Archive for the ‘From the Vault’ Category


From The Roaring 1920s To The Storming 2020s… A Mr. Magazine™ New Year’s Musing…

December 31, 2019

Welcome to 2020… 

Whether it’s going to be the “Roaring ‘20s” again in the world of magazines and magazine media or the “Storming ’20s”, remains to be seen. But rest assured 2020 will go into the history books as the year of excellent vision, as you can see from my series of conversations with the movers and shakers of the magazine media industry (part 7 appearing Thursday Jan. 2)…

You know, Mr. Magazine™ had to bring this “vision thing” somewhere into the blog.  Now, that the  “2020 vision” pun is out of the way, and while we wait for this New Year to unfold, Mr. Magazine™ deduced that it would be apropos at the very beginning to look back 100 years to see where and what the world of print media was celebrating that first year of what would become the Roaring ‘20s.

Needless to say, Henry Luce, founder of Time Inc. and all of its many magazines, had proclaimed to his readers that the 20th century would be known as the “American Century,” and when he launched TIME Magazine in 1923, it was a manifestation of that 20th century and what was going on at the time.

I decided in this New Year’s musing to reflect back on two titles that were actually published in that first week of 1920, the leading weekly illustrated newspaper at that time, Leslie’s Weekly and from the trade side of the business, Campbell’s Courant, formerly The Optimist.

If we take a peek at these two magazines we will discover a couple of things: one, we will see how that really was the beginning of the “American Century,” by taking a look at what the (then) Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane, wrote in the editorial of that issue of Leslie’s Weekly, which you will find below verbatim, and we’ll also take a look at what the powers-that-be at Campbell’s Soup wrote in the introduction of their magazine.

However, everything wasn’t hunky-dory at the beginning of the Roaring ‘20s any more than they are today. But there was a hopefulness in the air after the end of WWI. And it was the end of the famed printer’s strike. And during that time, we must remember that print was the only mass media people had, so it was a very vital part when it came to receiving current information. So, anything that affected print, affected the mass population across the nation.

Leslie’s Weekly was happy to announce that after all the disruptions due to the printer’s strike in New York, that they were moving back to New York City from Chicago where they had been printing now that the strike was over, as you will read in an excerpt found below from the publishers.

And as we approach our own, hopefully, the 2020s will be more roaring than storming. Let us stride bravely into the New Year as our counterparts from yesteryear did, knowing that the industry we all love is strong and resilient. And as Mr. Magazine™ continues his conversations with the great magazine makers of today, we will see that their vision of the future is definitely 2020!

Leslie’s Weekly Jan. 10, 1920

Know America

By Secretary of the Interior Lane

As Edward Everett Hale used to pray, “Teach us to know that we are sons of the living God,” so I would pray also that we might know that we are sons of a living America. To know that is to know that we can solve our difficulties, answer our problems, and go on growing. For a living America is one that is not static, fixed, traditional, but one that is moving, living, growing, and therefore always ready for the day’s work. We have an American way of doing things, not a European way. Because we have an American conscience and an American sense of justice and an American common sense – these are our traditions and they are equal to any task.

Leslie’s Weekly, Jan. 10, 1920

To All Leslie’s Subscribers

The publishers of Leslie’s are pleased to announce that the strike of printers in New York and vicinity has ended in an amicable settlement and that the printing of Leslie’s has been resumed at the Charles Schweinler Press, from which we will receive the same prompt and efficient service that we have enjoyed for many years past

The strike made it necessary to place our work temporarily with a Chicago firm, and we were fortunate in not missing an issue during the strike, but the difficulties of manufacturing the paper more than one thousand miles from the office of publication were so enormous that our issues were unavoidably late in appearing. As it is a physical impossibility to gain the time lost, it has been found necessary to combine the issues of December 13th, 20th and 27th  into one large number; also to combine the issues of January 3rd and 10th, and the issues of January 17th and 24th. We will in this way resume delivery of papers to our subscribers on the regular schedule during the month of January.

