Week of February 10, 1947
A Bath for Dad's day
Religion, Umpires, the Alps and Turtles
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...) Can anyone tell us more about this august institution?
We would LOVE to hear from you if you have some observations,ccomments or direct personal experience with any of the subjects treated here. Contact us by clicking here.
Click here to see excerpts from other LIFE magazine issues during 1947
Thanks to Google Books, you can click here to read the entire March 10, 1947 issue of LIFE Magzine. You can look at some of the images that we refer to but cannot post due to copyright.
The February 10 issue had a charming photo of a 9-year old in a bubble bath. This young lady was getting extra-clean so that she could get ready to put on her first long dress and take her father to a special "Dad's Day" party at her school. The young lady, Ann Seidenglanz of Dallas is in the fourth grade and studies French, English, reading and geography. At the time she played kick-ball, grew a sweet-potato vine indoors, knitted and read about horses. Her ambition in 1947 was to own a flower shop.
There was Trouble in Public Education. In the January 6 Issue, teacher H.G. Borchardt wrote an article about the dismal state of teacher salaries. The letters to the editor took issue with him. The events of the world moved in Brorchardt's direction. The average teacher's wage was $37 a week ($740 today). From 1941-1947, 350,000 teachers had left the profession for other jobs not counting the people taken into the army in WWII; replacements were hard to find. Things began to boil over. There were about 100 sporadic strikes across the country and during the last week, in the middle of a monster snowstorm, 2,400 teachers walked out in Buffalo, NY an unlikely place because statistics showed that New York teachers were among the nation's "best paid" at salaries ranging from $1,775 to $2,975 a year. (That's 40 to 60 of those sterling silver Ronson lighters discussed below...). Thomas Dewey, the Republican governor (and 1948 presidential candidate) set up a committee to "study the problem". The photos seemed to indicate that the students supported their teachers, bringing them coffee and sandwiches on the picket line. In reference to the popular song "Open the Door Richard" (see the February 17 issue), some students displayed asign that said "Richard won't open the door because Teachers need a Living Wage."
For reference, as of 2001, the Buffalo Teacher's Union is still striking regularly. The Buffalo public schools are ranked dead last in Western New York for student achievement in basic English. Perhaps there are some students out there in the snow with signs that say "DeF Mo DP 4u Teach"
While Britain was freezing in the midst of a massive coal crisis, King George VI paid a ceremonial visit to (much warmer) South Africa. LIFE's weriters did not let the King off the hook, "The structure of the British Empire, raised by mighty men from Drake to Churchill was crumbling ... One by one, the plumes of power were slipping away - Egypt, Palestine, Burma. From London, the King's ministers sent a fateful message to America: we cannot support Greece any more. Suddenly the whole eastern Mediterranean was America's burden -- or Russia's" And, that pretty nearly sums it up. The Brits stuck us with cleaning up their mess. Meanwhile, the King put on a jolly good ceremonial show, arriving in a cruiser and appearing in magnificent uniforms. Of note, one of LIFE's photographers even got in a bit of cheesecake as the [then] Princess Elizabeth played "Tag" with some of the midshipment while wearing a fairly light cotton dress. Apparently at one time, Elizabeth had a figure.. Later on in the visit, the Royal family observed the Color Line -- they attended a "whites only" ball one night and a "Coloureds" ball the next. They actually mingled and danced with the guests at the former, while they sat in a box high above the floor in the latter. The Royals wore white exclusively through their visit.
Democracy in Latin America was the subject of the Editorial this week. Things were a bit muddled, but there seemed to be two thrusts. First, they argued that Americans didn't know much about Latin America and that was probably true. Second, it was argued that Latin Americans had a "tradition" or a preference for rule by strong authority, something they called "caciquismo" or "bossism" which led to a series of petty dictators. The advice offred was "We must prove ourselves their friends and champions. It consists of learning who and what Latin Americans are. After that it is a matter of recruiting their deepening interest in the system of government and livingthat we believe in." In the next few years, we would be greatly involved in Latin America, not quite that way...
