Monday, January 31, 2011


      Some browsing on a long, long day, took me to Facebook where I found a recent posting by Karen Rutherford telling of her love of the New Yorker magazine. I was  reminded of the magazines of my younger days.
     As a child, I remember the Saturday Evening Post, which came bi-monthly to our mailbox.  I don’t know what we did without in order to subscribe but my father always managed somehow. I Googled the Saturday Evening Post and found that in those days the newsstand cost was 5¢ so he had to dig up about $1 for a one-year subscription! Remember that these were deep depression days when the listing of flour on the weekly grocery list always threw him into a panic; a 24 lb. bag cost almost $1, a loaf of bread was 8¢, a quart of peanut butter was 23¢, and a can or pork and beans was 5¢.
      The Post always had three or four short stories: several, featuring characters such as Tugboat Anne and her rival Bullwinkle, appeared often, and there was always one serialized novel. The one I remember most vividly was Mutiny on the Bounty, which my dad read to me while holding me in his lap.
     Today, issues of the Saturday Evening Post from that era are priced at $35 to $65 dollars; what a pity the mice made nests of all those old copies!
     As a beginning reader, one magazine that I looked forward to carried a children’s short, one-page story featuring Peter Painter and his magic paintbrush. With all the information that the Internet makes available, I cannot find a trace of this feature.  I did learn that there is an old Chinese folktale that could have been the basis of the stories I enjoyed so much. 
     Other magazines of those years were Colliers and the Country Gentleman. Another periodical was the Progressive Farmer. A Progressive Farmer salesman often appeared at the door with his subscription pad and seldom left without a new subscription, for if cash was short, they would take almost anything in trade.
     In the ‘60s a salesman stopped by my husband’s business attempting to make a sale and apparently did not understand “no.” He finally proposed taking an old radiator in trade so my husband said “Go for it,” since there was about half an acre of old car parts behind his shop. The salesman worked over half an hour trying to collect his payment and finally had to be helped. The stack of Progressive Farmer issues that collected on the desk were never read but somehow my husband got some satisfaction from the hard work the poor salesman did in order to get something of value for the subscription.  
      Changing interest and increased publishing costs have changed our world of magazines. The Cosmopolitan changed drastically and Good housekeeping, Redbook, Lady’s Home Journal and others that we enjoyed so much in the ‘60s and ‘70s no longer feature short stories or novelettes.  The much thinner publications of today, have large sections of recipes, “how to “ articles, or decorating features. Another loss from the good ole days!