Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reading Vintage Magazines: Good Housekeeping, May1958

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice my posts that frequently feature my love for vintage magazines. I would much rather read a Better Homes and Gardens from the 1950s than I would a modern day publication. The vintage magazines are a history lesson, a flashback of sorts to a lifestyle I'm infatuated with, and a way for me to learn how to mimic the fashion and home life that I adore.

In my Tonight's Reading blog posts, I'll share with you more than just the cover of the magazine. You'll get a lesson in history, a surprise and a giggle from the graphics and jingles in the advertisements, and an exclusive peek into the articles that I read from them. How does that sound?

Ready? Our first reading is an issue of Good Housekeeping from May, 1958.

The most noticeable ads in this issue marked the popularity of wash and wear clothing. I love that the institute at GH not only provided examples of new wash and wear clothing to buy and try, but how to launder each type. Did you know that you could purchase a wash and wear suit for men? All it would require was a touch up with the iron if you followed the wash and dry settings and instructions. You also were advised to launder frequently, as build up of stain and soil could ruin the fabric and make it harder to clean. Wash and wear was truly meant to be just that...wash, wear, and wash again while you own it! Here's a neat video about how cool it was to "wash and wear."

Did you know that highway billboards were frowned upon and most cities did not allow lots of advertising, if any, on major state highways and turnpikes? How interesting! We see billboards all the time trying to persuade us to stop here or there, buy this or that, and even rent your own billboard for your own advertising. The Ohio Turnpike, in particular, signed a covenant with the owners of property in which the seller of property around the turnpike could not erect billboards on the property that he chose to keep. Families wanted to focus on the peacefulness and tranquility of travel rather than be distracted by busy billboards (1952). In 1957, it was found that in 241 miles of the turnpike, only 7 billboards were present! Wow!

It seems that some things never change. Of course, being a teacher, I had to read the article, "The Soft Curriculum," written by a former teacher. The article focuses on a "crisis" of sorts that education was focusing more on softer subjects, such as home economics, sales, and agriculture, when instead the focus should be on more mathematics, Englsh, and science course work. The article claims the standard for education at that time was very low and that to succeed, we needed to step up the game in the classroom. I believe that is pretty much the same idea we are still hearing now...although in my district, I think we are keeping up very well. It claims that the US is "scandously" wasting its human resources. Interesting. I hear you, Dr. Bestor.


The feature article I chose to share is about someone I haven't paid much attention to lately, and honestly, I'm not even sure it's still a column in the newspaper! Dear, Abby, started as a column in a San Francisco newspaper by Abigail Van Buren, born as Pauline Phillips, and, yes, the letters are real! Yay! Did you ever wonder that? Little did Abby know that she would be scooped up by a syndicate and spend her days with more letters than she thought she could possibly reply to.

Dear, Abby: Our daughter-in-law was married in January. Five months later she had a nine-pound baby girl. She said the baby was premature. Tell me, can a baby this big be that early? 

Dear Wondering: The baby was on time. The wedding was late. Forget it. 

I didn't realize that people of all ages wrote to Abby in the beginning, and most letters are so funny that it's hard to believe they aren't made up; but, they are real. Kids that were miserable with their parents rules and teens that were worried about telling secrets would write in for help from Abby. Even in the 50s, nothing was off limits, including relationships.

Dear Abby:  I'm 19 years old and not very experienced, but my mother told me to be careful of men with mustaches. Is there any truth in this?

Dear Anita: Yes, she's right...and also be careful of men without them. 

Sadly, Abby died last year at the age of 94 from what is believed to be Alzheimer's.

Quick Tips and Facts from 1958 (all quoted from Good Housekeeping, May 1958):

  1. Never use a makeshift ladder someone has nailed together from boards and materials-at-hand. 
  2. An average weekly income for manicurists is $50 to $65, including tips, but it could go as high as $90 or $100 in, for example, a top-priced hotel barbershop in a large city.
  3. If you are going to watch TV westerns, you need to know the vocabulary to go along with it, such as "tree a town." Also known as "hurrah a town." Tearing a town apart and making the folks therein hide out. Not always done by outlaws.
  4. What's so special about a Rolls-Royce? 
    1. You can't buy a Rolls that is completely factory new. Each car has been given a thorough, 4000-mile break-in before leaving England.
    2. Most American automobiles carry a 90-day guarantee. A Rolls is guaranteed for three years.
  5. If you are a young mother: To cut your baby girl's bangs evenly: with an eyebrow pencil and using a tape measure as a guide, draw a straight line across her forehead. Comb her hair over her forehead. Then, holding the scissors close to the skin, cut along the pencil line. 

And, there you have it! A quick peek into a year you may not be able to recall or that you didn't live through. If you'll join my email list by adding your email to the box at the top of my blog, you'll get an exclusive high resolution scan of an advertisement and a recipe published in this issue sent straight to you in my next newsletter! The images in old advertising are always a conversation piece and make great and unique art for walls and journals and scrapbooks.

Have you read a vintage publication lately? I'll see you next time with a new issue!

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