Let’s Read Family Circle, December 1962!

Family Circle has been in print since 1932 as one of the “Seven Sisters” of American housewife-targeted magazines. As is par for the course, the magazine most heavily marketed to women didn’t actually get a female editor until 1985, and it just so happened to be Gay Bryant, the woman who literally invented the term “glass ceiling” in reference to being hired as the first female editor of Family Circle. The second female editor of the magazine was Jacqueline Leo, who brought the magazine some actual journalistic cred beyond being a homemaker staple for an award-winning article on toxic waste dumping. In 2009 the magazine attempted to launch a sort of mommy blog social network called “momster”, that appears to have died a mercifully quick death. Family Circle continues its success at grocery store checkstands and probably will forever as long as people need cake recipes.

This cover is cute, and there are more absurdly charming Gyo Fujikawa illustrations inside. Unfortunately it’s a little battered, but I kinda like it when I get a magazine that’s clearly been read over from cover to cover a few times and marked up a bit to note something interesting to the original owner. It adds some character.

By 1962 the “crazy-eyed housewife” style of advertising was on the wane, but this is lady is a classic. That is the face of a woman who spends her day whisking out the lumps from her white sauce. She’s the Lady Macbeth of evaporated milk. OUT, DAMNED LUMPS! OUT I SAY!

In science and medicine news – fertility drugs that won’t turn your babies into hermaphrodites and relief from The Dumps.

If you want that little girl’s hairstyle, the exact look is detailed on an upcoming page. Who looked at that little girl and said with a wistful sigh “I’m going to torture my little Belinda into that hairdo on Saturday morning”? Many, many, many women.

I’m mostly tickled by the use of “The Reel Dope”.

Yeah we’ve all heard of The Longest Day, but what about this Jumbo movie? Apparently it was a box office bomb. Oh well. You tried, Doris Day.

There’s some freaky clown musical number at the 3-minute mark, if you’re into that.

These food stylists need an award for making split pea soup even less appealing to look at.

We’ve already had a lot of fun with SOAKY over the last week or so. What’s left to say? Did kids actually want a bath toy shaped like a winking old man in the throes of a stroke?

This is a pretty delightful read, aside from the reinforcement of that stupid “cavemen” imagery that people of the era were so enamored with. Not that this claims to be any kind of scientific essay, but the whole “men lived in caves 100,000 years ago and that explains every facet of modern 1960’s man’s behavior from why he likes to barbecue to why he likes women with big bazongas” thing is just so reductive. Anyway, I don’t feel like I ever grew out of my “cave dweller” phase, as this article deems it, and I loved sleeping in places that weren’t my room. I still enjoy the thrill of having a secret hideout. As a teenager I would spend whole summers sleeping in a tent on my deck, because sleeping inside was boring.

I’m about 90% sure that “jewel box” is made of seashell pasta spray-painted a brassy gold-brown. Very glamorous and not at all something cribbed from your kindergartner’s homework.


Totally bringing a canned spaghetti casserole to my next work potluck.

Jesus Christ! How long did it take you to see the girl behind her? What’s with this magazine!

Gladys Taber was a columnist who seemed to live in endless pastoral splendor in a 17th century Connecticut farmhouse called Stillmeadow. She wrote many books about life on the farm at Stillmeadow and was something of a country lifestyle mogul, a proto-Martha Stewart. Note that she name drops the Peace Corps, which had officially been launched a year earlier and had started recruitment in July.

The magazine’s original owner was all about making some molasses cookies, I see. These are cute – they look like the cookies I made with my mom growing up. The little silver decoration balls have fallen out of fashion these days, probably because they’re made with lead or uranium or something.

I love that they suggested all these old-fashioned names like Maynard and Waldo…aaaand they also went with making him some kind of native american amalgam, just to make it weird. Apparently the winning name for this contest that they’ve gone with sense was “Veritably“. THAT IS NOT A NAME. THAT FAMILY SHOULD NOT HAVE WON A NEW HOUSE FOR THAT.

