Let’s Read Junior Scholastic, February 1957!

Junior Scholastic launched in 1937 as an offshoot of Scholastic, a now-obscure kid’s magazine founded by the man who would go on to establish the Scholastic publishing empire. The magazine presents general interest topics with a strong focus on current events. The articles are written to be easily read aloud and intended to spark discussion afterwards in a classroom setting. Scholastic’s modus operandi has always been to publish cheaply and accessibly, so their low-cost black and white newsprint magazines were attractive to public schools and worked smartly as a supplement to lesson plans – a special Teacher edition of the magazine always accompanies the school version. As the Junior edition is aimed towards the middle schooler age of interest and reading level, I have to guess that the original Scholastic was intended for 9th grade and up, and probably focused a lot on vocational and homemaker training (keeping those gender role boundaries solidly defined). I’m not going to lie, this is absolutely the driest magazine for young readers that I’ve ever seen. It reads like a simplified language newspaper for low-literacy adults who want to learn about current happenings in Congress. Today the magazine looks and reads like this, which I recommend taking a second to flip through so that you’ll experience the full tonal whiplash between 1957 and 2018 in kid’s magazines.

https://junior.scholastic.com/etc/classroom-magazines/reader.html?id=20-091718

img_6997

“Eskimo” sounds jarringly dated, but is still not quite out of use today. In some places like Alaska it’s (apparently) ok to refer to natives as Eskimo, but in Canada and Greenland it is (mostly) correct to refer to them as Inuit, and that’s not solid either. The people of Baffin Island, in the case of this story, go by Inuit. I don’t have much to comment on this cover photo other than A) this is a cute family, and B) thanks to bad photo/print quality that poor kid in front of the door doesn’t have a face. Maybe he was never there…

img_6998

Wow, the selection of “fun” youth-appealing music in 57 just looks like the stodgiest, grandma-approved snoozefest around. Thank god for Elvis and Harry Belafonte.

Those record players cost about $450-500 in today’s money. OUCH. Admittedly, they were built like battleships and you only would need to buy one every few decades.

img_6999

“Did you know that Seamless basketballs have miracle thread wind—“
*SMASHED IN FACE BY BALL*
”A patented kantleek valve—
*SMASH*
”And a butyl bladder!”
*SMASH*
”Ow my glasses!”

img_7001

I chortled at the psychiatrist joke. Good job, Carol.

“Aimed at finding trouble before it starts”? You just had to go and make it ominous, Bell.

I like that their editorial board is actually made up of public school teachers, and the amount of women professionals contributing is significantly high. I’m also a fan of a table of contents so concise that it fits into one neat corner of the page.

img_7002

I can’t get over the boy lovingly petting his dead trout.

Aside from a terrorist attack in 2005, Sharm el Sheikh has been largely peaceful since the early 80s and is now a glitzy resort city. How about that.

img_7003

In world news: a museum celebrating the accomplishments of white men is opened in Tanganyika (modern Tanzania), welcome to the world Princess Caroline of Monaco, you’ve got a hell of a life ahead of you, Wilt Chamberlain was still a college basketball star, and we’re all gonna die from missiles.

img_7005

This was a story that captured the interest of a few news outlets at the time, but I could find almost no follow up on what happened to the plastic igloo dwellers of Baffin Island. I guess everyone in town eventually moved away from the igloo lifestyle and into typical houses, and a few nerds with engineering degrees developed the concept further into the Hypertats that we read about in 3-2-1 Contact last week.

img_7006

I love it when I find old magazines with puzzles half-filled in.

img_7004

How many suburban neighborhood windows were destroyed at the merciless hands of Ralph H. Renner and his reign of newspaper-cannon terror?

Military tech at the time was obsessed with developing personal sized helicopters. Clearly nothing came of it, and at some point they concluded that it was just a stupid idea and moved on. The Pegasus submarine, on the other hand, would go on to change deep sea exploration and photography forever.

I’m glad the kids got an update on Swaps. I bet they got a lot of letters about that. DEAR JUNIOR SCHOLASTIC, PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW SWAPS THE HORSE IS DOING. BILLY GRUBER SAID THAT THEY MADE HIM INTO GLUE, WHICH MADE SALLY LOPEZ CRY, SO I PUNCHED HIM IN THE FACE AND NOW I HAVE DETENTION FOR A MONTH. SINCERELY, TOMMY WARNER, MRS. FULLER’S 6TH GRADE CLASS, GEORGE WASHINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, DUBLIN CALIFORNIA.

img_7007

Lennie Rosenbluth played for the Philadelphia Warriors from 1957-59, and has since had a long career as a high school basketball coach.

I tried asking my mother what the movies were like when she was a teenager in the 1930s, and now she’s not talking to me.

img_7008

Apparently this is infamous for having a “happy” ending, in which the cardinals decide that Joan was innocent/the harmless kind of crazy right at the last minute and douse the flames. The stage equivalent of the “I couldn’t get on the plane” rom com ending, except, you know, that’s not what happened at all and kiiiinda takes away that whole “saint/martyr/hero of France” part of her story.

img_7009

I don’t recognize the celebrity in the photo – anybody? Even he looks skeptical of this offer being a good deal.

