THE FORTNIGHTLY CLUB
OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

November 21, 1968


Torn From the War Post
(Second Edition)

by Wilbur Norton Vroman

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library


Introduction

Fifteen years ago, I presented to the Forum Club of Redlands a paper entitled, "Torn from the War Post". Several members of this learned society are also members of that coeducational learned society and, while I doubt that any member or even a wife will recall the contents of that paper, I assure those members who have double allegiance that this November 1968 edition ,id= completely new and revised. I hope that they will not find it too boresome.

That paper of fifteen years ago could just as well have been entitled, "Ten Years After." This paper could have been entitled "A Quarter of a Century After." This year, 1968, is twenty-five years after 1943, the middle year of World War II; the paper that I am presenting is an analysis of material in the Saturday Evening Post for the year 1943. It is literally a paper torn from the war Post.

In 19$2, I was working on a picture file to be used in the teaching of Social Studies. Ruth E. Sargent, Mrs. Arthur M, Sargent, offered me some old magazines that she had accumulated. Hearing my eager "yes", she unburdened the creaking joists of her attic and dumped ten year's accumulations on our front porch. That's a lot of magazines.

The Saturday Evening Post had been a very popular magazine during World War II. Its pages should reflect the interests and concerns of the American people during this period.

All issues of The Saturday Evening Post for the year 1943, the middle year of World War TI, were reviewed and articles clipped from these issues were arbitrarily grouped into areas: Typical covers, The artist, Norman Rockwell, Geography, Non-fiction, poetry and fiction, art, personalities, politics, shortages and rationing, amusements, advertisements, and cartoons.

These clippings were analyzed and incorporated into a paper of memories of the World War II years and of the contrasts and similarities of the days of 1968 to those days of a quarter of a century ago.

The paper with its clippings are a record of World War IT, and of that once great magazine of middle-class America, The Saturday. Evening Post..

Wilbur Norton Vroman, a native of Illinois has earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degrees from the University of Redlands. He has had additional graduate work at Claremont Graduate School. He is a retired school administrator who has served as a teacher and assistant superintendent in the Redlands Unified School District, and as a principal and superintendent in the Mission School. District.


Torn From the War Post (Second Edition)

Fifteen years ago, I presented to the Forum Club of Redlands a paper entitled, "Torn from the War Post". Several members of this learned society are also members of that coeducational learned society and, while I doubt that any member or even a wife will recall the contents of that paper, I assure those members who have double allegiance that this November 1968 edition , completely new and revised. I hope that they will not find it too boresome.

That paper of fifteen years ago could just as well have been entitled, "Ten Years After." This paper could have been entitled "A Quarter of a Century After." This year, 1968, is twenty-five years after 1943, the middle year of World War II; the paper that I am presenting is an analysis of material in the Saturday Evening Post for the year 1943. It is literally a paper torn from the war Post.

In 19$6, I was working on a picture file to be used in the teaching of Social Studies. Ruth E. Sargent, Mrs. Arthur M, Sargent, offered me some old magazines that she had accumulated. Hearing my eager "yes", she unburdened the creaking joists of her attic and dumped ten year's accumulations on our front porch. That's a lot of magazines!

In looking over the different years, 1 found the issues ' 1943 to be especially interesting; these were the issues in the middle of World War II. 1 neatly stacked all 52 issues for the year 1943 in a corner in our dining room. The Post had slick covers and the stack was always unstacking and my wife was losing her gentle disposition. In order to keep happy marriage from dissolving and to prepare a desperately needed paper forthe Forum Club, I clipped articles, pictures, cartoons poems, et cetera from the Posts. These were grouped id regrouped into interest areas and then the most typical were saved. It seemed an endless task at the time but, out of it has come a paper, to me of memories of those World War I cars with their horror and humor, of an expanded world geography ' personalities remembered or forgotten, and of the contrast and the similarities of today to the days a quarter of a century ago.

