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The Smell of Democracy in the Air

Every July 4th our split level development would be shrouded by the smoke of burning charcoal, the sizzling smell of democracy was in the air.

Besides a parade, nothing was more quintessentially American than a July 4th back yard barbecue. Like some sacred Old Testament tradition of sacrificing an animal to please the Lord, every Independence Day a burnt offering of seared flesh was offered up in homage to Uncle Sam.

And in that confident mid-century soaring bull market, Democracy was as vital to our health as a Delmonico steak.

Dad knew tossing a hunk of meat on a sizzling grill, the ubiquitous package of Kingsford briquettes at the ready, proclaimed to the world “I’m proud to be an American.”

The Smell of Capitalism In The Air

Wealth from Waste

In fact nothing was more American than those Kingsford briquettes. Invented by the quintessential American capitalist Henry Ford as a way of further lining his own pockets, Ford had a better idea. By charring the wood scraps left over from his Model T’s and mixing them with starch fillers and just the right amount of chemicals, industrious Mr. Ford created briquettes.

Ford Briquettes

The smell of democracy was indeed in the air – nothing reeked of capitalism more than turning industrial waste into profit.

Excerpt from Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

 

 

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I'll be  home for Christmas

"I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams ~ IIlustration  by Haddon Sundblom for Vintage Christmas Coca Cola Ad 1945

For most American servicemen and women serving in the military overseas their holiday wish is simple: to be home for Christmas.

Soldiers sacrifice much for the sake of others, not the least of which is being able to spend the holidays with their loved ones.

No Christmas song captures the soldier’s heartfelt longing more than “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

The melancholy words of the soldier overseas writing a letter home, echos generations of soldiers who long to be home but are unable to e because of the war.

The wistful holiday classic written during WWII was the perfect sentimental war-time song holding deep meaning to US troops overseas and it rings as meaningful today as it did 70 years ago when it was first recorded.  To read the full post follow Sally.

Photo thanks to ~ Lets Find 1 Million People Who Really Support Our Severely Injured Veterans

An Uncomplicated Christmas

Seatrs Christmas CatalogIt was the year 1961 and we were planning our Christmas shopping.

There weren’t many choices for us living in a small town in the Pocono Mountains of

Pennsylvania. In those early years much of our shopping was done through catalogs. We would get the big catalogs and also the Christmas issues from Sears Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward.

We would spend hours looking through those catalogs and try to decide what to get other family members. I had received many presents in my younger years from one of those catalogs. The presents were always delivered by mail. No UPS back in those days.

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When Flying Was Fun for Thanksgiving

As millions crowd our airports for the traditional Thanksgiving trek home over the river and through the woods, the tension mounts at the thought of long lines, insufferable crowds, and the dreaded delays that inevitably await the weary and wary traveler.

Gloom is cast before the holiday even begins.

But for the Post-War population, the new air travel was a breeze.

For the modern mid-century family, the notion of flying home for the holidays was a novelty and a grand experience at that.

“Over the River and Over the woods. To grandmothers house we go,” this 1951 TWA ad announces gaily.

The gleeful modern family fairly bursting with pep and anticipation couldn’t wait to board their flight to visit Grandma. Why let old-fashioned distance keep a family apart?

“There’s a new road now to an old tradition. It’s the TWA high way home for Thanksgiving. And what a blessing it is to families separated by too many rivers and too many woods….and so many years!”“If you’ve let distance and lack of time keep you away too long, try traveling this high way. Find out how TWA can make it very near to someone dear- for even an ocean apart is only hours apart…by skyliner!”

TWA went out of their way to make flying a family affair! Flying was no longer just for Dad and his business trips. Once the airline, started their Family Budget Plan, “…parents have had cause to cheer'” boasts TWA in this 1949 ad. “for now they can take the whole family by air at down to earth prices.”

