Week of April 14, 1947
The "Iron Curtain Speech", Fun with Hydrocarbons
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
The April 14 issue had Libby Lee Benepe (left) and Dorothy Griffiths posed with Cornus Florida a hardy shrub whos blossoms herald the arrival of spring. Dorothy (19 at the time) originally came from Durham, North Carolina and is writing a book of "prose poetry." Libby, 24, was from Boston; she is a blonde model who hoped to become "a brunette novelist". The shrub, also known as "Flowering Dogwood" had lived around HoHoKus, New Jersey for many years. The plant reportedly had no literary ambitions.
In July of 2007, we had this note from our reader Pat:
"..I had a personal experience with the model, Dorothy Griffiths, pictured above. Some years ago (15 - or 20, I suppose) I attended a Navy League afternoon reception at her home in the hills above Benidorm, Spain. (The local chapter of The Navy League entertained crewmembers of visiting US Navy ships.) Hers was a lovely home and she was a gracious hostess, posing for pictures with us. I bought a copy of this issue of LIFE when I returned home. I remember Dorothy saying something to the effect that she and the other model were the first paid models to appear on Life’s cover. (I cannot vouch for this, of course.) ..."
According to LIFE, "Jewish terrorists were afoot in Palestine. On the morning of March 31, fire broke out along the waterfront in Haifa and destroyed a million dollars worth of equipment owned by the Shell Oil Company. The Stern Gang, a Jewish underground organization was responsible. Spokesmen for the Stern Gang said theat they were in a 'constant state of war' with the British. On April 1, the British colonial govenrment said that it would tax the Jewish community to pay for the damage. British troops moved into defesive positions to guard against further terrorism."
Today, there are quite a few stories about the Stern Gang on the internet aimed at "proving" that the Jews used terrorism to obtain Israel and that this somehow justifes the things that are happening now. The truth is that there was a radical faction of Zionism led by a man named Abraham Stern. The correct name for this group is Lohamei Herut Israel, or LeHI ("Fighters for Israel"). The truth is that LeHI engaged in acts of sabotage, assassinations and other nasty things. It is true that this group was virulently anti-British. But, it is ALSO TRUE that this was a fringe group that had very little to do with the formation of Israel. In fact, Stern was so anti-British that he negotiated with BOTH Hitler and Mussolini to support the Axis in return for the relocation of the Jews of Europe to Palestine. (Please check the Simon Wiesenthal Center for the full details on this matter.)
In fact, LIFE was reporting on the "Stern Gang" as part of its Anglophile bias, hoping to deflect American public away from the formation of Israel. IN FACT, the creation of Israel is a testament to responsible groups who entered into a negotiated agreement and kept it until war was forced upon them.
In an idyllic time long ago (before trouble in the Middle East scared us down to the marrow), there was a Gas Price War in Los Angeles. There were some wonderful pictures of cars and fashion as LIFE went to Los Angeles. California was regarded by the rest of America as the land of the dollar-growing tree and the girl-edged swimming pool. It was (and is) the land of the automobile. In 1947, there ws one car for every three persons while in the rest of the country the ratio was 1:8. There were twice as many cars as bathtubs, more cars than refrigerators, stoves or even swimming pools. During the war, cars were scarce and gasoline was rationed. Howver, peace brought back cut-throat competition among Los Angeles' independent gasoline dealers. As post-war production brought back the buyers' market, Los Angeles dealers once more went after each others' trade, giving away cars, ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, mixmasters,vacuum clenares, clocks, roller skates, comic books, and bubble gum to get more customers. Business was up 30%.
Of note was an assemblage of prizes that a motorist could obtain by canny purchases of gas. Of all things, the very same Sunbeam Mixer, RCA radio, Detecto Scale and Presto pressure cooker in the photo are featured on our Collectibles Pages.
LIFE said, "In order to have obtained these items, you would have had to but 5,000 gallons of gas, enough for [1947 cars to make] 14 round trips between New York and LA." This provides some interesting opportunities to compare Yesterday with Today. Mapquest says that Los Angeles and New York are 2782 miles apart, and 14 round trips would be 77,896 miles. If 5,000 gallons were required to do this, 1947 cars must have had a fuel efficiency of about 15.6 MPG. This sounds about right, because the '39 Buick gets about 15 MPG. Our 2002 PT Cruiser gets about 28 MPG, so it would require 0nly 2782 gallons of gas. Gasoline was about 10 cents/gallon in 1947 -- adjusted for inflation would be like $2/gallon today. Thus, it would have cost us about $500 to make the 14 round trips in a 1947 car. If we could magically transport the PT Cruiser back to 1947, we could have made the journey on for about $290.00 -- but we wouldn't have won the pressure cooker... However, on a real cost basis, gasoline prices are not that different between 2004 and 1947.