I have always maintained that a paper has a chance of being successful if it tells little that is new, if it concludes before fidgets set-in among the listeners, and if it includes in its presentation many visual aids. This paper has potentialities for success: It is "old=hat"; it is short; and it is mostly clippings. I hope that my comments and the clippings from the 1943 Saturday Evening Post will evoke nostalgic comments from you about the war years and that great magazine ' middle-class America, the Post,

By 1943 the covers no longer carried the traditional Saturday Evening Post spread in a strip across the top but they had been changed to give emphasis to the words, The Post.

The war theme was the predominant one of the covers. It was startling however to find on one of the covers a picture of an innocent little girl standing in a field of daisies. One of the covers by Norman Rockwell, always a favorite artist, portrayed a light-hearted American Soldier spreading a bit of Americana; his cats cradle was baffling to a fakir.

Norman Rockwell did several articles and sketches that were given prominence in the Post. His art work was part of The Post tradition.
His sketches in the article, "A Night on a Troop Train. Fort Benning to - - - -?" bring back not too comfortable memories to all of us who rode troop trains in 1968. Air transportation has taken over in 1968.

Another series of Rockwell sketches is entitled, "So You Want to be President". It includes sketches of many Americans of Roosevelt's day. There is even a sketch of Fala. Remember him?

Rockwell's studio had burned during this year and he made several humorous sketches of this loss.

No formal education could give to a person the course in Geography that could be found in the pages of the 1943 Post. Places remote and almost unpronounceable became well-known Tunisia, Kiska, Wake Island, Djibouti, Burma, Makin Island, Attu, Sicily, The Solomons.
An article about the siege of Sebastapol gave high praise to our, then, ally, the Russians.

Probably to bolster circulation, the Post ran a series of articles about river valleys in the United States, How many have heard of the beautiful Kanawhat River Valley that the Post featured in its October 2, 1943 issue?

While the non-fiction articles covered a wide range of topics, unlike the Post of 1968, the 1943 articles never warranted a slander suit.

There were many articles on China. China had been occupied by Japan who was its most hated enemy. America was China's best friend. The 1943 articles in the Post reflected this friendliness. There were articles about impoverished college students; and this was on mainland China, the Red China of today. There was an article about "China's Tragic Inflation." Would it be called tragic in today's Post? A much younger General Chiang Kai-shek was affectionately referred to as "Old Chiang", China's Strong Man; Where was Mao? There was a picture of Chiang. obviously enjoying a tank that had been given to him by the Soviet Union. Once, prior to 1943, General Chiang had fought Communists who had been armed by the Soviet Union. And today, neither Red China nor Taiwan can be called bosom companions of the Soviet Union. The Japanese are no longer referred to as "Foreign Devils". What a turnabout in twenty-five years!

Most of the articles were about World War II, or at least, the greatest number were. Some of the titles are indicative: "We Skip-Bomb the Japs" "How Revolution will Come to Germany", in which the author makes the statement that "No modern government can be upset until the army turns against it. How true

in 1968 as well as 1943! "Bottom of the Barrel" in which a "young New Dealer was called for Army Service, he accepted cheerfully and remarked, “ I guess they have scraped the bottom of the barrel." The man weighed 260 pounds. How different his cheerfulness is from today's draftee's attitude.
There was a second article about the draft "Hats Off to the "1-B's". Who remembers what a 1-B was?

Elmer Peterson wrote an article called, "The Nazi Fail in Denmark'". Elmer Peterson is still around in 1968 but he does not have the prominence that he had in 1903.

"Behind the Spanish Wall" is an article about the "hunger and death that still prowl behind Franco's official barricade of silence*" Franco and Hitler were friends in 1943. Reactionary forces had triumphed over the Communists for whom most Americans were sympathetic in 19.3, America had volunteers go to Spain to fight on the Liberals side; they were called the Lincoln Battalion.

