Week of April 7, 1947
Sunday School Pupils
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 April 7, 1947 issue of LIFE Magzine. You can look at some of the images that we refer to but cannot post due to copyright.
Bible in hand, freckled Betty Adams comes to the big modern Sunday-school building of the First Church of Christ in West Hartford, Connecticut, escorted by her fifth-grade classmate Glen Swift. The older members of the congregational church, keeping a sharp eye on their children's religious instruction, gave each pupil in the Sunday school a brand new bible when he or she reached the third grade; the child's name was embossed in gold letters. In their class, Glen liked to sing hymns; Betty, who liked to paint had just finished a watercolor for a class book on the life of Jesus.
If a magazine chose to prophesy about the future, it was odds on that they would speculate that cars would fly. This week, LIFE reported on the efforts of Stanley Hiller to make such a vision come true. Hiller -- then only 22 -- assembled 2000 folks at the Sequoia High School Stadium in Redwood City, California (just south of San Francisco) to watch his grand creation, a 1,600 pound Helicopter known as "The Commuter." You guessed it, the car of the future. By all accounts, the thing actually worked, although flying any kind of helicopter demands skills and reflexes well beyond the "average man." Hiller went on to become a major figure in the aviation industry and then became an expert in turning around failed companies, including York International (the granddaddy of all air conditioning companies), Bekins movers< Bristol Compressors, Reed Tool, (which makes drilling bits for oil wells), and Pacific Concrete and Rock. Most were older companies that got in trouble because the market changed and management didn't.
This week's story was "T. Jefferson, Fiddler". Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the US, inventor, scholar and diplomat was also quite an accomplished musician and favored the Baroque Period, the "pop music of his day.. In fact, had he not gone into politics, he might be remembered as America's finest violinist, or so opined author Louis Biancolli. The occasion for the article was the history of an Amati violin which belonged to both Jefferson and John Randolph. Jefferson won the hand of his second wife, Martha Skelton largely because he was able play string duets, his violin to her harpsichord. For nearly 20 year, he took lessons from an Italian master named Alberti.
A riding accident left Jefferson with a permanently deformed wrist and ended his violin-playing days. Little was heard of Jefferson's Amati until 1899 when Albert Hildenbrandt, a Baltimore cellist and dealer in rare instruments happened to be in Charlottesville. His barber gave him a lead to a descendant of one of Jefferson's slaves, who had "an old violin." Hilenbrandt determined that it was indeed an Amati dated at about 1600; the owner claimed that the fiddle had been bequeathed to his ancestor by Jefferson himself.
Hildenbrandt displayed the violin in his shop and occasionally lent it to visiting concert soloists. Throughout his life, Hildenbrandt refused to sell the instrument. However upon his passing in 1933, it went through a number of dealers, eventually winding up in the posession of Mr. Edwin Clark of Los Angeles who was asking (at the time) $35,000 for the violin.
In the March 3 Issue, LIFE treated us to its version of The Renaissance. In a somewhat unusual way of telling history, this week, LIFE moved back a century or two to discuss The Middle Ages. Possibly, this was inspired by what was happening on the political front as America descended into her own Dark Ages of McCarthyism. Indeed, LIFE's article spoke of a two-part period, a dark and dank five hundred years after the Fall of Rome that gave way to flowering of thought in the form of Dante Aligheri, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Sir Roger Bacon. The essence of the Medieval period was faith. During this period, Miracles and Devils were commonplace and accepted in the same way that we accept electricity or the Internet today. They were a part of life.
LIFE speculates about the reaction of the average person in the Medieval period to the legacy of the Roman Empire -- the major works, buildings, walls, aqueducts, bridges, and roads were everywhere to be seen but almost no one understood them. The few that understood engineering and a semblance of science used it to make war or to dupe their fellow man. Everyone else was largely in a stupor, mainly because there was unending war, turmoil and disease.
LIFE ran six excellent pages of stained glass windows taken with very modern equipment at the restoration of the Cathedral at Rheims. [Ironically, damage was from World War I] In Color, design, and subject matter, the windows are magnificent. They were the "Gee-Whiz" technology of the 900s. The Cathedral at Rheims was like the Astrodome and the stained glass was the Jumbotron. Learning took hold slowly, although by 1291 there were 20,000 students at the University of Paris. I'll bet there were long lines at Registration, or whatever you call it in Latin..
