Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.
Date: October, 1957
Publisher: Hillman Periodicals, 535 Fifth Avenue
Discovered at: Antique shop in Gas City, Indiana
The Cover Promises: “How to Lose Five Pounds This Weekend,” the “intimate picture story” of “How a Girl Becomes a Woman,” and other lady-hating, mam-pleasing stuff that women’s magazines have certainly evolved past.
“Do you take your husband along when you’re buying a hat?”
“Do you tell him to stop after the third Martini?”
Look, I know that — just like the readers of 1957 — you want to get right to the big quiz so that you can determine, through math, exactly how much your relationship fails to measure up to the ideal envisioned by some overworked cube rat who never has time for intimacy with another person anyway.
But daft fifties rags like Pagaent are thick with ridiculousness you have to fight through to find any one particular feature, so before we get to “Do You Trust Your Mate?”‘s priceless his-and-hers questions like “Do you phone his office when he says he is working overtime?” here’s some of the things you would thumb through if you lived in an age when “to thumb” meant something besides registering a numerical plus one onto internet content.
First, here’s the secret to losing five pounds in a weekend:
Yes, on this diet, steak is all you will desire. But what can you eat?
Then there’s that lurid cover tease about an “intimate picture story” detailing the passage from girlhood into womanhood — at which time Pageant is ready to suggest to former girls that maybe they should lose some weight. I feared that the girl in question’s first flowering might be captured with then-current Disney nature film time-lapse technology, but what Pagaent offers is instead quite tame:
Tame except for that catty cutline, of course. Girls are exactly like kittens, in that both need a mother to teach them how to kill.
Here’s more of the sleepy wonder of adolescence:
Seriously, before 1960 it was illegal for women’s flesh to be exposed to the air in their own bedrooms.
This Pageant is rounded out by high-minded pieces that might make readers feel less guilty for plunking down their 35 cents: A posthumous profile of Eugene O’Neil; three pages of sketches of Billy Graham for some reason; a sober-eyed look at the difficulties of school integration; and funnyman Robert Paul Smith’s memories of movie-house hook-ups, which demonstrate that “funnyman” is a title only given to men who really, really want to be funny but aren’t actually at all:
“As to second base, this was a maneuver that took so long in the doing that you missed whole scenes of Tom Mix, and three times out of four she had damn little more in the bosom department than yourself.”
Stupid girls! Become women faster!
But the hell with all that! Here’s the main event:
Seemingly designed by non-experts to sow doubts in readers’ minds about their lives’ most important relationships, this quiz is at least diverting — and even somewhat egalitarian, as it poses its simple yes/no questions to both men and women.
The questions for husbands include:
“Are you upset if you come home and discover an unexplained cigar butt in the ashtray?”
“Have you ever told your wife of your pre-marital romances?”
“Would you buy stocks your wife suggested?”
Some questions are confounding:
“Do you check on the price tag or accept what she says her new hat cost?”
That’s a choice, not a yes/no, and yet all Pageant offers the husband is a box to check.
Better still is the first question for wives, which includes a textbook illustration of what people in print media used to call “a bad break”:
Choice questions for the wife allude to infidelity and naggishness:
“Do you have a ‘secret’ bank account?”
“When you’re away, do you paper the house with instructive notes for him?”
“Do you oversee his attempts to broil a steak?”
Of course she does! Steak is ALL SHE DESIRES!
Anyway, so that you can have a grand time ruining your relationship, I’ve put the complete test, answer key, and scoring guide on the next page.
Note that whoever owned this magazine back in ’57 has already answered all the questions with touching yeses and nos — the pages of the quiz were even bent over for speedy reference later! The pages of the Eugene O’Neil piece were not.
Have fun … and remember that half the questions are for husbands and half are for wives. “Mate” was once synonymous with marriage, and completing the quiz with a mere boyfriend or girlfriend in mind will only make Dwight Eisenhower cry in his grave.
Trust your mates, people!
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.