There were some articles in the 1943 Posts that would be applicable today.

The bicycle was an accepted means of transportation for some of 'past middle-age Americans' in 1943. It was healthy to cycle; in 1968 the "in" method of exercise is jogging.

One article in 1913 had the title "Can the Small College Survive'". The author believed that some campuses faced disaster but that the crisis would prove to be a boon to an educational system long in need of housecleaning. How about some of our big universities and colleges of 1968?
Another article was called, " OPA Need Not Have Failed". Today, the article could have been called, "The Great Society Need Not Have Failed
There was an article about how industry was planning ,for postwar jobs. Industry, we hope is doing it in 1968. Another article told how small industry was fighting for its life. 1943 Big Business is part of a much bigger conglomerate in 1968. There was an article that told about the minerals that were. being found in Canada. in 1968, minerals and development in Canada is still business news but added to Canada would be the mines and minerals recently found in Australia.

We have found articles apropos to the war years only, articles that would fit today as well as the war years. Some articles are good at anytime. Among these are articles on railroads, nature, and recipes.

"Brother, Can You Spare a Locomotive" tells of the difficulty getting trains over the Tehachapi grade into Bakersfield and how the Southern Pacific had borrowed locomotives for this war task. During the war years, the S. P. borrowed many steam locomotives from other lines and we could see them and hear their steam whistles in San Timoteo Canyon. Another article was called, "Portable Hotel" and told of the Pullman Company. As one train after another is discontinued by the Southern Pacific and other lines, what is to become of the sleeper?

There were only two articles on nature in the 1943 Post. One was about Wood ducks, sometimes called the most beautiful duck in the world, and the other, while not quite a nature article, told of the mascots that the G.I.'s kept.

The only recipe that I found was for a Rhode Island Clambake, "sufficient for 100 friends or fifty relatives'". There was another timeless article entitled, "How to Check a Hat", and it is illustrated by a very wide-brimmed fedora that would hardly be tonsorially correct in this narrow-brimmed year of 1968.

With a suite of offices for Mr. Nixon promised by retiring President Johnson, it was interesting to find an article on Blair House. This article was written before President Truman had used this house as the Presidential Mansion while the White House was being structurally strengthened. In 1968, we hope that the White House is being politically strengthened.

Very little space was given by the Post to the fine arts. There was one article on Calendar Art. Compared to the calendar of Marilyn Monroe, in the nude in the late 1940's and the "bunnies" of 1968, the girlie calendars of 1943 seem almost Puritanical.

Thomas Craven, an artist in his own right, wrote an article "September Morn to American Gothic'". It was profusely illustrated but the poorness of printing and paper stock are not worthy of the selection that he made.

I do not know the ,justification of the great number of ads that were being run by the De Beers Diamond Mines in 1943. They were using in their ads prints of their collection of art works. To me that were "quality" ads but my G. I. salary left little for diamond tiaras,

"Fighting Words" was a feature in every issue of the 1943 Post. They were words of the war gleaned from letters or speeches from service men, or from the war speeches of famous people. Some of the persons quoted were Winston Churchill, Tony Galento, Elmer Davis, and Mrs. Osa Johnson. Mrs. Johnson's quotation reflects the humor of the war years:

"I'll be the cannibals in the South Pacific are wondering why we're killing so many Japs. They know we can't possibly eat all of them."
The Japanese of 1968 were the Japs of 1943.

The war years also put many working women into shorts. The following quip was used to make one of the articles come out even at the bottom of the page: "It seems to me that when a woman is wearing shorts, her charms are enlarged without being enhanced". It was shorts in 1943; it is miniskirts in 1968!!!