To make up to the subscribers the issues missed by the combinations, all subscriptions will be automatically extended for four numbers beyond the normal expiration date. No correspondence on this subject will be necessary, and we would ask all of our subscribers to note carefully this announcement and to refrain from sending us unnecessary complaints at a time when the entire energies of our organization are being devoted to the restoration of the subscription service to its normal high standard.

Campbell’s Courant, Jan. 1920

To you, dear reader, our customer or business associate, in whose interest this publication was conceived and in whose service it has its being – to you, we earnestly and hopefully re-dedicate it. May “The Courant” prove a helpful and cheering friend during the New Year.


Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

Both today’s and the ones from yesteryear…


1919: A Pivotal Year For Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

October 16, 2019

Mr. Magazine™ was relaxing in his vault recently when it dawned on him that the magazines of 1919 were looking back at him from all around the massive room. The faces of a century ago seemed to be channeling his psyche pointedly, beseeching him to tell their story. He stared back at them, turning slowly in a circle, absorbing their loud but silent pleas completely. And then he wrote this…

 The Year Was 1919

Reflecting the times has always been something that magazines do well; 100 years ago and today. The covers told the stories vividly. From Teddy Roosevelt on the cover of “The New Success,” to an editorial his son, Theodore Jr., wrote in “Our Boys” magazine, 1919 served as a year to remember in magazine history.

Highlights Of The Times

 In 1919, the first World War (or the Great War, as it was called back then) had just ended and the country was trying to absorb the effects, financially and emotionally. Woodrow Wilson was the leader of the free world and his dream of a League of Nations becomes a reality after the League Covenant is adopted at the Paris Peace Conference.

Also in 1919, a group of 19 magazine publishers from across the entire magazine publishing scene, from consumer to trade and farm publications, came together to form the National Association of Periodical Publishers, Inc., which later became MPA – The Association of Magazine Media.

The Role Of The Magazine

The role magazines played as experience makers was and still is remarkable. “Harper’s Bazaar,” for example, had its Christmas, 1919 edition, in which the magazine offered an invitation to its new and enlarged offices in the heart of fashionable Paris:

We cordially invite all Americans visiting on either pleasure or business to make these new Harper’s Bazar offices their Paris headquarters. Particularly do we wish to point out the advantages of consulting with our resident representatives there before embarking on shopping expeditions in fashion’s capital.  

In short, Harper’s Bazar was offering American newcomers to the city of Paris a verbal guide to the shops and couturiers of the city, advising Americans where to find what they wanted, how to get there, and even how much they should pay. A total experience with one of their favorite magazines, indeed.

When Magazines Ruled The Land

A century ago magazines ruled the land. From the mass general interest titles like “The Saturday Evening Post” and “The National Geographic Magazine” to the more specialized and niche publications such as “The Farm Journal” and “Field and Stream,” 100 hundred years ago the scepter of information and entertainment belonged to magazines.

And when it comes to specialty titles, niche magazines do not just belong to the 21st century. In 1919, there were singular topics covered on a regular basis in magazines: “Successful Farming,” “The American Legion Weekly,” “Photo-Era,” and the list goes on and on. So, being a niche magazine is not a new idea, it’s just a good idea that continues today.

Looking Good For Your Age

When something or someone lives to see 100 years or more, they know what the word longevity means. Magazines that have such a long heritage are indeed something very special. Today there are more than 50 print magazines that have flourished for more than 100 years.

From “Harper’s Bazaar” to “Scientific American,” “Good Housekeeping,” to “The Nation,” these legacy titles have become generational favorites over the years and each one of them are as relevant, informational and entertaining today as they were during the eras of their infancy. Magazines reflect our society no matter the year on the calendar. They always have and they always will.

When The Presses Stopped

Wanting higher wages and better hours in their work week, local unions in New York City made their demands clear in 1919 to their international unions, closing every magazine printing establishment in New York City by striking. The end result was magazines that were late being delivered and in some cases, not being delivered at all, such as with the November issue of Harper’s Bazar:

Harper’s Bazar, December, 1919

 In not publishing a November number, Harper’s Bazar skipped an issue for the first time in fifty-one years. This unprecedented occurrence was a result of the stand taken by New York Publishers in their controversy with the radical local printers who went on strike in defiance of the orders of their international unions. Even at the sacrifice of one of our most important issues of the year, Harper’s Bazar believed it necessary to stand together with all other New York Publishers in resisting the tyrannical demands of certain irresponsible leaders who were disowned by their own international unions and the American Federation of Labor. Subscribers will receive, instead of their November issues, one more number after the date on which their subscriptions would ordinarily expire.

