York franchise join the league, which they did, taking the field as the New York Mets on April 11, 1962. Their 40–120 record that year would go down as one of the worst in baseball history. Regardless, the Mets were so incompetent (yet so beloved) by their fans that they became known as the “Lovable Losers”.

– Two other Mets-related items: 1) the Mets were founded by Joan Whitney Payson and George Herbert Walker, Jr., uncle of George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States; and 2) younger fans might wonder why some football analysts call the New York Giants football team the “New York Football Giants”. This is because of the aforementioned New York Giants baseball team, which existed in the city from 1885 to 1957, when they moved to San Francisco. It was a common practice in the early days of the NFL  to name football teams after existing baseball teams (the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers) and the short-lived New York Yankees NFL team are but a few examples). Why commentators continue to call them the “football Giants” when the baseball team moved away 52 years ago remains a mystery, however.

Clarence Frank Birdseye II (1886 – 1956) was an American inventor who practically invented the frozen food industry. Humans had long known that freezing foods kept them preserved for a long period of time. But the problem was that most frozen food tasted horrible once thawed and cooked. On a fishing trip, Birdseye was taught the Inuit (Eskimo) method of freezing fish, which involved packing the fish in very thick sheets of ice. The cold ambient temperature of -40F (-40C) froze the fish almost instantly, and Birdseye noticed that this fish, when thawed, tasted almost exactly like fresh fish. Birdseye found that the then-current industrial methods of freezing were far too slow, creating large ice crystals which destroyed cell walls and led to bad taste. By using much lower temperatures, the food would freeze faster, leading to smaller ice crystals, which didn’t destroy cells, and led to much better taste. In 1924, his company, Birdseye Seafoods Inc., went bankrupt due to lack to consumer demand. But Birdseye stuck with it, improving his processes and creating a new company, General Seafood Corporation, which moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1925. There he finally achieved success, moving into meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables in 1927. In 1929, Birdseye sold the company and his patents to Goldman Sachs and the Postum Company (which eventually became General Foods Corporation) for a whopping $22 million (which is $274,110,483 in 2008 dollars!). The new company created a line of foods bearing the Bird’s Eye name, which remains a popular brand to this day.

– Ken’s watch was made by Hamilton Watch Company. Founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892, Hamilton was dedicated from the start to making watches of the highest quality. Hamilton watches became almost instantly famous for their accuracy, and were often known as “railroad watches” because so many were used in the rail industry (where keeping accurate time was important). In 1957, Hamilton began selling the first electric watch, the Hamilton Electric 500 (although Ken is likely wearing the 505, an improved model released in 1961). Sadly, all of Hamilton’s nifty engineering was for naught, because much cheaper (and more reliable and accurate) quartz watches starting hitting the market in 1969. In that year, the company ceased all operations in the US, moving manufacture to Switzerland under Buren, a Hamilton subsidiary. The company was on its last legs, and Buren itself was sold and liquidated in 1972. The Hamilton brand lived on, and is today a brand owned by Swiss giant Swatch.

– Possible Goof: Lane says that “pennies make pounds, and pounds make profits”. He’s obviously using British currency in his example, but British people don’t use the term “pennies” for the plural, they use “pence”. It’s unclear whether this “goof” was intentional or not. It’s possible that they wanted Lane to mix his metaphors, or it’s possible that this is just a slip-up.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British film based on a 1952 French novel of (almost) the same name by Pierre Boulle (the novel is The Bridge Over the River Kwai). It’s a fictionalized account of the building of the Burma Railway by the Japanese in World War II. Over 60,000 Allied POWs were used to build the railway, almost 20% of whom died in the endeavor. Much of film is about the Allied officers trying to boost the morale of their subordinates and enlisted men. The film is famous for the “Colonel Bogey March”, which the British soldiers defiantly whistle as they enter the POW camp for the first time.

– William Holden plays Commander Shears of the U.S. Navy in the film. Shears is actually an enlisted man who swapped uniforms with a dead officer in hopes of getting better treatment from the Japanese in the POW camp. Does that sound like anyone we know?

– Did we know that Ducks’ real name is Herman before this episode? I believe we did, but I can’t be arsed to look it up.

– Wow… Suzanne Farrell really wants some Don Draper, huh? She almost seemed to be in heat during that call. Curiously, Don seemed to have no interest in her (for now), but then told Betty that “no one” was on the phone. Was Don simply trying to cut the conversation short due to Betty’s medical situation, or was he hiding that Suzanne called?

– The first time we see Don in the waiting room at the hospital, we hear news about the funeral of Medgar Evers on the TV in the background. This is how I dated the episode.

– In a breech birth, the baby is turned around backwards, so that the feet emerge first instead of the head. This is problematic because umbilical cord prolapse may occur (a compression of the umbilical cord which cuts off oxygen to the baby, causing death or brain damage).

– The bottle of Scotch that Dennis pulls out in the waiting room is clearly Johnnie Walker Red Label. Johnnie Walker Red was the favorite Scotch of Winston Churchill, who mixed it with soda.

