The Well Equipped
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Why Do We Collect This Stuff?
This is an advertisement from the Saturday Evening Post for September 8, 1944 two days before I was born. World War II was still raging in Europe and the Pacific. The ad shows a young couple just starting out and their eyes are on peace, prosperity and the future. What are they deraming about? It's NOT self-fulfillment, or empowerment, or "space" -- it's CONSUMER GOODS! They are dreaming about stuff that they couldn't afford during the Depression and that isn't available because of the War. The young couple could have been my parents. With all due respect, they much preferred a trip to the appliance store to an art museum. I really love these "Consumer Goods Fantasies" -- Here is a nice slide show of these ads from 1937 through 1955. I love the Firestone Ad that shows a Happy Family (Mom, Dad, Sis and Son) reveling in a Christmas Morning filled with all kinds of Consumer Goods, most of which you will find discussed in these pages. [The slide show should open in a separate window. It is best viewed in "fuil screen" mode - go to the toolbar, open the "View" pull-down menu and click on "Full Screen". These are full page ads and may not quite fit on your monitor, so you may have to scroll up and down]
Thus, it is with profound nostalgia that I look back upon a happier time when folks were quite content to dream about a Roaster, Toaster, Vacuum, Fan, or Ironer. After years of searching in the exotic areas of experience, it is very pleasing to go back to that much simpler time, to have a BLT in our Retro Kitchen.
As part of our project to survey all the issues of Popular Mechanics from 1932 through 1939, we came upon several very interesting article about "appliances" in general. The first ("Thirteen Slaves...") is a look at laborsaving conveniences. Unfortunately, this article takes the view of the slave-owner and suggests that with electric appliances, one can live in something like George Washington's slave-supported splendor at Mount Vernon. (During the 1930s, popular entertainment had a nostalgia for massa's side of plantation life). The second provides details on how to repair appliances; this may come as something of a shock to the millenial generation, but there was a time that you could repair your own toaster, coffe pot, mixer, etc. We have created ".pdf" files for each of these informative articles and present them for your downloading pleasure at no cost.
Sociology of Electrical Appliances in the Mid 1930s
Click to Enlarge the photos
Click here to download "Thirteen Slaves for a Nickel" (April, 1939 Issue)
Click here to download "Repairing Electric Appliances" (August, 1934 Issue)
So, with a nod to my beloved parents who survived the Depression and Saipan, here is my look at a broad range of artifacts that might have been part of everyday American home life during the Swing Era. None of these are for sale -- we use them almost every day! Have a look at our collection and feel free to ask questions or send us photos of your own Swing Era artifacts
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Flying Down to Rio
Fred and Ginger's first film
Click to look at all the covers of Model Airplane News from 1929-1969.
Air, Rail and Auto in the Swing Era
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Jukeboxes
The Technology of Music
Everything You Wanted to Know About Erector Sets
The House Tour
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