Saturday, March 17, 2018



            After WWII it was the Cold War and The Bomb that fed the country’s paranoia.  Most publications back then featured stories about communism and the iron curtain.  Schools would practice bomb drills and there were civil defense shelters.  There was a certain level of fear in the background of society as people went about their daily routine. 
            Germany had been divided into sectors by the allies and they were to govern Germany.  The idea was to prevent another war with the Germans.  A different type of war evolved.  The Communists of Russia had different notions on how to rule the world.  The communists spread their sphere of influence across Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.  The Soviet Empire spread communism across the land creating more fear in the states. 
            East Germany was cut off from the rest of the world by the Iron Curtain.  Berlin was in the Russian sector but it had been divided into sectors and the allies had control of a portion of Berlin.  No longer were roadways open across East Germany, the Russians had closed off land travel.  Aircraft became the mode to get in and out of Berlin.  Another dagger of fear had been driven in fabric of the Free World. 

            Fear of communism was wide spread across Europe and North America.  The fear of the Communists rivaled the fear of the Fascists.  Many did not see much difference between the two extremes of oppression.  The communists wantonly killed their opponents like the fascists did.  Under communism, quality of life fell to a miserable level. 
            Poverty in Russia had increased under communism.  People were going hungry.  There were few jobs available.  Getting out from under the communists thumb became of Paramount importance for many stuck behind the Iron Curtain.  Food was flown into East Berlin because of the Russian blockade in East Germany.  It was tense moments in the world because of the actions by Russia. 
            The war with the Axis powers was still fresh in the minds of many.  The tremendous destructive power of the nuclear bombs had rattled the bones of many people.  Here the communists were oppressing people worse then Halter had.  The stench of another war was on the horizon. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Live Like Lucy

          The head line for the ad, read, Live Like Lucy, how effective was it?  Back in the 50’s, probably very effective.  The cover for Life magazine had a picture of the Arnaz family featuring Lucy.  So it probably grabbed more than a few customers.
          Television during the 50’s opened up more doors for advertisers.  Now customers could see how the Hollywood types lived.  So many people want to emulate the rich and the TV gave the average person a glimpse into how the rich and famous lived. 
          No longer was it just voices coming over the radio, now one could watch these voices and didn’t have to wait for the latest magazine to come with pictures of the stars.  The world of instant gratification was on it s way.  Click the on switch and Hollywood showed in a flickering screen in all its glory.
          Stars of the little screen had more ways to make money, they could promote products, travel the country promoting their shows as they promoted the products.  The effect of the media on the masses was just beginning.  Advertisers were exercising a new control over consumers that they had never experienced before.  The media was growing in influence over the masses that watched the little screen of television. 

          Live Like Lucy, was but one way the mass medium influenced people’s decisions.  The influence of the mass media was just taking root in the lives of people. 
          Not only was Lucy being used to sell magazines, she was also selling furniture and a lifestyle. 
          Side note, look at the price of the bedroom set.


Saturday, February 17, 2018


Male Vanity

            Looking good for the job and or interview, has been a way for decades.  After the war, during the 50’s, jobs were shifting.  No longer was it a work a day job, rather it was becoming a formal job, in offices and clerks in nice department stores.  Serving the public, lots of employers were asking that their workers dress up for the job. 

            Clothes manufacturers began to pander to this vanity in men when they advertised their clothing.  Wearing nice shoes became just as important as having a dress shirt where the collar behaved.  A starched cotton collar has a tendency to curl up at the points after the top button is hooked.  All types of gadgets were tried to keep the collar in place.  Collar stays of all types were made for that distinctive look a man would want. 
            Upscale shirt manufacturers began putting a small plastic tab in the points of the collar to hold it in place when a tie was worn.  This tiny piece of plastic caught the attention of the man who had the starched shirt and tie.  Here was a way the working man could look nice and keep things in their place with little effort. 
            Working in a department store, what the store clerk was wearing would impact the choice of the customer the clerk was helping.  Like today, image is very important with customers.  During the 50’s the work force was predominately male.  Most women left their war jobs and married their homeys to raise a family.  The husband was the primary bread winner and the woman stayed at home taking care of the family. 