– Jeez – were all nurses that dismissive and bitchy back in 1963? Hospitals aren’t exactly known for their cheery customer service, but the nurses in this episode were downright hostile to their patients. If I saw that nurse acting as she did towards my wife, I’d slap her. Hard.

– Dennis works at Sing Sing prison, which is also located in Ossining (as mentioned in previous Mad Men posts, the village of Ossining was originally known as Sing Sing after the Sinck Sinck tribe from whom the land was purchased in 1865). Construction began on the prison in 1825, and it’s still in use today. After San Francisco’s Alcatraz, Sing Sing might be the most famous prison in America, and the “Sing Sing” name is often used as a generic term for prison. The prison also led to the slang phrase “up the river” (for “being sent to prison”), since most of its inmates were from New York City and sent by barge up the river to the prison.

– The ad Don tears out of the magazine is for a 1963 Pontiac. It’s unclear why Don does this…. maybe to show Sal that illustration isn’t dead (Pontiac would use illustrations exclusively in its ads from 1959 to 1971). Or maybe he’s in the market for a new car (the Drapers have a Cadillac Coupe de Ville and a Mercury Colony Park station wagon). However, the Pontiac would be a strange choice: it’s too much of a muscle car to replace Betty’s three year-old wagon, and it seems a big step down for Don, who’s used to driving a Cadillac. In any case, most of the Pontiac illustrations were done a team called Van and Fitz; read more about them here.

Twilight sleep is induced by an injection of morphine and scopolamine. The semi-narcotic state caused by the drug generates an amnesic condition in which the recipient experiences childbirth either without pain, or the ability to remember pain, or both. It is especially used in childbirth, since the process requires that the mother be conscious.

– Mama Leone’s was a famous Italian restaurant in Manhattan’s theater-district. Opened in 1906, the restaurant was sold in 1959 and later closed under somewhat mysterious (to me) circumstances. It closed in 1987, then was scheduled to reopen in a new location in March, 1988. However, it either never came back (a shame for a restaurant that took in $12 million in the year before it closed), or it came back and failed. I swear I ate there in 1991… However, information about the restaurant is a bit lacking on the Internet for some reason. In any case, its Broadway location meant that Mama Leone’s was popular with the tourist trade, and many visiting Americans got their first taste of Italian food at Mama Leone’s. Their 1967 cookbook – with a foreword by Dwight D. Eisenhower! – is still available for purchase here.

– What’s up with the nurse’s “halfway between here and the Hebrides” comment? I get that Betty is about to go under, so the comment could be tossed away as gibberish… but what does it mean? As Betty notes, the Hebrides are a group of islands off the coast of Scotland, but as far as I know the actual mountains on them have other names. If one said that he was “going to the Hebrides”, most British people (and any Americans who know about them) would think “islands”, not “mountains”. Is this a reference to Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse, or Felix Mendelssohn’s famous overture? Or am I just reading too much into this?

– Possible Anachronism: When the nurse helps Don and Dennis get the cigarettes out of the machine, Dennis says “thank you, sister” to her. Calling nurses “sister” was once a common practice in the UK, where hospitals were often run the Church. Although Henry VIII almost ran the Catholic Church completely out of England, many hospitals were still run by holy orders, and even if they weren’t people still called the nurses “sisters” as a custom. Over time, this practice has faded away. In the Victorian era, it became common to only refer to head nurses as “sister”, regardless of their religious status. It wouldn’t be completely out of place for someone in 2009 England to call a nurse “sister”, but it would seem very old fashioned. I do not know if this practice carried over to the United States (I’ve never heard of it, but I grew up in the almost Catholic-free South), but it’s possible that people in Catholic areas still called nurses “sister” in 1963.

– There was a fair amount of confusion on a few message boards about the identity of the black man in Betty’s second dream. Some even wondered if it was Ruth’s secret lover! It was actually Medgar Evers, something that Ruth’s “see what happens to people who speak up?” comment should have made clear.

– “Nosh” comes from the Yiddish word nashn, which itself comes from the Middle High German naschen, which meant “to eat on the sly”. The term dates to at least 1931, and would have been used freely in New York’s Jewish community, and known to the more cosmopolitan non-Jews in the city. The Grey agency is either “hip” or has many Jews on the payroll (or both, as Duck’s turtleneck would indicate).

– I’m a bit confused by the timeline after Pete’s conversation with Hollis. We see Don and the kids looking up at a window at Betty and the baby in the hospital room, but then we see Don making what I suppose is a midnight snack of corned beef hash (it’s completely dark and Don asks Sally what she’s doing up). Did Don leave Sterling Cooper after coming in at noon, then pick up the kids and take them to the hospital?

– Remember field trips? Has liability insurance and legislatively-mandated classroom time killed them?