Of all things, the article about the Gas Price War was followed by a four page article on Gasoline from Coal. "Last week, the US got an exciting look at one blueprint of its industrial brave new world. Instead of mining caol to be burned in lumps, the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal company proposes to make it into gas and liquid fuels; a pilot plant will be finished with the help of the Standard Oil Co of New Jersey and if it proves successful, Consolidation will build a full-scale plant near Pittsburgh to turn out 400 million cubic feet of gas or 14,000 barrels of high test gasoline a day...the synthesis of gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricating oils from coal will liberate the US from its life-and-death dependence on petroleum reserves."
The coal-to-gas process was not new, invented in Germany in 1910. During World War II, the Nazis used a variant on the process to produce enough synthetic gasoline to keep the army moving. In general, coal gasification systems have extremely high capital costs, even though they use an extremely cheap feedstock. Every time there is an "oil crisis", coal gasification gets trotted out and hawked to the public. During the shortages of the 1970s (remember the gas lines?), the Carter administration paid about $2 billion to build just such a plant in Beulah, North Dakota. It has changed hands several times at a fraction of its original cost but continues to operate -- of all things as the largest employer in North Dakota. (It is so much a relic of the 1970s that it is almost a monument to polyester leisure suits..) Right now, the Beulah plant manufactures anhydrous ammonia, (a far distant relative of gasoline by way of hydrogen) because there is a worldwide fertlizer crisis (save, of course, on Capitol Hill).
The Department of Energy continues to keep the ideals of coal gasification alive and there is a trade and lobbying organization called the Gasification Technologies Council that keeps it before Congress. The Energy Bill of 2003 contained subsidies for about nine "pilot" gasification projects.
About the only thing that has changed since 1947 is the propaganda -- in 1947, industry claimed that the US had enough coal to last 3,000 years; in 2004, the Department of Energy claims that we have enough coal to last 250 years. One might conclude that we have used 2,750 years worth of coal in 57 years.
This issue adds the final touch to our parade of irony in hydrocarbons: the Shell Oil Company had a full page ad about the deadly battle with the Leaf Hopper at Speonk. Let us listen in to the dialogue from more than 57 years ago..."Yes, the leaf hopper is the bug. The Hedge Hopper -- the airplane -- is out to get him abd a billion others like him... in Long Island's vast potato belt, Leaf Hoppers were doing fatal damage carrying th virus of Hopper Burn from plant to plant..."
Needless to say, those progressive chemists at Shell Oil came up with an oil based spray that didn't get washed away like water-based sprays. The Potato Crop was saved! Science to the rescue! Well, not quite. The oil based spray had the trade name Vapona but it really was "dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane", that eco-friendly substance known as D.D.T. Yes, the stuff that kills birds and cause cancer.
The vast potato fields of Speonk which once stretched as far as the eye can see (which according to the curvature of the earth is about 15 miles...) are no more, having been laid waste by a scourge much greater than Vapona.
The scourge was suburbanization. The potato fields (and all their DDT pollution) are underneath Levittown. In case you're interested, here is a photo that shows all the building materials, fixtures and appliances that were part of an individual Levitt-built house. In the background, you can see the potato fields being eaten up by the bulldozers.
The Essence of a House in Levittown, c. 1946
Click Photo to Enlarge It
This week, LIFE focused on justice in the Soviet Union, and in particular on the Narodny Sud or the "People's Court". Not to be confused with the TV program, this was the Soviet's Court of first jurisdiction, quite similar to hearings by a Justice of the Peace in the US. The court administers both civil and criminal law and is presided over by three judges. LIFE took great curiosity in the fact that "Many of these judges are women." Here is how LIFE told America of 1947 about Soviet Justice: The case concerned a man who had been convicted of stealing 62 copies of a newspaper worth about a dollar. The presiding judge was a huge man in a brown sweater under a suit jacket of coarse material. He had a rash on his jowls and had smeared it with white salve. His associates were women, one white-haired with a deeply lined face, the other a motherly looking ash-blonde of about 40. All three were very stern. The prisoner was by far the best dressed figure in the room." The prisoner recieved one year at hard labor. Other cases involved a dispute over an apartment and a worker tried for absenteeism.