These kid jokes are alright, albeit ripped directly off radio comedy routines.

img_7010

Adjusted 2018 value of a new Anscoflex II in 1957: about $170

eBay price of a mint condition Anscoflex II in 2018: about $100

Sure it’s a little loss, but think about how lifelike the lips will be! And how that doesn’t sound unsettling at all!

img_7011

And now, GENERAL ELECTRIC PRESENTS: THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

img_7012

Quick evaluation of yourself according to GE’s metric of a good employee, good consumer, and by extension a good American. How do you live up?

img_7013

A quick dramatic recreation of IGY:

US Government: The soviets? Pah! They couldn’t launch a slingshot! Nothing to worry about. We’ve got the Vanguard ready to go on October 23rd, powered by General Electric’s X-405 rocket—

[SPUTNIK LAUNCHES OCTOBER 4]

America: —well, shit.

img_7014

GE in 1954: MORE POWER MEANS A BRIGHTER AMERICA!

GE now: JUST PUT ON A SWEATER IF YOU’RE COLD, JESUS CHRIST, DO YOU THINK WE’RE MADE OF MONEY?

img_7015

Snark aside, it’s cool to see all of this while it was new.

img_7069

Because nothing says fun like “fun”! I love the extremely limited scale of “fun” they give themselves to work with here, like the “fun” of not flunking a quiz because you did the homework. “DOING THE BARE MINIMUM OF WHAT IS EXPECTED OF YOU” does not translate to “FUN”.

But I totally want that robot.

img_7017

“We know that the General Electric men who sent the editors of Highlights the photographs on this page said somewhat the same things: GET A LOAD OF THESE NERDS! MY GOD, WHY AREN’T THESE KIDS PLAYING SPORTS? GOING TO DANCES? MAKING OUT IN CARS?!”

img_7018

Kid, someday you could be an engineer so jaded that he chainsmokes with cigarettes that he lights off overheating motors. And you’ll look like a total badass doing it, but your wife won’t love you and you’ll always miss your son’s baseball games and you’ll hate yourself most of all and the only connection you’ll find with anybody is in the wink of a waiter named Rodney, who clears the tables at Frank’s on Friday nights, when Frank’s isn’t getting raided by the fuzz that is, and anyway as I was saying kid, the electrical industry is a fountainhead of new technology, new employment, and new levels of living in America.

img_7019

“American industry and the government – working together – have transformed the meaning of atom from a symbol of destruction to a powerful servant of humanity.”

Who wrote this shit, Dr. Strangelove?!

I didn’t know there was a reactor in my city, so I looked it up. It’s way farther out than just the city, but I guess that’s easier to picture than “located in a desolate field somewhere outside of Pleasanton”, because hell if anyone knows where Pleasanton is.  Vallecitos was closed down in 1977, but there are still concerns that it was built on top of a faultline and we’re probably all screwed for good if an earthquake knocks it down.

img_7020

YEEHAW LET’S KEEP THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY!

img_7021

Damn, this is some heavy grey shit for a kid’s magazine. If kid’s print media from the 90s is too AWESOMELY RADICAL EXTREME SHREDDED TOTALLY WICKED, this is like grandfather putting his hand on your shoulder and taking a solemn breath before breaking it to your ten year old self that, son, you’re the man of the family now.

img_7070

The rest of this issue is about Congress, and minus a few familiar faces in the photos (who were just as uninteresting to kids in 1957 as all the other congressional schmoes) it is as dry as dry gets. At least this 1957 party map is all kinds of bonkers in 2018.

img_7022

There are way too many words in “scare quotes” here for my comfort.

I like that the runaway filibuster cow has a tidy haircut and a blissfully dumb smile on its face.

img_7023

“It starts with these white women in their little hats getting all fired up about something probably very racist, and then a man drafts a bill about it, and then all this other crap happens that no child will ever follow until someone writes a bluesy song about it, and then oh my god so much tiny text and drawings of white men around a table later the bill gets turned into a law and now black kids are legally forbidden to play tetherball with white kids.”

img_7024

I was going to do a detailed researched write up on who all these guys (the ones aside from LBJ and Nixon up there) were and whatever they did in their careers that was notable, but how about I save a lot of time and just assume that they were all terrible people?

img_7025

THIS COULD BE YOU SOMEDAY! Follow him around at work as he talks to people! He makes some phone calls! He looks at papers! Then he goes to a party with other stodgy old people and then goes home and does more of the same! His life is an infinite cycle of bureaucratic hell! Affecting a cartoonish stereotype of The Professional Government Man of The 1950s, Senator Blatnik had a pretty unremarkable career. His big career achievement was making Leif Erikson Day an official holiday, which you probably just learned about right this second because what America was really aching for was the celebration of another white explorer who didn’t actually discover America but got close enough to sort of not really count.

img_7026

Let’s hear it for D.S. Saund, the first Asian-American senator. He had been a naturalized citizen for less than five years when he was elected to Congress. That is INSANE.

Check out the senate brat pack! They’re idealistic, they’re naive, they’re fresh, they’re all about 40 years old!

img_7028

“And children, if you don’t get 100% on this quiz I’m sending it straight to Senator McCarthy’s office* to deport you and your family!”

*McCarthy was technically still alive in February 1957

img_7029

And, our riveting back cover, in which after a thorough overview about fuel economy and weak distributor points, Ford informs the reader that “Americans are the travelingest people that ever lived.”

Thanks for reading another week! Next week we’ll speculate about the future of Star Wars post-Jedi with Us Magazine, June 1983!

img_7107

Yep, just…take it all in.