Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lazy Tuesday

I thought I would extend the Memorial Day holiday and take the day off.  Actually, once the Blogathon is over (Thursday) I have to gear up for a new blogging challenge (Saturday).

The following post is one of my most popular posts, a little reworked.

One of my favorite pastimes is finding magazines from the World War II and Cold War era (especially World War II) and this was a nice find at the Ithaca, NY library book sale in 2009, my first year of blogging..  This book sale, held twice a year, is one of the largest in the country.  They usually have some boxes of old Life, Look and such magazines.  Sometimes they are musty, but they are always a treat for people like me to read.  The next sale is in October, and I hope I can make it up there.

Enjoy!  The original post can be found here.

Twice a year, I make my pilgrimage to the Ithaca Friends of the Library Book Sale.

If you aren't of a "certain age" you will not remember Life magazine (except maybe in the name "Time-Life"). If you are of a certain age thinking of this magazine will bring back memories.

In a corner of the sale, I followed the musty smell and found a stack of old Life magazines. Many were heavily damaged but several were still in pretty decent condition. The subscribers (the mailing labels were still on the magazine, and they didn't belong to the same person) seemed to have a common interest in the space program - and in the Soviet Union.

Remember the Soviet Union?  The monolith that was the scariest part of my childhood - and crumbled in time for my son to be born?

The magazines were $1.00 each.  Pretty cheap history.

After some digging I found my little treasure - the March 29, 1943 "Special Issue USSR" with a picture of Joseph Stalin on the cover. Now keep in mind that I grew up during the Cold War, and did my share of Duck and Cover.  To this day, hearing the sirens calling out the volunteer fire department make me cold and scared for a quick second before I reassure myself that they aren't air raid sirens announcing the atomic end of the world as we know it.

Well, my inner historian reminded me that at this point in time the U.S.S.R was our ally (against Hitler). And sure enough I paged through the magazine and saw this article "Red Leaders. They are Tough, Loyal, Capable Administrators". Not exactly the, er, party line I would hear in my growing up. Other articles praised the accomplishments of the Soviet Union, and even the accomplishments of the Russia of the past 1,000. years.

Remember the U.S.S.R? Remember the Reds? Remember Communism? My now 22 year old son doesn't. He wasn't even two years old when the Soviet Union fell on Christmas Day, 1991. As for my generation, the Red Menace dominated our childhoods. What a difference a few years makes.

To my Cold War amazement, there was even an article "The Soviets and the Post-War" subtitled "A Former Ambassador to Moscow Answers Some Perplexing Problems". The author is one Joseph E. Davies, who famously supported the Soviet government even back in the 1930's, before we became allies.

One question asked of Mr. Davies was "Is Russian determined to pursue the cause of world revolution?" His answer began "In my opinion, no."

Seven years later, in the Joseph McCarthy era, this article may have been unprintable. The story of Joseph Davies is quite interesting, if this article is accurate.

For anyone interested in history, this was a great find.

Do you remember the Soviet Union?  Duck and Cover?  The Cold War?  Do you like old magazines for their glimpses of a world now gone?


  1. You are so right, old magazines and old newspaper capture moments in time like nothing else. When I was writing my memoir, I made it my business to go to the archives in the Czech Republic to read newspapers of 1938 to see what life was like then for my grandparents, and it was a revelation to read how things looked when you didn't know the outcome yet.

    And yes, I won't forget the Cold war, or the USSR, as I grew up right next to the old East Germany. But it always gives me pause when I realize that for my kids the Cold War is history.

  2. I love the history that magazines tell. However, I have a tendency (as an information junkie) to hang on to them. I've stopped all subscriptions for that reason.

  3. I remember Life Magazine and the cold war. We did duck and cover in elementary school. What I love about Life Magazine however is that my family was featured in it once.

    My grandfather was a well known fisherman in the Bahamas. He also had a very large family. Almost two dozen children. There are pictures in the issue that featured them. My mother was only about seven I think and the pictures are in black and white although the cover over the issue has color to it.


Thank you for visiting! Your comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate each one. These comments are moderated, so they may not post for several hours. If you are spam, you will find your comments in my compost heap, where they will finally serve a good purpose.