The implication was that in the Soviet Union, justice was a mess. This was probably true, but here in 1947 in the United States, 37 people (principally African-Americans) were lynched, and most likely, a significant number of people received long sentences for trivial crimes. Indigent people could still be rousted as vagrants. But, the purpose of the article was to inflame passions about the Soviet Union and was certainly not a dispassionate look at the legal system of another country. Given the horrors that the Second World War wrought, I am surprised that anybody in the Soviet Union of 1947 was well-groomed, criminals or judges.
Spring came to Moscow, and LIFE's photographer Thomas McAvoy stayed on for a few weeks after the Big Four conference to record the annual ritual by which Muscovites emerge from hibernation. He had a charming picture of a young lady selling daffodils while standing ankle deep in a sooty snowbank -- even ice cream ("Ivan's favorite delicacy") was beginning to be sold by street vendors. Those with rubles could actually find Vodka -- at $15 a pint (something like $300 today) Cigarettes were $0.75 ($15 today) apiece. However, the most welcome part of spring was space -- there was a severe housing shortage and people had been cramped in small apartments all winter. Now they could live and breathe. Many took in the Circus, recently declared as "Proletarian" by Pravda. Dimitri Shostakovich unveiled a new string quartet, and the Bolshoi put on a performance of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. Legendary ballerina Maya Plisetzkaya performed to a packed hous of dignitaries.
There was hot time in Iceland -- Mt. Hekla had smoldered for nearly a hundred years when on March 31, three craters simultaneously blew out of the mountain's side. Lava rivers sixteen feet wide spread down the sides of the mountain and almost all of the sothern pastureland was covered with grey volcanic ash. Two days after the initial eruption, a reconnaissance airplane was struck by flying stones as it passed over the volcano. In Icelandic legend, the souls of the condemned travelled through Hekla's crater on their way to hell.
On March 5, Winston Churchill delivered a remarkable speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Condmning Russian expansionism, he uttered the words, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended over the Continent..." This phrase was to burn vividly in the minds of Americans for the next 42 years. It is a testament to the power of words that American public opinion suddenly crystallized against the Russians. "Iron Curtain" summarized the threat, fear, and anger that had been simmering just below the boiling point; after 1947, these emotions broke free and did not return to a normal level until 1989 when the last of the Berlin Wall had been sold as keepsakes (and a large chunk of it brought back to Fulton, Missouri...)
This week, Churchill was given 13 full pages of LIFE to tell us what he would do, "IF I were and American." His principal focus was on the situation in Greece and Turkey.
We have been following this issue as it unfolded on the pages of LIFE since the January 6 issue. Briefly, Greece was invaded by Mussolini's Fascist troops in early 1940; the Italians failed to gain any ground and had to be "rescued" by German troops. The country was occupied by the Nazis during World War II; the mountains provided a favorable redoubt for the Resistance; the entire occupation was marked by particularly savage attacks and reprisals. The Allies provided guns and supplies to loyal to King George (a cousin of the British king), Communists, gangsters, and anyone else who would kill Nazis. The Communists were quite used to fighting as a minority. When World War II was over, King George and the Aristocracy wanted their country back. The Communists wanted it, too. An election was held and the King won. The British sided with their cousin, the Russians armed the Communists and the guerilla war continued unabated with only a change of slogans. Then the British went broke. As we have seen in the past pages of LIFE, good old dopey Uncle Sam was willing to pick up the slack, preserving the hegemony of the British aristocracy and getting precious little for it in return.
The eloquent Churchill said, "Athens alone with its immortal glories should be free to decide its future at the polls. This was done. The only question that has arisen since is whether the Greek state and Constitution resulting from this election should be knocked about and probably overthrown by Soviet-inspired and Communist armed bands from the outside and subverted by criminal conspiracy from within." The Americans were always wary of Communism, and on March 21 the Truman administration declared that "A Communist-dominated government in Greece would be considered dangerous to the United States." (They did not specify exactly why -- perhaps they had envisioned an embargo of Feta cheese or something.)
The first three pages of Churchill's article are devoted to the case for British intervention in Greece. Having said this, Churchill moved on to The Real Threat, Soviet domination of the Mediterranean through control of the Dardanelles. This posed a real and concrete threat to the British-owned Suez Canal and the lifeline of commerce with India. Largely, Britain had dominated Greece and Turkey for this reason and the Adriatic was viewed as a British sphere of influence. Churchill threw yet another log on the fire -- the Soviets had intentions of seizing Persia, having annexed Azerbaijan the northernmost province. (This was bad news considering all the oil that was to be found there...) Since Persia (later to be split up as Iran and Iraq) was also dominated by the British, the threat intensified.
