I love looking at old magazines. Luckily for me there is a stash at my great-aunt's house. I especially love looking at magazines from the 70s. Yeah, the fashions were pretty ugly. Yeah, people had crazy hairdos. Yeah, the houses looked so dark with their brown paneling and decor that the people must have constantly walked around with flashlights. But, I still love looking at them!
If you can get a feel of an era based on articles and advertisements, the 70s must have been super chill. Half the advertisements are for liquor and the other half are for cigarettes. Judging from Reader's Digest and Woman's Day, people in the 70s spent a lot of time having cocktails, riding bikes and smoking. Those must have been fun times, back when you could drink and smoke and not worry about cancer or the effects of your second hand smoke on your children or, for that matter, people glaring at you for it.
Those times were also idyllic because people still had an attention span that was not ruined by their smart phones. Don't believe that people were smarter? Pick up any old magazine and you will find that it is mostly articles. Sure there are a few big photos but everything, even advertisements, have articles. Why should you buy that bottle of "Old Forrester" for your boss for christmas? Here are three columns worth of reasons for you. Why should you switch to "Southern Comfort" in all your cocktails and serve them according to your guest's zodiac sign? Here's a whole booklet inserted into this magazine for you to read. Why is this canned ham so healthy? Here is an entire dissertation on canned ham. Read it! You have to do something while you sit there and smoke. Now days you are lucky to get two sentences to explain a photo in a magazine. It's true, have you picked up People magazine lately?
I was a kid in the 70s so I don't really remember those years clearly. Certainly my memories are sifted, swirly daydreams of playing and feeling safe in my environment. I know not everyone had happy childhoods but for me the 70s were all about riding free on my bike and building forts in the woods. News of people dying in Vietnam or lying presidents or hostages did not make it through my bubble. When I look at an old Southern Living or Woman's day from the 70s I don't see it there either, I guess that's why I find them so comforting.
So, if you ever find yourself down or overwhelmed with today's news. Get your hands on a few old magazines. Anything older than 1985 will probably do. You can daydream about how peaceful life would be if you were with those adults in the Tia Maria ad enjoying cocktails on a lamplit veranda overlooking a Jamaican resort beach. Exhale, Ahhhhh!
If you enjoyed this post please like it or leave me a message. Do you have a favorite nostalgic era? Tell me about it.
Until next time, enjoy a few ads from 1974 :-)
If you like looking at old magazines and poking fun at things we used to think were great, you will love lileks.com.