This week, LIFE photographer Ralph Crane used some state-of the art technique to photograph uber-cute 10 year old Margaret O'Brien and (then) newcomer Cyd Charisse doing a pas de deux as part of a ballet sequence in an M-G-M film called The Unfinished Dance. In the film Cyd is the prima ballerina at the Metropolitan opera who is the idol of little Margaret, a pupil at the Met's Ballet School. At the time, Margaret O'Brien was a red-hot property, having blown away audiences as "Tootie" in Meet Me in Saint Louis, and was under contract to M-G-M for $500,000 -- a fortune at the time, and about $2 Mil today. They found an ideal partner for her. By the way, Cyd's real name is Tula Elice Finklea and she is from Texas. The photographs are simply lovely. Both Margaret and Cyd were at their prime.
While the Brits were freezing in a record cold winter and while their government was abandoning world commitments wholesale, the King was still traveling in Africa, as covered in the March 3 issue. Today his royal majesty showed up in Eshowe, the "capital" of Zululand. As a special favor, the ban on Zulu war dances was lifted, having been outlawed when a Zulu army massacred an entire regiment in 1879. (This is memorialized in the film Zulu starring Michael Caine and the ususal lineup of British character actors)
LIFE was its usual paternalistic, racist self. There were pictures of bare-breasted "savages" and a mention that Princesses Anne and Elizabeth were "visibly startled" when hundreds of near-naked black men" converged on the royal pavilion at the end of the dance". LIFE had this to say about the Zulu: "Today, the Zulu are a pastoral people, cattle herders who live in thatched villages under chiefs and sub-chiefs who may have as many as 20 wives. Civilization has made little imprint on them. Witch doctors still govern their lives and loves."
While the princesses were breathing heavily, it looked like the Commies might lose in China. Nationalist troops under arch-crook Chiang Kai-Shek had advanced to Yenan, the provisional capital of the Communist-held part of China. The Communists chose not to put up a fight and abandoned Yenan without a fight. Eventually, they managed to get Chiang's supply lines stretched out so long that the Nationalists were an ineffective fighting force. But, for today, the China Lobby had some reason to cheer.
It was Easter in 1947 just like it is Easter in 2004. Then and now, there was a debate about the meaning of religion. This particular article seemed to contrast the Social gospel ("The Brotherhood of Man") with Mysticism (The "Fatherhood of God"). Given that this was LIFE magazine, Christianity was the only religion that was considered. As you will recall, LIFE was behind the union-busting and anti-Communist crusades of the period that were designed to roll back the social gains that had been made during World War II. They certainly preferred that ministers organize the people instead of labor leaders.
It was Easter this week in 1947 (like it is in 2004). It was time for flowers, planting, damp earth and a gradual greening. LIFE chose this week to run a special color feature on the history of Seeds. They told the story of seed by focusing on the Henderson Seed Company which was celebrating its 100th year of business, in which they introduced the Double Zinnia, the Early Snowball Cauliflower, the Premier Pansy, Mignonette Lettuce, the Ponderosa Tomato and the bush lima bean. Peter henderson began selling seeds in 1847 -- in fact there were several companies in this business when he started, however, Henderson distinguished himself by constantly searching for new varieties. Henderson seemed to have a flair for marketing, and wrote a tract (Hand Book for Plants) that became the standard reference work for its day. The Henderson company noted that the end of World War II had seen a decline in orders for vegetable seed and a rise in demand for decorative floral seed. This is quite logical since the end of the war also broght an end to food shortages and the need for "Victory Gardens"
In Coronado, California, Shelby E. ("Pop") Millar was a local legend. he was the juvenile officer of the Coronado Police Department, and his kindly humor had made him one of the town's most popular citizens. Thus, on March 8, 1947 the city declared "Pop Millar day" and 1800 parents and children paraded him through the city and made him the guset of honor at a big luncheon where he was loaded down with gifts. Coronado is the home of the San Diego Naval Base.
There was less happy news in Centralia, Illinois -- shortly before 3:30 pm on March 25, there was an explosion at the Centralia Coal Company's Mine Number 5. One hundred and eleven (111) men were killed, the worst coal dsisater in the US since 1928. It turned out that there were a host of safety violations -- on file since 1945 -- that prompted United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis to claim that the men had been "murdered". The article about this tragedy got the same amount of space as "Pop" Millar's parade.