It has been our thesis that the breakup of the British Empire sowed the seeds for all major problems. India and Pakistan were created to neutralize one another. Persia was split into Iran and Iraq with the ruling clans in each country from minority tribes, ensuring dependence on Britain as an ally. Similar devices were used to create an unstable Jordan. Greece wobbled along and finally -- with enough American aid -- tipped permanently into the Western sphere of influence.
This notwithstanding, Churchill's summation is highly prophetic: "Half a century from now there will be eighty millions of Britons spread around the globe united in our traditions, our way of life and the world themes to which we and the United States have long been faithful." And, once again, Uncle Sam is footing the bill for their largely unreformed aristocratic caste system...
A political consensus was forming to support the ailing Greek government that was in the midst of a civil war. As you will remember, we have been following this story since early January. The British, totally bankrupt, backed out of their traditional commitments to Greece, leaving us to hold the bag. And, we held the bag to the tune of about $250 million (about $5 Billion today) under the newly promulgated Truman Doctrine that called for a halt to Communist expansion. Alas, the Republicans had taken control of Congress and had plans of their own -- not content to stop the expansion of Communism, they wanted to "roll it back." Today, LIFE focused on the State department's Office of International Cultural Affairs (OIC) (This office eventually became known as the "Voice of America". During 1947, it broadcast 393 hours of programming every week in 25 languages including Greek, Russian and Turkish. The OIC was seeking a $6 million increase in its budget, up from $19 million. In effect, OIC was the United States' propaganda outlet. Debate in Congress raged over the "effectiveness" of this propaganda. Although LIFE wanted the Evil of the Soviets proclaimed loud and clear, they felt that "truth" was the primary goal of OIC, particularly when it would expose the evil of the Russians. (By the way, Pravda is the Russian word for "truth".)
Last week we reported on the massive explosion at a coal mine in Centralia, Illinois. One hundred eleven men were killed in a disaster that was entirely preventable. LIFE took this occasion to take a jab at Labor, and in particular, John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers. They reported that, "At last the great ham actor had a fat part." Lewis gave some very dramatic testimony before Congress and was successful in getting all the nation's coal mines closed for safety inspections. Although this makes eminent sense, LIFE said," He played it for all it was worth. But while Lewis used their grief to make political capital, the women of Centralia were silent." We have only LIFE's word for this. Lewis scored a big point. He described Julius Krug, acting Coal Administrator, as a man with "Size 12 shoes and a size 5 hat." Other than a vehemently anti-labor position, I have no idea why LIFE ran this article. Check out the "Letters to the Editor" section below to get another slant on LIFE's anti-labor bias
There was a story about a man who was manufacturing salon hair-dryers using the same machinery tht had been producing bomb casings during World War II. This echoed the general "swords to plowshares" feeling of the immediate postwar period. Rapid (almost immediate...) demobilization of our armed forces tempted the Soviets to engage in aggrandization in places like Berlin and Korea. Some 3 years hence, the factory would be producing bombs once more to be employed above the 38th paralell.
Swords into Plowshares, c.1946
Click Photo to Enlarge It
LIFE did a six page feature on irreverent comedian Henry Morgan, whose schtick was to ridicule his sponsors. This strategy "sort of" paid off, because he got a large audience who were eager to hear his next outrageous stunt. Some of these include:
This is the sort of behavior that the listeners adored. In fact, Henry Morgan was one of the first media "personalities" that was popular because of his own opinions rather than the delivery of prepared material. He was not a "comedian". He simply gave his opinions on the air and they were largely targeted at the commercials that annoyed most listeners. here is a more detailed look at Morgan's relationship with "Eversharp Schick Injector Blades." (In current times, the late "Weird Al" Yankovic occupied a similar position)
Morgan entered into a long running gag with Larry Adler, the harmonica virtuouso, over Adler's sideline, The Elevator Shoe. Almost every broadcast contained a jibe at "Old Man Adler." In fact, the constant mention brought out a legion of "men only slightly higher than a Dachshund" in search of the magical shoes. Adler even changed his personal stationery to read "Old Man Adler" and became a frequent and devoted sponsor of Morgan's program. Mr. Adler was even a guest on the program where he got a little bit of revenge. He awarded a medal to the nurse who had "dropped Henry on his head when he was a baby."
In general, Morgan was a success, particularly in the big city markets. He even had a motion picture role as crusading Brooklyn D.A. Burton Turkus, the tough little guy who put Murder Inc. out of business. However, the end came with the Blacklist. By then, he had made some powerful enemies who dug up some bright pink statements that he had made. The long list of angry ex-sponsors finally had their pound of flesh. Henry Morgan never worked again on radio, although he had been "rehabilitated" enough by the 1960s that he could serve as a regular Panelist on I've Got a Secret.
