“Life” in 1942


I’m getting ready to host my annual Easter get-t0gether this weekend.  I’ll probably have 17 at my home this Sunday for dinner with 5 adults and an infant staying with me from Friday till Monday morn.

While preparing this week I went into a closet for sheets and blankets and came across my copy of Life Magazine from the week I was born. It was dated September 7, 1942.   On the cover a picture of a pilot siting in a glider – one of those flying coffins with no engine.

So this afternoon after shopping all morning I flipped through it again, reminding myself of life the way it used to be in the first year of American involvement in World War II.

I am always struck by the number of ads for deodorant.  One can only assume that usage of deodorant was not commonplace and the ads were designed to get folks to use the product – deodorant “creams”.

“A dab a day keeps P.O away!”  Perspiration odor.  “Positively stops underarm perspiration odor as proved in this amazing hot climate test!”

Cigarette ads were commonplace.    “Smoking means inhaling.  Inhaling means you need what Philip Morris has to offer!  No worry about irritation!”


Florsheim shoes.  As a child I thought it was “Floor Shine”

“As conservation becomes America’s greatest need, Florsheim quality takes on more importance than ever – the best way to make shoes last longer is to buy better shoes.”  They cost $10 – about twice the price of other shoes.

There were plenty of articles for the home front – especially women making their own clothes.

The nation was at war.  The Germans were approaching Stalingrad but the bulk of Life’s distain was reserved for the “Japs.”

“The Japanese language is a national secret code, perfect for hiding facts or saying what you don’t mean.”

The daughter of an American diplomat in China who spent a few months in the Santo Tomas camp in Manila before being repatriated with American diplomats in exchange for Japanese diplomats held in America wrote an article.

“Then I saw my first Jap soldier face to face. A general.   I was mortified he was coming to inspect us.  My room mates and I prepared by sitting bolt upright, scared stiff facing the door. First we heard shuffling down the hall. Then the general, with a three day growth of beard, shuffling in Jap slippers; he had on dirty jodhpurs, a filthy open shirt and a tooth pick in his mouth. We were terrified.  He blurted out “Yankee girls!”, shuffled through the rooms and exited laughing.”

The Japanese Americans, both citizens and not, were already in the camps.

Overt sexism and racism is on full display in the Life of 1942.

An article tells of how a young wife took over her husband’s machine shop business after he was called to active duty.

“Red headed Mrs.Harrison had been a milliner, designing exclusive hats for the local elite of Peoria.  Putting on her smartest hat, she went to the local WPB office, wowed them with her red hair and got a contract.  Undaunted by the challenges of a man’s world, she learned to operate a machine lathe all by herself.”

The overt racism within the pages of Life Magazine was palpable:

, as life1

And that’s the way it was as Walter Cronkite used to say each evening.

What else was going on?

Tom Dewey was re-nominated by the GOP as Governor of New York.

There was an article about the “Boy King of Iraq” – Faisal II, age 7.  He was propped up by the British and under the thumb of his uncle’s regency until he would come of age.  He would be murdered in 1958 along with numerous members of his family after the revolution which brought the B’aath Party to power.  The family had surrendered and were machined gunned in the palace courtyard.

Theodora Roosevelt, granddaughter of Teddy made her debut as a danseuse in a Rio night club in front of Brazil’s elite social set.  Her performance was “coolly but politely received”.

Oh and Toritto was born that week.


Happy Easter.








About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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2 Responses to “Life” in 1942

  1. DesertAbba says:

    As a 2 year-old, I listened to the radio that year and heard the somewhat high-pitched but precisely enunciated newscasts of H. V. Kaltenborn. In the year that you were born, I named the sailor-dressed boy-doll who was my everyday companion ‘H.B. Kaltenborn.’ I think maybe that the voice who introduced ‘H.V’ was not so precise. It was the next year or so, that I’d slip aside the heavy drapes on our front windows to peek at my Dad as he stealthy slipped down the street like a shadow, flash-light in hand, armband on identifying himself as an air-raid warden, to assure that our small-town, central Ohio neighborhood was not casting dangerously revealing lamp-light onto the streets. Of course, there was no danger that the Luftwaffe would be closer than thousands of miles to the skies over our tiny town, but such practices gave everyone the feeling that we were a part of the war-effort. The animal fat and ‘tin foil’ we collected served a similar service but I doubt that either got out of our State. As Bob Hope was want to say, Frank, ‘thanks for the memories.’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beetleypete says:

    A nice souvenir of your birth, Frank. And you look the part too, in that sailor suit.

    When I started smoking, in 1968, Philip Morris was the one brand I wanted. Hard to find in certain suburbs of London, and almost twice the price of other brands, I tracked them down in a central London (City) tobacconist.

    The power of advertising, all those years later…

    When I gave up cigarettes, in 2012, I was smoking Lucky Strike at the time, and had been for decades. I associated smoking with the cinema, and the cinema with America, so I had to have American cigarettes. Marlboro, Pall Mall, Philip Morris, Chesterfield, Luckies, even at the price premium. If it was cool to smoke, I was going to smoke a cool brand, whatever the cost.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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