The Collyer Brothers, Homer and Langley were probably the last Caucasian residents of Harlem. They lived like hermits in a three story brownstone, fearful of burglars, thieves and cut-throats. Both had retreated from successful careers, Homer because of blindness and Langley as his caregiver. Eventually, the brothers subsisted on buns, peanut butter and oranges, and declined to leave their home or to throw anything away. Slowly, the three story house filled with garbage. On the morning of March 21, 1947 Police received a call from someone who called himself "Charles Smith" who said that there was a dead body at the Collyer house. Police were dispatched to the scene. When there was no answer to their calls, they broke through the iron grillework and the heavy front door to find Homer dead on the floor dressed in a tattered grey bathrobe. For the better part of two weeks, the police sorted through the labyrinth of junk looking for brother Langley. He was eventually found under a pile of newspapers less than 10 feet from his brother. His body was partly decomposed and was being gnawed on by a big ugly rat. A suitcase, three metal bread boxes, and – you guessed it – bundles of newspapers were covering his body.
In the end, investigators concluded that Langley was asphyxiated after one of his booby traps collapsed down on him. They believe that he was crawling through the tunnel-like maze in an effort to bring food to his paralyzed and blind brother Homer. With no one to feed him, Homer essentially starved to death. The junk removed from the house included five pianos, several guns, thousands of empty bottles, pin-up pictures from 1910 and an entire Model T that had been assembled from parts in an upper story room.
This week, LIFE focused on Indoor Polo, a sport that you are not likely to see very often. This game was played at the National Guard Armory on the East Side of Manhattan where Metropolitan league teams play once a week through the month of April. Teams have only three players (instrad of four) and the action tends to be a lot faster than on the broader expanse of an outdoor field. The event was photographed by LIFE's master lensman, Gjon Mili. Using strobe lights, he managed to catch a picture of not one, but two horses in mid-stride with all eight hooves off the ground.
As we have seen, LIFE would never pass up an opportunity for Cheesecake. What better opportunity could they have when 20th Century Fox was experimenting with a "transparent dress" made out of "glass cloth", a thin, pliable variant of nylon. Attractive model Cathy Downs was featured in a two-page article that showed technicians trying to get the thing on her. Cathy and five other chorus girls were to wear the "glass skirt" in a film called I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now. Designed by Bonnie Cashin, the skirt involved more engineering than dressmaking skill and took eight days, twelve technicians, and $754 to produce. A staff of three was required to slip the dress safely on Cathy's lithe frame.
LIFE hired eminent historian Arthur M. Schlesinger to write an article about the Roosevelt family two years after FDR's passing. The article began with this statement: "The existence of Franklin Roosevelt relieved American liberals for a dozen years of the responsibility of thinking for themselves. Some of his followers now feel a terrified need to consult him from the grave. Politicians seeking his place try to drape themselves in his memory. The heat is on the family to indicate somehow where FDR would stand today."
Indeed, the Roodevelt clan, four sons and a daughter had a checkered career, none of whom lived up to their Dad's stature --- mych like the vast second-generation Kennedy spawn. In general, they were good for newspaper copy every so often, but wer just terribly average.
Eleanor, the matriarch was ensconced at the United Nations. She had been in an accident and lost her trademark buck teeth. Schlesinger remarked, "She is 62 years old, grayer than when she was in the white house and her store teeth less protruding than those knocked out in a recent accident." (So much for haigiography). Eleanor had a bewildering array of duties, including her famous My Day column that was sydicated in 75 papers 6 days a week in addition to her complex duties as US representative to the United Nations. This was the Grand Dream of New York liberals beginning with Woodrow Wilson and a core casue of her husband. By all accounts, she was doing a creditable job at the UN. LIFE recounted a number of stories about how she had been "duped" by Communists during the 1930s and how she had learned to Distrust and even Oppose them. Hence, Eleanor was considered to be on the "correct" side of the Communist issue.
