Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vintage Magazines

I've been at a district-wide staff development for the last 2 days.  I heard some great speakers, attended some really good sessions about teaching strategies, programs, and inquiry learning.  It was a great 2 days...but my mind was mush after sitting on my heiny for so many hours.  One of the sessions featured a professional text that I really wanted to read, so when the conference ended, I headed over to the local bookstore to purchase it.  While wandering around the book store, I stumbled upon a display of vintage magazines, primarily Life and The Saturday Evening Post.  They were wrapped in sealed plastic sleeves, so all I could see were the front and back covers.  I guess it was enough of a peek to sell me, as I purchased three.

A long time back I wrote about a thrift store find that I really didn't know anything about - the Taylor Stormoguide.  It was only after finding a copy of a vintage advertisement that I discovered how this odd instrument was used and its significance during World War II.  I began to wonder what gem nuggets I might find among the pages of the magazines I saw before me.  

Life magazine, December 3, 1945, was my first choice.  How could I possibly go wrong with an issue that featured one of my all-time favorite actors, Spencer Tracy.    

With World War II ending just months earlier, many of the advertisements mentioned their limited supply and alerted consumers that with restored production their product would soon be more readily available.

An ad for electric blankets read, "...for G.E. Blankets are being made again, after four years of turning out 'electrically-warm' flying clothes exclusively for our Air Forces." 

An ad for a Smith-Corona portable typewriter read, "The immediate supply is of course extremely limited, but production should increase rapidly over the next few months." 

From anti-freeze to rubber tires, patriotic Americans were asked to be patient, frugal, and supportive while  industry and production were restored.  "There's an even more limited supply available than last year, because the Armed Forces still require so much non-boil-away anti-freeze."  

Of course ads for products that I now rescue from the junk piles were particularly of interest to me, "'ll find Samsonite luggage the favorite traveling companion of our men and women in uniform.  They've been doing rugged jobs, and they appreciate rugged luggage."  And clearly we can all agree that Samsonite luggage was, and still is, built to last.  The many pieces I have in my collection have withstood the test of time and untold use through decades.  We salute you, Samsonite!

An advertisement for Flexible Flyer sleds and skis is perhaps my favorite, "There won't be many new Flexible Flyer sleds this winter.  So what better can we do than repeat last year's suggestion to dust off that outgrown Flexible Flyer in your cellar and give it to some boy or girl?"  And that's the thing isn't it?  Back in the 1940s, companies built quality products that could, and would, last through generations, and people were willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.

The second magazine heralds from November, 1950.  The United States now had troops in Korea.  A 2-page spread shows "...a determined Marine does a striptease in reverse in Korean winter uniforms..." to reassure Americans that its troops were properly clothed after reports circulated that they were fighting in summer uniforms.

This ad brought to mind an image of my father standing outside a mess tent while serving in Korea.  I'm glad to see that Dad seems well-clothed and warm.  But most of all I'm incredibly thankful someone captured this moment in Dad's life.

 Another important moment captured was this one above.  Snapped just after my parents wedding ceremony in 1954.  My father met my mother while in Air Force training in North Dakota.  Upon his return they were married; they've been married for over 50 years now - built to last.

The third magazine is The Saturday Evening Post, December 12, 1959.  Though the U.S. was not at war, conflict was brewing in Vietnam.

The advertisement that made the purchase of this issue well worth its $3 price is a full-page Kodak camera ad.  Its slogan, 'Kodak suggests a "Give and Take' Christmas!" is accompanied by six  new cameras.  Two of the featured cameras are in my collection.  It gives me a great point of reference when trying to properly date them.  "Imagine the lasting joy they can give!" the ads shouts.  I'm so glad people listened, because some 50+ years later I am the benefactor of that promised lasting joy.  The above photo of my parents on such a momentous occasion is proof positive.

The three magazines purchased provided not only great advertisements referencing the things I love to collect, they provided a reteaching of American history (1945 - 1959).  That part of history textbooks often leave out - a real sense of what was happening day to day here at home during some of our nation's most troubled times.

All in all the three-day training was a success.  A couple of sessions about the importance of independent, free-choice reading and inquiry learning led me to conducting my own research with vintage magazines and advertisements as my resources.  

All photos taken by Paulette Rodriguez.  
Permission to post vintage advertisements obtained.  

Flexible Flyer Advertisement.  Life 3 Dec. 1945: 96. Print.
Kodak Cameras Advertisement.  Saturday Evening Post 12 Dec. 1959: n. pag. Print.
Prestone Anti-Freeze Advertisement.  Life 3 Dec. 1945: 67. Print.
Samsonite Luggage Advertisement.  Life 3 Dec. 1945: 69. Print.
Smith-Corona Typewriter Advertisement.  Life 3 Dec. 1945: 65. Print.

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