Week of January 20, 1947
I was very fortunate to find a set of bound volumes of LIFE Magazine for the year 1947. Since 2004 is just beginning, I thought that it would be appropriate to meander through 1947 one week at a time to see how things have (and haven't) changed in 57 years. By the way -- the bound volumes came from the library of Bridgewater College (in Bridgewater, Virginia...) Are there any alumni out there who would like to share campus lore from this august institution -- especially during 1947?
Click here to see excerpts from other LIFE magazine issues during 1947
Thanks to Google Books, you can click here to read the entire January 20, 1947 issue of LIFE Magzine. You can look at some of the images that we refer to but cannot post due to copyright.
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The January 20, 1947 issue had an article about returning veterans seeking land that was once used as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. On the cover, veteran Dale Sprout and his wife Iva take their first look at a homestead in Tule Lake, Oregon. The land was awarded by lottery to veterans who could prove that they were able to improve and farm the land. Sprout was a former P-51 pilot who grew up in the area. In the article, little is mentioned of the Japanese who were uprooted from their homes to spend most of WWII in America's concentration camps. The internees are sumarily dismissed as "Japs." It would take some time before the gross injustice was widely recognized. In 1947, the country was not concerned. The vets who got the land seemed to be a pretty good lot, just looking for a start after their own horrendous experiences in the war.
Here is a reproduction of the story as part of an organiztion looking at the problems of the Klamath basin today. This region is always on the verge of drought and federal water policy is critical to the area. There is an ongoing clash between envronmentalists and farmers over water use.
An oil tanker went aground in Lake Washington in Washington State. 10,000 ducks were covered with oil. LIFE ran a photo of a small child giving a bath to an oil-soaked duck. This photo was bound to be repeated many times during tha next 57 years.
A ten page article dealt with the Arctic. The B-29 had a range of about 2,900 miles that made it theoretically possible to attack the Soviet Union by travelling over the North Pole. A very interesting chart shows the concentrations of American, European, Soviet and Japanese industry relative to the North Pole. The article discusses the limitations of current aircraft for these missions, but warns ominously, "Eventually, guided missiles fired from the heart of one continent at the urban targets of another..." This part came to pass, but it was only a theory in 1947.
The article goes on to discuss the vast wealth of natural resources located in the Arctic, including timber, farming, minerals, coal and oil. Even then, there were plans for drilling and development in this part of the world, and the article seems to hint that we were in some kind of race with the Soviets to extract natural resources in the far North. A section entitled "Arctic Animals Give Meat and Fur" did not appear to be guided by either conservation or animal rights. Only the rhetoric has changed...
General George C. Marshall took over as Secretary of State after failing to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Chinese Civil War (see last week --1-13-47-- for more details. The public story was that the incumbent Secretary of State James Byrnes had a heart murmur, but the real reason was an attempt to extricate Marshall from the Chinese Mess before his reputation (CinC during WWII, the Marshall Plan) was lost forever. The doom and gloom of the loss of China was beginning to be felt and savvy right-of-center politicians like Byrnes knew when to make their getaway.
During the same week, TIME Magazine sponsored a large international forum in Cleveland, Ohio where the issues of the day were debated. This was apparently quite a meeting that drew dignitaries from 13 countries. Most of the speakers wanted American military and financial assistance to protect them from the rise of Communism
In the Editorial, LIFE placed great faith in the American Businessman for spreading the virtues of capitalism through international development. The International Trade Organization (now the WTO) was being formed. Of all things the auto industry wanted the relaxation of tariffs on autos, thinking that it could sell a zillion cars abroad. They were in for a very rude awakening. Thre entire editorial is a paean to globalization. If you have recently lost your job to cheap foreign labor, the process started in January 1947. Be glad that it took so long to get to you.
For some reason, there is a two page article on the Japanese Super-Battleships Yamato and Musashi. Indeed these were monstrous vessels, much larger and heavier than anything the allies had. Of note, neither ship fired a shot in anger and both were sunk by small airplanes built at a fraction of their cost.
