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Ode to Feminine Knees (Flapper Magazine, 1922)
When the skirt hems began to rise in the Twenties, it was widely understood that the vision of a woman's leg was a rare treat for both man and boy; a spectacle that had not been enjoyed since the days of Adam (married men excluded). The flappers certainly knew this, and they generally believed that suffering the dizzying enthusiasm of the male of the species was a small price to pay in order to secure some element of liberty. The flappers liked their hem-lengths just where they were and, thank you very much, they were not about to drop them.
Attached are some verses by an anonymous flapper who expressed her reaction regarding all that undeserved male attention her knees were generating.
Ginger Rogers (Film Daily, 1939)
A single page article on the topic of Ginger Rogers (1911 – 1995) and her career as it had progressed up to the year 1939:
"Virginia Katherine McMath is the real name of this famous star and she was born in Independence, Missouri, on July 16, but most of her childhood was spent in Fort Worth, Texas."
"She is five feet, four inches tall and weighs 108 pounds. She never has to diet because dancing keeps her in perfect condition. Dancing is listed as her very favorite hobby, too."
"She had her first taste of real success on the screen with the winning roles in 'Gold Diggers of 1933' and '42nd Street'."
Click here to read about the young Lucile Ball.
The Reformed South Korean Military (Pathfinder Magazine, 1952)
By the close of 1952 it became evident to anyone who followed the events in Asia that the army of the Republic of Korea (ROK) had evolved into a competent and reliable fighting force; highly disciplined and well-lead, it was finally able to both take and hold ground while simultaneously inflicting heavy casualties on their the enemies. Gone from the mind was that South Korean army of 1950: that retreating mob that quickly surrendered their nation's capital to the on-rushing Communists just three days into the war, leaving in their wake a trail of badly needed equipment.
After a year and a half of the most vicious combat, the ROK Army put in place the badly needed reforms that were demanded if the war was to be won. Relying on their own combat veterans as well as their United Nation's allies, recruits were clearly schooled in what was required to survive in battle. As relieved as the many Western commanders were to see how effectively the South Koreans were able to create such a force, the liabilities of this army were still genuine and they are listed in this article as well.
Risqué Graphics Come of Age (On the QT, 1960)
The Sexual Revolution began slowly building with the release of the Kinsey Report (read about that here) in 1948 and from that point on more and more mainstream magazines began publishing articles about sexual concerns: adultery, frigidity and homosexuality. This article concerns the changing aesthetic that was taking place in American pop-cultural imagery during the late Fifties to early Sixties. For the first time ever, large numbers of American art directors employed by record labels, ad firms and publishing houses were interested in using images featuring scantily clad women. The author also touches upon the general lust that the American male was experiencing for girly nudes between 1950 and 1960 - never before had there been so many companies willing to send pornography by mail and never before had there been so many men placing the orders.
How Many Americans Had Cars in the 1920s? (Current Opinion, 1922)
The post-World War I American economy was humming along quite nicely when an inquisitive journalist took notice as to how many more cars there were on the streets (all told, there were 7.5 million). Perhaps there were no written studies documenting what we now call 'the order of durable goods' - that dependable yardstick we use to measure American opulence, and so this investigative journalist came up with a different way of figuring out just how many cars Americans could purchase -and we're mighty glad he did!
Krazy Kat: Low Art Meets High Art (Vanity Fair, 1922)
At the very peak of bourgeois respectability, one of the high priests of art and culture, Gilbert Seldes (1893 - 1970), sat comfortably on his woolsack atop Mount Parnasus and piled the praises high and deep for one of the lowest of the commercial arts. The beneficiary was the cartoonist George Herriman (1880 – 1944), creator of Ignatz Mouse and all other absurd creations that appeared in his syndicated comic strip, "Krazy Kat" (1913-1944):
"His strange unnerving distorted trees, his totally unlivable houses, his magic carpets, his faery foam, are items in a composition which is incredibly with unreality. Through them wanders Krazy, the most tender and the most foolish of creatures, a gentle monster of our new mythology."
Artist Paul Cadmus (Art Digest, 1937)
A late Thirties art review of Paul Cadmus (1906 - 1999), one of the finest and most scandalous artists of the W.P.A.:
"Paul Cadmus was thrust into national prominence at the age of 26 when his canvas, 'The Fleets In', painted for PWAP in 1933, stirred up a storm of protest. Since then controversies have dogged his art but with them has come recognition...Like the contemporary writers Thomas Wolfe and Aldous Huxley the reaction of Cadmus against present day 'civilization' is one of repulsion tinged with hatred. This note of protest seems to be the battle cry of the younger generation of artists and writers. Mrs Overdressed Middle class to be viewed by the public..."
Teen Slang of the 1940s (Yank Magazine, 1945)
A 1945 Yank Magazine article concerning American teen culture on the W.W. II home front in which the journalist/anthropologist paid particular attention to the teen-age slang of the day.
"Some of today's teenagers ---pleasantly not many --- talk the strange new language of "sling swing." In this bright lexicon of the good citizens of tomorrow, a girl with sex appeal is an "able Grable" or a "ready Hedy." A pretty girl is "whistle bait." A boy whose mug and muscles appeal to the girls is a "mellow man," a "hunk of heart break" or a "glad lad."
Click here to learn how the Beatniks spoke.
Click here if you would like to read a glossary of WAC slang terms.
•Suggested Reading• Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang
''The Problem People'' (Collier's Magazine, 1942)
These assorted color photographs of the Japanese-American internment camp at Manzanar, California helped to illustrate this 1942 COLLIER'S MAGAZINE article by Jim Marshall as to what Manzanar was and was not, who was there and how it operated:
"In the past few months a dozen new war-born communities have risen almost magically in the open spaces of the Far West...Altogether, their population is about 115,000, but only a few hundred of theses are [for] Whites. The others are Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry. Although peopled and largely operated by members of an Asian race, these communities are as American as San Francisco or Topeka. They hold elections, have traffic problems, go to the movies, read newspapers, stage fund drives and proceed with life as much as any other town."
"All we can do here is prove that we are good sports and good Americans, and hope that people will respect us and our problems."
Denim (Collier's Magazine, 1942)
Nine months into the war the American fashion industry awoke to discover that one of the most sought after cottons being purchased domestically was denim.
Denim was first seen in 1853, worn by the men who panned for gold in California. When faced with hard labor, this sturdy twill had proven its worth again and again, and when the American home front recognized that there was a great deal of work to be done in the fields and factories if the war was to be won, they slipped on jeans and denim coveralls and saw the job through.
Who on Sixth Avenue could have known back then that denim would be the main-stay in American sportswear for decades to come?
A far more thorough history of blue jeans can be read here.
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