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Textile Temptresses


fashion springmaid ad men vintage illustration 1940s

In the puritanical Post-War years before there was Playboy Magazine, red-blooded  ex-GI’s could still get an eyeful of racy pin-up girls just by glancing through their favorite magazine.

No, I’m not talking about Wink, Flirt, Eyeful or any of the dozens of girlie pulp magazines hidden in the rear shelves of the local drug store, but right there in the mid-century family’s  Norman Rockwell covered Saturday Evening Post, not to mention  in all-business-no nonsense Fortune Magazine.

vintage womens Fashion springmaid ads illustration pin ups

Vintage Springmaid Fabrics Ads 1948

These and several other mass market magazines all ran a legendary series of advertisements put out by Springmaid fabrics filled with risqué wording and sexy pin ups girls to rival those of illustrators Earl Moran and Pete Driben’s girlie covers on Twitter.

These ads generated both public adoration and puritanical outrage. It wasnt so much the illustrations that caused a ruckus but the often salacious double entendre copy written by the owner of Spring Mills himself, Elliot White Springs.

The ads proudly boasted that the fabric company was now in the “hip harness and bosom bolster business.” Cheekily, they referred to ladies underpants as “ham hampers” and their brassieres as “lung lifters.” A post-war public already beset with Atomic jitters were now gravely warned against contracting such dreaded conditions as “rumba aroma”, “skaters steam” and “ballerina bouquet” which only their miracle fabrics would prevent.

Textiles springmaid Fabric sheets 1950s housewife

And yes, if you were wondering, this is the same Springmaid whose 300 count sheets you recently purchased for your guest bedroom at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

WWII Call to Service

textiles springmaid 1943 James Montgomery Flagg

Vintage Spring Cotton Mills Ad WWII 1943 illustration James Montgomery Flagg. A call to service

Before they embarked on this racy campaign, Spring Mills was enlisted in another campaign, recruited by Uncle Sam as a major supplier of cloth to the armed services during WWII.

One part of their important war work was developing a special fabric for camouflage. it was to be used in the Pacific to conceal ammunition dumps and gun emplacements,  but the Japanese learned to detect it because of its lack of jungle smells.

WWII Cannon towels vintage ad illustration soldiers

Spring Mills came up with a novel solution.

When the fabric was dyed it was also impregnated with a permanent odor of hibiscus, hydrangea and old rubber boots. The deception was so successful that when Tokyo fell, the victorious invaders hung a piece of this fabric on a Japanese flagpole.

Underneath it All

Triumphant from their many success during the war, Spring Mills patented that process along with several other innovations and marketed them for use in women’s foundation garments.

Under the watchful eye of Elliot White Springs, the once staid company took a more risqué direction.

The idea for the pin ups got their start in 1947 with an in-house beauty contest- Miss Springmaid. The winners were taken to New York where they were drawn by leading illustrators that would eventually be used in advertising.

Skating on Thin Ice

fashion Springmaid ads illustration pin up 1940s

Vintage Springmaid Fabric Ads (L) 1948 (R) 1949

The new post-war ads all began explaining the company’s many war triumphs and touting the peacetime use of its war-time fabrics: “….the fabric is now available to the hip harness and bosom bolster business as Springmaid Perker. The white with gardenia, the pink with Camellia, the blush with jasmine and the nude, dusty. “

It concluded, “If you want to achieve the careless look and avoid ‘skaters steam’ kill two birds with one stone by getting a camouflaged callipygian camisole. Another ad from 1949  featured “luminous fabric named ‘shiner’ for ‘rear guard business’. You don’t have to feed your baby onions,” the ad informed the reader, “to find her in the dark even at a masked ball.”

Hot Stuff

fashion springmaid ad 1948 illustration pin ups

Recalling a cover of Esquire Magazine featuring 3 skaters warming themselves up before a performance, Springmaid acquired the rights to the illustration to use in one of their own ads for a fire-proof fabric that they had developed during the war.

This flame resistant fabric originally developed for airplane ground crews and carrier fire squads, was now known as Springmaid Kerpyr and was “available to the false bottom business as a combed broadcloth. If you expected to attend a campfire picnic, a fourth of July barbecue or warm yourself in front of a crackling fire, be protected by the Springmaid label on the bottom of your trademark.”

A Sticky Situation

fashion springmaid ad pin up illustration 1940s

Another of their war-time products was a special cotton fabric coated with emulsified rubber, cut into strips, put into rolls and shipped to hospitals all over the world for use as adhesive tape.

The cloth known to the trade as Sticker became available to the false bottom and filibuster business.”Don’t depend on buttons and bows, warned the copy in this 1949 ad, “but switch to Sticker and let Springmaid label protect you from the consequences of embarrassing accidents such as pictured in the ad. We stick behind our fabric and feel its tenacity so strong our only competition comes from a tattoo artist.”

Textile Tempest

As the ads heated up along with the hot-headed public’s reaction to them, Time Magazine reported on the tumult in the summer of 1948:

“Such lusty ballyhoo-for Spring Mills Springmaid fabrics- startled readers of the high-necked New York Times. It also drew a shocked cry of ‘bad taste’ from Advertising Age and protests from the New Yorker, Life and other magazines which refused to run other Springmaid copy until such phrases as ham hamper, lung lifter, and rumba aroma were deleted.”

“Not in months had advertising titups caused such a tizzy.”

Mad Men

illustration  PT Barnum vintage ad

PT Barnum “Step Right Up Folks” illustration Albert Dorne

Elliot Springs, at times characterized as emotionally unstable, clearly missed his calling in life as an Ad man on Madison Avenue. In a shameless bit of self promotion, a self published book he wrote was boldly hawked in each and every Springmaid ad:

“Elliot White Springs, president of The Springs Cotton Mills, has written another book,’Clothes Make the Man’ which was indignantly rejected by every editor and publisher who read it. So he had it printed privately and sent to his friends for Christmas. After they read it, he ran out of friends, so there are some extra copies. It contains a veritable treasury of useless information, such as how to build cotton mills, how to give first aid on Park Avenue, and how to write advertisements. If not available at your local bookstore, send a dollar and postage to us.”

Who Puts the Broad in Broadcloth

Fashion springmaid Ad Vivian Blaine

Vintage Springmaid fabrics Ad 1952 We Put the “Broad” in Broadside featuring actress Vivian Blaine star of Broadways “Guys & Dolls” and MGM’s “Skirts Ahoy”

In addition, for those who loved the Springmaid campaign, one could order a set of the ads suitable for framing for just 25 cents. How a bout a new calendar featuring 15 titillating Springmaid ads sold at newsstands everywhere. For a mere quarter you also could be the owner of a sheet of decals of 6 sprightly Springmaid girls.

If that weren’t enough, Springs had designed a sports shirt with 16 Springmaid girls printed in 6 colors on Springmaid broadcloth. For $3 they would gladly mail you one.

And underneath it all, what man wouldn’t lust after a pair of boxer shorts sprinkled with Springmaid beauties in dazzling color and provocative poses!

mens fashion varsity pajamas

Vintage ad 1951 Mens shorts printed with Springmaid Beauties

He may not have made much money from “Clothes Make the Man”, but in the great American tradition, the controversial ads paid off handsomely with record sales for Spring Mills.

Elliot White Springs crazy? Crazy like a fox!

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


Rosie The Riveter Goes to War


WWII Women WAC Enlist illustration soldier

Like most gals during WWII, Rosie the Riveter was wacky for khaki.

But Rosie didn’t just swoon for a man in a uniform; Rosie wanted to wear one herself!

WWII Women war work illustration

Like every Mrs. and Miss America, Rosie was doing her part for the war effort. Not only was she a regular soldier in the kitchen saving her fats and counting her points,but dressed in the trim attire of the Red Cross Motor Corps- or handing out sandwiches down at the canteen- or doing any of a dozen “extra duty” jobs, she was stepping out for victory.

And she had already proved herself down at the defense plant that she could handle any job a man could.

But now Rosie wanted in on the action.

She wanted to be a soldier on the front lines, and not just a soldier on the home front.

Radiating vitality and high spirits, she had the time and youthful energy to fight for freedom. Joining the army would be her personal gateway to adventure.

“It was imperative to go now!” she would say to anyone within earshot. “Lose the war and there would be no home front to come home to.”

Back the Attack

WWII WAC and WAAC Recruitment Posters

Besides which, by 1944 the newly hatched WAC’s was actually a gen-u-ine part of Uncle Sam’s Army, not merely an auxiliary like its earlier incarnation the WAAC’s.

After much debate,  in July of 1943 FDR  had signed a bill changing the name of the  Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp (WAAC)  to Women’s Army Corp  (WAC),  making it part of the Army Reserves.

 WWII Army Wacs Ad 1944

An aggressive publicity campaign for enlistment was launched on behalf of the newly formed women’s corps that included along with the WACs, the Navy’s WAVES ( Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and the Coast Guard SPARS, which came from the Coast Guard Motto Semper Paratus- always ready.

I Love A Gal in Uniform

Madison Avenue jumped on the bandwagon wasting no time in picturing glamor pusses decked out in spiffy uniform to sell their products.

WWII Women military illustration Cutex ad

Vintage Ad WWII Cutex Nail Polish 1944 Perfect colors for the patriotic gal in the service or out- “At Ease, Honor Bright, Black Red, On Duty, and Off Duty”

WWII Coke  ad illustration female soldiers 1940s

Vintage WWII ad Coke “Allies Enjoy a Friendly Pause” 1944

vintage ads WWII Women military ads

(L) Vintage Ad Tangee Make Up for Lady Soldiers 1944 (R) Vintage Ad Ivory Snow 1944

WWII women military advertising

Vintage WWII Ad Canada Dry 1944 Canada Dry Salutes the Ladies…the gallant young women who are dedicated to our country

WWII Women waves advertising

Vintage Ad Colgate Toothpaste 1944

WWII Women soldiers  ads smoking

Vintage WWII Ads (L) Camels for Gals in Uniform 1943 (R) Actress Joan Bennet for Chesterfield 1942

WWII ad pontiac servicemen and women illustration

Vintage Ad WWII Pontiac 1944 “Every American is pledged to do his or her part toward the attainment of Victory and Peace

WWII Women ads military Hollywood movie stars

(L) Vintage Chesterfield Ad 1943- Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, Veronica Lake starring in “So Proudly We Hail” (R) Chesterfield Ad 1944 Carol Landis starring “By Secret Command”

Sometimes it seemed to Rosie as if every movie star in Hollywood was joining up ( if only in the movies).

It’s a Man’s World

WWII  vintage ads, romance, soldiers illustration

But not everyone was as gung-ho as Rosie to let a gal in the military.

Despite the plethora of publicity featuring pretty girls in uniform, the initial response to the idea of women enlisting met with enormous resistance.

There were plenty of arm-chair generals around, including Rosie’s father who wondered “What the devil did a woman want to be a soldier for? After all it’s a man’s world!”

Old time officers and their band of enlisted brothers couldn’t get used to the idea of women in uniform, One Marine commanding officer got his hackles up when told that female Marines were to be sent to him.”Damn it all;” he barked, “first they send dogs; now it’s women.”

In 1939 while Hitler goosestepped all over Europe and the threat of war loomed ominous, the Army had looked at the probability that women would serve in some capacity in the army. An officer predicted that “women’s probable jobs would include those of hostess, librarians, canteen clerks, cooks and waitresses, chauffeurs, messengers and strolling minstrels.”

English Rose in the Army

WWII Women British soldier

By 1941 with the drums of war getting louder, the need to free as many male soldiers as possible for combat became urgent.

When people wondered whether women really could help win a war, they pointed to other counties like Britain, Russia and China where women were already pitching in to help win the war.

A lengthy article that ran in Life Magazine in August of 1941 about the British women in the military gave American women an idea of what they could do should the US go to war.

The English girl on the cover of  was one of millions of English women who were actively fighting the total war against Hitler. The article explained: “She wears an ATS on her Khaki cap standing for Auxiliary Territorial Service ie the woman auxiliaries who release men from non fighting jobs in the Army.”

That same year, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill calling for the creation of an all volunteer Woman’s Corp in the Army separate and distinct from the existing Army Nurses Corps.

WW2  women soldiers illustration

Although Rogers believed the Women’s Corps should be part of the Army so women would receive equal pay, pension and disability benefits, the boys club that was the army balked at accepting women directly into its ranks.

The issue was hotly debated, dissected and scrutinized in Congress.

“With women in the armed services,” one representative asked “Who will then do the cooking, the washing, the mending, the humble homey tasks to which every woman had devoted herself; who will nurture the children?”

America at War

WWII WAAC recruitment poster

Pearl Harbor quickly put an end to that debate.

When faced with fighting a 2 front war and supplying men and materiel for that war, the military and politicians realized that women could supply the additional resources so desperately needed in the military.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was officially established in May 1942 to provide women to fill support roles and free up more men for combat duty.

Although the women who joined considered themselves in the army, technically they were civilians working with the Army until 1943 when a new congressional bill transformed the WAAC to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) giving Army women military status.