LIFE delved into the world of Child Development by focusing on the work of Dr. Arnold Gesell the man who largely invented the field while a professor of medicine at Yale University. In 1919 Dr. Gesell began a vast study of the behavior of normal children and his findings over a 40 year period are now the standard reference source for parents and pediatricians. Using the motion picture camera as a basic tool, Dr. Gesell and his associates had photographed, watched, and tested nearly 12,000 children at the time of the article (and probably triple that since...). The team had observed some children at one month intervals for nearly ten years. The net result of the study was to define "normal" -- the stages at which "most" children exhibit "landmark behaviors" such as "following an object with the eyes", "sits alone" "crawls", toddles", etc, etc.
Developmental Psychology is a well-established science and the basic precepts are widely familiar to most parents. However, Dr. Gesell's observations have come to have a dark side -- they have become "prescriptive normality" and the basis for labelling "mental retardation." It took quite a while to figure out that the "12,000 babies" that were seen were largely the offspring of white middle class parents who had the time and inclination to bring their child to the Yale child development center. In general, children from poor families may differ markedly from these norms. Throughout the 1950s, "mental retardation" was a widely used method of segregating privleged children from their lesser-advantaged friends. Like most of psychological research, it was not until the great wave of Civil Rights awareness that scientists began to examine cultural differences. However, Dr. Gesell was on the right track when he said, "The intrinsic charm and goodness of childhood still constitutes the best guarantee of the further perfectability of mankind."
A regular feature was photo coverage of a celebrity party. This week, LIFE went to Poughkepsie, New York to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Smith Brothers Cough Drop Company. The country was still owned by the descendants of the original Smith Brothers, William and Andrew, better known as "Trade" and "Mark." In honor of the company's centenary, all the employees spent three months growing beards. The company's current owners, William Smith II and Robert Smith bore a strong resembalance to their ancestors. (Both are the grandsons of "Trade") The original Smiths were rabid teetotalers who were perennial candidates on the Prohibition part ticket
The Smith Brothers
Left, William Smith ("Trade") Right, Robert Smith ("Mark")
LIFE sent painter Hobson Pittman to Charleston, SC to visit some of the grand houses of the ante bellum period. Charleston had a long standing tradition of religiously preserving the grand houses that stand guard down Broad Street all the way to the Battery, many of which would have views of Fort Sumpter. The drawings are really not very good, and it would have been much better had LIFE sent some of its crack photographers to capture life in these marvelous houses at the time. All of the buildings mentioned in the article still exist -- Dr. Randolph's Residence, the Poppenheim House, the Punkin Hill Chapel, and the Miles Brewton House. However, they are not now "lived in" -- they have been "super-restored" to the abslolute scientific standards of archaeologists. As such, they are now seen perfectly clean and in "as new" repair. They have none of the seedy faded elegance associated with a century of constant use. There is a subtle difference between a home and a restored building.
Life's "King of the Strobe", Gjon Mili was able to capture a spectacular dive by Ohio State University swimmer Miller Anderson. The intercollegiate Swimming Guide calls the maneuver a "running double twisting forward one and onehalf somersault," or simply the "double twister." At the time, this was classified as the most difficult dive that could be performed in colegiate competition. By executing it perfectly, Anderson won the N.C.A.A. "Swimmer of the Year" award. Actually, Miller Anderson invented the dive some five years earlier in 1942, but he was not with OSU then -- he was an Air Force P-47 pilot. Shot down over Italy, he broke his leg in several places. The Germans set the bones side by side instead of end to end. He was rescued and his leg was saved from amputation only by major surgery. He finally got to perform his dive, and for the record, he was the first to complete it in interscholastic competition. In fact, he was Captain of the 1947 OSUswimming and diving team, and competed in three Big Ten and three NCAA championships. He won 16 major championships during his career, including five National, three Big Ten and eight NAAU titles. He competed in both the 1948 and the 1952 Olympics and won two medals in the 1951 Pan Am Games.
A unique postwar farce called John Loves Mary was reviewed. This one was written by Norman Krasna, a frequent collaborator with the Marx Brothers. A young GI named John returns to his New York sweetheart, Mary after three years overseas. John owes his life in battle to his GI friend, Fred. In order to repay his debt, John weds Fred's English girlfriend simply to get her into the US. Planning a quick divorce, John expects to deliver the girl to fred and wed Mary. But, it turns out that Fred has married another girl, so John is stuck with an unwanted wife. The play resolves this situation in a humorous fashion.