By traveling on a Monday Tuesday or Wednesday, they could save substantially. “As head of the family,” they explain “Dad pays full fare. Mother and the children under 22 go for only half fare each”…and best of all crying infants and toddlers under 2 could fly free of charge!

Tempting you further, TWA promises, “The flight is a delight, the service supreme, with delicious hot meals served free. Best of all…and oh how mother loves this!…you’re there long before the kids start to fuss or fidget!”

“Snowtime’s no time to give up flying! Vintage American Airlines Ad 1950

Compare the cheery disposition of Mr. and Mrs. Modern who have chosen the up -to-date way to travel to visit Grandmother with their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Outdated who chose the more antiquated mode of travel- their automobile.

Hampered by a snow storm they are unable to dig out in time for the turkey. Mrs. Outdated, with visions of stuffing and cranberries dancing in her head, looks longingly at the speeding plane in the sky, carrying the wise Moderns to the destination.

Vintage ad American Airlines 1949

 

“Don’t Give Up- Go Up,” declared American Airlines in this 1949 advertisement , touting the benefits and wonders of the new air travel that most post-war families had yet to experience.

“Air Travel- and only air travel can often make the difference between the accessible and the impossible. This is especially true during the holidays when the earthbound are frequently snowbound. Hence, wise travelers plan to go by air.”

“Also, air travel is little affected by the challenge of distance and time. The miles on the map lose their menace- the hands of the clock become friend instead of foe when you use this modern means of transportation.”

“So when holiday travel plans seem likely to get ‘bogged down’ don’t give up- go up.”

Siri – The Voice with a Smile?

Welcome home Mac! The first Mac Pro to be Made in America will be unleashed in December. This news got us to thinking about all things Mac and we zoomed in on Siri because the real voice of Siri was recently uncovered.

Siri Speaks!

Exactly two years after Siri made her auspicious debut on October 4, 2011, the mystery woman’s identity can now be revealed. Apple’s voice activated virtual assistant never quite took off in popularity the way Apple envisioned her, but the closely guarded identity of the oft time snarky Siri has been widely speculated.

According to CNN, she is an Atlanta based voice over actress named Susan Bennett.

Though Apple is being cagey and won’t confirm it, the sleuths at CNN found audio forensic experts to back up the actresses claim.

Would You Repeat That Again?

Staying connected with the assistance of a disconnected female voice is nothing new.

Once upon a time, the alert, courteous voice of the telephone operator was known to everyone who used the telephone. Siris’ snippy voice and quirky personality stands in contrast to the golden age of telephone operators who possessed the “voice with a smile.”

The Voice With a Smile

Bell Telephone Ad 1940

Vintage Bell Telephone Ad 1940s The familiar "Voice With a Smile' operator

Telephone operators were known for their courtesy. “It’s nice to pick up the telephone,” ads would point out, “and hear an alert friendly voice come over the wire.”

“The voice with a smile” was the familiar AT&T slogan used from the 1930’s through the 1950’s . The ads visualized the cheerful sound of the company’s female operators painting a pretty face on the happy voice of the phone worker.

The speech of operators was firmly regulated through strict codes of appropriate responses enforced by supervisors listening unannounced on operators line.

“Operator ~ May I Help You?

"The Bell system appreciates your patronage, and tries to deserve it"

From the beginning, the occupation of switchboard operators was almost exclusively female. Women were valued not only because of their gentle voice, and nimble fingers , but as an added bonus, they worked for lower wages.

According to Lana Rakow in “Women and the Telephone.” an article in The American Telephone Journal of 1902 explained why female operators were desirable: “The dulcet tones of the feminine voice seem to exercise a soothing and calming effect upon the masculine mind, subduing irritation and suggesting gentleness of speech and demeanor, thereby avoiding unnecessary friction”

What Number Did You Want?

Vintage Bell Telephone Ads

From the 1930’s through the 1950’s AT&T recruited female employees through popular women’s magazines such as American Girl, Senior Prom and True Story, appearing next to ads for weight loss, feminine itch relief and bust creams.

