Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.
Family Circle magazines
Date: March 1959 and March 1963
Discovered at: An Indiana flea market
The Cover Promises: “The magazine you need for the life you lead.” Also: To soften skin and open your pores, buff your face with a puffy little bird.
“Kitchens, like little girls, are made of all things nice — well-planed cabinets of glowing wood or shining metal, and equipment that minds the roast, washes the pans and dishes, freezes meats, and keeps fruits, milk, and vegetables fresh.”
The magazine for the homemaking women who used to be the girls who, like kitchens, were equipped with parts designed for freezing meat, Family Circle has for decades offered a frank, sometimes depressing look at American domesticity. In March of 1963, the magazine desperately tried to make a game out of it:
(Click on the image above to see it larger.)
As the instructions make clear, the game is to be played with pennies; there is no word on whether you should have to ask your husband for them. For an opponent, pick “your neighbor, your daughter, your friend, or dare your husband to play the next time he asks ‘What do you do all day, dear?” The winner is the first player to serve breakfast, tackle the laundry, finish the shopping, balance the checkbook, get dinner on the table, and “change and freshen up” before the husband comes home … all while avoiding the obstacles that cause housewives to lose turns: A visit to the hat shop, raiding the refrigerator, or watching baby overturn the ashtrays.
Here’s some highlights:
Wait, what exactly is junior up to under the covers? The good news: This family won’t have to worry about him knocking anyone up.
Note that volunteering for the PTA sends you back three spaces.
And what exactly do you win?
A visit from the man whose hard work fills those ashtrays your stupid baby keeps upsetting.
Speaking of jolly douches, let’s peek at some other items of interest in these two Family Circles recently turned up by your Crap Archivist. First, this ad, which reminds you not to pour the chemicals beneath your sink into your ladyparts.
Or this one, which purports to be about balloons but in actuality has got to be for therapy:
If you do remember that kind of fun with balloons, there are professionals you can speak to.
Mostly it’s the ads that fascinate in these old Family Circles. But the next-to-last sentence of this movie review of To Kill a Mockingbird has an important lesson for us today: Always warn racists about what they might not like in a movie.
Also, note that To Kill a Mockingbird is for adults.
Family Circle might not have been comfortable with Harper Lee’s straight talk about race. But they were just fine with their advertisers’ about weight:
Many of those advertisers believe in a formula that they’re still using today: American women + shame = $$$$. It’s not just overweight Family Circle readers who were encouraged to better themselves through purchases. Lord help the wife who smells fertile:
Not all of the ads were upsetting. If you’re going to have to spend your days doing ever possible chore, you may as well dress like Kim Jong Il, track star:
By 1963, technology had made much domestic work easier than it had been in all previous history. Still, some problems couldn’t be solved by Maytag or General Electric. One growth industry: cardboard hairstyles for women to hold up to their own heads.
Mostly, though, Family Circle was about reminding women how much they have to fear about themselves and their bodies:
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