LIFE took a serious look at the state of Religion around the world, moving from London to Paris to Rome to Jerusalem, New Delhi, Nanking and Tokyo while examining the burning religious questions of the day:
In the Chinese province of Chekiang, a pair of conjoined twins (known in those days as Siamese Twins) had been abandoned by a farmer in an outlying village. The "monstrous" birth (LIFE's words) was regarded by the village as a bad omen and they were abandoned ina local dump. They were "retrieved" by the owner of a flea circus in Shanghai who put them on display. They were portrayed in LIFE while being fed by a wet nurse. This type of article and photo was permissible under LIFE's rationale that members of non-white races were excused from the normal proprieties; it was not "pornography" or "indecency" to show pictures of naked savages. The incident caught the eye of Mao Tse Tung who was apparently inspired to write these lines: "the Chinese bourgeoisie and proletariat are new-born and never existed before in Chinese history. They have evolved into new social classes from the womb of feudal society. They are twins born of China's old (feudal) society, at once linked to each other and antagonistic to each other. "
LIFE profiled the vigil of Madame Petain, wife of the Hero of Verdun turned Traitor of Vichy, the head of France's collaborationist government under the Nazi occupation. Marshall Henri Petain was sentenced to exile in solitary confinement on the Ile d'Yeu on the Atlantic coast of France. He ws prohibited from any contact either in person or by mail. The amazingly sympathetic article reported that Mme. Petain kept her lonely vigil from afar; her only friend was an aged veteran of Verdun who gave her goat's milk. Not only do we have "Good German" articles but now we have a "Poor Collaborator" story! Everything about postwar France was a vale of tears. Petain was 90 at the time and his doctor predicted that he would live to be 100; he died in 1952 at the age of 95, splitting the difference. The Ile d'Yeu is now a trendy tourist destination and, curiously, a preferred retirement location.
LIFE asked "Who is Bruno Traven?" You might ask the same thing.. In 1947, Bruno Traven was the reclusive author of several best-selling novels including, The Death Ship, The Bridge in the Jungle and one that you will remember, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The fellow shunned publicity and was therefore considered suspect (much in the same way that J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon are suspect today). Theories raised are that he is: a Woman, a Negro, a German, a Dutchman and the missing Judge Crater. Alas, only his agent knew for sure (in 1947). He is still a mystery.
Baseball legend Babe Ruth was still alive but suffereing greatly from throat cancer. He had recovered from an 82 day stay in the hospital and posed with Hank Greenberg who was the home run king of 1946. The Babe did not look well at all.
It was getting harder and harder to keep young men in the Army now that the war was over. As Roosevelt had forecast, the American people overwhelmingly demanded rapid demobilization after the war. In June 1945, the United States had more than 12 million men and women under arms, but one year later the figure was only 3 million, and by June 1947 demobilization had left the armed services with no more than 1.5 million personnel. Defense spending in general declined rapidly during the first postwar years. Such domestic political realities left U.S. policymakers empty-handed: They did not have sufficient conventional forces to face up to the Russians without rearming the Germans, something that, we have seen, was a "tough sell" no matter how many "Good German" stories showed up in LIFE.
For a short time, the Army tried the "soft sell" -- they offered new recruits luxuries like private rooms, pets, dance lessons, fitted uniforms, and family style meals. The program was called "Universal Military Training" (UMT) and the young men were called "umtees". UMT was also a euphemism for the dreaded words "Peacetime Draft." This relatively luxurious phase of Basic Training was to last only a short time; Congress defeated universal military training in 1947 and in 1948. The Korean War brought back the regular old Wartime Draft and Basic Training within a year.
Not only was there "UMT", but there was also "Ump" --- LIFE visited a Florida school for Umpires run by a man named George Barr who, for $75 ($1,500 now) would teach men yo call decisions with gestures that could easily be seen from the bleachers; in addition, the fledgling umps learned not to get chummy with the players and to keep Home Plate dusted off. 52 of Barr's graduates started the 1947 season in the Minors where they earned $225/ month, slept in bad hotels and ate worse food. A big-league ump like Barr got paid $12,000 ($240,000 today!) for six months work. The hours aren't bad either...
...and nothing managed to escape the rising tide of Russophobia, not even a benign article on an umpires's school. Apparently, a low-level commissar in the Russian zone objected strenuously to a couple of GIs who were teaching German kids to play baseball; the Reds seemed to think that it was fostering "militarism." Actually, American baseball and its ambivalent feeling about the Umpire may be at the heart of our democratic strength -- authority, like the umpire, is clearly the villain but is only tolerated because the game could not go on without him...
Things did not go so well for Umpire Barr, either: A riot literally broke out in the Philadelphia Phillies stands on August 21, 1949 after fans threw bottles in protest of umpire George Barr's call over a trapped fly ball. The unruly crowd's behavior resulted in the first forfeiture in the Major League in seven years. Ironically it was the visiting New York Giants who themselves, had been forced into the same situation in 1942, after their field was rushed by hundreds of youngsters. In 1952, Barr refused to call a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs, even though it was pitch black and the Cubs had no lights at Wrigley Park; Gabby Hartnett hit the famous "Homer in the Gloamin" to win the game. Various apocryphal sources claim that it was so dark that the Cubs were able to sneak two extra fielders out to dispatch the Pirates in the toip of the Ninth.
If you want, you can go to Umpire School today, but the tuition is higher.
