Hey everyone! It’s me, not delivering what I promised last week. Having a cold and staying home from the archive to keep my plague from spreading unfortunately cuts me off from accessing the fun stuff like old Playboy magazines and whathaveyou. Thankfully my other-other job at the public library grants me access to physical copies of old magazines in a more limited range, but in this case it’s right on brand because they have a large series of bound collections of Life from the WWII years. Life needs no introduction, as it was inarguably the most influential magazine of the 20th century. This week we’ll be reviewing Life from July to August of 1945.
Two weeks ago, we looked at 1941. Last week was 1943. Now it’s July 1945, and the war is almost over. Europe is in shreds, Hitler is dead, and all efforts are now focused on breaking Japan. The war machine is working overtime to dehumanize the Japanese and make them unsympathetic as possible in the event that America becomes responsible for the atomic bomb deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and can still sleep at night. On the homefront, the women who have given up their stockings and coffee and bedsheets are counting the days until their men come back. I’m going to try as hard as I can to keep this from being depressing, but it’s still going to hurt to look through. There’s some really nasty things that I couldn’t bear to put in, like a full-page pictorial where an Australian soldier roasts a Japanese man with a flamethrower because he wouldn’t come out of a hut. Wartime made excuses for violence, racism, sexism, repression, you name it. I hope you do enjoy this week’s thread, and I hope you also think about your forebears who were alive at this time and what they may have been dealing with through the war. What they were absorbing from the media and from society around them, and how it affected them.
July 1945 (Life at this time was published weekly, so all four weeks are compressed into one month for binding purposes)
No, I really don’t know what the deal is with the shadow on her forehead that looks like a bullet hole. But the romance of this period really comes through in this ad. Everything’s going to be all right. Wind, stars, girl, car. Nash was their own brand until 1954, then merged with Hudson to become American Motors, which eventually got eaten up by Chrysler in the late 80s.
Homeboy, your sweetheart has probably been waiting two years for you to get home. She’s not going to kick you out because your breath stinks. She wants to get laid as much as you do.
The Life table of contents for July 2, 1945.
We’ll come back to this later.
Exploring the smoldering ruins of Berlin and the place where Hitler and Eva Braun probably killed themselves. Fascinating stuff.
Mommy doesn’t get to have feelings! How dare she stop smiling! Daddy’s not coming home and it’s all mommy’s fault! Drink 7-Up!
“Fraternization” between American soldiers and German civilians was forbidden, and oh boy does that officially include having sex with German women. You can imagine how seriously the GI’s took this rule. Even the article is like “Good luck with that.”
Canned bacon! Make sure to boil it first!
Firsthand coverage of the United Nations Charter. “Peace with teeth” indeed.
Charming little finger-wagging rhymes from the War Board in an attempt to avoid inflation and encourage, as ever, the buying of war bonds.
Good luck, and remember – you’re going to have so much sex with your wife when you get home from the war. So much sex that you’re going to need a new mattress! And Englander is there for you!
Before we get to the really heavy stuff, let’s follow up on that letter about spanking:
Come for the Eisenhower worship, stay for the Judy Garland fanboy.
Sure, Mrs. Troutman. Sure.
Chubby little notsee orphan babies! You can read more about the lebensbornproject here.
Artist Floyd MacMillan Davis and his wife Gladys Rockmore Davis’s coverage of what’s happening in Montemarte in the wake of the war. The Davis couple were the highest in demand illustrators of the period, which is nothing to sneeze at in the golden age of magazines.
Here’s a pictorial on Howard Russell, who Miss Rim brought to our attention last week.
And then this happened. Welcome to the Atomic Age. We’re all scared shitless, but it’s time to party.
I’d wager that most of these ladies, while ecstatic about the end of the war, weren’t exactly thrilled about being sexually assaulted by strange sailors in the street.
These ladies, on the other hand, do San Francisco proud.
What the soldiers were doing when the war ended.
And we’ll end on one of those pictures that looks like it could have been shot today, of a bearded hipster boring the snot out of a cool girl at a party. No, it’s from a spread on soldiers in Hawaii waiting for the all-clear to go home and living it up in paradise in the meantime.
This brings our time on WWII-specific magazines to a close. Next week I’ll make good on my promise to review another Playboy and provide a critical commentary on the life’s work of Hugh Hefner.