Ads emphasized how important women were to the telephone industry. “170,000 women are employed by the Bell system,” one ad stated. “More than half of the 315,000 employees of the Bell System are women. They are your friends and neighbors- living in the same section of the country. They average length of service is about ten years.”

Perhaps courtesy and manners have gone the way of the telephone, which itself is beginning to feel rather antiquated.

 

A Soaring Economy

america-economy-50-swscan015811

The Soaring American Economy Special issue Life Magazine 1/5/53

The soaring economy of post war America was the gold standard for the American Dream.

The people of Mid-Century America had never been more prosperous, never had Dad, the breadwinner, taken home so much money.

The soaring strength of the roaring bull market was at an all time high symbolizing confidence in the Capitalist system. American industries were the symbol of our strength, and like the biceps of the healthy and strong, spoke of the wisdom of our ways.

In early January of 1953 Life Magazine published a special issue devoted solely to the booming American economy. Entitled “The American and His Economy,” it was an unabashed love letter to this record-breaking economic splendor.

A Land of Good n’ Plenty

economy-capitalist-profits

Mid-Century Businessmen were sitting pretty (L) Illustration from Martin Aircraft 1946 (R)

“During the past dozen years or so,” the magazine begins in an introduction written by social historian Frederick Lewis Allen, “we have been watching in the United States something close to a miracle…The once sick American economy has become the wonder of the modern world.”

The articles then go on to boast: “In two decades the U.S. has by-passed the methods and exceeded the goals which old-fashioned socialism had set up as ideals for an economic society.”

“It has achieved instead something totally new and something infinitely better.”

“More or less unconsciously the nation has pulled off a major social revolution. The means to this end have been historically unique, a process mainly of grading society up from the bottom rather than down from the top.”

american-dream-post-war-abundance

American Abundance for all Vintage ad Wheaties sweepstakes 1958

“Most of the change has been wrought by a simple but bold economic idea: more of everything for everybody.”

“It is an idea of production and consumption rather than conservation and thrift.”

“Some of the results are far-reaching:

  • More Americans now own their homes than rent.
  • Since 1929, the US has moved halfway toward equality of income for all members of the population.
  • The US has reached a state almost unique in history where increase in population means increase in prosperity.

 The 99%

For Mr and Mrs America, the factory workers, engineers, housewives and business managers, the issue never lets us forget that, “the US is still a place to get rich quick and honestly.”

A Confident Future

economy-capitalist-wall-street

Money to Burn in a Booming Economy (L) Vintage illustration Wall Street from “The Romance of Capitalism” 1958 by Donald Cooke (R) Money to burn illustration from vintage American Airlines ad 1953

And finally, to answer for the reader the most important question of all about their economy the article asks: “Where are we going from here and what will happen to me?”

According to the giddy experts, there was no end in sight for this soaring economy.

The bull in our soaring bull market was a symbol that the US could compete and win.

And in this land of good and plenty one thing we were never short of was confidence.

A Bull Market Indeed!

Copyright (©) 20013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

 

Deserve A Glance Back?

Born In the 60s

Just finished reading two wonderful posts, America World Peace Keeper, by our very own contributor, Sally Edelstein, and Pushing America’s Reset Button by Maggie Van Ostrand. Both author’s reflect on our country’s “good old days,” when America garnered the respect of the world and was considered the Ambassador of Peace and when “Made in America meant the product might even outlast the buyer.”

There seems to be a lot of action on Facebook lately with postings like the image above, or this one:  “For Anyone who was born in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s…We are the last generation who played in the streets. We are 1st who played video games. We walked over a mile with no worries on being taken. We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else. We played from Atari to Nintendo. We are the generation of Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons and Captain Kangaroo. We traveled in cars without seat belts or air bags. We were taught to say please and thank you, and to have respect for our elders. We were taught to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and to lend a helping hand to those in need. We were taught to hold the door for the person behind us, say ‘excuse me’ when it’s needed and to love people for who they are and not for what we can get from them. We were also taught to treat people the way we want to be treated.” We did not have flat screens, surround sounds, facebook, twitter or computers. Nevertheless, we had a great time!”