A "Good German", Dr. Arno Brasch developed a high energy electron source called a capacitron which was being used to irradiate food to prevent spoilage. The photos showed a rig very similar to the set of the 1930s version of Frankenstein that directed 5,000,000 volts of energy to helpless strawberries and pork chops. The blast of electrons was sufficient to retard spoilage for up to 6 months, sometimes longer. This was just exposure to electrons, something similar to what happens in a TV tube or computer monitor, not exposure to neutrons or other nasty stuff. Although it started in 1947, irradiation is still very controversial in 2004.
Stefan Lorant, the Hungarian immigrant turned American historian had moved on from Abraham Lincoln to acques le Moyne de Morgues, a Frenchman who explored the largely untouched East Coast of America in 1564. Lorant had just published a volume of drawings from leMoyne's voyage and some of the watercolors from the expedition were reproduced in this article. The illustrations are vivid. One in particular shows the indigenous people smoking deer, snakes, crocodiles and fish to preserve them for the winter. I had no idea that barbecue was that old. There was no hint at recipes for sauce, however.
Speaking of Savages, LIFE visited Moore and Co. manufacturers of turtle soup which consumed nearly 5,000 sea turtles a year, rendering them into 600,000 quarts of broth. Of all things, the turtles were kept alive in a dim steamy storage room where they eat nothing and emit "loud shuddering sighs". The whole thing was just terrible. I have sworn off turtle soup forever. The article about the "scientific" slaughter of the gentle terrapins as juxtaposed against the 16th century "savages" in Lorant's article shows just how far American society had NOT come.
The "Speaking of Pictures" feature showed 28 faces. Some were criminals and murderes and the some were solid citizens. LIFE invited the readers to figure out who was who. The criminals included "Bugs" Moran, "Legs" Diamond, and Johnny Torrio, and some lesser-known murderers. Among these was Alfred Cline, a Colorado choir singer who married ladies that he met at hcurch socials. (All 12 of them died suddenly after the ceremony) It turned out that the "Solid Citizens" were mystery writers who submitted to photographs in low light to simulate "Mug" shots.
A regular feature was photo coverage of a celebrity party. This week, LIFE went to St. Moritz the fabulous Swiss ski resort for a few days of prewar elegance. The article began with a photo of the Palace Hotel's famous "Ice Bar" -- a cocktail lounge made entirely out of snow, complete with bar stools, that stood as a companion to the ice rink. Guests could be served their favorite cocktail by a waiter in black tie as they completed a double axel. St. Moritz was more than fashionable dining rooms, however -- it was also the home of world-class skiing and bobsledding. Special attention was paid to Hanselmann's pastry shop, one of the mandatory stops in St. Moritz. The article focused on a day in the life of ex-king Peter of Albania and his friends as they glittered through a day. Denis Conan-Doyle, sun of Sir Arthur, was famed for his skill at ping pong, "Nicky" Zographos, the "World's most scientific gampler" was shown relaxing with a little cutie while three Egyptian princesses made their wy through the snow. Diana Walker, daughter of South African Diamond magnate Barney Barnato showed off the roomful of lothes that she brought in four trunks, including seven evening dresses, four fur coats and two very large diamond bracelets. meanwhile, a Brazillian heiress walked a hapless Chihuahua through the snow. The fun never stopped at St. Moritz...
LIFE profiled a new playwright named Arthur Miller who had just written the first serious play about the war's aftermath. The play was All My Sons which was a Broadway smash and later became a film that was both significant and successful. LIFE wrote: "Some critics consider [Miller] to be the most stimulating new playwright to hit Broadway in 12 years." And, they were right! Alas, Miller is most well known today (by the public, anyway) for being the second husband of Marilyn Monroe. The play, a dynamic contrast between practicality and idealism, also introduced America to three celebrated actors: Ed Begley, Karl Malden, Arthur Kennedy.
The story: After the War, the hero Son returns, but his Brother, a pilot, did not. Son is thrilled to be home with Dad, but things go downhill from there. It turns out that Dad's firm shipped defective engines to the Air Force and 21 pilots were lost as a result. A trial convicted Dad's partner, but one layer of hypocrisy is peeled away after another to reveal that Dad is the True Villain, accountable for the life of Brother, the dementia of Mom, and the imprisonment of the Loyal Partner.
Eventually, both Son and Dad shoot themselves.
Although the LIFE article ends on this somber note, on the very next page is juxtaposed a story that has the headline "Dad Has His Day" --- the entirely unrelated story of the father's day celebration for which little Ann Seidenglanz (see Cover, above...) was bathing.
Speaking of dads, The Incredible Severn Family of Hollywood boasted seven very attractive young sons, all of whom were employed as child-actors. The father, Clifford Brill Severn raised his faimly according to a health food cult called the Life Force Movement. In the photos, the father seemd to be having a lot of fun leading the family in extended road-work and meditations on health and ethics.