Facts About The WAC’s

WWII WACS Posters women soldiers illustration

Rosie knew being a soldier might just involve more than a smart uniform and handsome soldiers and sailing away to exotic lands. Courage and character -she had ‘em in spades.

But some of the other girls were a bit apprehensive.

Physical stamina was certainly the first thing any soldier would need and lots of it. “All that marching and jumping jacks,” fretted her friend Maizie   “The drilling sounds so strenuous!”Nonsense! “Rosie read reassuringly to her from WAC Answer and Question Guide for Patriotic American Women,  “The most beautiful women in America today are the girls in khaki! Some calisthenics and drilling are vital to general good health, discipline and tuned up reflexes.”

“I’ve never been away from home,” her pal Betsy brooded. “My parents wonder about this strange new life for me,” a nervous Nancy chimed in.

“Joining any of the military services is like going to Girl Scout camp except that it is difficult to run home to mother if you don’t happen to like it,” chuckled Rosie

She continued, reading from the WAC Guide:

“There couldn’t be a better place for you than in the WAC where you will receive excellent care in every way, enjoy the companionship of other fine women from all over the US, and lead a wholesome healthy life under the leadership of understanding, intelligent officers. Each day is so interesting and full f activity there’s hardly time for loneliness.”

You’re In The Army Now

WWII Women soldiers ad jeep

Rosie’s heart raced the day she received an envelope from the War Dept.

Assigned to a post in Des Moines, Rosie looked all around her. Tanks and jeeps roared by, the sky was gray with planes buzzing over the airfield. Rosie decided she was going to like Army life.

Before long they were taking sizable hikes and wearing camouflage and flinging herself into a fox hole.

In short time she was ready for active duty, anxious to be among the men, the tanks and heavy field mortars.

But even if her assignment as an unglamorous typist never took her farther than a dusty Post in Oklahoma, she proudly wore her uniform knowing she had freed a man for combat! Her typing job helped the army win the war just as women had always helped men achieve success…behind the lines.

It would still take 68 years for the US lifts its ban on women in combat.

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

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A Winter War Time Romance


WWII Illustration soldier and girl at beach

The winter of 1944 was a blustery one. ..but it would soon turn torrid.

Christmas break, my 18-year-old college freshman mother Betty hopped on a Pullman, joining her family for a well needed vacation in balmy Miami Beach. The glow of health that would come with a trip to sunny Florida would work wonders for chilly, war-weary souls, restoring pep and vitality.

On top of which, to my coed mother’s delight, Miami was swarming with soldiers. Betty would be stationed in seventh heaven..

Miami had become a mecca for the military. Because of the good weather, the Army and Navy had located bases, training schools, and rehab centers there, and the Army still operated most of Miami’s snazziest hotels.

When she met Stanley, a marine who it just so happened was stationed at the hotel next to hers, she knew this was it!  He was a khaki Casanova who swept her off her feet; the dream guy she was always talking about had really come to life.

He just popped up suddenly out of thin air…in of all places… on a Pullman!

Train Travel

WWII Coke ad soldiers waiting for train illustration

Train traveling had changed during WWII. Wisely, her family had purchased train tickets far in advance.  Due to the war, trains were at a premium, with priorities going to the armed forces. Besides troop movement, there were those who had to travel on essential war business. There were service men on furlough; there was the shortage of tires and the rationing of gas- all added to the demand for space on the train.

All Aboard

travel RR Pullman vintage illustration people on train

Once on board, Betty chose to relax in the trains observation car. With its glass enclosed loggia, solarium sized windows, radio, soft lighting, it was the perfect place to settle in with a stack of current periodicals that they provided.


romance soap Camay Illustration Alex Ross

(L) Vintage Illustration Alex Ross (R) Vintage Camay Soap Ad 1940s

All the women’s magazines seemed to be loaded with stories of  war-time romance, setting  her pulse racing. But due to the shortage of available men on the home front, she often wondered whether they weren’t rationing love too. Now with the prospect of all those soldiers milling about Miami, she had her heart set on landing a marine.

After all Valentines day was just around the corner!

It wasn’t very difficult to find out what appealed to a man and how to snare one. All she had to do was thumb through the plethora of  articles and advertisements in her favorite magazines, each  dangling the key to finding romance, often with little difference between the two.

They all had one thing in common. They convinced their female readers that they were waiting for something, always in a state of readiness, of expectancy, of waiting for their real lives to begin.

Betty soaked them up like a sponge

Sometimes one little improvement in personality, looks or grooming can alter a girl’s entire life…and make it a thing of joy and beauty,” Betty read with keen interest.

romance listerine ad  illustration couples kissing 1940s

(L) Vintage Illustration Pruett Carter (R) Vintage Listerine Ad 1943

Take the story of  Mary for example.

“Mary was a successful career girl…attractive and well dressed. But somehow she simply didn’t click with men. More than all else she wanted marriage. But here she was without a single prospect.

Then quite by chance she overheard a conversation that revealed the truth about her. She lost no time in doing something about it!

Today her good-looking husband thinks ashes ‘the sweetest girl in the world…and she is …now! Don’t take a chance with bad breath. Don’t offend needlessly. Use Listerine ” .

Another ad caught her eye:

vintage illustration women WWII  44 Mum ad

“Thousands of popular girls prefer Mum.

Mum takes half a minute more or that heavy date may be a dud. That’s the smart girl !

Wouldn’t he be disillusioned hero if you let underarm odor spoil your evening- and shatter his dreams of dainty you. And you might never know w hat happened.

Now you’re at the end of a perfect date and the beginning of a beautiful romance! Keep those stars in your eyes, young lady, they’re very becoming and so is your flower fresh charm”

Soap Operas

Betty knew that if a girl isn’t dainty no other charm counts and there were no shortage of soap ads to drive home that point,

When it came to romance Woodbury Soap offered it in spades

Vintage Illustration Couple kissing WWII Soap ad

“TNT For Two- one part boy, one part girl-one flash of beauty to light the fuse.

“One blinding moment and your heart rockets skyward. One swift embrace and you know you’ve found love. In his eyes you can see you are strictly from heaven. The night reels, as he whispers “It’s a date…forever!” forever you’ll watch over your loveliness with Woodbury.”

WWII Soap Woodbury ad illustration girl kissing soldierMoonlight Becomes You

“The breathless night. The moon burning on its billion watt radiance. Multiplying mystery, quickening the pulse. Stirring up a suddenly sweet tumult. Heady stuff this.”

“To look into his eyes and know that you were never lovelier. To hear him say the words that match the music in your heart, The guardian of your beauty…a Woodbury facial cocktail clears your complexion for the moonglow look of romance.”

Sparks on the Train

Absorbed in her magazines, she suddenly glanced up.

There he was – 2 chairs away- the most bee-u-ti-ful, deep bronzed male a gal ever yenned for…looking right into her eyes with a sort of I-haven’t-eaten-in-three-days- look. “He’s the dream guy all right,” she confided in her sister …. “with spangles!”

They moseyed into the bar lounge with its luxurious lounges and comfortable chairs the very symbol of the sophistication, taste and fun of railroad travel. Betty couldn’t remember very much what they talked about …except when he asked her to go dancing the very evening they arrived in Miami.

She was right on schedule for her trip to romance.

“Fate,” she thought, “you’ve got a finger in this…and who am I to fight you!”


travel RR Pullman vacationers  winter vintage illustration ad 1940s

Arriving in Miami, she lolled around with the other brown backs alongside the pool at the swank Roney Plaza Hotel, recently returned back from the army. Totally redecorated, the Hotel  had the nerve to charge -gasp- $35 a day for a room!

Relaxing by the pool, guests could get a quick “parboil” under its spreading “sun-tan-tree.” Clever tin foil leaves reflected the sun and sped up tanning. Wise gals knew that when m’ lady’s skin is softy and fresh, romance was at your beck and call;  believe it young lady, nothing caught a mans eye like a good coat of tan.

“Be the thrill in his furlough,” Betty hummed to herself as she dozed  off under the blazing sun.

‘So long pale face”, she mused, dreaming of the big evening, “time for a healthy burn. “

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved



Winter War Time Romance PTII

WWII vintage illustration couple kissing

Vintage ad WWII Woodbury Soap 1944

Moonlight Becomes You

“The breathless night. The moon burning on its billion watt radiance. Multiplying mystery, quickening the pulse. Stirring up a suddenly sweet tumult. Heady stuff this.

To look into his eyes and know that you were never lovelier. To hear him say the words that match the music in your heart, The guardian of your beauty…a Woodbury facial cocktail clears your complexion for the moonglow look of romance.”

Just like all the sappy soap ads that ran in the magazines, Betty was convinced the evening would reek of romance.

“Be the Thrill in his Furlough”, she hummed to herself as she got ready for her big date with Stanley, the Marine she met on the train to Miami. “Your loveliness can make that furlough a –never-to- be forgotten thrill.”

vintage illustration romantic couples soap ad 1940s

Betty knew that when a gals skin is soft and fresh, romance is at its beck and call. Ask any man for his definition of physical beauty and he will most certainly mention a radiant satin smooth complexion.

Now that perfume was scarce due to wartime alcohol shortage, Betty was glad she used her favorite Cashmere Bouquet, the soap with the fragrance men loved.

“Popular girls today and for 75 romantic years bathe with Cashmere Bouquet soap, the ads declared. “You’re the song in my heart” Want to hear him whisper those words in the “I Care” manner? Let your skin whisper the fragrance of Cashmere Bouquet soap. The bouquet of this beloved soap is irresistible to men-it’s the fragrance men love.

All Wrapped Up In A Bow

vintage illustration jon whitcomb

(L) Vintage Palmolive Soap ad illustration Jon Whitcomb (R) Vintage illustration Jon Whitcomb

Sizing herself up in the mirror  Betty was glad she had taken  Mitzi Maguire’s “Charm and Grooming” class offered to freshmen girls in college. Internationally known socialite, and one of the worlds loveliest women, she promised to share the secrets of the stars and famous beauties “which could be put to work to make you more beautiful and exciting to men.”

“Personality and charm can make for a great many physical flaws,” Betty had learned in the class, “but they are even more appealing if they come in a pretty package!”

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Mitzi was firm in her belief that that every man likes an all around girl. “One that is as attractive from the back as from the front., she would say. “To rate a backward glance from him, you’d better give yourself one first!

“A quick head-on collision with your compact mirror as you frantically dab a little powder on your nose and repair your lipstick is not enough,” Mitzi had told the eager class.

“Neither is a last minute glance in the hallway mirror to make sure your slip isn’t showing when the doorbell rings. You have to give yourself a good head to toe survey in a full length mirror.

Grab a pen and pencil and paper and list your assets as well as your liabilities-the pros and cons Its betted to recognize your defects before everyone else does. If you don’t watch your figure men won’t either!

Now Betty looked at herself quietly in the full length mirror. It was unbelievable. She had never looked like this before, had never even hoped to look like this. The black dress, its boned bodice melted to the lines in her body, flared at the hips to a froth of net. Five years ago she wouldn’t have had a dress like this.

He’s A-1 in the Army and He’s A 1 in my heart!

“This is for you,” Stanley had said giving her the corsage box.

And now in the powder room of the Roney Plaza Hotel, she lifted the box, parted the white tissues gently and uncovered the flowers. Twin camellias, deep pink, cool, perfect.

No one had ever given her camellias before.

At college she had gotten gardenias, roses an orchid now and again but never camellias. She lifted them carefully out of the box. They would go in her hair, natch, she couldn’t trust them on her dress. Not, certainly this strapless job.

Love is in the Air

WWII vintage illustration soldier kissing girl 1940s

As Betty stood waiting for Stanley to waltz back in to the room, she knew this was her night of nights. She was walking on cloud nine.

Never before had she felt so completely happy or looked so immaculately fresh and sweet and dainty. Indeed that springtime freshness was one of Betty’s charms, thanks to Listerine. It was something she strove for, recognizing it almost as a passport to the popularity she had known since her teens.

Could others, she thought, say so much for themselves?

He slid an arm around her waist and swung her onto the floor. The black net swirled around her ankles, the room fell away as his arm tightened around her waist.

While sharing a conga line together, the sizzling rhythms, the drums and maracas filling her mind, Betty remembered all the articles she had read, all the movies she had seen, all the songs she had heard, and it all help confirm what she knew in her heart to be true.

It all added up…the starry eyes…the fireworks in the bloodstream…this was what the songs sing about…this is what little girls are made for…this is what she washed religiously with Cashmere Bouquet for!

This was indeed love!

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


Stay As Sweet As You Are- Sugar Seduction


sugar  baby ad illustration 1940s

Sugar Seduction

Being a typical up-to-date-mid-century American baby, my very first mouthful of nourishment was a doctor prescribed, sugar sweetened bottle formula.

Modern babies, we were advised, should begin life on Dextrose, cutting their sweet tooth at an early age.

 But, Americans were warned, the end of infancy did not end the body’s need for dextrose.

 No siree!