And read the ad from the Periodical Publisher’s Association of America that appeared in the November issue of The National Geographic Magazine:

The Reason Why Magazines Published In New York City Will Be Late

Differences between certain local unions and their international unions have closed every magazine printing establishment in New York City. Some of the local unions have retained their membership in their international union, while the pressmen, feeders, and paper handlers have seceded and struck. These local unions demand a 32½ to 44- hour week and an increase of $14 per week, with double and triple pay for overtime, to take effect immediately. The international unions contend that the men should return to work and the entire matter be left to arbitration.

The publishers of the magazines meanwhile must suspend publication until the unions fight out their differences. This means “Collier’s Weekly,” “McClure’s,” “Pictorial Review,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Hearst’s Magazine,” “Harper’s Bazar,” “Good Housekeeping,” “Harper’s Magazine,” “Metropolitan,” “Scribner’s Magazine,” “Century,” “Munsey’s,” “Popular,” “Delineator,” “Everybody’s Magazine,” “McCall’s,” “Popular Science Monthly,” “Vogue,”  “Vanity Fair,” “Motion Picture Magazine,”, and 152 others, as well as many of the largest trade papers in the country, will not appear on time as usual.

Some of the publishers are making plans to remove their plants from New York to other places, and many Western cities are bidding vigorously to induce these publishers to consider their particular localities. Three very large publications have already completed plans for permanent removal, and their printing machinery and paper supply are now being shipped to Chicago.

The millions of readers of the publications affected by the strike are requested to be patient and to refrain from writing the publishers concerning delays in receipt of magazines. It will be only a question of a short time until the presses will again be running.

(Signed): Periodical Publisher’s Association of America.

NEW YORK CITY, October 10, 1919

The times were difficult, but magazines stayed strong.

Audience First

Putting the reader first was always important to magazines, even in 1919  and remains the mantra today. A magazine that was the backbone of what is now the Meredith Corporation, “Successful Farming” proudly stated it was for: the busy, practical working farmers of America whose interests determine its policy. The magazine published in the interest of the reader. And you can’t argue with that statement. If you don’t take care of your readers, your publication will not know success. It was true in 1919 and it’s still true today. Without your audience, what do you have? A nice book of information that no one is interested in.

Mr. Magazine™ Reflects…

Suffice it to say that 100 years have passed since 1919. Many things have changed; many things. However, some things haven’t. Information, entertainment, niche brands, and the most exquisite experiences can all still be found in magazines. That is a fact that has not, and will not ever change. Magazines and Mr. Magazine™ himself, if I may be so bold as to toot my own horn, are staunch advocates for the print experience. Both of us love to inform, entertain and create inimitable happenings in people’s lives that no pixels can recreate. Seeing us both in the flesh is quite the experience. And you know what they say… if it’s true, it ain’t bragging.

Until the next time…

Mr. Magazine™ will see you at the newsstands, somewhere between today and the portals of the past…


The Collectability Factor of the Magazine Cover – Try & Claim That With Digital…

September 9, 2019

Want to see my picture on the cover

(Stone)Wanna’ buy five copies for my mother (yes)

(Stone)Wanna’ see my smilin’ face

On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone

…Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

 A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Attention getting, brand making, sometimes controversial, but above all – inspiring; magazine covers are the gateway into a publication’s inner sanctum: its contents. And as the good Dr. Hook sang in Cover of the Rolling Stone, seeing one’s face on the front of a magazine can be Utopia for a celebrity’s career, even if it’s a controversial cover. After all, if it ignites a firestorm of conversation about the person or the object on that front door, what could be better? Actual ink on paper legitimizes in a way that digital just can’t. With the open-door policy of digital, you can find just about anyone or anything online, but I can promise you that my third cousin, twice-removed, will not be on the cover of People magazine…unless of course, he sweeps Miley Cyrus away from her latest “till death do us part.” And that ain’t happening.

