Sunday, January 27, 2019

Glossy Time Capsules: An Introduction



I find vintage magazines fascinating. They're like skinny time capsules from years past, years I never got to experience personally.

While Life magazine is interesting and old Hollywood magazines are a riot, I particularly like domestic magazines like Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens. Within their pages, for any given year, I can find a flood of information about the time period, including:

*The fashions (often horrifying)

*What stuff cost (bless those included 3-cent-off coupons!)

*The crazy things people thought were cool (that we laugh at now, of course)

*What was new back then (and that we take for granted now)

*Attitudes people had (conclusion: sliiightly more sexist than today)

*Advertising at its finest (and corniest)

*Toys kids played with (and the inevitable question: "How quickly was THAT recalled?")

*Jokes people thought were funny (ummm... nope)

*What home interiors looked like 

And much, much more.

Sure, you have to take everything you see and read in these magazines with a grain of salt. I mean, the Kohler company may have approved of this monstrosity...


but how many actual humans were crazy enough to actually buy a blue toilet and paint red stripes in their home bathroom? (I really hope that answer is not many.)

Add to that the fact that magazines, as a rule, try to present things in the best light. The human faces you see are often models, rather than ordinary folks. The home interiors on their pages are clutter-free and pristine. And the only messy clothes you'll see are in ads for detergent.

So okay, maybe these magazines aren't totally reflective of how things actually were. But at least they can give us some clues.

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