 On the contrary- Everybody needed dextrose every day of life regardless of age.

 Thanks to the wise wizards of food processors and the Mad men of Madison Avenue, Americans could start on a life long addiction to sugar from the very first sip of their Karo syrup-enriched baby formula.

 Sugar Shock

 It may be hard to swallow but once upon a time sugar was not the unhealthy villain it is viewed as today but an essential nutrient.

 Through the first half of the 20th century, sugar was deemed essential to health- good tastin’ and good for ya’. In fact it was sanctioned by Uncle Sam as part of the seven essential food groups.

vintage ad food cake baby

Vintage Ads (L) Dextrose Sugar- Corn products Refining Company 1953 (R) Betty Crocker Cake Mix 1956

Since my mid-century mother was chief cook and homemaker in our home, she understood that if hers was to be a perfect American family, her husband and her children must be perfectly fed.

And dextrose, that all American sugar, would be an essential part of any good health diet.

Sweet Dreams

candy illustration 1940s kids

Vintage illustration from DuPont Cellophane Ad 1946

“By all means,” one advertisement encouraged,”let ‘em eat cake…and candy too!” It’s nature’s way according to the ad produced by the Corn Products Refining Company, producers of dextrose sugar.

“Nature has her own way of telling us there is more energy in sweets. Today corn syrup rich in dextrose is playing a more important role than ever in supplying active Americans with the sugar that gives power to the body and keeps wits sharp.”

 Candy for example wasn’t just a treat but a nutritious wholesome food! With the modern homemaker’s knowledge of nutrition, she understood that:

 “Candy is a veritable bulwark against between meal fatigue. Even doctors consider candy a desirable requirement of the daily diet…”

Candy is Dandy

sugar dextrose candy children ads 1950s

Vintage advertising (L) Dextrose Sugar- Corn Products Refining Company 1946 (R) Welches Candy CoConut Bar 1952

 The age-old question of  Why Do Children Crave Candy? was answered in one ad my mother read with great interest.

 “Many parents fail to realize that the family menu is generally planned to suit their own appetites and bodily needs. The growing bodies of children have quite different requirements. For instance an active child may need twice as much energy food as an adult and the childs craving for sweets shows that this need is unsatisfied.”

 “Candy is an energy food”

 “Most candy contains dextrose which is food energy in its most readily available form. Pure, wholesome candy, is a valuable factor in balanced nutrition at all age.”

 “Whenever you buy foods labeled  Enriched with Dextrose you can be assured of added enjoyment and genuine healthful food energy value.” the ad declared proudly.

 Sugar Rush

sugar dextrose advertising 1940s illustration woman

All those High School Home Ec classes Mom excelled in during 1940’s war time had really come in handy. “She who eats right, gets more out of life,” the textbook told her. “The important 3 P’s –personality, pep and popularity could be attained by anyone if they followed the rules of good nutrition.”

And the key to pep was sugar, natures energy fuel.

 “Sugar,” we were told, “has an important place in every diet. It furnishes an easily available and economical form of energy and aids in the digestion of fats and proteins. Adequate sugar should be included in the diet.”

 And no sugar was deemed more healthful in mid-century America than the all American Sugar Dextrose, made from all American corn.

 Consumers were told to not merely ask for that corn derived concoction, but demand foods enriched with Dextrose.

 How Sweet It Is

sugar dextrose ads 1940s

Vintage Ads Dextrose Sugar -Corn Products Refining Company 1940s

 In the 1940’s a great deal of money in advertising was spent by the Corn Products Refining Company promoting the virtues of corn syrup, an inexpensive form of dextrose much favored by manufacturers.

 Just as today the Corn Refiners are trying to re-brand High Fructose Corn Syrup as “corn sugar,” so 70 years ago the Corn Products Refining Company was fighting a similar battle to have sugar derived from corn accepted as a wholesome, nutritious ingredient, superior to old-fashioned cane or beet sugar.

 And they succeeded

 Dextrose became the new wonder nutrient touted for its energy giving properties. It was not just an ingredient or sweetener, it enriched food with the energy of the sun.

 “Everybody needs Dextrose every day of life, regardless of age,” the ads proclaimed.

 Sugar as Savior

sugar dextrose ad cave man illustration

Vintage ad Dextrose Sugar- Corn Products Refining Company 1943

 One ad with copy as cloying and saccharine as the product itself,  revealed Dextrose’s miraculous powers:

 “Dextrose is more than “just a sugar”- it’s the sugar for which there is no substitute…the sugar your body uses directly for energy. In fact all other sugars must be changed into Dextrose before they can be used by the body for activity.

 “Doctors prescribe it for young and old in health and in sickness, even for life emergencies!”

 “In short, Dextrose is the one sugar that supports life most efficiently.”

 “That was why intelligent, health minded people prefer products made with Dextrose because they appreciate its great value as the energy fuel of the body…whenever you buy a bar or box of candy look among the ingredients on the wrapper for Dextrose.

 But Dextrose was not just for candy.

sugar dextrose bread packaged deserts

Vintage Ads (L) Dextrose Sugar in Bread 1946 (R) Dextrose Sugar in Packaged Goods 1949

 “You’ll find most foods enriched with this great natural sugar more enjoyable.”

 Naturally all the dextrose produced in the US was used by progressive food manufacturers, the ads explained   to improve the quality and taste of fine foods, breads, biscuits candies cereals, soft drinks, ice cream and so much more.

 Promoters of canned fruits rhapsodized: “The fine flavorful canned fruits and fruit juices which America enjoys the year round are just bursting with energy dextrose. It actually enhances natural flavor and protects natural color.”

 Corn Hucksters

vintage illustration ad corn

Corn syrup, this miraculous substance had a somewhat dubious past. This cheap sugar substitute that was less expensive than beet and cane sugar, and that had been around for years, was something food manufacturers who substituted it in their products, had once tried to keep secret from consumers.

But with the great success of the Corn Products Refining Company’s advertising campaign selling the public on the health benefits of their product, food manufacturers began proudly declaring Dextrose it on their labels.

Just as today’s consumer carefully reads food labels for vitamins or whole grains, the 1940s homemaker were admonished to scan labels in search of dextrose.

 “Many progressive food companies recognize that thinking women today select foods for their health benefits as well as for their enjoyment. Next time you market look for “Dextrose among the ingredients listed on food and beverage labels.”

 Sugar Goes to War

WWII Food ads soldier illustration

Vintage WWII Food Ads (L) Libbys Canned Foods 1940s (R) Bakers Chocolate1940s

 It was WWII that gave Dextrose the real boost it needed With wartime sugar rationing, dextrose stepped up to fill a real need.

 Dextrose was now not only the scientific alternative to sugar, it was patriotic.

 “Dextrose,” the Corn Products Refining Company boasted in all its wartime ads “is an ALL American sugar, derived from American corn, refined in American factories by American workers , distributed by American companies.Amrerica can supply every pound of Dextrose sugar needed for American consumption. Dextrose is wholly completely American.”

Sugar Coating

sugar kids 1950s

 By the time I was a toddler the bloated basic 7 food groups of my mothers youth-the FDR approved WWII guidelines went on a reducing diet and were whittled down to a streamlined 4.

Sugar got the axe but it was still considered vitally essential and was to be included in every diet. Americans prodigious sweet tooth would make sure of that

It was felt that because no American diet was likely to lack any sugar, it was unnecessary to include specific recommendations for their use.

My childhood would be filled with sugar-coated goodness.

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved




Mobile Phone Milestone

vintage illustration commuter businesman train phone

Vintage advertising Illustration 1946 P.R. Mallory & Co.

Constant cell phone chatter has become a chief complaint among train commuters.

Hoping for some peace and quiet on their commute, some trains have even set up designated “quiet cars” banning cell phone conversation.

Oh, how times have changed.

To the go-getter  Post-War businessman the concept of conducting a business deal in California via the phone while riding on the 6:14 train home to Connecticut,  was just one more miraculous post-war promise dangled before the eager American public.

A 1946 ad from P.R.Mallory & Company, a U.S producers of dry cell batteries as well as electrical and electronic components, fairly gushed about the development of the wonder of train radio that would soon be available to the American public.

technology trains telephones illustration businesman

Vintage Ad -P.R.Mallory & Co. Electrical and Electronic Parts 1946

“Someday soon your favorite “limited” will be a radio station on wheels” the ad begins.

“ As you ride the luxury train of tomorrow, telephone calls, originating anywhere in the U.S. or even beyond, will be transmitted by railroad radio to passengers. Passengers, in turn, will be able to communicate with any person who owns a telephone.”

Imagine that!

“Fantastic? Not at all,” they boast. “Already railroad radio is an accepted, though limited, factor in train operation. It is used in routing freight, directing traffic, reporting or preventing equipment breakdowns.”

Mobile Communications

WWII Motorola Radio Ads soldiers

Vintage Ads WWII Motorola Handie Talkies 1944

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first mobile phone call being placed, but mobile communications have been around for some time.

During WWII soldiers used 2 way radio transceiver walkie talkies  to communicate for the front lines. Developed by Motorola Electronics Engineers, the “Handie Talkie” was a battery-powered radio receiver and transmitter no larger than a cracker box.

“In a war of vast spaces, swift movement and violent action…radio communication must not fail. Information transmitted with split second speed via the Handie Talkie, the bantam weight portable two-way radiotelephone.”

This was such a novel idea that the  ad gives instructions on how to use the device: “The operator talks, giving information, and listens, receiving instructions. Officers and men call it the fightingest radio in the army!

Post War Promises

WWII vintage ad, illustration man fishing

Vintage Ad 1944 Seagram’s Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

A Motorola had provided the army with Walkie Talkies so it was a natural assumption that they would catch on with the post war civilian.

In an ad from Seagram’s Canadian Whiskey entitled ” Men Who Plan For Tomorrow ” they predicted a world of mobile communications modeled on the Handie Talkie.

“When you’ve caught your creeful of trout in a stream miles from anywhere, you can reach your wife by your personal, portable radio-telephone…ask her to invite the neighbors for dinner….

“Then driving home in your car, you can tell her just what time to expect you!…Fantastic? The portable radio telephone is already in use by our Armed Forces. Today’s weapon, tomorrows convenience!”

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

Whitman’s and Mothers Day


mothers Day whitmans sampler illustration 1940

My sweet Grandmother had a sweet tooth.

Whether Bartons, Barricini, or Lofts, chocolate was the common currency of celebration.

But Mothers Day meant only one thing- a Whitman’s Sampler.

Through the years, that gift of chocolate has become more closely associated with America’s Mothers Day than any other.

Remembering  Whitman’s

Every year at the precise moment the azaleas burst open in a blaze of color, my extended family gathered in our suburban backyard to celebrate Mothers Day. Along with a corsage, my grandmother, Nana Sadie, always received a Whitman’s Sampler in honor of the holiday.

Between bites of rich chocolate nougat, Nana Sadie delighted in rhapsodizing about her life long love of chocolate in general and Whitman’s Sampler in particular. It was the same story year after year, relishing the telling as much as the chocolate.

In 1912 when Nana was 12 years old,  Whitman’s launched its famous Sampler.  Nana would explain how she would eye the pretty yellow box in the window display of Gussmans Pharmacy the fanciest Drug Store on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. The yellow cross stitched designed box had an aged yet timeless look, as though it had been around for decades.  Imagining the luscious treats that lay hidden in the box, had made her mouth water.

Two year would pass, Nana would continue, when one day in May of 1914 President Wilson declared the first Mothers Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. “Sadly,” Nana would shake her head commenting, “in just a few years who knew how many thousands of mothers would lose their own sons to The Great War.”

A Woman Never Forgets The Man Who Remembers

vintage candy ad whitmans chocolates illustration couple

It wasn’t long before a marriage of merchandising and holiday heaven was born.

The following May 1915, Nana’s up-to-date father came home with a genuine Whitman’s Sampler box  tucked under his arm and proudly gave it to Sadie’s mother. Squinting at the unfamiliar box, my Great Grandmother’s search for the familiar seal of approval was futile. No union of Rabbis had sanctioned these chocolate nuggets as kosher, so my very observant Jewish Great Grandmother, rolled her eyes and politely offered the box and its  scrumptious contents to her welcoming children. Contrary to Whitman’s popular slogan, in future years my embarrassed  Great Grandfather would remember to forget Whitman’s for his wife.

Sitting on the front steps of their wrap around porch Nana and her 7 brothers and sisters eyed the candy box in wonder.

Such a selection! Piped chocolate whorls, flakes of coconut, round shapes filled with mysterious  somethings,  rectangles shapes hiding everything from nuts to pralines to assorted fillings.

A 15-year-old Sadie was in chocolate heaven. Her mother might  forget the candy but Nana would long remember.

Life is Like a A Box of Chocolates

Decades  later, the sharing of Mothers Day melt-in-your-mouth chocolates became a family ritual as my grandmother would offer sweets to her eager grandchildren gathered around her.

Part of the ritual was the opening of the box itself.