The children had appeared in a total of 96 feature films and were collectively earning a total of $25,000 per year ($500,000 today). Clifford Severn Jr. may be best known of the lot, appearing as the horrible bully-snob who beats up poor, hapless Huw Morgan (Roddy MacDowell) on his first day at school in the oscar-winning film How Green Was My Valley.
It was Oscar time, and LIFE took stock of the films that had been introduced in 1946. They concluded that it was an exceellent year and I agree with them. Singled out for special mention were Olivier's Henry V; Goldwyn's The Best Years of Our Life; The Yearling, of which we have been hearing a whole lot through ads and special articles; and Mark Hellinger's dead-on adaptation of Hemingway';s short story The Killers.
LIFE also gave out some "worsts" with which I also agree: Adventure, heralded by a publicity campaign that said "Gable's back and Garson's got him" heralded Clark Gable's return from self-imposed exile following the death of his wife, carole Lombard and his military service. The film really was a stinker. "Personal Flops" were also accorded to Errol Flynn and Jane Russell. Of Ms. Russell, LIFE wrote that in The Outlaw she "showed hardly enough talent to rate a walk-on in a high school play"
Jane Russell in The Outlaw
Displaying something other than talent...
Ads for the following films were run:
Ronson, self-proclaimed makers of "The World's Greatest Lighter" introduced a new model called The Adonis crafted in sterling silver at $25.00 ($500 today) "It snuggles into your palm, nestles in your pocket (or handbag), a posession to prize with your finest personal jewlry and to trust throuought the years." All that snuggling and nestling made me think that the thing might be more like a gerbil than a cigarette ligther...
The Stinson Voyager, the flying station wagon was back once again, this time show Mom&Dad&thekids dropping in to visit a rancher friend on a "flying vacation." Can you IMAGINE the effect that this would have on an impressionable 8 year-old?
"Your dad flew you off to a place with COWBOYS AND HORSES??"
This is the only jock strap ad I have ever seen: Johnson and Johnson advertised their "V-Front supporter" ... the ad actually said "the V-FRONT eliminates discomfort. The construction creates lifting action. That means the pouch stays put..."
Record Ads: Columbia Records offered a strange menagerie of cartoon characters with heads cut out of photos. "We're doing a heap of recording," cries Woody Herman. Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Dorothy Shay and (?) Victor Borge were also in the ad. Ms Shay performed as the "Park Avenue Hillbillie."
Get the Girl Ads: Gem Razor Blades offer a little double entendre: while rummaging in her purse, a client in a lawyer's office bats her eyes at the counselor and says "Goodness knows what's become of my will --- now that you avoid 5 O'clock shadow..."
Hurry it Up!: Sunsweet Prune Juice advised that: "It tastes like heaven/it helps regularity/it's the grandest prune juice ever." Ex-Lax the chocolate laxative and butt of many jokes said "When nature forgets, remember EX LAX"
Ladies in Undergarments: Cannon Nylons showed a respectable lady in hat and gloves hiking up her skirt to show off the tops of her stockings; this is like the 1940s equivalent of those "Girls Gone Wild" videos that they advertise on UHF after 3:00 am... Gotham Gold Stripe Nylons ran their usual ad showing a pair of legs (with stocking tops) on a pedestal. Pequot Sheets showed a picture of a "Tomboy" ( a girl in jeans holding a goat) She says "Even if I don't wear pink satin negligees..." This, of course, prompted 97% of the men to visualize her in such a pink garment; the other 3% visualized the goat in the garment. Playtex featured a whole pageful of ladies in girdles and stockings in featuring the introduction of the famous "living girdle"
The Original "Living Girdle"
You wear bicycle shorts now, you wore a girdle then...
Pictures of Babies: "Don't sleep with your baby" warned the Storkline Company manufacturers of cribs and perambulators. The baby boom was on...
A fairly lengthy telegram from the academic vice president of the University of Texas took very strong exception to the article on College Cheating as reported in the February 17 issue. There were letters from lots of college men who claimed that their institutions were filled with "Gentlemen" who never cheat. A fellow from Ohio Wesleyan suggested that the professors who were dumb enough to give such easily beaten exams deserved what they got. The final letter had a bit of irony, written by a freshman at Columbia: "With tears in my eyes, I regretfully announce that your February 17 issue was too late for my exams."
Last week, we heard from the folks who were seriously opposed to experiments on laboratory rats. This week, we heard from the proponents of animal experimentation. They hadn't seen the article on the turtles...
The back cover was an ad for Coca Cola, this time featuring entertainment between young marrieds. "The popcorn's freshly roasted; there's ice-cold Coke for all! What a pleasant way to greet your guests - with hospitality in your hands"
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