Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 24, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 24, 2004 – My mother’s antique shop was a source of intrigue for me when I was a kid. The sign down in front of the house simply said “Antiques” – and the log cabin that housed her wares had a sign over the door that read “Antique Shop” It never dawned on me before that her business didn’t have a name.
She bought and sold true antiques, and various and sundry other things that were on the verge of being antique, or somehow fit in quite nicely with all things “old”. Among those were stacks and stacks of old magazines that she found in the attic of an old man’s home. He’d probably been collecting them for ages. She bought the whole collection, and my brothers and I helped her lug hundreds of them down the stairs from the attic and pile them into her car. Some of them were in poor condition, but others were still in a remarkably good state of repair.
These magazines were piled on a corner table in the cabin, and over the years their numbers dwindled down to less than a hundred. People loved to buy them for the covers, which were often removed and framed, to chuckle at the advertising campaigns or to look back over the years at clothing styles and articles of interest.
In comparison to today’s standards in magazine publication, these magazines are very proper, funny and tame. I have 59 copies of a magazine called Collier’s The Weekly Magazine from 1927 – 1928 and 1929. There are 4 issues of The People’s Home Journal from 1922, 15 copies of The Canadian Magazine from 1933 – 1934 – 1935 and 1936, 4 copies of The Canadian Home Journal from 1931 and 1932, 1 copy of The Saturday Evening Post from September 1923, and 1 copy of The Ladies’ Home Journal from November of 1921 – price 15 cents – published by The Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia.
In this particular magazine, one article caught my eye – remember – this is November 1921. There is a picture of a ballroom with dancers crowding the floor. The women dressed in colourful finery and the men in tuxedos. The caption underneath says, ” A Time When There Were Both Beauty And Dignity In The Dance”. This is in juxtaposition to the article which is titled “Back To Prewar Morals – Toddling to the Pits by the Jazz Route”.
The first paragraph queries, “Is America Dancing – (via the jazz route) – Hellward? This question isn’t asked by so-called fanatics and Puritans. It is asked by sober-minded, citizens of no particular religious faith who believe in nothing that cannot be weighed and measured”. The article goes on to interview a biologist who declares that, “In so far as jazz dancing relaxes morality and undermines the institution of the family, it is an element of tremendous evil potentiality” A historian notes that, “Jazz is a signboard on the road that was travelled by Greece and Rome.
Orgies of lewd dancing preceded the downfall of those nations. Once they had been strong and clean, but they became enervated and danced themselves into the abyss”. A reporter doing an article on the evils of modern dancing wrote, “If Moses had foreseen the jazz he would have written an eleventh commandment”.
At another jazz club the same reporter observed a working class couple dancing and declared, “The zero hour of human degradation was reached in this public place”. A note at the end of the article tells the readers that next month’s issue will continue the series on jazz dancing. It seems that there was widespread decadence in New York’s jazz dancing clubs.
Oh – the self-righteousness of the “American right” – some things never change! Another article that caught my eye was titled – “How To Get Married – and Eat – on $25 a Week!” The ads are a lark to read. The Harris Suspender Co. Of New York offers “The Kazoo” The Athletic Suspender Waist – this necessary item of the manly boy’s attire keeps pants and stockings up and shoulders back – it wears long and needs no washing, mending or button sewing – now back to 75 cents.
Most of my magazines are in very good shape, some have tears and creases on the covers and a couple are a bit thumbed through and care worn. A collection of 84 of these remarkable magazines. They’re like post cards from a by-gone era. Snap shots of the cares and concerns of people just like us.
The recipient of many of these was a W. A. Nichol from Mount Forest, Ontario. On one of the magazine covers her name had been penned in full – Winnifred Mabel Nichol. On another, the mailing label says Mr. I .A. Nichol – 574 Fourth Avenue East 45091, Owen Sound, Ontario. He was probably a relative – perhaps a son or sibling of Winnifred, and this explains my mother’s connection to him and how the magazines ended up in her antique shop.
The magazine covers declare articles of great interest such as:
Yes, Women Are Not Sheep – But Aren’t Men Penguins?
Modern Bachelors Express Opinions On Girls.
A Ravenous White Elephant – The Trent Canal. ($20,000. Has already been spent – Is this Political Racket to Continue?)
After 60 What ? Will You Die Poor?
Are Men Dying Too Young?
What A Woman Wants.
The Age Of Indiscretion.
The New Year – 1929 – The Best Is Yet To Come.
How I Put Over The Klan!
Flickering Fists – The Story Of Hollywood’s Fighters.
Two Newly Discovered Letters Written by Abraham Lincoln.
To A Natural Salesman, Fire Engines and Women Are Easy.
I recently brought this pile of old magazines up from storage in my basement. I think they deserve to see the light of day for awhile and I’m going to spend some time leafing through them for more pearls of wisdom. I’ll keep you posted!