Getting to the goodies themselves was a treasure hunt, leaving us salivating with anticipation until the first perfect square was lifted from the brimming box. Nana would carefully remove the outer cellophane wrapper- the first cellophane ever used in candy packaging she would remind us.

Opening the lid revealed what is known as the “Pillow Puff” liner made out of embossed paper protecting  the chocolates below.

Treasure Hunt

On the bottom of the lid was the  “treasure map” of the contents of the box, that would direct you to your chocolate dream.  Donning her reading glasses, Nana would read aloud to us from the placement chart that would lead you through the maze of 14 varieties of perfect pleasure with names such as toffee chip, cashew cluster, almond nougat, pecan cluster, coconut, chocolate truffle, and cherry cordial

Nana’s first choice was always the Molasses Chew, the most distinctive piece in the box and worthy of the guest of honor. Covered in smooth dark chocolate with fancy white zigzag stripes, it was filled with nougat.

 While cousins fought over chewy caramel squares and the chocolate covered nuts shining with confectioners glaze got scooped up by my brother, I zeroed in on the cherry cordial, its plump maraschino cherry swimming in sugary syrup, encased in milk chocolate.

Vintage Postcard 1915 To Dear Mother

An incurable pack rat, Nana Sadie loved Whitman’s as much for the iconic yellow box as for the chocolate goodies inside. The candies long gone, the empty box would be saved for all kinds of flotsam and jetsam, objects evocative and sentimental,  mementos never mentioned in a will or bequest, that eventually found their way to her grandchildren.

Among the treasures were the bundles of saved Mothers Day Cards she had saved over decades and never had the heart to throw out.A most appropriate resting place.

Yes there was Brooklyn’s own Bartons for Passover but Mothers Day meant Whitman’s.

A Sampling of Whitman’s Ads

In 1939 Whitman’s launched Samplers most famous advertising campaign “A Woman Never Forgets The Man Who Remembers” the campaign remained popular for 2 decades.

vintage mothers Day whitmans illustration woman

“There’s no hurt like forgetting and no joy like being remembered”. Vintage Mothers Day Whitman’s Candy advertisement 1940

WWII Whitmans f SWScan00160 - Copy

Between 1942 and 1945 Whitman’s sent 6 million pounds of chocolates to overseas servicemen in Land, Sea and Air tins. Women on Whitman’s production lines slipped  notes into boxes to comfort fighting men. Many of these letters resulted in long-term friendships and even some post-war marriages, resulting in future Mother day celebrations.

vintage mothers day whitmans ad family illustration

“Her Day, Her Family, Her Chocolates” Vintage Whitman’s Advertisement  for Mothers Day 1946

Mothers day whitmans1950s ad  mother and child illustration

“Remember Mothers Day With Whitman’s” Vintage Whitman’s advertisement 1951

vintage ad mothers day whitmans 47 family photo

Vintage Whitman’s Ad 1947

On the Front Lines With Coca Cola Pt. 1


WWII Coke backyard barbecue illustration

Vintage Coca Cola Ads (1953) (R) WWII ad 1944 Coke in New Zealand

During WWII the boys overseas were fighting for Mom, apple pie and a bottle of Coke.

Coca Cola, as much a part of the American Dream as a white picket fence and baseball,  has symbolized the American way of life, no more so than during WWII when Coke aligned itself with blatantly patriotic themed ads.  Coca Cola went to remarkable lengths to make sure their soft drink was never far from the front lines, and the fighting men never forgot.

Years later, long after the boys had returned home triumphant from the war, Memorial Day was a day for remembrance, backyard barbeques and in my family, consuming lots of coca cola.

What better way to honor our fallen heroes than with a patriotic, freedom loving frosty bottle of Coke that sweet elixir that had helped the greatest generation win the war.

Memorial Day Barbecue

vintage coke ad illustration

Vintage Coca Cola Ad 1949

Like today, Memorial Day in 1961 was the opening salvo for summer in the suburbs. The season’s first barbecue was always a joint operation among my family members, handled with the precision of a war maneuver.

The base of operation was our suburban backyard.

Like clockwork, the convoy of cargo carrying relatives arrived loaded with essential supplies. My Aunt Judy’s peppy whoop-de-doo potato salad was always popular  and Aunt Helen’s picnic perfect double dutch slaw  habitually a hit.

 But the most eagerly anticipated contribution was the cache of Coca Cola courtesy of Moms cousin Milton who schlepped wooden cases of Coke straight from the bottling plant he managed in Maspeth Queens.

Barbecue Brigade

vintage illustration suburban barbeque 1950s and WWii  soldiers

While wives stayed safely behind the lines, the men folk were recruited and deployed to the front, where Dad was CO in charge of the Barbeque Brigade.

 Well fortified to do battle with cokes firmly in hand, they mobilized around the Weber grill in a primal huddle of their own as they anxiously awaited orders.

 Like the infantry sent to do battle, these buttoned down bar-b-que enthusiasts, combat ready in their comfort-in-action-perma- press Bermuda shorts, gathered on all sides of the roaring fire while my older, Great uncles stylishly at ease in their Decoration day best white leather Italian styled slip on shoes, remained safely under the striped awning, offering tactical assistance like battle-scarred retired officers from the comfort of their glider aluminum lawn chairs.

 The torch had indeed been passed to a new generation, our war hero President Kennedy had  informed us, and passed directly into the hands of these bespectacled men in clingy ban-lon, all of whom had served our country in the Second World War.

 Only 15 years earlier, this bunch of balding band of brothers, blissfully barbecuing in my backyard, had returned war-weary but triumphant in their GI issued haircuts, to confetti and parades from that greatest of all wars.

 Strategically wielding the Big Boy barbecue tongs, Dad was ready for any barbecue maneuver. A king size cigaretteYou get a lot to like with a Marrr-boro/  fil-terrr/fla-vvor/flip top box- dangling from his lips, barbecue apron round his regulation plaid Bermuda shorts, his smart masculine styling rated a fashion 21 gun salute.

With the precision used to plan a bombing mission in the south pacific, Dad calculated the wind velocity, temperature and cloud coverage when making the perfect fire, skills learned as a meteorologist in the Army Air Corp while serving in New Guinea.

WWII Vintage coke ad photo man and hot dog

Hot Diggety Dog (R) Vintage WWII Coke Ad 1942

Eagerly biting into a tongue scalding frankfurter hot off the grill, Moms cousin Milton, a short and stubby man, his GI regulation washboard abs having long gone AWOL leaving his ever-expanding belly stretching the outer limits of his Acrylan shirt, never failed to offer up war stories and his contribution to winning the war. “I have just one word for you-Coca Cola!” he would state firmly, gobbling his hot dog with gusto.

During the war Milton had been a “Coca Cola Colonel” one of 148 Coke employees sent abroad to oversee the installation and management of  makeshift bottling plants to serve the US Army wherever they served. With his US Army uniform and rank of Technical Observer this four-eyed kid from Brooklyn  was treated as an officer, and was deemed as vital as those other TO’s who fixed tanks or airplanes.

The Pause that Refreshes

WWII Coke Ad illustration Soldier

WWII Coca Cola ad 1944 “Have a Coke =Soldier, refresh yourself, or the way to relax in training camp”

In 1941 Coca Colas president  Robert Woodward made the famous order declaring that “everyman in uniform gets a bottle of Coca Cola for 5 cents wherever and whatever it costs.”

However for many men serving overseas, a soda fountain would be something they could only dream of. The logistical headache was the problem. To reach GI’s overseas in significant numbers the company would have to build bottling plants where the fighting was going on in the combat theaters.

The boys could thank General Eisenhower for getting the ball rolling. In 1943 in an attempt to raise morale, he sent a classified cable from Allied headquarters in North Africa asking for 10 bottling plants and enough syrup to provide his men with 6 million Soft drinks, No wonder the boys “liked Ike.”

The Coca Cola company was more than happy to comply with Eisenhower’s orders.

WWII Coke 1945 Phillipines  illustration soldiers

WWII Coca Cola Ad 1945 Phillipines. The ad shows a Coke jungle dispenser painted green for camouflage

Wherever the American Army went so did Coca Cola. “Anywhere for a nickel,” Milton boasted. “From the jungles of Admiral Islands to the officer clubs in Riviera. There would be a convoy of army trucks carrying a complete bottling plant from Calcutta into  China, on the Burma Road climbing mountains and crossing pontoon bridges. “

In the remote island of New Guinea, the land of C rations, Spam and dehydrated foods, where Coke would remain a distant memory of home for my father.

The South Pacific was one of the more difficult problems for Technical Officers like Milton. After considerable brainstorming, a portable soda fountain that had been used at drugstore conventions was re-commissioned, painted green for camouflage and enlisted to help quench the thirst of jungle bound soldiers like Dad. The army quickly ordered  hundred more of these jungle fountains 

Nearly 1,100 of these units were used in the Pacific. (The Philippines ad shows a jungle dispenser painted green for camouflage

Have A Coke and a Smile

WWII coke ads baseball illustration

Vintage Coca Cola Advertisements (L) Seventh Inning Stretch (R) WWII ad 1945 Battle seasoned Seabees turning in refreshments on the Admirality Isles

The excitement caused by a coke and its reminders about the local corner drugstore to homesick GI’s on a tropical island halfway across the world from the US  was unparalleled, When the war started the soldiers craved a piece of home to remind them what they were fighting for. Soldiers wanted 4 things from home: mail, cigarettes, chewing gum and coke.

 “For these homesick boys to have a Coke was like having home brought near you” Milton would explain. “Sometimes its just one of the little things of life that really counted, the familiar sweet taste turned it into a poignant reminder of home, instantly bringing back memories of maybe Ebbetts Field and hot dogs or a pretty girlfriend back home in the drugstore over a Coke. I can truthfully say, he would comment wistfully,” I hadn’t t seen smiles on the boys faces as they did when they saw Coke in those Godforsaken places.”


On the Front Lines with Coca Cola Pt II


vintage Coke ad WWII soldiers illustration

Vintage WWII Coca Cola Ad 1942

During WWII the boys overseas were fighting for Mom, apple pie and a frosty bottle of Coke.

Coca Cola, as much a part of the American Dream as a white picket fence and a home run, has long symbolized the American way of life, no more so than during WWII when Coke created blatantly patriotic themed advertisements. 

WWII Advertising -A Global Blitzkrieg

With the precision used to plan a bombing mission in the South Pacific, Coca Cola calculated their advertising campaign during the War to make sure Coke was seen as vital to wartime morale and essential to Americans and their fighting men.

While the Coca Cola Company was busy boosting the morale of the fighting men, they were simultaneously laying the groundwork for becoming an international symbol of refreshment and solidarity.

War Goes Better With Coke

vintage WWII Coke ad illustration soldiers South Pacific

Vintage Coca Cola Ad 1945 Admiralty Isles

Our fighting men meet up with Coca Cola where its bottled on the spot, Coke boasted in its ads. “Our Coke has been a globe-trotter since way back when”

Coca Cola went to remarkable lengths to make sure their soft drink was never far from the front lines. “Anywhere for a nickel,” Coca Cola promised. “From the jungles of Admiral Islands to the officer clubs on the Riviera.

Wherever the American Army went so did Coca Cola, establishing make-shift bottling plants near the front lines. Thanks to heavy lobbying in Congress, Coke was treated as a wartime necessity and was thus allotted considerably larger sugar rations for their front line military bottling plants than allowed for civilian consumption.

Have a Coke Soldier in Camp 1944 Ad

WWII Cokead illustration A,merican soldier

“From southern camps with their moss hung cypresses to camps near the north woods there one place soldiers can relax- the Post Exchange. There they settle down to shoot the breeze together. Have a Coke they say. Coca Cola is a refreshing reminder of what they left behind.”

 That Extra Something 1943 Ad

WWII Coke 43 SWScan03824

 ”When war correspondents say that Coca Cola is the drink of our fighting men you know there is a reason for it”

“One tells how a ranger returned from Dieppe asked for a Coca Cola in preference for anything. Another cables that the main event of the week for the doughboys at a desolate South Pacific outpost was 12 bottles of Coke. We read such things in the paper regularly.”

Have a Coke on a Battleship- 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad battleship illustration sailors 1940s

“Wherever a US  battleship may be, the American way of life goes along…in sports humor, customs and refreshments. So naturally Coca Cola is there too, met with frequently at the ships soda fountain. Have a Coke is a phrase as common abroad a battle wagon as it is ashore.”

How Americans Spread the Holiday Spirit Overseas 1943 Ad

WWII Coke Xmas illustration wwii soldiers

“Your American fighting man loves his lighter moments. Quick to smile, quick to enter the fun, he takes his home ways with him where he goes…makes friends easily. Have a Coke he says to stranger or friend and he spreads the spirit of good will throughout the year.”

The Global High Sign… I’d like to Buy the World a Coke

WWII Coke ad illustration

Have a Coca Cola= Come be blessed and be happy…or how to break the ice in Iceland 1943

Coke was our secret weapon for world peace

Rather than show war-weary soldiers enjoying their product, Coca Cola focused on Cokes ability to bring people and nations together. The ads carried the catchphrases “The global high sign” and introduced American readers to a few foreign phrases.