LIFE made a big point that this play would have a long post-Broadway life, because its humor is almost foolproof. The play has only one set, a small cast and the humor lies in situations which are sturdy enough to withstand nonprofessional treatment. In fact, Mr. Krasna had invented the sit-com, something that has plagued us ever since.
Whirling Dresses were this week's topic. Famed designer Gilbert Adrian began the article by saying, "A good dress has a sense of classical elegance that makes it wearable until it falls apart." Clebrating the postwar availability of cloth (rationing had been lifted), Adrian "recklessly piled on yards of taffetas and silks, swathing his mannequins in extravagant swirling gowns tah made them look as if they were walking into the wind." This year, Adrian switched from costume design in the film industry to establishing his own design studio. Business was good -- he earned nearly $2 million in 1947, more like $40 million today. He repudiated the "padded hips" designs touted by other designers in the March 3 Issue. Said Adrian, "American women's clothes should be streamlined in the daytime and full of imagination at night. I do not like padded hips." Adrian's streamlined, imaginative dresses were priced from $145 to $1,200, about $2,900 to $24,000 today. This was not for the average Jane...
Susan Hayward made a creer out of playing alcoholic anti-heroines. This week, LIFE looked at her performance in Smash Up, the story of a woman who gives up her career to help her husband but winds up lost and alone and seeks consolation in The Bottle. The film had an "Alcoholism Technical Advisor", Dr. Elvin M. Jellinik of Yale University, no less. Indeed, the film has some very harrowing scenes of drinking to excess. The widespred interest in alcoholism could be due to last year's smash success of the film The Lost Weekend and it was inevitable that Hollywood should exploit the phenomenon by switching protagonists to make a movie about a female alcoholic.
LIFE's review was: "The movie falls short of artictic perfection because of its over-long drinking scenes. However, it realistically portrays the problems of a shattered marriage and should scare the daylights out of an estimated half million serious women drinkers in the US",?P>
Ads for the following films were run:
General Electric had a full-page ad for the new line of "natural color tone" radios. This was a variant on RCA's "Golden Throat" system, designed to tease a little more performance out of a single speaker by using circuitry to balance treble and bass. This month, they were featuring the "Wake-Up to Music" series of Clock radios. These were among the first radios to offer what is now called a "snooze alarm"
Goodyear had a full-page ad for their new clear plastic wrap called Pliofilm. "D is for Dills (in brine) and for Dinners (frozen) -- Everything is better in Pliofilm." This was sold as a time-saver for busy women AND as a technique for packaging food. The ads were intended to build consumer acceptance of items packaged in clear plastic. Unfortunately, exposure to benzene during the manufacture of "Pliofilm" caused leukemia andong the workers. So much for "progress through chemistry."
Speaking of synthetics, foam rubber was just being introduced and a full page ad for Koylon Foam, a product manufactured by the United States Rubber Company. ("Serving through Science") The product was advertised as a luxury good -- "Odorless, vermin-proof, sag-proof, nonallergenic, self-airing and needs no turning." (very little of this is true) They showed a "modern" young couple in a contemporary bedroom setting enjoying the benefits of Koylon.(Comfort, Comfort Everywhere!) A friendly Scoottish terrier was shown on the bed just to let you know that no hany panky was going on
Car ads were back. Ford announced that "Ford's Finer in '47." ( the advertising agency had opted to ignore the general editorial proscriptions on aliteration...) Spring was the time to renew all things and, of course to buy a new car. This was the first year that most manufactured goods had become available in quantities sufficient to generate advertising. Hitherto, autos were a scarce commodity because of war production -- anything available was snapped up. Now, gasoline, tires and leisure time were available. This year, Ford cose to sell the 1947 models on "smart styling." This was very logical, because nothing else had changed from the 1940 models because the industry had been making tanks for six years and had not had the opportunity to change much of anything besides the instrument panel and the grille. The ad even mentioned that the '47 had "new hub caps." Ford's slogan had been altered slightly to say, "There's a finer Ford in your future."
The 1947 Ford
Elegant Folks driving the Lowest of the "Low Price 3"
Higgins, Inc. of New Orleans had a full page ad for their camp trailer. This is the same Higgins company that turned out thousands of the plywood and aluminum landing boats that made the D-Day invasion possible. Peacetime had come and the Higgins plant (now the D-Day Museum) was converted to peaceful purposes, cranking out camp trailers for the recreational delight of all the new and adventurous postwar families that had been formed. "You'd never guess that we're towing a roomy, comfortable cottage!" read the advertising copy. There was still a spark of the old company, because the ad also pushed the 12 foot Higgins Auto-Carry boat -- all mahogany, lightweight and safe.
