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ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: Auld lang ’zine

‘Old School’ column: Auld lang ’zine

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by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette

I’m told these days there are things called e-zines, as in emailed magazines. I’m sure they’re fine, but I miss the excitement of “magazine delivery day” and the rush to pore over the latest printed issue.

We got Life, Look, Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s and the Saturday Evening Post. My favorite was the Post. I loved to see the Norman Rockwell artwork, especially the one with the little boy and the cop at the soda fountain. You know the one. The Internet says that Rockwell created 300-plus covers for the magazine over a 47-year span, and I may have seen every one.

Life and Look had more serious stories, with plenty of pictures, which I treated with the reverence of a smitten girl reading a love letter.


Besides the photos and the articles, I always read the ads. Remember “I dreamed I went shopping in my Maidenform Bra”? Heck, those iron maidens covered more flesh than many of skimpy tops I see on the streets these days!

I also loved the Breck girls, always on the back of the magazine. Their hair was so wavy and perfect that I begged Mom to buy the shampoo.

Years later, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Ed Breck and his wife, who told me the first Breck girls were their three daughters. The Brecks commissioned portraits of their girls and then used them in ads. Sales rose and the rest is history.

McCall’s always had Betsy McCall paper dolls at the back of the magazine. I loved cutting out her clothes to make sure she was stylishly dressed. That girl had more clothes than the Kate Middleton!

My parents weren’t the only ones with magazine subscriptions. I got Jack and Jill every month, working the maze and the “hidden items” puzzles first.

In one May issue, the magazine ran a play, written in rhyme, about the Queen of the May. The following February, I changed it to “The Queen of Valentine’s Day,” recruited classmates as actors and we performed it for our school.

As I grew older, I read the section in the Ladies Home Journal called “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” My teen-age self couldn’t believe all the problems those poor married people wrestled with. Infidelity? Workaholism? In-law issues? It all seemed pretty racy compared to the boring lives of my folksy crowd.

Let’s hope that we Old Schoolers aren’t the only ones who still enjoy “real” magazines.

A resident of Arlington for 40+ years, Carol McEwen sells real estate when she’s not imparting deep insights or sparkling wit in this column.
Reach her at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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