Set in exotic locals such as Hawaii, , Russia, Newfoundland, and New Zealand ,the ads portrayed grinning  GI’s mixing it up and laughing over Cokes with British, Polish, Soviet and other Allies always with  a caption along the lines “Have a Coke- a way of saying we’re with you.”

The ad men continually touted the drinks status as an American icon “Yes around the globe, Coca Cola stands for the pause that refreshes- it has become a symbol of our way of living.”

But it wasn’t just GI’s for whom Coke was a symbol of the American way. It was a symbol for the native population well. The presence of Coke did more than lift the morale of the troops . It gave the local people in the different countries their first taste of Coca Cola and paved the way for unprecedented worldwide growth after the war.

Sealing Friendships in New Zealand 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad new zealand soldiers south pacific illustration

“Kia Ora, says the New Zealander when he wants to give you his best wishes. It’s a down under way of telling you that you’re a pal and that your welfare is a matter of mutual interest. The American soldier says it another way Have a Coke, says he, and in three words he has made a friend.”

“It’s a custom that has followed the flag from the tropics to the polar regions. It’s a phrase that says “Welcome, neighbor” from Auckland to Albuquerque from New Zealand to New Mexico.’Round the globe , Coca Cola stands for the pause that refreshes- has become the high sign between friendly minded people.”

How Friends Are Made in the RAF 1944 Ad

WWII Coke RAF SW Scan00270

“Have a Coke  is a friendly greeting among RAF flyers back at early dawn from a night mission. It’s a salute among comrades in arms that seals the bonds of friendship in Plymouth England or Plymouth Mass. It’s an offer as welcome on an English airfield as it is in your own living room

How To Get Along in Alaska 1943 Ad

WWII Coke ad Alaska 1943 illustration soldiers eskimos

“The American soldier in Alaska meets up with many things that remind him of home. One of them is Coca Cola.”have a Coke says he to a stranger and in one simple gesture he has made a friend. In 3 words he has said “You and I understand each other.” The pause that refreshes works as well in the Yukon as it does in Youngstown.”

“Coke has become the high sign between kindly minded strangers the symbol of a friendly way of being.”

Have a Coke in Newfoundland 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad Newfoundland illustration soldiers fishermen

“There is an American way to make new friends in Newfoundland. It’s the cheery invitation Have a Coke an old Us custom that is reaching ‘round the world. It says lets be friends reminds Yanks of home.”

“In many lands around the globe Coke has become the symbol of our friendly home ways.”

Allies Enjoying a Friendly Pause 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad illustration female soldiers WWii

“There’s a friendly phrase that speaks the allied language Its “Have a Coke” Friendliness enters the picture when ice-cold Coke appears. Over tinkling glasses of ice-cold Coke minds meet and hearts are closer together.”

“Coke has become an everyday high sign of friendliness among people of good will.”

Eia ke ola (Heres health)…Have a Coke in Wailuku 1945 Ad

WWII Coke Hawaii 45 illustration soldiers natives

Here’s health is the happy expression of Hawaiian hospitality. Just as friendly is the have a Coke of the army flyer. In these words he says we’re pals


GI’s liberating towns throughout Europe or working side by side with locals in the Philippines felt pride in sharing their favorite drink with their new found friends.”

La Moda Americana ( The American Way)…Have a Coke in Italy 1945 Ad

WWII coke ad  italy  illustration soldiers

“One of the interesting things that impresses people overseas about the American fighting man is his friendliness among his fellows. Everywhere they see Americans bringing with them their customs and home-ways-their own brand of open heartedness. Have a Coke, foreigners hear the GI’s say when he wants to be friendly, and they begin to understand what America means. For in this simple gesture is some of the essence of Main Street and the family fireside.”

“Yes, the custom of the pause that refreshes with ice-cold Coca Cola helps show the world the friendliness of American Ways.”

Yank Friendliness Comes back to Leyte Philippines 45

WWII Coke ad Phillipines illustration American soldiers natives

“Naturally Filipinos thrilled when their Yankee comrades-in-arms came back to the Philippines. Freedom came back with them. Fair play took the place of fear. But also they brought back the old sense of friendliness that America stands for. You find it quickly expressed in the simple phrase have a Coke. There’s no easier or warmer way to say Relax and be yourself. Everywhere the pause that refreshes with ice-cold Coca Cola has become a symbol of good will – an everyday example of how Yankee friendliness follows the flag around the globe.”


Winning minds in Nazi Germany

Drinking Coke was synonymous with fighting the enemies of freedom and democracy.

Yet, despite  patriotic all American Coca Cola’s claim that it was the high sign between like-minded strangers the symbol of friendly way of being no mention was ever made to the fact that Coca Co la was doing business in Nazi Germany. In the midst of their global advertising blitzkrieg, patriotic Coca Cola appeared at Hitler youth rallies as “Coca Cola trucks accompanied the marchers hoping to capture the next generation of Coke customers.

Mach Doch mal Pauss (Come on Take A Break) ….Have a Coke or or winning minds in Nazi Germany was one ad that we would never see.

CocaColinization Post War

Vintage coke ad illustration WWII soldier home

Vintage Coca Cola Ad 1945 Returning WWII Vets

WWII did more than perpetuate an image it also led to Cokes dominance abroad. They created an enormous consumer base throughout the world that would not have been possible without General Eisenhower and the Coca Cola Company’s cooperation working towards bettering the morale of the American fighting man.

After gulping down more than a billion servings of Coke, 11 million veterans returned with a lifelong attachment to the soft drink. But it wasn’t only Americans who got hooked on the sweet elixir.

Many of the bottling plants established overseas during the war continued to operate as non military factories after the war. When the war ended, the coca cola company had 63 overseas bottling plants in operation in venues as far flung as Egypt, Iceland, Iran, West Africa and New Guinea.

If Coca Colas mission was to offer Coke to “whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be,  when you think of refreshment think of an ice-cold Coca Cola”, then  “mission accomplished



Ding, Dong… Avon Calling Pt II


 photo Avon Lady ad 1960

Avon may be a coveted account on AMC’s Mad Men, but for many mid-century housewives, Avon was a coveted career.

By the early 1960s Dawn Logan our neighborhood Avon Lady, was living out the ring-a-ding ding-American Dream.

With her Irish good looks and obvious love of life and people, it was no wonder Dawn was such a successful Avon representative. Flush with cash from all the cosmetics she sold to neighborhood suburban housewives, she was living out the post-war promise of plenty.

Consuming Passions

vintage illustration couple american dream

Vintage illustration by Alajalov Saturday Evening Post Cover 8/15/59

Americans entered the post-war world as ardent consumers .

The end of WWII left us all with no restrictions of how much happiness we could buy. The  material dreams kept pumping through the culture in lavish color drenched ads, whetting our war-weary appetites..

It would be a future filled with an abundance of consumer goods. Now at your fingertips, goods that you had never seen, felt, owned, driven or tasted before. Everything was long-wearing, fast drying king-sized, the last word, working twice as fast.

Like thousands of other young marrieds in the 1950s, Robert and Dawn Logan had moved to the suburbs. It was large house in a big development so fresh off the building line and typical you could shut your eyes and see it.

Even with Uncle Sam’s assistance from the GI Bill, the Logan’s mortgage was a stretch. And waiting to fill their suburban home was a sparkling constellation of consumer goods- TVs, percolators, power tools, automatic washers, Hi-Fi’s, and station wagons to fill with all your shopping goodies.

The American Dream

It wasn’t long before the Logans were part of that new post-war American dream -owing more money than they had.

Her husband Bob’s salary of $6700 a year ran a losing race with the Logan’s free-fisted spending. When bills and bedlam got too thick, Dawn went out and played bingo at a net loss of $20 a month. “Bill called himself the built-in baby sitter,” Dawn said “But when I got up to 3 nights a week playing bingo he really put his foot down.”

Beauty is my business women careers secretary

(L) Vintage Ad 1950 Sweetheart soap (R) Vintage Ad 1954 National Cash Register

Dawn fretted about taking a job for the extra money. With her stellar steno skills she’d be scooped up as a secretary in a jiff.

Sure it would help bring in much-needed income, but in her heart she knew keeping house full-time was still the number one job choice of the modern women. Between car pools, cub scouts and home decorating there weren’t enough hours in the day.

She needed a job that would accommodate the kind of flexible hours in her busy life.

That’s when the bell went off in her head…ding-dong, she would become an Avon Representative.

Avon offered a unique way for a woman to take control of her life and achieve some economic independence all while working part-time and flexible hours.

Beauty Ads Avon Lady's 1950s  Barbara Bel Geddes

Many stars of stage and screen were featured in Avon ads in the 1940′s and 50′s including Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young, Helene Hayes, Claudette Colbert and Jimmy Stewart along with his wife. The Avon ad on the left features Barbara Bel Geddes, star of stage, screen, radio and TV. “Selecting Avon Cosmetics best for your complexion needs is so convenient…with the Avon Representative in your own home,” says charming Barbara Bel Geddes.

Avon Calling

vintage Advertising Avon illustrations women 1940s

Vintage Ads for Avon (L) 1946 (R) 1947

Besides which, Avon ran in her blood.

Selling fragrance door to door, Dawn’s own mother Selma had been an Avon sales rep since the dark days of the Depression back when Avon was still called California Perfume Company. Without a car she would walk up to 5 miles every day carrying her sample case of goodies. In 1939 the company officially became Avon and Selma, along with 26,000 other saleswomen, proudly called herself an Avon Lady.

The first “Avon Lady” was actually a man.

This uniquely female direct sales operation was established in 1886 by a 28 year old door to door salesman named David McConnel who would eventually help open the door to women.

He discovered that the rose oil perfume he was giving away with his books as an added customer incentive was actually the very reason women were buying his books. He decided to sell perfume and other beauty products through independent door to door sales representatives using women.

It was to say the least, a novel approach in the late 19th century giving women an opportunity to earn money. The face to face direct selling approach relied on a womans social skills and her reputation in the community since customers tended to trust their neighbors more than traveling salesmen.


Beauty Avon WWII Ad

Vintage Ad Avon WWII 1945 A Salute to Cadet Nurses

During WWII Avon like most manufacturers, went on a war footing. They converted 50% of its production plant into manufacturing such items as paratrooper kits, insect repellents and gas mask canisters to help the war effort.

But gals on the home front still needed to keep up appearances and put their best foot forward.

Between volunteering at the local USO Canteen and the Red Cross, Selma still made her rounds carrying her Avon samples that included 8 lipstick colors, and 8 colors of rouge all in containers made of cardboard since all metal was saved for war effort.

With war over the company grew and by 1949 had 2,500 employees, 65,000 representatives and $25 million annual sales.

Beauty Avon Ad woman Time Out For Beauty

Avon Ads often featured “prominent community wives in their ad such as this one from 1952. “Mrs Helena P Hamill (R) most active in civics affairs and wife of the former mayor of Pasadena Calif. takes time out in the comfort of her home to select Avon Cosmetics with the help of Mrs. Marion Gordon her Avon Representative.”

Beauty Avon ads 1959

In this 1959 ad (L), Avon competes with Revlon’s famous Fire and Ice and Cherries in the Snow campaign with their own version Cherry Ice-”This newest shade a gay red iced with blue comes in Avons famous lipstick…matching nail polish…harmonizing make-up. The fragrance ad for Topaz (R) states that their fragrance “becomes every woman, appeals to every man


A Cinderella Story… Avon Calling

Housewife cinderella illustration

Vintage ad 1946 (L) Shell Oil (R) Vintage illustration Happy Homemaker 1956 illustration Lionel Gilbert

By the mid 1950s. Dawn believed she had found her calling in Avon. beauty was her business, and the suburban housewife her best client.

The most envied woman in the world was the mid-century American housewife…smart, yet easy going, with never you mind freedom. What gal wouldn’t want to achieve this new ideal- a Lady Clairol colorful Cold War World of carpools, cookouts, cream of mushroom soup casseroles, and catering to contented children and happy go lucky husbands.

Her life was magical this bewitchingly new American Housewife. As one advertiser explained it: “her home is her castle. Snug within it she basks in the warmth of a good mans love, glories in the laughter of children, glows with pride at every acquisition. And she’s always there.”

“Today’s Cinderella has a modern fairy godmother in the Avon Lady,” Dawn would tell her customers.

With the flick of an eyebrow pencil – the flash of a lipstick she could transform any woman and give them the assurance most women need to be completely at ease, confident in her self and her bright looks!

Beauty Avon  Ads 1950s

Vintage Avon Ads (L) 1959 (R) !958

Spreading out those special products on a living room coffee table, she called herself “the listening ear of the community” Dawn knew from her mother the personal relationship was always the key to the success of a good Avon representative Along with  the lipstick samples shaped like bullets, she dispensed advise, support and friendship  

Now working part-time, Dawn had the best of both worlds the independence and extra money of a office girl and plenty time to be a mother and wife.

