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A Depression-Era Thanksgiving — Just as Many Calories Circa 1932 - I came across an interesting article recently about Thanksgiving in the 1930s thanks to journalist Julie Chang. She notes  that, for those who could not afford to dine in an elegant hotel or club, making recipes from scratch compensated for inflated food prices during the Depression. And many Americans remained optimistic despite their troubles.  At…
“The world is at sea on a raft in a hurricane” 1940 and 2017 - As many of you know, for quite a while I’ve been reading magazines published in the 1930s and 1940s; I’ve been interested in the values that women’s magazines, such as Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, imparted to their women readers. In those days, magazines were filled with articles about current events as well as fiction by…
Real News or Fake? In 1939 Dorothy Thompson Weighed In on the Topic. -       Dorothy Thompson on the cover of Time magazine, June 12, 1939 She was one of the most celebrated journalists of her era. On June 12, 1939, she graced the cover of Time magazine which called her “‘the second most popular and influential woman in the country behind Eleanor Roosevelt.’”  And Dorothy Thompson…
Such Mad Fun- Travel back to the Golden Age of Hollywood in this unforgettable award-winning story - What determines who a woman will become? Jane Hall was an orphan at fifteen and a “literary prodigy” according to the press. How did this daughter of Arizona’s most popular humorist become a Depression-era debutante, a successful author of magazine fiction, and a screenwriter at Hollywood’s most glamorous studio? Jane soon found that her ambition…
From Cooper Union to Harvard’s Hutchins Center: The Journey of a Painting -   For my followers, please excuse the delay in posting this past 8 weeks.  I’m well on the way to recovery from a fractured right wrist. But there is interesting news to report about an oil painting Jane Hall did while she was in art school at Cooper Union (1932-1935). It has now found a…
A Glamour Girl Hooked on Murder? - It all began when I sang parts of a grizzly ballad to my grandsons who are into gory stuff at almost 7 and 9. We wondered where the verses came from, and what the rest of the lyrics were.   I wasn’t even sure how to spell the name of the Wratten family, but the tune…
A Burning Question: Skin Color and Social Class in 1937 and 2017 - “What interests you most in this Cosmopolitan world of today?” the magazine asked in September 1937.  The answer could be found in another question: Is a person’s social standing to be “gauged by his complexion”? Columnist, cartoonist, and frequent contributor to the New Yorker and several other magazines, Weare Holbrook (d.1985), tackles this subject– and…
Cosmopolitan’s “Shocking Exposé” of Real Spies and Intelligence in 1940. - As I flipped through old Cosmopolitans from the days when the magazine introduced critical national issues to its young, largely female readers, an article from the Oct 1940 issue jumped out at me.* It was written by White House correspondent John Jay Daly and author Donald E. Kehoe. In light of our current battles about…
“The Shape of Things to Come” — Winter 1939 - In 1939 Jane Hall was hard at work as a screenwriter at MGM. Eight months later she would be on the cover of Cosmopolitan. I collected dozens of old Cosmos while working on Such Mad Fun. And though it does not contain any of Jane’s stories, the February 1939 issue of the magazine is fascinating. The…
Should Wives Work? It’s 1938 and Eleanor Roosevelt Has Some Thoughts About the Subject. - For the next few months, this blog will focus on young Jane Hall’s world–life in the 1930s and 1940s– as seen through popular culture. In 1938, the editor of Good Housekeeping, William F. Bigelow, a big fan of Jane’s work, put together twelve articles as “The Good Housekeeping Marriage Book.” Targeting hundreds of thousands of…