The Post had as one of its best features in 1963 a series of long poems by Joseph Auslander entitled, "Open Letters to the Unconquerable". They were a testimony to the unconquerable spirit of the Dutch, the Poles, the Greeks and the Caechoslovakians. This extract from the open letter to the Czechs is applicable to them today:

Burn a hundred Lidices to the ground.
New Lidices will spring up; the desolate space
Charred, choked with ashes,
Ana dead birds all around
Will Consecrate a holy place
Drenched with the blood that flames and flashes
Wherever Czecholslovaks and freedoms dream are found.

Riots have occurred on the streets of Prague in November 1968; "Drenched with the blood that flames and flashes, where ever Czechoslovaks and freedom's dream are found."

Biographies have always found a place on the pages of The Saturday Evening Post. There were many in the 1943 Post. Who recalls Alan Kirk, Howard L. Vickery, Ernie Pyle, Joe Foss, Donald Douglas, and Eric Johnston. They warranted biographies in 1943; where are they today? Biographies of Generals made good reading. There was a series that included General. Vandergrift, General Mark Clark and General Simon Buckner.
Ethel Jacobson for many years a favorite of the Post editors wrote a series of flippant poems about some of the personalities of 1943= Thomas E. Dewey, Dorothy Thompson, Walt Disney, Oveta Culp Hobby, Bob Hope, Lunt and Fontanne, Toscanini, the 1943 Ann Landers, Dorothy Dix, Henry Wallace, James F, Byrnes, Joel Kupperman, Elmer Davis, Bearsley Ruml, William M. Jeffers, Will H. Hays, Dorothy Lamour, Donald Duck, James Petrillo, Westbrook Pegler, and the Lone Ranger. Most will be recalled today, How about Joel Kupperman?

I doubt if any person has been as continuously in the news as has been Dwight 'Eisenhower. In 1943, the Post published a biography oaf the youthful Eisenhower. He was establishing a reputation and he had that smile that was win him a Presidency.

Biographies also made good advertising copy. With nothing to sell, large corporations used the personalities of the day to .keep their name in. front of the public.

There were very .few articles about politics in 1943. The Post had. had Republican leanings anal one editorial expressed concern. about the New Deal. Franklin Roosevelt warranted only two stories; one asked the perennial question, "Will the President Run Agar.'?.

Robert A. Taft was earning the title of :Mr. Republican, Bricker, Vandenberg Wilkie, Martin, Dewey and, even in 1943, Stassen were the big names in the Grand Old Party. Earl Warren. had moved into the Governor's Mansion in California. Twenty-five yeas later he indicated his intention to retire as Chief Justice oaf the Supreme Court and a political hassle ensued over LBJ's nomination of his successor.

In 1943, some of today's writers were appearing in the post. Bennett Cerf wrote an article about great books.  Booth Tarkington had a short story. MacKinlay Kantor, who has since appeared in Redlands for the University's Writers week had. a poem entitled, "One Chute Burned."

Who will forget the Earthworm Tractor Company? In 1943 our hero, Alexander Boos, goes off to war as Captain Alexander Betts and, as usual, bungles everything.

There are poems by such well-known poets as William Pratt and Richard Armour. Whether whimsical or serious the poems are generally in war garb. Meat shortages prompted this poem by Richard Armour:

I've never eaten horse meat,
Let no one horse meat sell me,
I've never eaten horse meat,
And if I should don't tell me.

Many poems from servicemen were published. This second stanza of a three stanza poem is typical:

God of the darkness!
God of the night!
Give us Thy strength that we may fight.
And if it's Thy wish that we should die;
First let us see flame against the sky!

After the race riots of recent years, in 1968 it was a shock to find a recipe for making a Molotov Cocktail in a 1943 advertisement of the Continental Oil Company. The cocktail had been "named after the great Russian Statesman." Where is Molotov today?

Perhaps the most frequent articles in the 1943 Post were on shortages and rationing. There was no such thing as a new car. Ration books were required for almost everything be it shirts or shoes, butter or meat. Long distance calls or new telephone were hardly attainable. And who ever heard of maid service in hotel rooms, or even hotel rooms.