Times They are a Changing

vintage ad Avon working women 1970s

Vintage Avon Ad 1962 (L) The Woman’s Dress For Success Book by John Molloy 1977

But the 1970s would usher in some big changes.

By the late 1960s, happy housewives with their smiling glowing faces shining with pink pancake makeup in harmonized shades keyed to match their appliances were, like those same retro appliances, replaced by a newer model- the career girl.

Suddenly the job a generation of women had trained for was obsolete by the 1970s. Along with their bras, women-libbers threw out the American Housewife and June Cleaver got kicked to the curb.

Traditional woman’s work was no longer relevant.

The career girl exploded, knocking the married housewife off her pedestal. Along with the homemaker, the Avon Lady became obsolete as more women worked outside the home-the very place where most of the demonstrations and sales traditionally took place.

Avon suffered a decline in fortunes in the 1970s due to the changing lifestyles as many salesperson left to pursue more lucrative career opportunities.

While Mad Men’s Peggy and Joan fight it out over Avon, career girls like them would soon make housewives and the Avon Lady a throwback to an earlier age.


July 4th Hot Diggety Dog

suburbs barbecue vintage illustration 1950s

Gathering for the Family Backyard Barbecue-Vintage illustration McCall’s Magazine 1955


A summer staple at my 1960′s family barbeques was the ritual hot dog competition not in competitive eating but dissecting who made the best toothsome well turned frank.

The mouth-watering aroma of grilling franks wafting through the suburban air sparked the inevitable debate about who made the best hot dog.

There was fierce loyalty and intense competition.

food ads  Hot Dogs Faces

A Hot Dog Makes Them Love Control!
Vintage advertisements (L) Del Monte Catsup 1961 (R) Gleam Toothpaste 1950s

The faithful kosher deli coalition whose Hebrew National dogs were grilled flat on a gas griddle to a crispy puckering finish, scoffed at the sacrilege of the  “dirty water dogs” languishing in a warm water bath sold by the city street vendors, whose devotees swore by the steamed Sabretts, heaped high with rich day-glo orange-colored sweet-tart onion sauce.

Loyalists to NYC’s  West Side Greys Papaya formed an unlikely alliance with their East Side rival Papaya King, both of which thought it blasphemous to  wash down a frank with anything but papaya juice, certainly never an orange drink, even if the frank dressed with mustard relish and nestled in a buttered toasted bun was “Good …like Nediks!”

For some the pontificating took on the seriousness of a rabbinic argument, though in actuality it more closely resembled a bunch of kids arguing over which were the best baseball cards, Topps in the nickel wax pack  or Bazookas cut from panels on the gum boxes, and like both discourses, no one ever won the dispute.

But on one point they agreed.

Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs Stand

Vintage Photo Nathans Hot Dog Stand, Coney Island, NY

No one dared tamper with that most sacrosanct of hot dogs the one consumed on Coney Island on Surf and Stillwell Avenues-Nathans.

It’s the Wurst

Hot dogs on a grill barbecue

 With the dexterity and skills of a fencer, Dad nimbly poked and prodded the franks on the grill. Normally the only dogs to sizzle on our Weber were those approved by a Higher Authority, Hebrew National, but as a surprise my grandfather had brought us cartons of gen-u-ine New York Yankee- approved-Stahl Meyer hot dogs direct from their Ridgewood Queens factory.

The boxes of pork and beef frankfurters were more than likely a token of thanks to my pawnbroker grandfather from a Stahl Meyer delivery truck driver with a penchant for poker who had pawned his Timex for the umpteenth time.To show his appreciation for my grandfathers leniency, he had made an unscheduled “delivery” to Edelstein Brothers Pawnshop on his regular route supplying dogs to Yankee stadium

The very mention of a Stahl Meyer hot dog brought boyish grins across generations of Dodger and Giants fans, instantly transporting my curmudgeon great Uncles and their broad beamed sons from the comfort of their webbed aluminum lawn chairs to the hard, gray painted, wood slatted seats of the bleachers of the old Polo Grounds and Ebbitts Field.

Even those observant Jews like my Great Uncle Leo who would never dream of eating a hot dog that wasn’t kosher, crossed a sacred boundary with ease at a baseball game.

Like eating at a Chinese Restaurant, age-old prohibitions were suspended for the day, as he willingly succumbed to the enticing aroma of a steamy Stahl Meyer dog fished out of rapidly cooling water by vendors dressed in white lugging around iron trays shouting “They’re skinless and boneless and harmless  and homeless”  as they bounded up and down the narrow aisles.

Not everyone was so enthralled.

illustration barbecue suburbs

For some members of my family any hot dog that wasn’t a kosher Hebrew
National, might well have been the same as barbecuing bacon.

As Dad casually nudged the plump Hebrew Nationals to one side of the grill, my  great Aunt Rena watched like a hawk making certain that a rogue Stahl Meyer frank did not accidentally defect over to the other side of the barbecue. It wasn’t just that these franks were not sanctified by rabbinic law, no it was far worse.

These dogs had Deutschland written all over them.

As if the factory was on the Rhine and not Ridgewood Queens, Aunt Rena shuddered at the thought of some former Bund Deutscher Madel blue-eyed blonde, meat-packing Fräulein fondling the Fuher’s frankfurters in their natural casings, while lustily humming the Nazi anthem “Horst Wessel song.”

couple eating Hot Dogs and vintage wwii illustration  Hitler

Vintage Ad (L) Skinless Franks 1948 (R) Vintage Saturday Evening Post Cover 7/31/43 illustration Kenneth Stuart

Ridgewood, where the hot dogs were manufactured was a notoriously German neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, Aunt Rena was not the only family member who was convinced its many multi family row houses built-in the 1920s by Germans for Germans , brick by golden-colored Kreischer brick, was still populated by men in brown shirts, black Jack boots and wide Sam Browne Belts, rank and file members of the German American Volksbund who 25 years earlier, believed in Nazi power and strength to conqueror the world who still refused to embrace Aus der traum.

As the Stahl Meyer dogs rolled perilously close to the Hebrew Nationals, a shiver of terror went through some of my relatives, as if Joseph Goebbels himself had cheerfully stuffed those plump terra-cotta tubes with not only pork and spices, but a hefty serving of Nazi propaganda for good measure.

When it came to Germany, a wall had already been built by my family, beating the Russians by a full decade.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Rosie The Riveter’s Swimsuit Romance

vintage illustration 1940s man and woman at beach in suits

Vintage Ad WWII Jantzen Swim Wear 1943

It was a sweltering summer in 1943 and along with most war-weary Americans, Rosie the Riveter needed a day off.

In the heat and stickiness of summer everybody was tired, dog tired, completely fed up with neckties, girdles, time clocks, cook stoves, typewriters, telephones, ration coupons and endless shortages.

Americans United

There was only one way to win the war and get the job done -each of us had to give everything whether it was on the home front or in a war plant making the ammunition and tools our men needed to win

vintage illustration Rosie the Riveter WWII

Vintage Illustration Robert Riggse Saturday Evening Post 1944

WWII Man Shortage

Everyday hundreds of men were leaving civilian jobs to join the armed forces.

In their place marched in women, who were “carrying on” work that had to be done to keep America’s war program going at top speed.

There could be no letting down, no slacking until the peace was signed, until our men returned

At Ease

For overworked Rosie the Riveter, the romance of the beach beckoned.

But what good was the beach without a beau to rub suntan oil on her, admire the curves of her swim suit?

Rosie had learned to live with less butter, eggs, and meat, but it was the darn man shortage that drove her batty.

The absence of an entire generation of men between the ages of 17 and 30 left a lonely void.

Even though she and her crowd of girls enjoyed playing bridge and having hen parties to fill up those lonely weekends, Rosie couldn’t help wondering if they were not rationing love too.

If she were headed for the beach, she needed some ammunition to attract whatever available men were still around.

Vintage illustration 1940s woman diving as soldiers watch

Vintage Ad WWII- Jantzen Swim Suits 1943 Clearly directed at war weary workers the copy reads “Make something of your day off, your vacation or your leave…get a Jantzen and get out where there’s sea and water and joy.”

Last word in Swim Suits

Luckily the stores still stocked the new curve allure Jantzen swimsuit advertised in Life Magazine that promised not only to give you lines that were thrilling but make you the most radiant star of summers bright stage.

The swim suit ads not only prompted you to be patriotic and “buy war  bonds today to be free to enjoy tomorrow” they reminded you “to make each moment something to remember because this was a different kind of summer

Like most industries Jantzen had retooled to manufacture military items to support the war effort manufacturing sleeping bags, and gas mask carriers but   thankfully  some swimwear still rolled off their assembly lines.

vintage ad 1940s men and women in swim suits in ocean

Vintage 1942 Ads for Jantzen -Hurrell Photograph

Beach Bliss

Empowered by  the uplifting capability  of her new Jantzen bra, the heavenly slimming  fabric magic of Lastex , she was ready to catch the eye of any wacky khaki

With glamor and glow she and her pals hopped into her pre-war De Soto and headed to the beach, having carefully saved her dearly rationed  gas allotment  so she could make the excursion.

The crowded beach was a picture of muscular grace and bulging waistlines, of smooth tans and freckles, of sunburn oil, adhesive plaster and bathing suits which had obviously been in mothballs since the early 1920s

After 3 straight summers of crisis, war-weary Americans needed a little relief. So they undid their stays, let their hair down and dug their toes happily in the sand- without dignity, without care.

Establishing her beachhead among the other brown backs on the  pristine white sand,  Rosie settled in  for a healthy burn.

So long pale face.

vintage illustration Jantzen swimsuit ad men and woman in bathing suit

Vintage ad Jantzen swim suits 1943 WWII Something to Remember for the boys overseas: “It’s a new kind of summer,” this war time ad begins,”thrilling with new Jantzen swim suits to make a girl lovely for a man on leave…to give a man something to remember”

Hello Soldier

Suddenly out of thin air, looking trim in his tailored trunks appeared  Stanley, a khaki Casanova , who swept her off her feet.

The dream guy she was always talking about had really come to life.

She couldn’t remember very much what they talked about …except when the soldier asked her to go dancing that very evening, “Fate, she thought, “you’ve got a finger in this…and who am I to fight you!”

Vintage Illustration WWII soldier kissing girl

The evening would reek of romance.

Now that perfume was also very dear due to alcohol shortage, she was glad she used her favorite Cashmere Bouquet, the soap with the fragrance men loved.

A girl had to lure a man with something!

While sharing a conga line together, the sizzling rhythms, the drums and maracas filling her mind, Rosie remembered all the articles she had read, all the movies she had seen, all the songs she had heard, and it all help confirm what she knew in her heart to be true.

This was indeed love!  It all added up…the starry eyes…the fireworks in the bloodstream…this was what the songs sing about…this is what little girls are made for…this is what she washed religiously with Ponds for!

This was why she scrimped and saved to  buy a Jantzen suit !

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How Detroit Won WWII


WWII cars to Tanks

Think what Detroit meant in 1945 and what it represents today.

Once the very symbol of American prosperity and the American Dream, Detroit has run out of gas.

For decades the Motor City was the greatest manufacturing city in the world, unmatched in industrial strength, no more so than during WWII.

Detroit was the place that America once knew as the Arsenal of Democracy. “Like England battles were won on the playing fields of Eton,” Walter Reuther of the UAW famously said, “American’s were won on the assembly lines of Detroit.”

Obama bailed out the auto industry four years ago, reviving a once flourishing industry, but there was a time when the Detroit Auto Industry basically  bailed out the US Government.

During WWII Detroit was at the center of the greatest concentration of applied science and technology the world had ever seen. Factories broke every previous production record and poured forth a flood of goods, unleashing  American productive and technological genius.

The wartime transformation of Michigan’s automotive industry and its massive contributions to winning the war are well worth remembering.

Arsenal of Democracy

vintage editorial cartoon WWII Uncle sam

Vintage Ad Okonite Insulated Wires & Cables

A year before America  entered the war, while Hitler ominously goosestepped across Europe, President Roosevelt challenged the nation to become the worlds “arsenal of democracy.” In a speech delivered at the end of 1940, FDR made a “call to arm and support” the Allied Powers, imploring Americans to stand up as the arsenal of democracy as though it were their own war.

As American industry rushed to respond, GM, Chrysler, Ford and others rose to the occasion in a big way, producing both “guns and butter” until out of the blue came December 7, 1941 and the industry shifted to all out  war supplier.

After Pearl Harbor what had been defense production became war production as the  car manufacturers turned entirely to the manufacturing of military trucks, planes, engines, weapons, and ammunition.

Torpedoes Before And After

1940 Car Pontiac Torpedo

Another Big Year For Pontiac Torpedo- Vintage 1940 ad for Pontiac  announces “Now there’s a Torpedo for everybody. Pontiac’s new line of cars for 1941 start with the DeLuxe Torpedoes!”