            The fabric of American society during the 50’s had their ideals, just like every generation has their way of wanting to live. 
            Clothing makes the man, as the saying went.  Clothing does create an image and for many was it comfortable?  Footwear became just as important to being comfortable.  Large shoe manufacturers, advertised style as much as they did comfort, even the manufacturers of soles for shoes advertised their wares.  The shoe cobbler was still in business back then and repairing shoes was more common then replacing them. 
            In choosing clothes, vanity so often overruled, being practical.  When the garment manufacturer could satisfy both vanity and practical, they had a winner. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018



It is amazing to sit back and look at the world of electronics and electricity has taken society.  If ya wanted to talk with someone years ago, hook the horse up and ride over and talk with the neighbor.  Then came the talking machine, ring, ring…. Hi .. is this Alexander?  With some effort and the aid of singing wires, you could talk to your neighbor in the next town.  The isolation of life was coming to an end and soon the singing wires would reach round the world. 

During WWII, communications was critical among the troops and their commanders.  Phone lines were difficult to lay, so radio communications was polished up and information was radioed back to headquarters’ via various relays.  At the end of the war, lots of this new technology became available to the public. 

One could pick up the phone and dial directly without having to call Maggie the operator first to connect ya to Mildred.  With transcontinental cables one could make phone calls from coast to coast.  The singing wires of the telegraph no longer had a monopoly on communications.  The phone allowed people to make phone calls in the comfort of their homes.  News from around the world was almost instantaneous...   

Technology was transforming how society interacted.  The war had created massive machines of destruction but it had also brought machines to change how people lived.  Before the war, a telephone was a luxury item.  After the war, mass production and the stringing of more lines, the phone became available to all at an affordable price. 

This was also the beginning of the computer age.  Look where that has taken us.  Our phone is now personal, wireless, television, video calls and world wide web is available. 

Until the phone came along, letters the primary method of correspondence and dispatches.  Even with the telegraph, one had to write out the message and because of the rates, words were few and very precise.  The pen is still around but writing has lost is glamour.  The art of letter writing is becoming a dim memory.  One can pull out their phone, send a text, e-mail, video call of just a phone call.  Even conversation is less and less, with texting. 

There were dramatic changes after the war but they have not slowed down. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Brewed VS Instant

          Going thru the old magazine ads of the 50’s opens many memory drawers.  A look into the not so distant past, that is kind of fuzzy.  It seems coffee has been forever, yet it is a fairly recent beverage, just a few centuries old.  Well for the old world.  With the discovery of the America’s, came the discovery of coffee.  For many in the old world, coffee did not replace tea.  Tea was so important to the English that they taxed it to any end and it resulted in a Revolutionary war. 
          With the end of the war, resources were now directed to new products.  One of them was instant coffee and a variety of ways to roast the coffee bean.  Brewed coffee was the standard and instant was the upstart.  Instant coffee had an uphill battle with satisfying the taste buds of coffee drinkers but the makers of instant pushed on.  Still today, brewed coffee is the preferred method of making a cup of coffee.

          The makers of instant coffee did not give up.  They reformulated the way they made the instant brand.  Exotic flavors were added, claims of tasting like fresh brewed were plastered across the media extolling the virtues of their instant coffee. 
          This was but one step in America wanting the instant gratification.  It took time to brew a pot of coffee.  The percolator had to be put on the stove after the right amount of water and coffee grounds were added.  Then sit there and wait for the water to boil, not letting it perk over and then turning it off at the right time.  Then to keep it warm or heat it up, took a bit of effort.  There were no nuclear ovens back then, one had to use the stove to heat things.  With all this work in making coffee is where instant coffee got some inroads into the coffee drinkers table.


          Life magazine along with their counterparts, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, chronicled this emerging new American middle class.  Back in the 50’s, the news was not real slanted and the agenda of a few was not apparent.  The advertising set the tone for the changes and reflects life of the transitional decade.  Technology of the day, was the television and the Atomic Bomb, both impacted how people lived during the 50’s. 
          I will be taking ads from the magazines, along with stories and writing my impression of life back then.  I’m old enough to of been a wee lad back then and I remember a few things from way back then. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weight Loss


            The battle of excess weight is never ending battle, by today’s ideals.  Prior to the 1900’s, overweight people were few and far in-between.  For the average person, having enough food to eat was an ongoing struggle and having surplus food was for the rich. 