So it seems that Ogden Nash has totally fallen off the public radar these days. Which is a bummer, because not only is he really fun to read, he was just insanely popular in the midcentury for his funny poems and weird rhymes and eye-rolling puns. I had to keep this whole section in because look at these awesome illustrations! So high-fives to Family Circle for not only prominently featuring an artist who was definitely not white, but also very well known for her all-inclusive art that depicted children of many different ethnicities.

This narrative goes something like “Ogden Nash hangs out with an elf who tells him weird stories about Santa”.

I like the imagery of George Washington mending his own socks in a tattered tent, the frozen bloodied corpses of soldiers being carried on stretchers past him, desperately writing to Santa Claus for help. Your move, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Santa Claus: benevolent figure of kindness and generosity, war strategist.

“Kangaruination” is the name of my debut Australian thrash metal album.

Pictured: The Great Santa Run San Francisco, 2018

Super cute, right?

Horrific 1962 quality photography aside, this is cute and probably looks a lot better in real life. Roses never really caught on as a Christmas motif, though.

This, on the other hand, is straight up “I stole the credit for things that my eight year old made in girl scouts” territory.

You’ll notice that the zeal for things suspended in Jello is finally starting to die down. Most of this actually looks somewhat normal, even broaching towards appetizing! Someone way back in 1962 has started to understand that it’s hard to go wrong with chicken tenders and tomato soup.

Again, these recipes actually seem pretty standard holiday fare and not – too – weird. That “Snow Lady” thing, though…I’ve misplaced the issue (of course I have) so I can’t get to the actual recipe, but it involves making some kind of creepy idol figure out of bread and cream cheese frosting. Maybe with a different face she won’t look as disturbing, but all I see in that picture is some kind of Jim Henson-esque goblin in a festive little hat. Who got to eat the head? Did the kids fight over her eyeballs?


More retro-cute cookies.

Yes, so very…wholesome.

Don’t go crazy with the curry powder, now – just take the foil off the bottle next to a bowl of Miracle Whip, that’ll be enough to take you straight to Shangri-La!

“Don’t forget that Jesus was a man…the manliest man that ever manned like a true man in the history of man”


Yes, I would like a whole book of eye-searing decorations and weird graven idols made of bread, please.


“Wow, Bill, your family history goes back so far!”
“Yeah, back to the days when wives just made coffee and let the men talk.”

Brought to you by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau

I don’t know who they’re trying to fool here, as this woman has water beading up over her foundation and mascara literally pooling under her eyes.

Midol ads! My fave! Sad Sue/Glad Sue is clearly the best friend of Gay Edna, and they have sleepovers where they eat chocolate and pizza and hate men and cry through Hallmark movies and say things like “You’re the only person on this planet that I can stand to be in the same room with right now”, and then they look at pictures of bunnies on Instagram together.

I wish that Gallo still sold wines in this kind of bottle. Maybe not with the screw-top.

The vacant, fogged-over eyes of the children are merely a harmless side effect of being forced to sit with their heads in a hairdryer for an hour every Saturday morning.

Swanky 1962 furniture! That Drexel chair and ottoman is probably worth bank today.

Wow, thanks national grocery store association, for totally erasing all the work that women actually put into cooking all day.

A few things:

  • Your definition of “party food” in 1962 is somewhere between “box of gum” to “sculpted lemon-leaf cookies meticulously garnished with crushed pistachios”.
  • Next month: sex molesters, drug addicts, muggers and HOODLUM GANGS!

On my 1962 Christmas list: the friendship keychain set that puts BE FRI/ST END to heathen shame, 1963 calendar towels (but only from 1963), and that pink plastic tissue box with a cat on it.

I also kind of dig the personalized desk set. With a space for a favorite photo (of you!), probably so that your husband can be reminded that you’re always watching him – always.

It’s not the holidays unless you’ve choked down a slice of Aunt Mabel’s LEMONOG pie, which does NOT in any way involve any sort of nog and instead involves those nasty technicolor sugar-pickled fruit bits.

Thats it for this week! Oh my god, we made it through an entire month of Christmas magazines. Holy cow. I will be taking a break for next week to sort my brain back out and un-holiday myself, so I’ll be back on January 11th with Canadian Homes and Gardens from August 1956! HAPPY NEW YEAR!