WWII Pontiac 43

Pontiac was still producing torpedoes only now it was volume production of Aircraft torpedoes, the deadliest weapons of the sea and the most difficult to make.
Vintage ad Pontiac 1943 “Building Fast and Building well! Building aircraft torpedoes what Navy officials describe as a “slippery messenger of Death”

Oldsmobile  Volume Producer of Fire Power for USA

WWII Oldsmobile ad

Vintage ad Oldsmobile 1942

“Ever since a year ago last March (1941) Oldsmobile has been a leading mass production arsenal for the USA,” we are proudly informed in this  1942 ad from Oldsmobile .

The copy goes on to explain, “Long before Pearl Harbor, months before the nation went on a full-time war basis, Oldsmobile men and machines were pouring out “Fire Power “ in volume.”

“Thousand upon thousand deadly automatic cannon for Americas fighter planes! Millions of high-caliber shell for the field artillery and for tanks! Today Oldsmobile offensive is getting results. Oldsmobile “Fire Power is dealing powerful blows to the enemy.”

“Oldsmobile’s on the Offensive! –with a vast non stop production drive that has already speeded thousands of cannon and millions of  shell to our armed forces everywhere.”

“Keep ‘em fighting” is Oldsmobile’s biggest job in 44 years! Keep em fighting will be the war cry- and the determination- of every Oldsmobile worker until the war is won.”

Pay-off for Pearl Harbor

Vintage WWII Ad Cadillac 1944

Vintage WWII Ad Cadillac 1944

“Three years ago the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor found America unprepared to defend its rights.” begins this 1944 ad from Cadillac.

“Yet even at that early date,”  the copy explains, “Cadillac was in its third year of building aircraft engines for military use. The Allison engine is used to power such potent fighters as the Lightning, the Warhawk, the Mustang, the Aircobra and the new Kingcobra.”

“In addition to our work on the Allison which has included more than 57,000,000 man hours of precision production we assisted Army Ordinance engineers in designing the M-5 Light tank and the M-8 Howitzer.”

“We are building other weapons which utilize some of Cadillacs peacetime products. We can’t talk about all of them yet- but we are confident they will prove significant addition to Allied armor.”

A Crushing Superiority

WWII Pontiac 1940 1943

vintage car 1940s illustration WWII Bomber

(L) Vintage Ad Lincoln Zephyr V12 1941
The crown Jewel of Detroit’s brilliance was the bomber plant built by Ford at Willow Run 27 miles from Detroit. By 1944 they were employing 42,000 people turning out a B24 bomber an hour. The Axis could count on there being “a Ford in their Future.”

WWII DeSoto car ads

(L) Vintage ad De Soto 1941 -Bigger, more luxurious, has new rakish rocket body!
(R) Vintage ad De Soto 1943 De Soto helped build these B-26 Marauders. De Soto war production included the precision building of airplane wing sections, bomber fuselage nose and center section, assemblies for anti aircraft guns and general Sherman tanks

WWII Chevrolet ad

Who’s got all these features…Chevrolet! (L) Vintage Chevrolet ad 1939  (R) Vintage Ad 1945 Chevrolet- “Chevrolet is making its mark everywhere, Volume for Victory!”

In a speech to Congress in January 1942, FDR called for “a crushing superiority of equipment”  setting a staggering production goal for America. Civilian production was soon halted and manufacturers converted to war production.

A month later, the last big shiny American  cars rolled off the assembly lines, and car loving Americans would have to make do with their pre-war models for the duration.

What were once busy factories, bloomed into enormous plants that made parts for planes, cars, ships and tanks,

Vital To Victory

WWII Chrysler ads

Vintage WWII Chrysler Ads (L) 1943 (R) 1944

Ol’ Tojo, may have thought he hit us below the belt, gloating that: “American’s exercise of freedom to choose” had made us soft and weak and unfit for war making…but boy what a sucker he turned out to be! Masters of mass production, Americans began  retooling to become masters of mass destruction. Manufacturers were  working night and day, turning radios into radar, and Fords into fighter plane. American manufacturers sure weren’t pullin’ any punches. They were working head over heels, night and day, building essential war materials.

More, Better, Sooner

Vintage cartoon WWII Uncle Sam

Vintage Ad Philco 1942 illustration by Rube Goldberg

By 1943 , “More, better, sooner” was the war cry of Detroit’s soldiers of production.

“We have a job to do..the biggest job that has ever faced the minds and muscle of American industry”, stated the copy an ad that ran in 1942 that pretty much sums up the determination felt by all American workers.

“ This is the time for our workers to prove we have earned our reputation as the worlds masters of mass production. This is the time for the genius of our industrial scientists and engineers to preserve their gift to America, the worlds highest standard of living. And preserve they will, gloriously and decisively. “

“Production, in the American way, is the key to victory.”

War unleashed and mobilized the powerful energy of American production it gave workingmen jobs and made them part of a quest whose goal was the killing of the hydra-headed Fascist monster.

This Ones For You Tojo!


(L) Vintage 1939 Nash Ad A Million Miles From Nowhere- carried away on the magic wings of a Nash you’ll see distances dwindle”

The Nash Kelvinator ad from 1943 begins – “Listen Tojo, when you hear that karrump some night and the factory walls start sliding into the sea- look out, its one of those new “ice cubes” from Nash Kelvinator.”

“They’re coming, Tojo- coming from men who in building last years refrigerators and automobiles thought only of a nation’s health and happiness. But now, its hate and vengeance and the remembrance of a thousand Axis wrongs that are guiding their hands…beating every production record.”

Fighting…. Every working Minute

Vintage WWII Ad Oldsmobile 1942

Vintage WWII Ad Oldsmobile 1942

“I feel as if I’d blasted a Jap out of the sky every time I finish up one of these cannons!”  explains the war worker in this Oldsmobile ad from 1942 .”That’s the way one Oldsmobile worker describes it and that’s the way all of them feel. They’re mad-fighting mad! They want to do their part and they’re doing it with a lot of “fight “ in it.”

“They’re working fast and they’re working well…Shift after shift…24 hours a day…168 hours a week.”

“Some of these men have been in arms production for well over a year,” the copy explains.” Long enough so that they frequently hear that the cannon and shell they’ve been building are already “ dishing it out” to the Axis. No Americans cant lose. Not when our great armed forces are backed up by men like these.”

Blood Brother to Yesterdays Cadillac

WWII Cadillac Ad 1944

WWII Cadillac Ad 1944

When it came to tanks, you wouldn’t you really rather have a Cadillac?

“The tough hard-hitting Howitzer Motor carriage doesn’t look much like a sleek beautiful Cadillac car,” this 1944 ad points out. “But they’re blood brothers. They were both built by Cadillac.”

“Months before the last 1942 Cadillac rolled from the assembly line, Cadillac was working with the US army ordnance engineers- adapting the famous Cadillac V-type engine and Hydra Matic transmission for use in tank design. The first tank produced with this “power train” was the celebrated M-5 built in volume by Cadillac.”

“Cadillac is proud that its peacetime V type engine and its Hydra-matic transmission could be adapted to provide the Arsenal of Democracy with such important new weapons.”

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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What was good for General Motors was good for the army

Once upon a time when it came to cars General Motors was king of the road and the American Dream was paved with Chevys.

And when it came time for fighting for the American Dream no one contributed more to the war effort in WWII than General Motors Corp.

World Of Tomorrow

A few years before we entered the war, General Motors had whetted our appetites for the wonderful World of tomorrow with their popular futurama exhibit at the NY Worlds Fair in 1939/40.

But the world of tomorrow loomed ominously as war raged in Europe.

When Pearl Harbor happened, General Motors would take a detour on the road to the World of Tomorrow to supply our fighting men; after all when it came to tanks, wouldn’t you really rather have a Cadillac?

WWII Oldsmobilead illustration auto worker

Vintage Ad Oldsmobile -WWII Worker 1942

As American industry rushed to create what FDR called the arsenal of democracy General Motors rose to the occasion in a big way, providing the lion share of hardware to the American military.

Victory Is Our Business

General Motors produced this patriotic motivational film in 1942 about how its workers and factories were contributing to war effort.

Taking Care of Business

Within in a year of entering the war, General Motors, had ceased the production of civilian automobiles and  was gushing out millions of units of a wide variety of planes tanks guns and other munitions . What were once busy factories were now defense plants. as Squat tanks began flowing off the assembly line instead of smart automobiles.

WWII Pontiac Chevrolet production

(L) Vintage Ad Pontiac 1944 “Every American is pledged to do his or her part towards the attainment of Victory and Peace” (R) Vintage Ad Chevrolet 1945-” Chevrolet is making its mark everywhere today…volume for victory-tomorrow volume for value”

Although they had no new cars to sell, General Motors continued to publish  a profusion of full color ads to let the public know how busy they were supplying essential war materials, all while keeping their names in front of the public.

Tomorrow in GM and WWII Victory is Our Business PtII – a collection of vintage WWII GM ads

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How Detroit Won WWII

Designed For Dreaming

Victory Homes for the Vet

WWII illustration soldiers veterans

The Post War American Dream would be waiting for the returning vet and his “best girl”
(L) Vintage Ad Community Silver “Back Home For Keeps” illustration by Jon Whitcomb (R) Vintage Ad 1945 Nash Kelvinator “My Tomorrow” “The girl I love, my boy, my dog, my car…all the things I long for, all the things I dream of…These things will be mine again in my tomorrow.”

Unlike today’s troubled vets who return home to an American Dream itself suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, WWII soldiers came back to a robust America, the American Dream gift wrapped just for them and tied with a red, white, and blue bow.

By 1945 with the end of WWII in sight, material dreams kept pumping through the culture in lavish color drenched ads, furnishing the material daydreams of the future. Corporations, advertisers  and government  banded together in a consensus of the good life.

Speaking directly to the battle fatigued boys overseas and to the best girls they left behind, the reassuring ads created identical longings for same American Dream.

And We’ll Live Happily Ever After

Post war GE 43 650 SWScan07116

How to Make a Wish Come True! General Electric ran this 1944 advertisement promising ” A wish filled with hope and promise. Of Victory! Peace! Then a home of their own!”
“A home with happy, healthy children-secure and unafraid. That’s the heartfelt wish of all America. Your peacetime home of tomorrow is well worth the wishing” GE promised, ” for even the most modest cottage can have electric servants to banish household cares and drudgery-to give more leisure for living.” All this will be yours in the post war world of tomorrow

The first piece of the American Dream Pie the vet and his sweetheart wanted served up was a home of their own, and advertisers made sure it was served up a la mode.

“Sure enough,” the ads would announce,” the day is coming soon when Sgt Joe will be back home again. Back to his best girl and the little recruit he left behind.”

His wife and son will make life what it ought to be once more, for the returning hero.

Naturally, the house would have a picket fence; it would be within walking distance of a fine school for all their adorable children; the girl would have a chest of Community silverware, the ex GI his own Naugahyde lounger. And they’ll be other good things. A big comfortable Sealy mattress with genuine Cannon percale sheets  instead of a foxhole. A  juicy T bone steak instead of K rations.

“Yes, a different kind of mess hall, a bright cheery kitchen, with shiny appliances, complete with a chrome dinette set.”

They would garden together in their suburban plot and he would commute to his good paying job in his aerodynamic fully Hydro-matic-car   because they lived in a quiet suburbs, and oh yes, they’d have lots of babies.

Blue Print For The American Dream

 Vintage Ad 1945 Kelvinator WWII Soldier and family picket fence

And We’ll Live Happily Ever After- Vintage Ad 1945 Kelvinator

No series of ads served up a bigger helping of that American Dream than the brashly sentimental ads of  Nash-Kelvinator.

Though busy with war work building Pratt Whitney Engines, Nash-Kelvinator corporation, manufacturers of home appliances and automobiles, began running the  campaign even before victory was won,  tapping  into the longings on both sides of the ocean.

With a broadly sentimental brush they painted the very blueprint of the American Dream.

And We’ll Live happily Ever After

WWII advertisiement soldier and wife

A full year before WWII ended the post war promises were being dangled to the soldier and his bride. Kelvinator painted a dreamy portrait of their new home they would return to some day. “We believe your hope for a new and finer home can and will come true. Here at Kelvinator when Victory is won, all the new strength, the new abilities and skills born of war will be turned to production of peace.”
Vintage ad 1944 Kelvinator

The ads took on the tone of a letter often written by the hometown gal he left behind who had plenty to dream about too..

“If I just close my eyes,,,I’ll see it now…the house we’ll build together…the house we’ll have breakfast in…Sunday-some day.

“And I’ll sit on u your knee and we’ll talk of the house we’ve built and the future we’ll have and the family we’ll raise…and we’ll know they’ll be nothing we can’t do together, ever…some day!”

Home Sweet Home

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945 soldier and wife in new house

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945

“I know it will be just the way your letters describe it to me…the life we’ll live in the house we’ll build when you come home…”

“A  bright sunny house that’s a blend of old and new with white shuttered door and a picket fence around a world of our own….”

Most important of course was the kitchen filled with Kelvinator appliances.