            With the end of the Great Depression and WWII, the availability of food changed.  No longer were there the rations of the war and the poverty of the depression was over.  During the late 40’s, all types of foods became available.  The returning soldiers brought all types of different foods home with them.  The more interesting one was a thing called a pizza pie.  Snack foods became plentiful and penny candy had all but disappeared to be replaced by chocolate bars. 
            No longer was the table a place of basic sustenance, now there were snacks galore and deserts of all types.   The hard work of the fields, manual labor was now assisted by machines.  Hard work, no longer worked off the extra calories consumed at the table.  Surplus weight was attaching to people and being overweight was upon the population. 
            The enterprising entrepreneurs took up the cause of the overweight and offered weight loss diet plans.  Like today, personalities endorsed the plan or offered the weight loss program.  Were they successful, probably like today, some were and some were not.  Yet this was a new area of society that only the rich could over indulge.  With the coming of the 50’s and the growing prosperity of the America, the average person could now over indulge like the rich. 

            The depression of the 30’s was probably one of Americas’ bleakest decades.  Just to find money for food was a struggle for most.  Even having as place to live was not there for many.   Living in hovels, cars, tents, lean-2’s, was a way of life for many.  With the war, much of this disappeared and a new determination rolled across the land.  After the war, many doors of opportunity were opened and a wave of prosperity rolled out a carpet for many.  Fabric of society was changing, and new ways of life were evolving.  

The vanity of it all 

Saturday, January 13, 2018


The Cleaner

            The Vacuum cleaner today is pretty much an everyday household item.   The electric gadget called a vacuum cleaner did not get invented until the late 1800’s.  Then it was only a luxury item for the well to do.  Most homes had wood floors and some still had dirt floors so a broom and mop were in the cleaning closet. 
            Rugs were again for the rich and the rest had homemade rugs.  Old material did not get thrown out, instead granny would make something of the old rags.  Hook/latch rag rugs were the wonders of grannies tedious work during the evening.  Much like the quilt, these rugs became a folklore craft.
            To clean these rugs, they would be hung out on the line and beaten, knocking the dirt out.  When the vacuum cleaner came out, there were only a few who could afford the contraption, so outside did the rug hang. 

            Carpet had been developed but only a few could afford this new thing.  The Great Depression forced many new things to sit on the back burner.  Then with the war, manufacturing was in the war effort.  At the end of the war, things changed.  No longer was their rationing and factories could now produce consumer goods.   With new homes being built and suburbia a new phenomena, consumerism began to grow.  Wall to wall carpeting was one of the features the new home builders used to sell their homes in the ‘burbs.
            The vacuum cleaner came to the forefront, for the carpet could not be pulled up and hung on the clothes line, and sweeping it with a broom was not very effective.   To the rescue came the new contraption and with it new factory jobs were created.   Up until the carpet and vacuum, the broom was the queen of house cleaning.  Scattered around the land were small broom corn factories and soon they began to decline and consumerism changed buying habits. 
            The drummer boys had a new gadget to sell and they could be seen trekking down the sidewalk toting their vacuum with them, going door to door pedaling their ware of the day. 
            Something like a little gadget for cleaning had an impact on homelife and how people lived.  It was one of the things that helped bring luxury to the work a day families. 

               The blog will be shifting focus for a short time.  I found some old Life magazines from the early fifties.  This era, for me, is when the focus of the USA shifted from an agrarian country to a powerhouse industrialized nation.  The country had survived the “The Great Depression,” and transitioned to a powerful war machine. 
          The war and the depression were powerful impacts on the psyche of the American people. 
          With the end of the war, The United States no longer was a second on the stage of world politics, they had become a world leader.  This was reflected in the confidence of the people in the States.  With the rationing of the war over, consumerism was the forefront of life in America. 
          There were jobs in the factories for the returning soldiers, who had their combat pay in hand.  The American dream was approaching, a chicken in every pot and a car in the driveway.  With the jobs in the factories, the Lower Class was shrinking and the Middle class was expanding.  The dream of owning their own home was at hand for most citizens. 
          Housing developments and suburbs were a new phase in the America fabric.  Products were needed to fill these new dream homes and there new automobiles to park in the driveways.
          Life magazine along with their counterparts, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, chronicled this emerging new American middle class.  Back in the 50’s, the news was not real slanted and the agenda of a few was not apparent.  The advertising set the tone for the changes and reflects life of the transitional decade.  Technology of the day, was the television and the Atomic Bomb, both impacted how people lived during the 50’s. 
          I will be taking ads from the magazines, along with stories and writing my impression of life back then.  I’m old enough to of been a wee lad back then and I remember a few things from way back then. 
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