Franklin Jr. seemed to have the most "presidential" character and LIFE seemed to thing that he might make the grade, although it took pains to remind its readers that younf Franklin had his share of reckless driving and wild parties in his College years; it also mentioned that "he could get good grades if he tried, but he rarely tried." Some praise... After Harvard, he took an LLB from the University of Virginia, and was reputed to have engaged in similar hi-jinks while in Charlottesville. He married Ethel DuPOnt in 1937 and started a law practice that was interrupted by World War II. He saw actual service in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific and was a genuine War Hero who did not shrink from the action. 1947 found him in a small law firm, but active in political organization. LIFE seemed to think that he had a future as the 1954 candidate for Governor of New York, but...
Eliot Roosevelt was sort of the opposite -- he had a massive flirtation with the Far Right. His first marriage failed and his second marriage to a Texas girl brought him into contact with corrupt oil money interests who exploited his youthful rebellion against his father. He joined the army air corps and had a lifestyle change. He volunteered for hazardous missions far beyond the call of duty, flying an unarmed reconanaissance aircraft deep into enemy territory. He received promotion -- on a merit basis -- to brigadier general. His second marriage failed in 1944, and he married actress Faye Emerson. Schelesinger had a low opinion of Eliot, "His sales resistance is low and he can be induced to buy anything whether a doubtful business proposition or a doubtful political idea." Eliot had recently published a left-of-center book (As He Saw It) about hsi Fathe's views that had not received favorable reception from the critics. Of note was a marked dparture from his right-wing views of the early 1930s.
James Roosevelt engaged in a wide variety of questionable business transactions that destroyed any hope of a political career in Masachusetts. In addition, his foirst marriage had ended in a nasty divorce. However, he served ably in the Marine Corps and came out of the service with a more mature outlook on life. He was currently serving as the Chairman of the California democratic Committee ans was thought to be performing ably.
Anna Roosevelt, the only daughter also was on her second marriage. Currently she and her husband John Boettiger were in the newspaper business running The Arizona Times a liberal paper in Phoenix. Schelesinger was fairly kind to Anna, "Nearly everyone from Jim Farley to Joe Stalin is unreservedly enthusiastic about Anna. In her father's last year, she was closer to him than anyone else. A tall, gay, free-swinging lady, 40 years old, her once golden hair turning gray, her language vicid and untethered, her judge,men shrewd and realistic, she fits into the West as if she was born for it."
John Roosevelt was the youngest, quietest and tallest of the boys. He also settled in California, living in Pasadena. he served in the Navy during the war and returned to a nonpolitical career in merchandising, serving as the manager of Grayson's, a women's wear firm.
LIFE summed up the Roosevelts' prospects as:"The Roosevelt family is obiously not a spent force in American political life. In 10 years - maybe sooner - two of the most important states might have Roosevelts as governors."
LIFE was dead wrong.
This week, LIFE examined the runaway success of a small novel called Tokyo Romance that told the story of a love affair between an American war correspondent and a Japanese dressmaker, during the Occupation. The novel had already sold 213,000 copies and could have sold a lot more except that paper was in short supply. In fact, the book is written in Japanese and was the first post-war best-seller in that country. There is a bit of autobiography in the novel, because the author, Earnest Holberecht was a UPI correspondent and he really was married to a Japanese lady. Since the book was in Japanese, LIFE told the story in pictures recereated in the locations that the story takes place. In general, the story is pretty far-fetched and manages to involve Nazi spies, murder, and eventual international understanding. The author had earned nearly $100,000 from the story, but it was all in Occupation Scrip, spendable only in Japan.
LIFE did a feature on (then) 25 year old Deborah Kerr who had just been acquired by M-G-M, and rushed into the female lead (opposite Clark gable) in The Hucksters, a film given a four page spread in last week's issue. The film IS very good and returned a part of the $3 million that Ms. Kerr cost M-G-M. However, the studion was not letting her sit around: She had been cast in the lead of a film called The Adventuress where she plays an Irish girl with a longstanding hatred of everything English; the character becomes involved with Nazi spies and there is a lot of drama over whether she will reveal a key piece of information about D-Day to the Germans. The article is five pages long, so it looks like LIFE and M-G-M had joined forces to give a boost toi Ms. Kerr's career.