“And a kitchen for me that’s full of magical things. A wonderful new electric range that starts coffee perking and biscuits browning before we wake up…and cooks our dinners while were away.”

“A refrigerator that big and roomy with glistening shelves full of good things to eat…thick lamb chops and ice-cold  milk, butter and eggs spangled with dew behind crystal door.”

“And still another fabulous magic chest to make our kitchen complete- a home freezer we’ll dip into all winter for peaches, cherries and all kinds of meat so all winter long we can feast like kings.”

“Oh, its easy to see how happy we’ll be…when our days are filled with peace of being together in our very own home…forever and ever.”

Everybody’ll Know It’s Our House!

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945 soldier and wife in new house

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945

The Kevinator ads all ended in the same upbeat way encouraging the reader to hold onto their bright dreams.

“We believe your hope for a new finer home can and will come true……this will be our part in the building of a happier nation. For we believe all of us owe it to those who fought to preserve it, a strong vital and growing America where all men and women will have the chance to make their dreams come true.”

The letter closes, “And I’ll ask you to pinch me just to make sure…it isn’t all just a lovely mirage and it won’t disappear when the lights go on.”

It would take over 65 years for the glare of bright light to finally make that mirage called the American Dream disappear, as today’s vet might very well  return to find his dream home in foreclosure, and yes, everybody will know its their house!

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Veterans Day

On the Front Lines with Coca Cola

On the Front Lines With Coca Cola Pt II

Rosie the Riveter Goes to War

GI Joe to Joe College

Protecting the Philippines

WWII Coke Philippines illustration ad

Drinking Coke was synonymous with fighting the enemies of freedom and democracy.
Vintage WWII Coca Cola Ad 1945

The heartbreaking tragedy on the Leyte Island of the Philippines which bore the brunt of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan has a special relevance today when we honor our veterans. Thoughts go back to another fall day, October 1944 when General Douglas McArthur landed on that very same island keeping his promise “to return” and liberate the Philippines.

Wherever the American army went so did Coca cola.

Coke went to remarkable lengths to make sure their soft  drink was never far from the front lines.  wasting no time in running an ad celebrating our shared victory in the Philippines.

“Naturally Filipinos thrilled when their Yankee comrade-in-arms came back to the Philippines.” the copy for this 1945 Coke ad declares.

“Freedom came with them.”

“Fair play took the place of fear. But also they brought back the old sense of friendliness that America stands for.”

Now the Filipinos need us again

Let us not forget that Filipinos bravely helped our American soldiers, let us not forget them now. We shall return…with help.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On The Front Lines With Coca Cola Pt I

On The Front Lines With Coca Cola Pt II


Remembering Pearl Harbor


Vintage ad GE Radio illustration family

December 7, 1941

Just as 9/11  is a marker for this current generation, and November 22 was for mine, Sunday  December 7, 1941 was a where-were-you-when-kind of day that was seared permanently in the memory of the greatest generation, including my parents.

The war was still over there, though the news was full of muffled but ominous portents. From the Far East came reports of Japanese troop movement in Indochina and that Saturday  night FDR would make a last-minute appeal to the Japanese Emperor Hirohito for direct talks but to no avail.

Like most Americans, my mother and her family did not expect to be at war the next day or the next week or even the next month, but they knew in their hearts it was inevitable.

When, was the big question.

Business as Usual

vintage xmas shopping illustration

So like everyone else, my mother’s family went about their business.

The day before Pearl Harbor there were  only 15 shopping days to Xmas and the department stores were having one of the biggest shopping sprees in years.

Goods were plentiful but pricier than last year. Nylons were replacing silk stockings which had been scarce because of the darn embargo on Japanese silk thread. But Stern’s Department Store  in NY offered them at “one special buy all you want price” of $1.75 a pair.A fifth of scotch was 3 bucks, but in two Christmases these items as well as many others would be next to impossible to find.

A Night on The Town

Saturday night in NYC, where my mothers family lived, was a mass of Christmas shoppers and visitors streaming into restaurants, night clubs theaters and movies, ready to paint the town red.

That evening my grandparents were Broadway-bound with tickets to see the critically acclaimed Lillian Hellman production of Watch on the Rhine at the Martin Beck Theater.  It’s portrayal of a family who struggle to combat the menace of fascism in Europe during WWII responded directly to the political climate of the day, and the continuing debate on American neutrality in the War.


While the audience absorbed the words of Lillian Hellman’s warning that “all who chose to ignore the international crisis were helping to perpetuate it and that no one could count himself or herself free of danger,” 6 carriers of the Pearl Harbor striking force under Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sliced through the blue waves of the Pacific a few hundred miles north of Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor in the News

Travel cruise Hawaii

(L) 1939 Vintage advertisement- Matson Cruise Line to Hawaii “A Voyage as Colorful as Hawaii’s flowered isles”

 Picking up a copy of the Sunday Herald Tribune on their way back to Brooklyn after the show, my grandfather  read in the rotogravure section an article about the naval base at Pearl Harbor, “the point of Defense of our West Coast.”

The pictures of silvery sands mingled with war planes flying over Diamond Head. As the newspaper article pointed out, the lucky lei-draped  tourist vacationing there would be too busy eyeing the hula girls to  notice the Army pillboxes since they were cleverly concealed from prying eyes. The accompanying pictures showed an idyllic tropical setting, causing my grandmother to make a mental note to visit there sometime soon.

It was difficult for many Americans to understand what was happening in the Pacific. We were preoccupied with Hitler.

Enchanted Isles

Another factor was plain and simple geography.

Until the air age, islands like Midway and Iwo Jima were practically worthless. Like most Americans, most of what my parents did know about the Pacific had been invented by Hollywood. The south Seas were pictured as exotic isles where lazy winds whispered in the palm fronds and native girls wore sarongs like Dorothy Lamour.

Dole Pineapple Hawaii ads 1930s

1938 Vintage ads Dole Pineapple Juice

The closest most Americans would get to those enchanted Isles of Hawaii would be courtesy of Dole. Whether as canned juice or slices, exotic  pineapple from Honolulu Hawaii had become immensely popular over the past decade due to its unusual health values.

Pearl Harbor a once unfamiliar name for most Americans who weren’t quite sure where it was, would grow increasingly familiar all too soon.

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

vintage illustration 1940s couples at home

The next day, Sunday, the eastern seaboard was quiet but jittery with the news of the surprise attack.

Along with millions of Americans, my mother first learned of the attack when her father turned on the big mahogany RCA Radio to hear his favorite CBS broadcast of the NY Philharmonic concert at 3pm. That Sunday most people gathered around their radios listening for whatever news they could get about Pearl Harbor.

On anything but a mundane Monday, 60,000,000 jittery American would remember exactly where they were when they turned  on their radios at noon to listen to President Roosevelt speak of that day that would live in infamy!

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How Detroit  Won WWII

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Santa Takes Sides

WWII Xmas ad illustration Santa Hitler, Mussollini, Tojo

Claus for a Cause
Just as both sides in a war claim God on their side, so WWII American’s enlisted Santa to help fight their battle.
This 1944 ad for Interwoven Socks should be filed under vintage advertising we are not likely to see ever again in our politically correct culture.

A patriotic Santa comes to the aid of the Allies in this WWII Christmas advertisement for Interwoven Socks .

In 1943 while FDR, and Churchill conferred in Casablanca, apparently Uncle Sam was having a hush-hush tete a tete with Santa Claus  in the North Pole, to strategize the war.

Appearing to wield powers far beyond those of mortal men- not unlike another super hero- Santa stomps out the Axis of Evil in one clean swoop of caricatures – Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo.

Clearly this ad should end the current Santa debate – Santa isn’t just white, he’s a red-blooded American!

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013.

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas

vintage illustration family at Christmas soldier coming home

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams”
Illustration Haddon Sundblom for Vintage Xmas Coca Cola Ad 1945

For most American servicemen and women serving in the military overseas their holiday wish is simple: to be home for Christmas.

Soldiers sacrifice much for the sake of others, not the least of which is being able to spend the  holidays with their loved ones.

No Christmas song captures the soldier’s heartfelt longing more than  “I’ll be Home for Xmas.”

The melancholy words of the soldier overseas writing a letter home, echos generations of  soldiers who long to be home but are unable to e because of the war.

The wistful holiday classic  written during WWII was the perfect sentimental war-time song holding deep meaning to US troops overseas and it rings as meaningful today as it did 70 years ago when it was first recorded.

Christmas on the Home Front

WWII xmas Family illustration

WWII Xmas time without Dad 1943
“Well! Look at Jimmy..pitching in on a man-sized job! Dad will be proud, when he knows”
Vintage ad Carnation Milk 1943

Unlike today when service in the military is not shared by most Americans , WWII was a time when most families had at least one empty chair around the Christmas dinner table.

In the winter of 1943 the US was a long way from victory despite the Allied victories at Guadalcanal, Tunisia and the surrender of Italy .

Wartime Christmas was different from the jolly ones we  remembered.

Sure there were evergreen trees, and bright red  holly,  but grim necessity had forced so many things to change, now that  rationing and shortages were in full swing.

Christmas shopping continued if not with a heavy heart, then a with a strong back since shoppers were encouraged to carry all their packages home no matter how large due to cuts in delivery services. Even Xmas cards were scarce due to the paper shortage.

Guns and Butter

Our traditional holiday standing rib roast would have to wait till after the war since fighting men needed meat more than we did, and Christmas would be less sweet without all the sugary treats since both sugar and butter were rationed too.

Of course we were better off than most of the boys overseas who would be eating Christmas dinner from a mess kit, so it was unpatriotic to complain.

That new pair of roller skates for Jr. would be hard to find since metals were desperately needed for war duty,  perfume for Mom was near impossible to get since the alcohol used to produce  it was vital to the war, and the holiday Whitman’s box of chocolates for Grandma was hard to come by because so many were going to our fighting men here and abroad.

Fondly remembered things would mean more than ever….

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

WWII Xmas radio vintage ad

Vintage Christmas advertisement Stromberg Carlson 1943
The company was currently devoting all their energy to making communications equipment to help speed victory so new radios were not. being produced. “If there are families who are getting courage from their pre war Stromberg Carlsons this Christmas,” the copy reads, “we are deeply thankful.”

The all too familiar trajectory of the American family’s Christmas in wartime was summed up in one sentimental wartime ad.

This Stromberg-Carlson radio ad that tugged at the heartstrings, ran during Christmas time 1943 and featured one such war-torn family, that gained strength thanks to the music from their Stromberg Carlson radio.

It seemed the only thing that got Lorraine Babbitt through Xmas that year was music.

Bing Crosby had really out done himself last Christmas season with his dreamy White Christmas. “How could Der Bingle possibly top himself this year,” she wondered.

The baritone crooner didn’t disappoint.

His Christmas time offering for 1943 “I’ll be Home for Christmas” caused lumps to form in everyone’s throats from the home front to the front lines.

The heartfelt words of the soldier overseas writing a letter home could have been anyone’s son, brother or husband. It certainly could have been Lorraine’s husband John.

 “I’ll Be Home for Xmas”

“You can plan on me”

“Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree”

“I’ll be home for Xmas, if only in my dreams”

illustration 1940s family Xmas

Christmas time 1940
Illustration from Vintage WWII Christmas advertisement Stromberg Carlson 1943

Lorraine would play the 78 record of the melancholy song over and over as if merely wishing John home for Xmas would make it so. Lorraine grew forlorn, her  thoughts drifting back to a happier time , Christmas 1940, a full year before Pearl Harbor and our last Christmas of peace for a while.

Silent night, Holy night…All is calm…”

“She was back three years ago and John was leading her into the room…and then she saw it the radio with a big red ribbon around it! She hadn’t said a word…just turned and kissed John…the kids had squealed with delight.”

vintage illustration Xmas family 1940s

Home for Christmas 1942
Illustration from Vintage WWII Christmas advertisement Stromberg Carlson 1943

The Caisson” go rollin along”…

By 1942, her husband John had been drafted  but was granted a furlough much to the delight of Lorraine.

”Last year, John came home from camp unexpectedly…it was last-minute leave and they’d had no warning. That was a wonderful Christmas…with the kids wearing Johns uniform and marching to the music. If war were only marching and music…”Lorraine muses to herself wistfully.

“There’s a long, long trail a-winding…”

vintage illustration woman radio 1940s

Illustration from Vintage WWII Christmas advertisement Stromberg Carlson 1943

Now it is Christmas 1943.

“In a few minutes it will be Christmas again… Christmas without John,” Lorraine shares with the reader. “Tomorrow will be bad…there will be memories that hurt…but the children must have a real Christmas…the children. Tonight she’d sit and listen to music…and, in the soft sweet strains, she’d reach across the world and be with John…tonight.”

If only in her dreams…..

Merry Christmas to all and to all who can’t be with their loved ones for the holidays.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013.

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Happy New Year!

New Years Eve 1945

Happy New Year
Vintage advertisement Jan. 1945 Chesterfield Cigarettes

Wishing my readers a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. With gratitude and many thanks for your continual support and interest.



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