Loretta Young posed in an ad for Max Factor Makeup wearing an evening gown and an ermine stole. The ad mentioned that Ms. Young was featured in the film The Farmer's Daughter. Alas, the character in the film is 180 degrees opposite that of the ad (the character is a maid and Ms. Young, normally a striking brunette, wears a blonde wig.) Max Factor was a genius at makeup who revolutized the film industry with a product called "pan-cake makeup", effectively a flesh colored spackling compound that could hide any form of blemish or irregularity. He made a small fortune transforming women for the screen and a larger fortune by selling the same potions to the general public.
Seven Up had a lovely "family togetherness" ad that began with a drawing of Dad and Junior carrying a whole case of Seven-Up into the house, while Mom and Sis cheerfully clean up the house. Then the scene shifts to the Family Rumpus Room, thoughtfully furnished in knotty pine. The comfy maple furniture is filled with the Family enjoying just being with one another. The Older (teenage) brother is shown enjoying a game of darts while Sis scoots around on her red trike. (Strangely, Junior has not removed his raincoat...) Older brother is wearing saddle shoes. Dad must be a real Prince, because it looks he is still smiling broadly even though Teenage Son has lofted one dart right into the knotty pine paneling. Wow! What a happy family! Did you have a swell family like that?
From time-to-time, we have been noting the various consumer products offered by the Socony-Vaccum oil company that was later to become giant Exxon-Mobil. Paraffin (wax) is a by-product of the refining industry and it has two basic uses -- candles and finishes -- that were marketed by Socony-Vaccum under the brand name Tavern. A few weeks ago, we treated the falous Tavern Candles. This week, there is an ad for Tavern Wax. In particular, the ad shows a "modern kitchen" with an inlaid linoleum floor. Indeed, it is the kind of thing that inspired our Retro Kitchen Remodeling. And, paraffin wax IS the best treatment for real linoleum floors. It is, however, just a BIT difficult to apply.
Flesh of the Swine: The Armour Packing Company took out a full-page ad for "America's Luxury Ham." This showed a happy Mom and daughters waving a platter with a ham on it in front of Dad and three (count' em) sons and a lovely Fox Terrier. The copy says "they'll come running" -- presumably everything had returned to normal because the "boys" would rather play baseball than eat meat. This was, of course, not the case during World War II when meat was rationed. In fact, it is a tribute to the American economy that meat was in sufficient supply that the Armour Corporation found it necessary to actually advertise. However, with those five kids, it looks like Dad was (or had been) interested in something besides Ham or Baseball. Another happy family!
Wholly Cow! Speaking of meat, the American Meat Institute had a full page ad to encourage the citizenry to "Rally 'round the Roast!" and eat more meat -- beef supplies complete, high quality protein ran the nutrition-ese copy. Just two years ago, when meat was rationed, this kind of ad would have been banned as cruel and unusual punishment...
The Kelvinator corporation advertised a new line of refrigerators -- once again, remarkable in itself, since such appliances had not been available for nearly six years. This one showed an adorable tyke and his puppy investigating the contents of the home's new Kelvinator. "Get the Best things First...get Kelvinator," read the advertising copy. I couldn't help notice the foods inside the family's fridge. The bottom of the thing was a "dry Storage Bin" that had 1 1/2 BUSHELS of potatoes. Needless to say, diet in the 1940s was heavily starch laden. But, this was afridge that you would like to meet at 1:00 in the morning: there was a whole "left-over" ham, half a layer cake and three quarts of milk. The fresh veggies included carrots, peppers, onions, radishes and a head of iceberg lettuce. Th freezer had meat, shrimp, ice cream and raspberries. The fruits included apples, lemons and oranges and, of all things, an avocado. The only negative was a casserole in a pyrex dish. Wow! what a lucky kid...
The 1947 kelvinator
This is not the ad desscribed above, but it does show the refrigerator contents
Bell & Howell had an ad for the Filmo Auto Load home motion picture camera. "Even beginners can make superlatively fine personal movies with a Flmo camera and enjoy this delightful hobby for years to come.." There was no mention of "cherished memories" or photos of the kiddies. This ad seemed to be organized around snop appeal. The "Filmo" was shown with painting of a Pointer (dog) painted by Percival Rousseau. The idea is that the "Filmo" and the Pointer were "bluebloods". "Filmo" is possibly the dumbest name for a camera that has ever been devised.
There was a wonderful full page ad for the vacation opportunities offered by the Canadian Pacific Railroad including the marvelous Banff Springs Hotel. In other travel-related news, a New York City bus driver named William Camillo got bored with his route in the Bronx. On a whim, he drove the bus to Florida. He was arrested and brought back to New York. It is not knwon whether he was sentenced to jail or to continue driving in the Bronx.