This was a big week in Hollywood, because Col. Robert McCormick, the ultra-right wing publisher of the Chicago Tribute was visiting Hollywood. LIFE said (and this is a direct quote: "He found himself getting the most supercolossal welcome Hollywood has given to anything since the invention of falsies". He was taken around by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper who carefully steered him away from "leftists" like Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles. Ms Hopper "took a chance" on Frank Sinatra and it was said that the Voice talked so loud and enthusiastically that his bow tie actually "flapped like a gull's wing." Jimmy Durante got to meet Col McCormick and remarked, "We talked about conditions in da woild. All I kept doing was noddin my head."
There was a full page photo study of Actress Veronica Lake made by Eliot Elisofon. The photographer commented that she reminded him of his island home in Maine, "Hair like rollingwaves on a dead smooth beach, deep blue eyes with endless depth... she is so beautiful she reminds me of the sea which surrounds Vinalhaven where I live in the summer." Consequently, he photographed her under a blue light with a double exposure effect of the ocean in the foreground. LIFE ended this paean with a plug for Ms. Lake's current feature, Saigon also starring Alan Ladd.
Ads for the following films were run:
Columbia Records had an ad that featured various recording stars holding a prop that looked like a phonograph record that was six feet in diameter. The photo of Frank Sinatra was captioned, "This Columbia Record is more me than me" Les Brown, Claude Thornhill, Pearl Bailey and the Modernaires were all featured. Sinatra's recordings came from his current film, It Happened in Brooklyn.
The Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company had a full page institutional ad that touted the firm's efforts to bring down the cost of penicillin by investing in "giant tanks". They also touted some of their new products including streptomycin and amniotin. The slogan was "The priceless ingredient of every product is the honor and integrity of its maker" Just coincidentally, the Congress was holding hearings on shortages of antibiotics and price gouging immediately after the war. You certainly wouldn't suspect these guys, would you. By the way, the Squibb company had NOTHING to do with inventing the mass production of penicillin! The real credit goes to the Northern Regional Research Laboratory, Penicillin Group who won a special award for this achievement by the US Department of Agriculture.
This was a week for "institutional ads" from pharmaceutical companies. Parke, Davis & Company had a full page color ad that was headlined, "Some things you should know about the menopause". The ad had a painting of a lady -- with just a touch of grey -- sitting at her elegantly appointed dressing table; she wore an evening gown and diamond jewlry. A fur coat was on a chair. She had a tired, listless appearance in the midst of plenty. The ad hinted that she was a candidate for one of their potions. It said, "For most women today the period of menopause -- or change of life -- need cause little apprehension. It is an established fact that most of the physical discomfort and mental strains of this time are directly traceable to the changing functions of the ovaries and other glands." Women with such complaints were advised to "see their doctor" lest complications set in.
The Stinson Voyager was back with an ad that suggested that the family might just pack up in their "flying station wagon" and go visit grandma 500 miles away. The picture made it appear that Grandma conveniently had her own runway. Any kid who looked at this would certainly be disappointed with his Dad. "What do you mean, we don't have our own plane? The kids in LIFE have their own plane...."
Blatz beer sought to establish its niche as a "high class" or premium brew. The ad featured a document ostensibly signed and sealed by the firms founder, Valentin Blatz (1826-1894). To add import, Herr Blatz's seal had been freshly imprinted in red sealing wax. The wax and an elegant silver candle were shown. Mr. Blatz had just declared (in Palace Script, no less), "Public approval is never won forever ... it's seal must be earned anew by every batch you brew." The Founder not only had high ideals, but he expressed them in rhyming couplets...
Bordens had a full page ad for their version of Instant Coffee. The selling points were (1) Flavor (2) Convenience, and (3) Economy. Each point was cleverly presented dissembling: (1) It is hard to see how instant coffee of this period could taste anything even remotely like brewed coffee; today some very expensive freeze-dried products approach the flavor of fresh-brewed but this technology is very new. (2) The convenience argument rested on "no grounds, no pot", although this misses the kettle that is used to boil the water (no microwaves in common service then) --- actually, given boiling water, it is almost just as fast to make drip coffee as instant. (3) The "economy" argument rested on the fact that a pound of instant coffee makes more cups than a pound of beans; while this is true, the cost per cup of instant was about three times the price of brewed. The cartoons in the ad were very nice, particularly for "convenience" -- the picture suggested that the housewife could wave a magic wand and cups of coffee would come flying out of the kitchen... At the same time, The A & P Company had a very nice ad featuring the taste delight of their three brands of coffee in those oh-so-sophisticated packages: Eight O'Clock,Red Circle, and fabulous Bokar. These were wonderful coffees then and they are still wonderful today -- and the beautiful packages have not chanegd one bit. A & P was a very classy company.