– It might seem hard to believe, but “racially targeted advertising” didn’t exist until the late 1960s. Of course, black companies had long advertised their products in black publications, but large American companies didn’t begin doing the same until after liquor and tobacco companies had huge success with it in the late 1960s. In spite of Pete’s rock-solid business logic, his Admiral plan was just too early for its time.

– In Don’s office, Peggy talks about the “new law” that says that they have to pay her the same wages as the men. She’s referring to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In the law, Congress listed these reasons why it was passing the legislation: It (unequal pay) “depresses wages and living standards for employees necessary for their health and efficiency; it prevents the maximum utilization of the available labor resources; it tends to cause labor disputes, thereby burdening, affecting, and obstructing commerce; it burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; and it constitutes an unfair method of competition”. Despite a huge rise in women’s salaries since the law went into effect, as of 2004, women were still only getting paid around 80% of what men were getting paid in the same job.

Information from Eugene’s birth certificate:

– Eugene Scott Draper was born in June 21, 1963 at 4:58 (or 4:50) AM.

– Eugene’s birth certificate number is 156-62-104709.

– The Drapers live at 42 Bullet Park Road in Ossining, New York.

– Betty was born in Cape May, New Jersey and was 31 when Eugene was born.

– The real Don Draper was apparently born in California.

Here’s a screencap of the birth certificate, taken from a 720p source:

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

– Although Stranger in a Strange Land is the name of a 1961 sci-fi novel Robert A. Heinlein, chances are that Lane was referring to Exodus 2:22: “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.” (KJV)

– Isn’t it sweet how Sally hugged Betty? No matter how cold and cruel parents can be, kids still love them.


I will always refer to Betty’s father as “Gene” and Betty’s newest son as “Eugene” to minimize any confusion between the two characters.


Now this is the Mad Men I love! Watching this episode, I finally figured out what the problem was: episodes 1-4 are just… TV. Fine TV, mind you, but plain old TV all the same.

Episode 5 brought it all back home again. It was lyrical, poetic, important, and focused on “Big Issues”, but in the Mad Men’s traditional, non-judgemental sense. So many TV shows and movies take history and beat you over the head with it (for example, the recent sci-fi film District 9 practically beat viewers to death with an “apartheid is bad” stick). This episode made me think, and that’s why Mad Men does so much better than most any other show on TV these days.

I hated to see Duck back, and I hope that his plans to snag Peggy and Pete blow up in his face… especially when it comes to Peggy. I think in the end, if she gets an offer from Grey, she’ll be able to take it to Don, who will fight for her against Bert, Roger and Lane. Hopefully.

It’s sometimes amazing to see how much has changed just in my lifetime. When I was a kid, my father sometimes took me to a diner near his work. Sometimes we’d park in the back, and I saw the “colored restrooms” which, since I was born in 1971, were now used for storage. To come from that to a black president is certainly something.

As always, I can’t wait until next week!

6 Replies to “Mad Men: “The Fog””

  1. it’s possible that people in Catholic areas still called nurses “sister” in 1963.

    Actually, that wouldn’t have been so unusual

    There were more than a few Catholic hospitals in the 1960’s. The hospital I was born in (1961) was one and the nuns played a large role in running them. In fact, my dad (a Catholic) recounted how he made it clear to the staff that if the delivery went bad and it came down to a choice between saving the mother or the baby, he wanted them to save my mother. He was adamant because he knew the general practice was to save the child.

    Nowadays, the hospitals may carry the name (St. Joseph’s, say), but the Catholic influence isn’t as strong.

  2. Right. But in England, they used to call ALL nurses “sister”, even if they weren’t nuns. What I’m wondering is if that was ever practiced in the the US. I figured if it was, they might do it at Catholic hospitals.

  3. Jim-I love reading your very in depth Mad Men recaps. I usually feel like I only saw half of the show! A couple of things-do you think Betty crushes the caterpillar in her dream? Also I fear for the new baby’s life the way Betty is acting-that pause in the hallway was very creepy to me. Or maybe Sally might do something? Thanks for all of your research-it’s added to my enjoyment and appreciation of the show.

  4. Hi Steve!

    I don’t think that Betty crushes the caterpillar in the dream, but that’s only because of the expression on her face and the way she’s holding her hand. She could certainly have done so “off screen” in the dream, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for her to do so, since that would have been the whole point of the dream sequence, right?

    I don’t think that Betty will do anything to Eugene, although you’re right that that scene was a bit unsettling. However, the Lipp Sisters seem to think that she is still mourning for her father, and she paused to let the baby cry for her. This is backed up by “Betty Drapers” Twitter feed, which says “Screaming @gene_s_draper woke me out of dream about Daddy again.”

    I also don’t think that Sally would do anything to Eugene, but all the emphasis they’re putting on her this season makes me wonder what they’re up to. It’s POSSIBLE that they could have a jealous Sally kill Eugene; that would make for some serious “Draper drama”. I say this because I don’t think they’d turn Betty into a crazy woman that we despise; it’s much easier for them to turn a confused Sally into an “innocent killer” than Betty. But I still think either is unlikely. But that’s just me.

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