Thursday Miscellany: Crossdressing soldiers, infinite nurses, and ham to the rescue

I have a love-hate relationship with this Norman Rockwell cover.

Judge magazine, June 1, 1918

Mennen’s talcum powder ad, Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1918

…we would be living in a world of mathematical impossibility!

Pioneering the “make women feel bad about themselves so you can sell them stuff” ad…

Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1918

…and the “our product saved the day in this fake situation” ad.

Good Housekeeping, May 1918

Solid choice.

Good Housekeeping, June 1918

I love how literally this kid takes the concept of writing a letter to a magazine: “I read the advertisements in you.”

St. Nicholas magazine, March 1918

And, finally, some summer color to brighten a wintery Cape Town day.

4 thoughts on “Thursday Miscellany: Crossdressing soldiers, infinite nurses, and ham to the rescue

  1. Barbara Dinerman

    I’m so glad the maid and butler were still appropriately dressed at bedtime to serve the ham sandwiches! But I think the Conspicuous Nose Pores wins first prize for its earnestness. Boy, what a different tone the ads had. I guess only affluent people — the “elites” — could afford to buy, and read, magazines in 1918. And who knew that talcum powder would be avoided a hundred years later as a possible cause of cancer? Advertising is still a great mirror of society. But then again, it’s only the affluent corporations that can buy TV ads for cars and pharmaceuticals. As if they’re all we care about.

    Great research! I hate to sound like an Old Person, but what happened to the fun commercials for Halo Shampoo (that glorifies your hair), Alka-Seltzer (That’s a Spicy Meatball!), and You’ll Wonder Where the Yellow Went When You Brush your Teeth with Pepsodent?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Year in 1918 Post author

      I’m so inconsiderate–I didn’t even think of the poor maid! Having looked at the picture again, I’m also impressed that dinner at home with the Harringtons appears to be a white-tie occasion. The ads were full of cancer-causing substances: cigarettes, of course, and asbestos, and talcum powder (which apparently used to have asbestos in it), and radium-based glow-in-the-dark clocks. And I share your nostalgia for fun commercials!


  2. Barbara Dinerman

    Oh, dear. I mistook the host for the butler, who was probably in the carriage house polishing the Rolls. I didn’t realize that “steaming coffee” was worthy of mention! And, hey, what kind of dinner guest shows up at bedtime? The hosts were entirely unruffled by this major gaffe; it was more important to be gracious in those days, I suppose, and thanks to Swift’s Premium (still an overused word), they could adapt with thin-sliced sandwiches.

    As for radium-based clocks and stuff, my parents came back from a New York weekend with miniature lampposts that glowed in the dark. My sister and I placed them beside our beds and basked in their cancer-causing glow for probably a year, or until they disappeared under a dresser or something.

    Oblivious and ostentatious. It’s the American way. But aren’t the ads beautifully drawn! Thanks for sharing them.


    1. My Year in 1918 Post author

      Judging from my reading, cars broke down all the time in 1918, causing no end of complications. And fear not, radium-based luminescent products were apparently not dangerous to the consumer, only to the factory workers producing them.



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