Niblets brand whole kernel corn, the folks who brought you the Jolly Green Giant featured a soup tureen in the shape of a globe. They adequately summarized the hope and anxiety of this period. Their copy read, "A tender subject in a tough world. Niblets brand whole kernel corn won't lower taxes or make the workd just one happy family. But Niblets brand whole kernel corn will make a meal at your house sunnier and everly little bit of sunshine helps."
In the 1940s there was a brand of toothbrush called Pro-phy-lac-tic, America's "lowest-priced nationally advertised toothbrush" (whatever that meant.) I am not kidding, that was the name - they even ran a full page ad in LIFE with Pro-phy-lac-tic in 40 point type. "Be good to your gums, use a Pro-phy-lac-tic" was their slogan. The toothbrush itself was made of some magic fiber called Prolon and the bristles had the "famous Pro-phy-lac-tic End Tuft". These are absoulutely 100% quotes from the ad which appeared as page 11 of the April 7 issue. At first, I thought that this had to have been some kind of hilarious in-joke within the ad agency. It turns out that in 1844, the first toothbrush was patented as a 3-row brush of serrated bristles with larger tufts by Dr. Meyer L. Rhein. In 1885, the Florence Manufacturing Company of Massachusetts, in association with Dr.Rhein, began producing the Pro-phy-lac-tic brush for mass marketing in the United States. So, there is a fair amount of history in this brand name. The internet has everything: check out the complete history of toothbrushes and dental floss.
The Elgin Watch Company introduced "The most important watchmaking development in 200 years." This was a time when price was more-or-less equivalent with good timekeeping. In turn, good timekeeping was a function of the tiny jewel bearings and the mainspring. In particular, the mainspring was vulnerable because the same thing that made it "springy" made it susceptible to rust. Any change in tepmerature would cause moisture to condense inside the case and therefore threaten the mainspring. This month, Elgin announced that it had discovered amagic "Elgiloy" alloy that gave springiness without rust. If you collect Elgin watches, you may see a small mark "dp" on the dial. This indicates that the watch has a "DuraPower" mainspring made of "Elgiloy." This also dates the watch from about 1947.
There was a two-page ad for The National Guard, because they were trying to raise 682,000 men in 27 dividions. The ad said, "In an era of world uncertainties, peace cannot be preserved by wishful thinking. The basic insurance against future war is national preparedness. That's the thing that counts." The ad was certainly true -- since our plas the Brits had run away from their commitments, the US was quite vulnerable as the Korean War, only a few years away would demonstrate.
"She's ENGAGED! She's lovely! She uses Ponds" read the ad for Ponds Cold Cream, featuring Ms. Clara Malone Jones, daughter of world famous golfer Bobby Jones. According to the ad, "She is engaged to William Harman Black II. Their wedding unites two of Atlantas' most prominent families." This advertising philosophy preyed upon the insecurities of young women and offered them hop that if they slathered on the product, they would not only meet Mr. Right, but they would also be catapulted into the ranks of High Society. Not content with the lovely Clara, the ad also mentions some of the other "Beautiful Women of Society" who used Pond's, including Mra. A.J. Drexel III, Mrs. Nicholas DuPont, H.H. Princess Priscilla Bibesco, The Lady Frances Hay, Mrs. Charles Morgan, Jr., the Countess of Normanton, Mrs. John A. Roosevelt, and Mrs George Whitney, Jr. WOW, what a handful!