And the second line of the song’s chorus: Wanna’ buy five copies for my mother – well, that’s something else to consider. There is nothing more intoxicating than the collectability factor of an ink on paper magazine and its cover. Granted, you can find just about any and all magazine covers and their contents online, but Mr. Magazine™ is positive that a generation from now, you won’t find them still waiting on you to revisit. Collectability is a leg-up for print that cyberspace just can’t compete with.

Take the current issue of Women’s Health, for example. Julianne Hough is the cover star of the Women’s Health Naked Strength issue and appears on five different covers of the magazine’s September issue. The actress, singer, and America’s Got Talent judge, saw this as a transformational year for her and decided to commemorate it with the magazine photo shoot. It’s monumental for her and her fans, and monumental for Women’s Health, since there are five different covers for those fans and fans of the magazine to collect. It’s a win-win situation for all.

Men’s Health decided its Fall 2019 Guide to Style needed to showcase Tom Brady in two different covers, front and back, with different cover lines for subscribers and for the newsstands. The quarterback for the New England Patriots has never had more collectability value than on these great covers.

Publishers have realized that there’s more to the front door of the book these days than merely creating a dynamic one-only magazine cover. Just like the collectability of the posters of yesteryear within titles like Tiger Beat and Teen Beat; magazine covers can become that addictive to collect, because people love to attain all of an item, especially if they know there’s more than one out there to get.


The September issue of Good Housekeeping is celebrating the 110th anniversary of its Seal of Approval, with four different covers. And for GH fans, this will be epic, collecting and sharing each of these covers among its communities.

The Source, the original hip hop website and magazine, published a two-cover Special Edition recently called “The Future” issue, and in The Source’s case, both covers are numbered with either 1 of 2 or 2 of 2, so there’s no mistaking for fans how many collectables are out there.

Magazine covers have always been the selling point of a publication to its audience, but today with digital able to provide fingertip content, the covers are even more valuable. They give your ink on paper publication something digital can’t: they give it in-your-face, tactile collectability. And that’s very valuable.

Until next time…see you at the newsstands

Mr. Magazine™ will be there collecting covers…


Charles Lindbergh – No Fan Of The American Press – Sound Familiar? A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa May, 1954

September 5, 2019

Mr. Magazine™ stepped into his vintage vault recently and found a most interesting article in the May, 1954 issue of Focus magazine. This pocket-sized treasure could occasionally pack a powerful punch. In this issue there is a story very reflective of a present-day leader whose opinion of American journalists and news media may only be surpassed by the charismatic gentleman who’s the subject of this article.

The Title of the article: The Men Who Hate Lindbergh tells the story of Charles A. Lindbergh’s immersive hatred of the American press. From the subterfuge by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1925 that ultimately began the very rocky relationship between the famous aviator and the world of news journalism, to the media coverage of the kidnapping-murder of the Lindbergh’s baby boy, the press and Charles Lindbergh did not share a mutual bond of respect or admiration; quite the opposite, in fact.

And Mr. Magazine™ found it quite ironic that in today’s media world, the animosity between journalists and our current leader of the free world is very reminiscent of the days of Mr. Lindbergh and his opinion of the press. Although, most journalists today would tell you they have never known a more twisted view  toward news content than the one President Trump has, but Mr. Magazine™ would beg to differ. While media people working today might say Trump is the orneriest of public figures in history when it comes to his relationship with the press, I would ask them to read this article about another legacy public figure who might put the president to shame.

One more note of comparison, both men, also share another similarity:  They were both named by TIME magazine as the Man of the Year, changed in 1999 to Person of the Year. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to be named by TIME magazine for such an honor in 1927,  and President Donald Trump was named for such an honor in 2016, 89 years after Lindbergh.

It just goes to show you that magazines have never been afraid to touch controversy, whether it’s a famous pilot who was the first man to cross the Atlantic, or the first president who doesn’t seem to have any verbal filters at all. Both men are controversial, and both men have seen their fair share of magazine articles written about them. And whether you like them or loathe them, you can definitely find them between the pages of a magazine somewhere, either a magazine from yesterday or one on newsstands today.

