Archives For 1940’s

Want to brush up on your 1940’s slang and see some good-old jitterbugging? Miss Annie Rooney is a Shirley Temple movie that came out in 1942, the year she turned 14. She plays a starry-eyed girl looking for some romance, but the official description from IMBD says: A poor girl falls for a wealthy young man. He invites her to his gala birthday party, but she doesn’t have the right kind of dress to wear, so her family and friends band together to raise money to get her the proper dress.

Billed as Shirley Temple’s first glamorous role, first romance, and first kiss (!) it’s a fun film, quite different from a modern teen movie, that’s for sure. Here is the b&w movie trailer and below it a link to the colorized movie.

 

Y is for Your Hit Parade

April 28, 2015

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

Y

Your Hit Parade was a Saturday night radio broadcast of the most popular songs of the week. It was the age of the big band, and a live orchestra would play the songs, with number one being the last of the night. The other songs were not played in order. I can picture the teen-agers gathered around someone’s cabinet radio in the living room, drinking Coca-Cola, and taking guess on the number one.

T is for Tupperware

April 23, 2015

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.
T

 

Tupperware hit department store shelves around 1946 (alas, no agreement across websites, but the very brief history mentioned on the Tupperware company website says 1946 so we’ll go with them.) Named after the inventor, chemist Earl Silas Tupper, these innovative products were slow to catch on. People couldn’t see from the display how different these products were. They couldn’t hear the seal “burp.” Or drop the product and see that it didn’t break.

Enter single mom Brownie Wise. She knew how to sell Tupperware. She already worked direct sales for Stanley Home products, selling brushes and cleaning supplies in home parties. She is the one who made Tupperware a hit, holding the first Tupperware party in 1948, and launching the phenomenon of Tupperization in the 1950’s.

To learn more: Stay a Stay-at-Home Mom or The History of Tupperware Parties

 

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

S

Seventeen first hit the magazine rack in September, 1944. Teen-ager was a new word on the scene, and Seventeen the first magazine aimed directly at teens. Seventeen was actually born out of a renovated version of a movie-magazine called Stardom. The publisher was looking for fresh ideas and contacted Helen Valentine, who had worked for both Vogue and Mademoiselle: The Magazine for Smart Young Women. She had the right vision, and he hired her.

Excerpts from the editor’s first letter to the readers:

“You’re going to have to run this show—so the sooner you start thinking about it, the better. In a world that is changing as quickly and profoundly as ours is, we hope to provide a clearing house for your ideas…..As a magazine, we shall discuss all the things you consider important—with plenty of help from you, please. Write us about anything or everything. Say you agree with SEVENTEEN or disagree violently, say we’re tops, say we’re terrible, say anything you please—but say it!” – Helen Valentine

When I was collecting research for my 1940’s YA novels, I purchased several old Seventeen magazines. These large editions were a lot of fun to breeze through. One of the magazines had a great article about different kinds of technical high schools, so I sent one of my supporting characters to a school for fashion design. (Her picture is even in the magazine!)

In this video, I show you those magazines and read some of the reader’s letters to the editor:

 

For more info and glimpses of past covers, check out this article:  When We Were Seventeen.

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot

P

June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt got on the radio for a solemn announcement. The night before, he’d told of the fall of Rome, but now he was announcing a massive, secret operation was well underway and it was time for the nation to pray. With an estimated audience of 100 million listeners, this is what he prayed (text is below the video):

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

M is for Monuments Men

April 14, 2015

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

M

 

I learned of the work of the Monuments Men about a year before I first heard about the movie starring George Clooney. The Monuments Men were those men and women whose job it was to protect the art, significant monuments, and architecture in Europe during WWII. They were few workers for such a large task. After the war, their jobs turned into recovery and restoration as they searched for all the stolen artwork hidden in treasure troves around Europe.

The Monuments Men story was instantly captivating to my imagination. You can read descriptions of how the art was stolen and hidden and then recovered, but the photos are really what you want to see. Amazing. Here are some books, and of course, a video that shows many of these archival photos. The second book, Rescuing Da Vinci, is the one with the most pictures.


L is for Letters Home

April 13, 2015

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

L

In our current culture of email and video chat, it’s hard to remember those days of hoping and waiting for a personal letter to come in it the mail, let alone waiting for a letter from someone fighting overseas during WWII. These letters were precious.

While I was researching for my 1940’s novel, I stumbled across a gem of a little book called Letters Home by Nan Snow. It documents the story of a teen named Floyd Davis who enlisted in the Army Air Force following graduation in 1943. The book gives a detailed picture of what life was like for these young men going through boot camp, and then off to war.

As I was reading this book, I kept a list of the slang he wrote in his letters, and used these terms to inform my characters. I used this technique with several books and vintage magazines to capture the cadence and voice of the times.

I just realized it now, but I inadvertently named my main character’s brother Floyd. Kate’s brother had gone through several different names as I was writing, searching for the name that felt right. I had long since put the book Letters Home on the shelf, having mined it for my slang and boot-camp timeline. I suppose, since I was patterning Kate’s brother’s career path after the real Floyd, my subconscious must have clicked in when I tried the name Floyd and found I liked it.