The Book-of-the-Month Club was pushing...
Record Ads: RCA Victor bought a full page ad for Wayne King the "Waltz King". The ad copy read, "IF YOU LOVE A LOVE SONG... wait until you hear Wayne's moonlight-mood arrangements of Maria Elene, Song of the Islands,Mexicali Rose, and In Apple Blossom Time There's a heartbeat in every measure. The ad showed cartoons of hip young white teenagers fawning all over Mr. King. Check out our study of The History of Hit Parades -- most of the stuff that we adore from the swing era was not really that "popular". Sorry to disillusion you. Decca Records was on the high road, advertisng an eductional "Spoken Word" series featuring recitations of famous poetry by celebrities like Bing Crosby, Brian Donleavy, Walter Huston, Fredric March, Agnes Moorhead and Pat O'Brien. (Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Vachel Linday were some of the authors. The series was called "Our Common Heritage."
Ladies in Undergarments: Cluett, Peabody was back with a lady in a tight skirt that happened to split because she did not look for the Sanforized label. Formfit Bras featured a pinup drawing that looked a lot like Rita Hayworth for the "Ooh la la Life Bra for the Lift of your Lifetime." Once again, Mojud Nylons had a provocative ad -- this one featured a pinup by Bradshaw Crandall that showed a lady stepping out of a picture frame ("a Portrait of glamour") -- of course, the tops of her stockings were showing... Here are some Other works by Crandall.
One of our themes for this 1947 History is that "anti-communism" became a potent weapon for people with all sorts of axes to grind. We have been reporting particularly on the Anti-labor bias of LIFE magazine and its use of the "smear" to clobber labor leaders. Above, you will find John L. Lewis held to riducule for speaking passionately on behalf of 111 workers who were killed in a mine known to be unsafe; in previous issues, you will see a frailroad owner who used goons to murder 13 workers euologized as a saint when he, too was struck down by an assailant's bullet. In the March 24 issue, LIFE published a photo montage of Labor Leaders that labeled some as "Communist" and others as "Non-Communist." There was a category labeled "Influenced by Communists" to smear those who Henry Luce (LIFE's publisher)could not fabricate even the most remote link to Russia or Communism. Please remember that during the Great Depression, 26% of the population was unemployed with no safety net -- many people began to question the wisdom of "capitalism". Also, the Soviet Union was our Ally for nearly five years during World War II and lost nearly 20 million people fighting the Nazis; even right wing neoliths like the Warner Brothers joined cause with the Russians. (The old Fascist Jack Warner made a film called North Star starring Gregory Peck that blatantly apologized for most of Stalin's worst crimes...)
With this backgrouns, a letter writer noted that "The inclusion of Sam Wolchok in a list devoted to the Communist Infiltration Corps in the C.I.O. does great injustice to a man who has been one of the most consistent and courageous enemies of Communism" (the letter writer was famed historian and Roosevelt Biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr)
LIFE promptly apologized after "doing further research." The damage, of course, had been done. The article and the retraction gave LIFE (and other media outlets) a new found power -- the power to "make" someone a Communist and the power to "redeem" someone. Given both the Stick (and now) the Carrot, the media played an important role in managing the Red Scare to the benefit of those Who Would Pay. Mr. Wolchok was the leader of the Retail and Department Store Union -- and, to the delight of Department stores, who are also Big Advertisers, this increased media clout could only play to their advantage. And, guess what? It was.
The article on preserving the family in the March 24 issue brought forth a lot of letters. One, from a reader in New Zealand mentioned that government subsidies, taxes and employment tilted in favor of married couples were the solution. A lady mentioned that the Housing Shortage was responsible for a lot of marital friction because newlyweds were compelled to live with their parents. (the Depression and then WWII following each other back to back, very little new housing had been built for nearly 20 years). Finally, an old veteran of "20 years" marriage suggested that domestic problems would "take care of themselves". Many of these things were tried, but the family has continued to decline (at least if you read the newspapers..) However, 25 - 35 year old women still spend all their time and discretionary incomes trying to form unions and thereafter spend most of their time and effort (if you read the supermarket magazines) complaining about how bored they are.
The Back cover was another "Doctors Smoke Camels" ad. This one was based on the wartime cigarette shortage: "EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER: it's only a memory now but the wartime cigarette shortage found people comparing brands whether they intended to or not.. Taste to a 'T' and mild to the Throat is the cool mildness of Camel."
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