So, take a look and have a read and let me know who you think disliked the American press more, Lindbergh or the president. Mr. Magazine™ looks forward to hearing from you.

Until the next time…

The Men Who Hate Lindbergh

Flier Wages Bitter War With Men Who Claim They “Made” Him

Known as one of the world’s most laconic men, a balding, greying, 52-year-old hero recently broke silence, told all. In a long (562 pages), painstakingly-written (it took him 14 years) best-seller (The Spirit of St. Louis), Brig. Gen. Charles Augustus Lindbergh tells for the first time the complete story of what went on in his mind when he became the first man ever to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean. Startling current which runs throughout his narration: the inside story of the savage, no-holds-barred skirmishes carried on between Lindbergh and the working press.

It’s an old feud. One veteran newspaperman, Robert J. Casey, recalls a wet day in February, 1925, as the time Charles A. Lindbergh declared war on the American press. Floyd Collins had been trapped in a Kentucky cave under 6 tons of stone, and the struggle to save his life had become an international drama. To cater to the demand for up-to-the-minute pictures of the dying Collins, the Chicago Herald-Examiner arranged to have its photos flown to Chicago from the scene of the accident. Their special pilot: a slender, blond, mail-run flier named “Slim” Lindbergh.

When Lindbergh arrived at the cave to pick up the photographic plates, he was spotted by a reporter on the Herald-Examiner’s arch-rival, the Chicago Tribune. Seeing a chance to sabotage the opposition, the Trib reporter thrust a box of unexposed plates into the young flier’s hands. “Get this stuff back to Chicago as quick as you can,” he snapped. Lindbergh sped away on his fool’s errand, flying blank photographic plates all the way back to Chicago.

But years before he spun his first prop, Charlie Lindbergh had been taught that journalists were “liars.” When his socialist father (Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., who ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1918) was stoned in the streets by “patriots” who objected to his assertion that WWI was a vast “Wall Street scheme,” the father told his son not to blame the public. “The people do not know the facts,” the older man had said. “They are blinded by propaganda and the mouthings of the kept press.”

 Young Lindbergh never quite overcame the idea that all newspapers tinkered with the truth. In his book, Lindbergh tells of the part played by the press in his historic flight across the Atlantic: “I wanted publicity on this flight… Newspapers are important. I wanted their help. I wanted headlines. And I knew that headlines bring crowds… The excesses are what bother me – the silly stories, the constant photographing, the composite pictures, the cheap values that such things bring. Why can’t newspapers accept facts as they are? Why smother the flavor of life in a spice of fiction?”

Actions of a Hearst newspaper photographer in December, 1935, turned Lindbergh’s dislike of the U.S. press into hatred. Tortured by the personal tragedy of the kidnap-murder of his small son, Charles, Jr. – for which Bruno Richard Hauptmann was electrocuted – Lindbergh was horrified when the photographer forced his car to the side of the road in an attempt to “steal” a picture of his other son, Jon, then 2 years old. Cold with fury, Lindbergh moved his family out of the U.S.

In the years that followed, the “Lone Eagle” bolstered his unpopularity by throwing the weight of his famous name on the side of isolationist “America-Firsters,” many of whom believed in Adolf Hitler’s preachings. Lindbergh traveled to Germany, accepted the Service Cross of the Order of the German Eagle “in the name of the Fuhrer” from Hermann Goering. When, on his return to the U.S., he began to expound Nazi doctrine (“There are 3 groups trying to get America into war – the British, the Jews and the Administration”), even the most reserved newspapers attacked him. Editorialized the New York Herald Tribune: “Lindbergh has departed from the American way.”

Lindy: “Accuracy, I’ve Learned, Is Second to Circulation”

That Lindbergh’s feelings have not changed was demonstrated only a few months ago. When the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences honored him at N.Y.’s Hotel Astor for his “pioneering achievements in flight and air navigation,” Lindbergh agreed to appear only on the condition that no pictures be taken, no interviews given out. Half a dozen “waiters” at the banquet were in reality detectives assigned to keep the press out. Outside the hotel, half-frozen reporters and photographers turned the air blue with their views on the 20th century’s most famous airman.