The Powers Models were back in the Ads -- Kreml Shampoo said, "Make your hair a vision of loveliness like a Powers Model." The black and white ad featured a photo of Miss Carolyn Cross, a tantalizingly beautiful Powers redhead. It was about this time that John Robert Powers started his famous "Miss Subways" gimmick:
The Lovely Ms. Linda Heilbronn
Click to Enlarge
from the 1940s into the 1960s, New York rapid transit featured advertising cards for the "Miss Subways" beauty contests, a publicity gimmick of the John Robert Powers Modeling Agency. (This was ssuch a New York icon that both the musical and film versions of On The Town have a "Miss Turnstiles" as part of the plot.) The story behind this is amusing:
"... Once there was a young woman - Ruth Ericsson was her name - who worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel filing the nails and pushing back the cuticles of people she imagined were on their way to glamorous nightclubs, expensive restaurants and elegant society affairs. One day, John Robert Powers, of the famous modeling agency, was passing through the hotel and spotted Miss Ericsson. "You are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," he said to her. "You must be my Miss Subways." She was perplexed, but he placed her photograph in every subway car in New York. She received 258 proposals of marriage, an orchid a day for six months from one smitten rider and, from an adoring bakery truck driver, a lemon meringue pie three feet in diameter. This may sound like a fairy tale, but it's true. ..." (from Ellen Hart's website, link below)
Ellen Hart was "Miss Subway" in 1959 -- she owns a place called Ellen's Stardust Diner on Broadway that is the only place near Times Square to get a good meal at reasonable prices. In addition, the waitstaff are singers looking to break into The Theater and they entertain constantly with songs that are done much better than in some of the plays. She also has a gigantic collection of "Miss Subways" advertising cards. If you ever wondered whether women have improved their lot, look at the slide show in the gallery for a few minutes.
Speed it Up!: An ad for Phillips' Milk of Magnesia said, "Dounle action Phillips' is right for both my boys." This was attributed to a mom who felt that the product was gentle enough to give to her son, pictured as a cowboy with a lariat and a fox terrier; it was strong enough for Hubby, pictured out surf-casting in waders. Wow! The perfect family.
Ladies in Undergarments: Once again, Cannon Nylons showed a lady lifting up her skirt in public to show the stocking tops. Bathsweet Soap proclaimed the "Bathsweet Ritual -- in which every moment is delightfully perfumed" The slogan was accompanied by drawings of a lady in a bath and provocatively posed in bed; both drawings leave only the barest minimum to the imagination.
Who was Endorsing Pens? This month, Charles Laughton who was appearing in the film "Arch of Triumph" was the featured endorser for the Stratford Regency pen, available at "all reliable pen counters."
Several letters dealt with the issue of Genetics as covered in the March 17 Issue The first was a long letter from Dr. Hermann J. Muller, a Nobel Laureate from Indiana University who commented on the genetic mutations caused by atomic radiation at Hiroshima. (Dr. Muller is credited with actually discovering the effects of radiation on genetic mutation) He seemed to believe that recessive genetic mutations may have been made and would not show up for a few generations. A few readers commented on the article about blue and brown eyes as dominant and recessive traits. One fellow seemed to have produced offspring that were off the chart and wondered whether his mother had been fully honest with his father. Another reader comment negatively on the genetic breeding of sheep with extremely short legs -- he said that they would be the bane of insomniacs everywhere because they couldn't jump over fences.
Several letters discussed the Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center covered in the March 17 Issue. The current director of the center sent a telegram saying that a number of other cities had taken up the idea of a memorial to WWII in the form of a gift to the next generation. One wag wrote in to complain that the cheesecake cover photo of cute little Betty Wagner completely disrupted his studying and he flunked a midterm. Another reader took issue with the concept and suggested that a War Memorial was a place for quiet contemplation. He likened the Coral Gables idea to building a roller coaster on Mt. Suribachi or a dance palace on the beach at Anzio. Those might actually have been good ideas...
The review of the film about the birth of the Atomic Bomb (The Beginning or the End) provided in the March 17 Issue received a comment from George Caron, the fellow who flew in the tail-gunner position on the Enola Gay as it dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima. He discussed some inaccuracies in the portrayal of the mission, of Cmdr. Tibbets the pilot, and of the crew. His final observation was: "All things considered, it wasn't the worst picture to come out of Hollywood but it certainly does not carry its message to the people as strongly as it should."
The Back cover was a lovely airbrushed ad for Coca Cola. It featured thre lovely young ladies (a blonde, redhead and brunette) having Lunch ... and a Coke at their desk in the Office. "Folks find that there's always a welcome for ice-cold Cocal Cola - at work, at their favorite eating place, shopping, or wherever the busy day takes them. So, when lunchtime rolls around, it;s natural for everyone to say 'Let's have a Coke with lunch' It's easy to relax with the pause that refreshes"
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