Is it because we are becoming weary and frightened by the explosion of fast technology and the way the world may be headed, or are we just looking back through rose-colored glasses?  What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Graphic (not including words) by www.spreadshirt.co.uk

How To Get Lucky At Your Prom

Though Prom season is newly over, we just had to post this wonderful essay by our contributor Sally Edelstein. Was it really that way?

Pretty and popular, Patty Barnes was one Lucky girl.Not only was this perky senior voted her High School Prom Queen 1952, the honor came with a gift of a carton of Lucky Strike Cigarettes. Her steady, Rick, a hulking football playing -ROTC- National Honor Society- dreamboat, always knew Patty was one smokin’ gal; like Lucky Strikes “so round, so firm, so fully packed and easy on the draw.” Her yearbook said it best: “As a student and as a ‘personality’ Patty Belongs!”Big Party- Gay Time! After the whirlwind rounds of graduation festivities attending 15 dances, 20 Coke parties, 12 teas, 8 luncheons and 5 barbeques, winding down with a soothing cigarette was a most welcome break for pretty, popular Patty. Does a Girl Who Isn’t Pretty, Stand a Chance to Have Fun?

Vintage Listerine Ad 1950

But then there was poor Babs Johnson. The only date she seemed to have were with her musty old history books.

She read all the magazine articles and took all their advise on becoming popular. Eagerly she joined all the school clubs, taking a job behind the scenes as a prompter for the senior play, timer for the swim team, pianist for the school operetta and assistant in the library. But, she often wondered, does a girl who isn’t pretty stand a chance to having fun? It was only after Dee Dee D’Angelo offered her a Lucky Strike cigarette in the girls bathroom that Babs wised up and saw the light…lighting up could really light up her life. After that she made sure to light up a Lucky whenever the gang was around and it wasn’t long before Babs was wearing her steadies gold football on a thin chain around her neck. Be happy…go Lucky!

American Chronicles

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

The first reaction I had when looking at the photos photographer Brian Goldman sent for consideration for the cover of our Spring issue was, “they look like a Norman Rockwell painting.” And you know what – lots of other people … Continue reading

“In Your Easter Bonnet”

Whitman Chocolates Easter Hat

Easter is always such a joyous time. Of course there is the deep religious significance, and this year there seems to be a abundance of biblical portrayals on television. My best memories of Easter, of course, were as a child. Not only was there a feast of food, and the traditional St. Joseph’s bread that our mother would lovingly make, but it was the anticipation of it all. It was the traditional search for the perfect Easter bonnet. Yes, we did that back then. Before the Second Vatican Council in the late 60s, it was mandatory for women to veil their heads in the Catholic church. At Easter, all women and girls would mark the occasion by wearing their finest Easter bonnet.

After the Second Vatican Council so many things in church changed. Of course as kids we didn’t really realize what was happening – all we knew is that we could finally understand what was being said at mass because it changed from Latin to English. We also got to see who our priest was – he no longer had his back to the congregation – he could actually face the people. Before the Second Vatican Council, we couldn’t touch the host, the priest had to place it on our tongues.  After the council, Catholics could hold the host in their hands, and it could even be administered by lay people.

With our newly elected Pope Francis, change seems to be in the air again. Habemus Papam! The first Jesuit. The first pope from the Americas. There seems to be an absolute  joy spreading out from Rome to the rest of the world. The feeling, an irresistible one, is a feeling of comfort that we have a new man. “You know the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome,” said Francis I, the freshly elected pontiff with a little laugh, as he stood on the balcony in front of the faithful. “It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. But here we are … ” I am hoping that our newly elected Pope Francis will tread in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and preach peace and fellowship to all.

A Happy and blessed Easter to all.