During this week, Parliament moved to grant citizenship to all 12,000,000 Canadians, who had before been British subjects. Another nail in the coffin of the British Empire
A VERY odd article was entitled "Nazis Revisited." LIFE went back to Germany and found the Laub family who had been profiled in 1939 as the "typical German family". In general, some things had changed, but the family looked and lived much as they used to. In fact, LIFE seems a little miffed that the Laubs were not suffering more. There were fewer groceries at the market, the beer-hall debated sports instead of Hitler, and the factory posters emphasized cooperation rather than superiority. Strangely, very little had changed!
An article called "The Strange Alliance" recounts the wartime memoirs of Gen. John R. Deane, who was the military attache to Averill Harriman, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II. His story has lots of small anecdotes about the sinister nature of the leadership of the Soviet Union. This type of article was widely disseminated in the popular media when the establishment tried very hard to move American public opinion away from the positionthat the Russians were our Allies. Not to say that the Russians didn't do their own share of silliness to change American perceptions....
However, Gen. Deane was very wrong on one point: he goes into some lengths about the frustrations of American engineers in setting up an auto assembly line in the Soviet Union. He goes on to conclude that "the Russians will probably never master the level of industrial organization necessary to build an Atomic Bomb". In fact, the Russians were to detonate their first bomb just 32 months later on August 25, 1949.
There was deep snow in Illinois and high winds in Hawaii, all shown in well-composed disaster photos, in which LIFE specialized.
A long article discussed the Fast Break in college basketball. The article highlighted a new coach named Adolph Rupp, who brought fast razzle-dazzle basketball to the University of Kentucky. Coach Rupp and Kentucky would go on to be legends of the game. The most amazing part of the article is that all of the players are white. This was the norm for the period -- a photo shows Caucasian Cliff Barker "leaping" toward the basket. (Actually, he is holding the ball with both hands and at the top of his leap, his head is a full three feet below the hoop) High school girls basketball gets better jump shots today!
LIFE devoted quite a few pages to the dynamics of interstate trucking which was rapidly threatening the railroads. The story followed the trail of a load of goods that was being shipped from Seattle to Boston. Of note, the load include (among others) "pump parts for the Jacuzzi Bros. Co, Lacrosse, Wisconsin". The article goes into some detail how the Interstate Commerce Commission used a variety of rules to keep trucks from undercutting the railroads (this would eventually change). In addition, some states had rules about truck sizes, so periodically, the goods would have to be unloaded and reloaded onto smaller trucks. In one of LIFE's specialty "graphic example" photos, the adding machine tape required to make all the calculations for a single load was shown stretched out some 40 feet in front of a leggy secretary. (LIFE NEVER missed a cheescake opportunity) The photoessay traces the 10 drivers who hauled the load, showing the trucks navigating snowbound highways in the Rockies and passing bnear the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake. The camaradie of drivers in roadside diners is shown as well as a breakdown on a lonely road. This is a very nice portrayal of the early history of the trucking industry.
A very, very odd article was written by Claude Marsan, a Franco-American perfume salesman. He contrasts the French Husband with the American Husband. The former brings flowers, listens attentively, sings love songs and praises the wife's hat. Conversely, the American Husband comes home lat, a bit tipsy and blows smoke in the wife's face before falling asleep on the couch. A four page spread shows the Frenchman's "Four Stage" approach to kissing. As we will see, this article raised the hackles of more than one reader. In an unusual side note, the article reveals that M. Marsan is not, in fact married, and sells a brand of perfume called OH! that sold for $24/oz back then. (That would be $480/oz today...)
This may not be "light", but it illustrates how far LIFE would go to print a little cheesecake. It seems that they obtained access to some of Eva Braun's snapshots, and ran a speread on Fraulein Braun (or Frau Hitler) wearing a bathing suit. There are even some innocuous nude photos of Eva's sister Gretel Fegelein. None of them are particularly erotic...
