Sunday, February 24, 2019

Glossy Time Capsules #4: The American Magazine - 1938

Glossy Time Capsules #4

The American Magazine
October, 1938
Price: 25 cents

If the pages of this magazine are true reflections of that time period, I can conclude that the people of 1938 were obsessed with four things...

Obsession #1: Clean Teeth

Obsession #2: Looking Young

Obsession #3: Staying Regular

Obsession #4: Death & Destruction

So... pretty much the same things people are obsessed with now. Minus the smartphones.

And the people of 1938 worried. Boy, did they worry. They were worried about their parties being ruined by rogue saltshakers...


Actually, some of the fears from back then were a little scarier than obstinate salt. In the following feature, the magazine's editors asked readers to send them letters detailing some of their worries and concerns in life.

Some of them are a bit silly. Oscar A. Erickson's fear that chatty women will get caught in closing elevator doors is thoughtful, I suppose, but he seems more interested in shaming said women than trying to help them. Curly Harris is clearly just trying to punk the magazine. And Mrs. Tony Knecht is so busy taking care of, feeding, and educating her seven children that she barely has time to worry... but she does have time to write letters to magazines. She's like an early version of the Woeful Facebook Mom.

A lot of the other worries more legit, though, and are full of apt late-30s foreboding...

Oh, Helen M. Waldo, how right you are... uh, were.

Cheer up, Dr. Clawson! The 1950s are on their way! I mean, Cold and Korean Wars aside, that decade is usually looked upon pretty favorably by nostalgians.

Japan, Germany, Italy, and... South America?? Two out of four isn't bad, Mrs. Spear II.

Oh, Dr. Parsons... The youth of your day weren't interested in crime! You know what they WERE interested in...?


Make toast, not war.

Speaking of children, it seems that pleasing them was some parents' priority, even back in 1938....

"If you have boys or girls in this eager throng, don't let their blithe spirits be troubled by inferior tools for hand and brain. Give them the Pen that will start them off on even terms with any other student."

Listen. You could give your kids all the pens in the world, and they still wouldn't equal the classmates whose parents gifted them one of THESE:

 Heck yeah.

Meanwhile, parents be like....

Like sands through the hourglass... so are the days of our lives.

Also of concern to parents, it seems, was keeping kids warm....

But if the heaters broke down and the footie pajamas didn't cut it, there was (and is) always a change of scenery to consider...

* * *

Apparently Kleenex ads were in their early stages... no poshness or pink frills, here.

Weirdness, though? Why, yes....

* * *

One fun feature in this magazine was the "Why Don't They?" page, where people wrote in with ideas for things that should be a thing, but were not yet so.

And the crazy thing? Some of these things, 80 years later, STILL haven't been actualized.

Those three up there are all really good ideas! WHY ARE NOT THEY REAL?

Toy cows. Right. Hey, at least they DID start making berry baskets out of plastic. Wilma S. Jefford, R.I.P., thank you for your valuable suggestion.

* * *

The American Magazine was full of short stories. I've tried reading some of them, and have only found myself feeling angry. However, the artwork is delightful! Here are a few examples...

Well, nobody likes murderers roaming their hotels, Mignon.

* * *

Not surprisingly, there are several pages of ads in the back of this magazine. What is surprising is how many of them reek of the "WORK FROM HOME!" and "MAKE $1,000 A WEEK!" schemes & scams that are prevalent today. Maybe economic depressions bring these out in force. Here are a few....

Thankfully, not all the ads were of that type. Some really just wanted you to buy a product... 

* * *

And what would a magazine be without at least ONE contest?

"I take Ovaltine as a Regular 'Nightcap' Because I Want To Live Forever," writes Molly Patton, of Portland, OR. "So far, it seems to be working."

* * *


The best thing about this issue might just be this article:

Fun fact: Cocker Spaniels were the #1 dog in the U.S. from 1936 to 1953. They enjoyed a brief resurgence in the late 80s and early 90s before dropping down the list again.

Currently, the #1 dog breed in this country is the Labrador Retriever.

Cocker Spaniels sit at #29.

Go, Poodles, go!

I just wonder...

If the people back then could have been told about the advent of the Yorkipoo, the Labradoodle, the Pomsky, the Gerberian Shepsky, and the Pugmation... would their minds have been blown?

I vote yes.