Victory gardens were common and canners such as the Del Monte Company recommended in their advertisements that people do home canning.

In 1943, it was doomed necessary to keep up the morals   of both the Servicemen and the public at home. It became: almost patriotic to b. amused. Movie houses were always open and full as there was no television. Of course they often had the war theme. The picture, "Thousands Cheer" bragged of thirty stars. Most of them are remembered today:Kathryn Grayson, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Frank Morgan, John Boles Margaret O'Brien, Virginia O'Brien,  Kay Kyser, Bob Crosby, Marsha Hunt and ,Josť Iturbi.

The 1943 Post had only one article on sports. This article on "The Greatest Ball Club on Earth" was about the St. Louis Cardinals. Little did the Post of 19113 know that a quarter of a century later, the Cards would be defeated by the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series.

The advertisements in the Post tell a story. In contrast with the 1968, although advertising was restricted, the 1943 Post had many advertisements. Not only were there many ads, but the advertisements had a different format. There was little to sell to the public and corporations were more concerned with keeping their names known than to sell.

Battle Ribbons and other war insignia made colorful ado. Other companies, like Shell. Corporation, apologized for the poor quality of gasoline. Plastics begin to appear in the advertisements and the aluminum companies were afraid of losing their postwar markets to them. One advertisement expressed this concern.

In 1943, General. Mills brought out a new dry cereal which they called "Cheerioats". The little doughnuts are still sold today only General, Mills has changed the name to Cheerios; they dropped the '•a'' and the "t", The cartoons of 1943 could well be the cartoons of 1968 except that they were "in uniform". The war themes are always prevalent. There were many cartoons about the draft, ration books and war babies.

Americans can always laugh at their disccomfitures, and the shortages of doctors hotel rooms, fuel and manpower were themes for cartoons .in the 194.3 Post. Little Lulu was very popular and generally appeared in some, wartime situation. Hazel made her debut in those years and was to blossom .into a color TV program in 1968". Do you remember The Little Scouts? There are cartoons of them. and their distraught scoutmaster in 1943.

There were no cartoons about Rivets, the little fox terrier that was constantly ?bugging' some admiral. He must have appeared in the Post subsequent to 1943.

 The year 1943 was a year' typical of World War TI, and the Saturday Evening Post for that year has made a record though its feature articles, its short stories and poetry, its biographies, its advertisements, its covers and format, and moSt effectively , its cartoons  The Curtis Publishing Company states that The Post was founded in the eighteenth century by Dr. Benjamin Franklin, that inventor of lightning rods, fire insurance, Franklin Stoves, France and La Fayette, bifocals, and probably ball point quills. From this early beginning, this bit of Americana has appeared weekly in middle-class American homes, and is a record of the concerns, the literature,the personalities,the manufactured goods, and the humor of America. This record is soon to end.

The Curtis Publishing Company is in financial difficulties and despite valiant and drastic efforts, the Saturday Evening Post will expire.

In anticipation, of this paper for Fortnightly, I asked a stock broker to send me Standard & Poor's current report for the Curbs Publishing Company. Dated, Monday, July 22, 1968, it is as follows:

Effective June 10, 1968, the common stock, $4.00 prior preferred stock, $1.60 prior preferred stock and the 6% subordinated income debentures due 1986 of the Curtis Publishing Co. were delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. Reasons cited were failure to meet NYSE minimal requirements for net earnings. No further Standard Listed Stock Reports will be issued on the Gurus Publishing Co.

In 1943, just twenty-five years ago, The Saturday Evening Post in each of the issues included this squib:

Because of the Government’s Wartime restrictions on paper consumption, fewer copies of The Saturday Evening Post will be printed than last year. With the demand for the Post growing, this means that some readers will be unable to buy their favorite weekly magazine. To help meet this shortage, we urge you to pass your copy along to some friend after you have finished it.

The irony of it!


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