“Did you hear,” he asked a photographer, “about the time Lindy knocked down an NKVD man in Russia? When he learned who the guy was, he looked him up and apologized. He had the perfect excuse – he had mistaken the Commie for a newspaper reporter.”


Beau: The Man’s Magazine Of The 1920s… Defining Upscale Audiences While Fighting Censorship… A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past

August 28, 2019

Beau addresses itself to those who live well, dine well, dress well, play well, read well, work well, sleep well and die well. It is distinctly a magazine for moderns, for epicureans, for sophisticates. It is written with masculine vigor and strength; for, though Beau professes itself the friend of the ladies, it regrets the almost exclusive attention paid by magazine editors to the feminine taste. So Beau declares itself a magazine dedicated to the male point of view, though willing, even anxious to welcome the ladies as readers. (Beau, Volume One, Number One, October 1926)

The more I dig into the old magazines, the more I discover personalities and magazine makers that somehow during my studies of publishing history, and my professors’ teachings, were either marginalized or were not mentioned enough, in terms of the role they played in the American magazine industry.

One such person I’m discovering is Samuel Roth, who published at least five different magazines during his tenure from the 1920s all the way to the 1950s, including Two Worlds Monthly and one that really caught my attention, which he referred to as the man’s magazine, Beau. (See Mr. Roth’s concept for the magazine above). Beau was a magazine that, almost like all of his other titles, was very high-priced, almost 50 cents per issue. His reason for that was because he didn’t want his magazines to be bought by common folks. In fact, he would have preferred his magazines to be sold only to doctors, lawyers, and other upper-echelon professionals.

As he mentioned in one of his editorials, after his February 1927 issue was banned from distribution in New York City, his man’s magazine was devoted to the comforts and luxuries of living.  His argument for that line of thinking was that he didn’t want common people to get “cheap thrills” from his magazine; it was for the sophisticated only. That he wasn’t appealing to the baser natures of mankind, but rather the more educated and elite of society.

What follows are some quotes that he wrote in an editorial from March 1927 after the February issue of Beau from that same year was banned from distribution in New York City, and the fascinating description of what the magazine was all about:

“Two Worlds Monthly and Beau are written and published for the sophisticated only, that neither by lewd pictures or lewd contents do we make appeal to the baser passions of mankind.”

 “Two Worlds Monthly was quite alright, he said (he being, John Sumner, secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice), and we could go ahead distributing it immediately, but Beau, ah, that was a different story. It was absolutely unthinkable to let Beau go out on the harmless newsstands dripping with nudes, which any little boy may purchase for fifteen cents. No, said Mr. Sumner, he did not approve Beau and if I dared to issue it of my own accord he would unfailingly prosecute me.”

 Here is a small excerpt from that March 1927 editorial:

Here, cried my friends, is your opportunity for plenty of publicity – publicity that will create a vast demand for your magazines. But strange as it may seem, I did not follow their advice, I did not take the matter into court with Mr. Sumner. Such publicity, I felt, would bring many readers to Two Worlds Monthly and Beau, but not the sort of readers I want. Such publicity would bring me readers who look to magazines for filth whereas all we have to offer is wit, beauty, and gaiety. It would be taking an unfair advantage of the poor dubs.

But I want the readers of Beau to judge between myself and Mr. Sumner. Mr. Sumner characterizes as filth the famous suppressed Franklin letter To The Academy of Brussels,and the Paul Morand story Finding Your Woman in Paris, whereas I regard them as exquisite satirical compositions calculated to enrich the life of every man or woman capable of reading them.

What is more, I think the suppressed number of Beau probably the most beautiful copy of any magazine ever printed in America.

Samuel Roth

I physically own the particular copy of Beauthat caused this bit of controversy. Ironically, there is no nudity, such as Sumner speaks of with the description: “dripping with nudes.”  But Samuel Roth is definitely a gentleman from that past that made his mark known in the word of magazines, and nudity in his other titles was prevalent.

We’ll discover more about Mr. Roth in the future as I delve more into his past and the magazines he published.