If it is any consolation to the real Floyd, the fictional brother Floyd is one of the characters my readers seem to like the most. I get enough comments about how wonderful he is that I am tempted to write a bonus scene told from his point of view. It would be swoon worthy, for sure.

UPDATE: After writing this blog post, I sent a letter to an email address I hoped would reach Nan Snow to tell her the impact her book made on my novel. I was thrilled to find an answer from her the next morning (again, the contrast in communications between now and the 1940’s!) She forwarded my email to Floyd’s sister, who had kind words to say. If you would like to see Floyd’s actual letters for yourself, Dorothy has donated them to the University of Arkansas’ archives. They have not yet been processed, but would likely be made available upon request. Thank you again, Nan and Dorothy for sharing Floyd with the world.

Unrelated to the book, Letters Home, here is a modern tale about a WWII love letter that never made it home, but the impact it had on this generation:

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

K

Kiss me Kate is a Broadway musical production based off of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It’s a play within a play, as the storyline follows a cast putting on a production of Shakespeare’s play.

It premiered in late 1948 and won several Tony awards in 1949, including best musical. And just announced last month:

On March 25, 2015 it was announced that the 1949 original cast recording will be inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the album’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy”.

The music and lyrics were written by Cole Porter and their popularity gave a boost to his career.

Here is the trailer for the 1953 movie version of the musical:

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.


J


During the war, a soldier could send home a patriotic memento to his mom or girlfriend. These pins, necklaces, and bracelets were both machine manufactured and hand-made (known as trench art). Because of rationing, the use of metals was restricted, however, if a company still had sterling silver, they could use it to make jewelry.

The jewelry often represented the branch of military for which the soldier was serving. You will also find other symbols like the flag, an eagle, V for victory. I’ve seen one dedicated to Pearl Harbor, where a pearl took the place of the word in: Remember Pearl Harbor.

WWII sweetheart jewelry is a personal, fascinating piece of history. It was a linking of two people across the miles, and has become a popular collectible today.


Sweetheart Jewelry and Collectibles (Schiffer Book for Collectors With Value Guide)

Some online examples are here: http://cindyentriken.com/2014/01/wwii-sweetheart-jewelry/

This video interview with Sandra Whitson, author of Star Spangled Jewelry (Schiffer Book) talks prices: $10-400 for the flag pins.

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.

I

If nothing else, war time brings rapid innovation and invention for the military, which then trickles down to the civilian level. Here are five of the interesting inventions that came out of WWII:

Duck tape: Yes, the original spelling was d.u.c.k. As in, water off a duck’s back. Which was the one of the purposes of this tape—to be waterproof. Also, it was made from fabric called duck cloth. A quick search of Wikipedia turns up the idea came from a an ordnance-factory worker named Vesta Stoudt who was concerned about the seals being used on ammunition boxes. She thought a fabric tape would work better. Click here for the rest of the story.

Its original color was olive drab. After the war, the tape was found useful for duct work (d.u.c.t.) and the color changed to the more recognizable silver of today.

Aerosol can: I alluded to this yesterday in my post about hairstyles that had to be created without the help of hairspray. During the war, the U.S. government was looking for a way to distribute insect spray to help prevent malaria. The winning idea came from researchers at the Department of Agriculture.

Silly Putty: A happy accidental discovery when the folks at GE were trying to produce a synthetic rubber to compensate for the severe rubber shortage. It wouldn’t work for tires, but was fun for kids.

Slinky: Richard James, while trying to solve the problem of stabilizing sensitive equipment on battleships, knocked one of his springs over and saw it step down over things. (And now you’ll be singing the song for the rest of the day.)

Penicillin: the discovery and mass production of penicillin took a long and windy road, which accelerated during the war years. According to wikipedia:

“By June 1942, just enough US penicillin was available to treat ten patients.[31] In July 1943, the War Production Board drew up a plan for the mass distribution of penicillin stocks to Allied troops fighting in Europe.[32] The results of fermentation research on corn steep liquor at the Northern Regional Research Laboratory at Peoria, Illinois, allowed the United States to produce 2.3 million doses in time for the invasion of Normandy in the spring of 1944. After a worldwide search in 1943, a mouldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois market was found to contain the best strain of fungus for production using the corn steep liquor process”

Other inventions include the computer, jet engine, and microwave.

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.
H

Whether it was the Liberty Cut, Victory Rolls, or a pin-back updo, women were encouraged to use hairstyles that lasted, just like their clothes. “Mend and Make Do” was the battle cry, and when it came to hairstyles, that was a style that could last for three months between haircuts. And with the war time fashions being so plain, a fancy hair-do helped up the glam of every-day.

I have no idea how they were able to pull off these styles without hairspray (which did not come into full use until the 1950’s, even though the aerosol can was invented during the war). Here are some modern tutorials to get you started with your own vintage hairstyle: