All My Buttons

Buttons aren’t what they used to be. Back in the day, any political campaign, radio station or pop culture phenomenon worth its salt would have a collection of buttons associated with it. No more. I don’t think, short of Family Literacy Day, a late holdout, I’ve seen a new button in years. If the Internet has killed a medium, I think it’s this one.

Pictured here are the remnants of my button collection, started in the mid-1970s and last added to in a serious way in 1984 when I covered the Liberal leadership convention for my local newspaper (this was the one where Chretien lost and Turner won — see the left side of the montage for Don Johnston, Mark MacGuigan, Eugene Whelan, John Munro and Chretien buttons, along with a runaway Rosemary Brown button from the NDP.)

Click on the image to order a Biggie Size version.
All My Buttons

Other things you’ll notice: in the lower left corner there are some radio station buttons — CJJD (Hamilton), CHUM and CJRT (Toronto) and FM108 (Burlington); some technology buttons in the upper centre — I Adore My 64 was an ad slogan for the Commodore 64 computer; a good collection of pro-library and pro-water buttons, reflecting my parents’ vocations; several YMCA buttons in the lower-right; the Cardinal Tours buttons from the trip my grandmother and my brother Mike and I took to New York City in 1978; in the top-right a Ben Fernandez for President button (who was he?).

My favourite, and the reason for digging out the old button box, us is the button lower-centre, which is printed with only “This is my ZAP button” for reasons only know to history. I’m going to see if I can get copies of this made for the big Zap conference next month.

It is my secret love of button and badge culture that has to date prevented me from writing a snide, vitriolic piece about our DVA workers and their identification tags, worn morning, noon and night (seemingly) both in and out of DVA. But I’m not being snide nor vitriolic. So, goofy-looking tag-bearers, in the name of the Fonz, I salute you.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on September 25, 2003 - 01:02 Permalink

I’m a TRS-80 Owner!” is my favourite.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on September 25, 2003 - 02:04 Permalink

That is a stellar button collection. I’m personally fond of the one’s starring the Fonz.

thanx for sharing.

Alan's picture
Alan on September 25, 2003 - 03:40 Permalink

Mine are all a little later punky new wavey — “White Dopes on Punk”, the Undertones and band who played “Turning Japanese” — though my “Down With Homework” all tin one from my older brother’s kindergarten years is a prize. Do you recall being able to buy them at Macs like hockey cards in wrappers so you never knew what you were getting — memory very dim of that.

Your best for me is the Whalen from the ‘84. Green cowboy hat. Best speech a Liberal ever gave. I have looked for copies of it on the internet in vain.

Cynthia's picture
Cynthia on September 25, 2003 - 03:46 Permalink

The one with Snoopy smoking a cigar with the word “Cool” on it. Now that’s dated.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on September 25, 2003 - 12:18 Permalink

Pro-water? Were there Anti-Water buttons around too?

For some reason I really want to go to Nashua…or Peter Science School.

Ian Williams's picture
Ian Williams on September 25, 2003 - 22:42 Permalink

I really like the “Sit On It” button with the Fonz’s thumb outstretched — lends to some pretty nasty visions.

The Beatles button, if it’s a 1963 original, is worth some $$$.

Also, the “Zap” button was created because “zap” was a new catchword right around 1968-70 with the advent of wireless technology (remotes, lasers, etc.), sort of like “sock it to me” from Laugh-In. John Lennon yells “Zap!” on the White Album.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on September 25, 2003 - 23:11 Permalink

From the OED

zap (___), int. slang (orig. U.S.).
1. Used to represent the sound of a ray gun, laser, bullet, etc.; also fig., expressing any sudden or dramatic event.
1929 P. F. Nowlan in Washington Post 7 May 16/3 Ahead of me was one of those golden dragon Mongols, with a deadly disintegrator ray… Br-r-rr-r-z-zzz-zap.
1962 Amer. Speech XXXVII. 288 The jokester, pretending to be a creature from outer space, pointed his cosmic ray gun (finger) at his friend

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on September 25, 2003 - 23:23 Permalink

What I thought was noteworthy in the above is

a) “Zap” actually predates Lennon by about six decades

b) “Zap your PRAM” may have been preceded by “Zap your PROM” and in any event predates Macs

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on September 25, 2003 - 23:46 Permalink

That said, I suppose Mac’s momma, Lisa, was in development at the time of that first citation in the OED. So it’s conceivable to me that “zap your PRAM” could have been coined in an Apple design room in a Lisa context perpetuated in Macs, that this usage could have been first generalized and then re-particularized to “zap your PROM” outside Apple, and that then it could have reached the ears of a Times of London reporter in that form all by January 1982. Perhaps there’s a dissertation in this for the right person.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on September 26, 2003 - 13:02 Permalink

What I thought was noteworthy in the above was that we might become sterile by getting our “PRAM” Zapped!

steeni's picture
steeni on December 15, 2004 - 21:25 Permalink

Hey there
I can totally say your collection kicks ass! I’ve recently realized that the button fad has been reintroduced by the ‘youngens’! I’m kind of glad cuz buttons are a great example of self expression. Thanks so much.

The Big M/Mark Panopoulos's picture
The Big M/Mark ... on February 24, 2019 - 12:57 Permalink

Always on the hunt to see who has a great button collection, especially with ones from radio stations, thank you for sharing!