Let’s Read Modern Romances, March 1965!

Internet research on the history of Modern Romances brought up scant info, but Dell Publishing has long established itself as a publisher of cheap thrills and pulpy reads since the 1920s and continues to print paperbacks under several imprints today.

So where were we as a nation in March of 1965? Still deeply traumatized over the assassination of John F. Kennedy, watching our young men get shipped off to slaughter and be slaughtered in Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Jr. was marching to Selma, Malcolm X had been assassinated a month earlier, and The Sound of Music was in theaters. It was a very eventful year. This magazine will reflect very little of that.

Looking through this magazine, it seems to be written to very young married women with very young children who found themselves in a dire slog of bored housewifery and needed some good old fashioned sin (with inevitable redemption via Christianity in the final three paragraphs) to get them through the week. Other people who read this magazine were probably (by which I mean: absolutely) teenage girls, and old women who needed something to hate-read to confirm their biases about the youth of the day.

I like the cover misdirect here that Officer Tippit’s grieving widow is this foxy young blonde woman who may also have been a stripper by night.

We’ve got regular, super, slender, junior, and “Miss Deb”. I wonder who Miss Deb was, and what she did to get a sanitary pad named after her.

The cheap printing quality of much of the paper in this magazine makes for some interesting effects, like this ghostly trio of dancers doing the Monkey in their pantyhose.

Yes, this is one of those magazines where the douche ads are on practically every page. Woman-targeted print journalism seemed to be entirely supported by the feminine hygiene industry until the 90s, so…thanks, I guess?

Interesting that the writers of these “true” thrilling stories don’t get credited. I suppose you were expected to just take your $15 and get out, because this wasn’t the kind of thing that anyone would actually want to have their name attached to. Overall, I’m lukewarm on this table of contents layout, but it gets redeemed by the minimalist listing of department heads. I might like to be in charge of BABIES, but definitely not PERSONAL PROBLEMS.





As much as I wanted to include the full text of every story in this magazine, because they’re all so deliciously terrible, sadly I cannot. But I can share the splashy title pages with dreamy imagery!

“So…it’s just eyeshadow? Why would I buy this when I already have eyeshadow? I could have just been putting eyeshadow on my brows this whole time?” — every person who has looked at brow makeup since 1965.

Wow, guys, I think this beauty section may have been sponsored by Pond’s and Cutex!

And yes, we will get to revisit the perfume-scented nail polish later.

I feel like feminist studies scholars missed their chance to use GAY EDNA as a subversive icon to the benefits of “special mood-brightening medication”. The name of my riot grrrl band would totally be GAY EDNA.

Body positivity! Support the troops! Wait – the magazine just straight-up printed this little girl’s address? What the hell? Also what’s with the condescending snark about “why don’t you expose your kid to other children with measles so then you can write a paper about it”? The rubella vaccine went live four years later.

Advice from Mrs. Gerber, mother of five, herself: your baby has hands! You should teach it to hold things!

As promised, an ad for Nail ac’Scents. So mod! And they don’t even tell you what the nail polish is supposed to smell like, which means that it probably smells like Windex. What kind of scent is “PINQUE” supposed to be??

Of course there’s an ad for birth control! You’ve done your duty to society and already given America and your husband at least two kids, right? Boy, that car sure has a roomy back seat! WINK!

I don’t know what they mean by “lets a woman be completely feminine”, unless that’s code for “puts an ever-increasing burden of responsibility on the woman to be the one providing the birth control”.

AUNT MARTHA is here to give you all sorts of advice about things, such as “don’t sleep with a married man, since they always go back to their wives and they know you probably won’t commit suicide when they dump you.” HELPFUL!

Officer JD Tippet pulled over Lee Harvey Oswald as he was fleeing the scene of the JFK assassination. Oswald (OR SOMEONE ELSE) shot him.

I wonder what the family of JD Tippit today would think of this article. It’s a level of gooey scene-setting spin that Billy Flynn from Chicago would froth himself over. You can hear the violins playing as they go on about “Little Curtis” and Marie’s dramatic premonition on the morning of his death, and a lot of uncomfortably hungry speculation about the money that the family received from well-wishers in the wake of Tippit’s murder (over five million dollars by today’s inflation). But at the core of the article, it’s the words of a grieving woman overwhelmed by her family’s sudden involvement in one of the greatest tragedies in American history.

A jolly read about a housewife from the wrong side of the tracks who turned to stripping to pay for her husband’s leukemia treatments!

Appealing to the young housewife crowd, let’s take a break from reading about strippers and learn how to sew some napkins, because the pills just kicked in and we need to do something with our hands!

Let’s devote way, way too many words to curtains!

I’m including this mostly for the cartoon of the “nosy neighbor” who exists only to judge you if you dare to have an ugly bedspread.

I don’t know if I can trust Johnson & Johnson with baby care if they can’t even identify baby parts. That’s clearly a baby’s nose.

They literally start this column with “Don’t worry about dying in childbirth – worrying causes wrinkles on your pretty young face!” This entire article is one long record scratch.


I like that a baby carriage, a lucky charm, and FORMULA 666 cold medicine are on the same page. It’s your Rosemary’s Baby starter kit! And it gives you diarrhea!


A reminder to take a break from all this sin and vice and read your bible, with a helpful guide smack in the middle of this story about how a prostitute’s child came out of a coma because she found Jesus.

Only an 85% chance of permanent blindness!

That’s a lot of words and euphemisms for a vibrator. I’m sure they were not counting on a lot of women asking for their money back, and few actually did.

In case you were wondering if this would be worth big bucks today: “The one certainty in the world of FDC collecting is that blank first day covers with only stamp and cancel are virtually worthless in today’s stamp collecting marketplace” 

Hey look, it’s our old friend Illustrated Sex Facts that we first encountered in 1959! Exact same ad with a slightly compressed layout. I wonder how many people actually owned this book, and if it was one of those things that you discover in your grandparents’ attic 60 years later and never ever mention to another soul.


…write your own caption for that one, folks.

Pond’s still sells this stuff, so I’m assuming the formula didn’t immediately burn your face off. THE NUMBNESS LETS YOU KNOW IT’S WORKING!

And that’s it for this week! I feel the need for a more wholesome, innocent time, a time called…the 90s. So next week we will be exploring the totally radical world of August 1990 Disney Adventures, a staple magazine of mine and many others childhoods!