Nancy "Slim" Hawks (wife of producer Howard Hawks) was voted the best dressed woman in America in 1946. In the accompanying photo spread, she has a surprisingly contemporary look for 2004. Her irreverent comments give the impression that she would have been fun to hang around with. A sub-head reads "She dresses for men, likes slacks, and spends $10,000", she changes clothes twice a day, owns 120 pairs of shoes, and has no Parisian clothes. She seems to have taken a personal interest in the careers of Joanne Dru, Ella Raines, and Lauren Bacall. (Actually, LIFE took an interest in these starlets, as well, as we will see during the rest of the year.) Hawks called Bacall's character "Slim" in To Have and Have Not after his wife, who was about 27 years his junior. By the way, that $10,000 would be more like $200,000 today... The marriage only lasted for another four years, possibly due to the clothing expense. She then married Broadway producer Leland Hayward, and finally Sir Kenneth Keith, whom she also divorced. Lady Keith, as she became known, was part of a high flying social circle that included Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall, David O. Selznick and other luminaries. Here is a photoessay on this very interesting lady.
A somewhat disturbing article featured supermodel (for the 1940s) Judy Hall, an engaging 17 year old whos assets included "a siren's figure, impish yet innocent blue eyes and brilliant blonde hair." Indeed, she was at the top of her profession, even starring in a revue at the Copacabana. This is a 17 year old, folks... her salary averaged $200 a week ($4,000 today) plus $60 ($1200 today) for TV appearances and $75 ($1,500) from the Coapacabana. No wonder she wan't in high school.
The week's "Animal Story" dealt with Bats. LIFE"s specialty photographers did a good job of capturing the little fellow in a wide variety of amusing and terrifying poses.
A regular feature was photo coverage of a celebrity party. This week, LIFE went to London for the Chelsea Artists' Ball. This was a gala costume affair and it looked like folks were having lots of fun. LIFE focused on the scanty costumes, alcohol consumption and necking.
An eight page article profiled British sculptor Henry Moore, renowned for fluid sculptures, most often of family groups. Moore claims to have been influenced by looking at stones shaped by the constant flow of water. In the 1940s, his figurative work was highly controversial. The article states that his works were selling for $1,000 to $8000 ($20,000-$160,000 today) A real Henry Moore sculpture today is generally valued in the tens of millions. It looks like Moore won the battle with his critics
LIFE previewed the espionage thriller 13 Rue Madelaine that stars James Cagney as America's spymaster. This film is actually quite good and has stood the test of time. It was so popular that some of its plot vehicles have become cliches. I reccommend that you get a copy of this on DVD and enjoy it!
Ads for the following films were run:
Inside the front cover wis a very nice ad for the 1947 Studebaker. This car has a lot of style and really was ahead of its time; the influence of company stylist Raymond Loewy is beginning to be seen.
The 1947 Studebaker
Philco ran a full page ad for the stunning model 1201 radio-phonograph. The unique feature of this set was the front-loading record player (you just stuck the record in a slot in the front). This ad is very famous because it features Bing Crosby (dressed in Western wear by the way). The 1201 has always been called "The Crosby". To see how this works, check out our writeup in the Radio Page.
The Book-of-the Month Club was featuring Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast as a giveaway, yet another title in the public domain used to entice subscribers
Insecurity ads (B.O., Bad Breath): Lifebuoy Soap, Polident denture Cleaner, Forham's Toothpaste, Kreml Hair Tonic
Romance Ads (catch Mr./Ms Right): Hind's Hand Cream, Squibb Toothpaste, Sofskin Creme
The War between Kotex and Modess. (I'm going to let Someone Else handle this.)
There was a full page ad for Margarine. In the 1940s, it was illegal to suggest that margarine was a substitute for butter. Hence, it is touted as a "spread", or a "highly digestible energy food". Skirting the limits of the law, the ad is shown on a butter-yellow background. Actually, in the 40s, it was illegal to color oleomargarine yellow -- it is basically white. Enterprising margarine manufacturers supplied a little capsule of yellow dye which could be mixed with the pale white base to create something that might pass for butter. It took a LONG time for margarine to become fully legal - the last legal barriers were lifted in 1967.
There is a very nice half page ad featuring Johnny Roventini the "Call for Philip Morris" Bellboy.
An article for the Bell System showed the photos of 17 top executives and showed that they had started at the bottom of the company and worked their way to the top. See our Telephone Page for all the ways that these self-made men were ripping off the country.
The back cover is another Camels ad featuring Doctors. "More Doctors smoke Camels than any other Cigarette -- like most of us, doctors smoke for pleasure... three independent research organizations surveyed 113,597 doctors in all branches of medicine.... here is the full Text of a commercial that described the survey.
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