A Year in the "LIFE"
Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!
Stroll through 1947 with us

Hi-- thanks for tuning in

I have embarked on a project that I have long dreamed of: to relive a year in the 1940s. No time machines, however..

I was very fortunate to find a set of bound volumes of LIFE Magazine for the year 1947. Since 2004 is just beginning, I thought that it would be appropriate to meander through 1947 one week at a time to see how things have (and haven't) changed in 57 years. By the way -- the bound volumes came from the library of Bridgewater College (in Bridgewater, Virginia...) Are there any alumni out there who would like to share campus lore from this august institution -- especially during 1947?

This has been a learning experience for me, and I hope that our "Past is Prologue" section will give you some insights into contemporary problems. For example:

  • We were quite over-extended, trying to occupy and democratize Germany and Japan while keping a wary eye on the Soviet Union. The US was about to fall into the Cold War, but the great mass of the population still had some lingering feelings that the Russians were "kind of" good guys since they fought the Nazis. The USSR did not yet have THE BOMB, so America was not yet in full-fledged paranoia. This is quite similar to what's happening today if you just substitute "Iraq", "Afghanistan", and "Al Qaeda" in the right places.
  • In the January 6, 1947 issue, the Air Force was still struggling to break the Sound Barrier. An article on the X-1 was accompanied by a futuristic drawing of a "Sound-breaking commercial liner" that could go from "NYC to Havana in 40 minutes." On January 6, 2004 the Udvar-Hazy museum opened with a SST Concorde as one of its principal exhibits. In effect, the science fiction of 1947 got turned into the museum relic of 2004 almost 57 years to the day.
  • In the Feb 3 issue, the A.O. Smith Company opened the most "thoroughly Modern Postwar Factory" to manufacture water heaters in Kankakee, Illinois (with the aid of a big government grant) The article went on to tout the virtues of the new system especially the fact that it would assure jobs and prosperity for Kankakee for the next "100 years". In 2004, the "Modern A.O. Smith Company" manufactures water heaters in Juarez, Mexico and Nanjing, China...

In addition, looking at a whole year's issues with the aid of hindight can give some inkling of how LIFE actually operated as a media concern. For example, we have been following the promotion of a film, a real stinkeroo, called "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami." There are a number of "teaser" ads, plus some subtle touches that you would not expect. References to the film start showing up in legitimate articles within the text, and the film's star inexplicably turns up on the cover, etc, etc.

The ads are informative as well. We have been following ads that encourage women to leave the world of work for the Home which was a big topic in postwar America. Diet in the 1940s was abysmal, mostly fried meats and potatoes; hence, we have also been following the variety of ads for laxatives and antacids. We report on the Book of the Month club selections. Back then, there were no PDAs; people communicated "gadget status" by their fountain pen and thus we have been paying attention to "who's endorsing pens."

I am constantly surprised to discover how relevant concepts and issues that got started in 1947 are to life today. This underscores my resolve to use the internet as a tool to bring together a mass of primary-soure information from American Popular culture so that people in 2004 and beyond will understand that today's predominate ideas, beliefs, and preconceptions were shaped long ago. I believe that it is essential to go back to primary sources to separate that which is true and enduring from that which has been imposed on us by the selective perceptions of our parents, schools and other influences. If you see something in my summary that strikes you, I encourage you to go to your library and look at the enitire issue of LIFE [and lots of other sources!] and develop your own theory of history.

Here are the issues that we have summarized to-date. We're sorry that we haven't got very many pictures in these things, but the folks at LIFE are just a bit touchy about copyrights. BUT, we realize that most folks hate to read text, so we have salted the writeups liberally with hyperlinks that have plenty of photos to illustrate what we are talking about. During the week, we update everything as folks write in, or as new data are received.

We are always glad to hear from our readers: e-mail us by clicking here

You might also be interested in our special page dealing with LIFE Issues with Lindy Hop Content.

Counter for the Entire Site (not just this page..)

website counter

Home | About Lindy | 1940s Collectibles | Upcoming Events | Vintage Clothing
The Guide - Establishments - Travel - Accessories
Music | Links | Photo Gallery | Extras | Contact