Until the next time…


The Pioneers Of Chicago Blazed A Selling Trail That’s Still Visible Today…A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa April, 1953

August 15, 2019

Once again Mr. Magazine™ has been exploring the past, still in that wondrous year known as 1953 (the year of my birth, don’t you know) and I ran across this story in Grafic, which was the Sunday Chicago Tribune’s magazine at the time. The history and the inspiration of this story had to bolster Chicago’s own spirit when it ran on April 19, 1953. The pioneers of the Windy City were the epitome of entrepreneurs. From William Wrigley Jr., who only had $32 in his pockets when he set out to teach the world to chew gum, to Montgomery Ward, who had the world’s first mail order house, Chicago certainly has something to brag about when it comes to the humble beginnings that certainly blazed the trail for what it is today – a major metropolitan destination.

And print was there in 1953 to showcase it! The story is amazingly historical without being preachy and does what ink on paper still does so brilliantly – tells a unique story in a format that can be archived and drawn upon in any generation. That’s one of the things that Mr. Magazine™ loves about ink on paper: if you decide you want to go diving into 1953 or any other year, the information is still there. It hasn’t disappeared into the realms of cyberspace, never to be seen again.

In fact, in the book I’m working on about the magazines of March 1953, I chose my birth year and month (Feb. or April will do if I can’t find a March issue or if the magazine was bimonthly) to concentrate on and physically have 532 magazines to hold in my hands and touch and do research from – all from that month. Amazing! I dare you to find 532 websites out there from 1953… (Mr. Magazine™ feels safe in offering that dare). So, enjoy this Blast From the Past and let me know what you think of the story and the idea that ink on paper lasts forever – even from way back in 1953…

SELLING – it helped to build Chicago

By Otis Carney

April 19, 1953


The City’s Pioneers Were Men with Ideas; They Introduced Merchandising Ways that Made a Metropolis of Frontier Town

“In Chicago,” Potter Palmer once said, “you’ve got to think big!”

The young dreamers thought big, all right, too big for the small towns whence they’d come. But in Chicago, they saw a new kind of place…a place where you could sell a dream and mass produce it to the world.

It was a salesman’s town and they flocked to it, launching the ideas which one day would shower mankind with vast new comforts, conveniences, and pleasures…and even, upon occasion, change the course of history.

The Chicago they found was a city of shacks and plank roads rising out of a stinking morass of mud.

“Queen of the Lake?” shuddered novelist Frederika Bremer in 1853. “Chicago’s not a queen, she’s a huckstress, an ugly confusion of stores and shops. People come here to trade, to make money, not to live.”

Yet the people kept coming, settling. Rail traffic boomed, land values multiplied a hundred times almost overnight. Twenty years old in 1853, the huckstress boasted one salesman to every 92 inhabitants!

But a young Virginian named Cyrus H. McCormick had gotten there before the crowd, and the kind of selling he would do was soon to revolutionize the economy of the nation. Following the westward-shifting grain belt, he settled in Chicago in 1847, and by 1850 was mass producing the reapers he’d experimented with in the east. By the time he was producing 1,600 machines a year, McCormick had already amazed his competition by merchandising directly to the farmers…men whom his critics said would be too terrified of the new invention to buy it!

To get more reapers into the field, he extended liberal credit, begging the farmers at least to try the machine and then pay for it out of money it would earn. Again and again he entered his Virginia reaper in public contests, in 1851 capturing world fame by winning at the Crystal Palace exposition in England.

Within 10 years, his dream became a million dollar business and a vital weapon in the Civil War. Said Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war: “The reaper is to the north what slavery is to the south. It releases regiments of young men from the western harvest fields and at the same time keeps up the supply of bread to our armies. Without McCormick’s invention, the north could not win, and the Union would be dismembered.”

Meanwhile, other dreams were changing the face of Chicago, raising great department stores and shaping the city into a mid-continental market place.

A quiet newcomer from Conway, Mass., had begun to show the world a new kind of selling. If the lady didn’t get what she wanted, she could take it back and her money would be returned. Tho a startling innovation at the time, the cash refund seemed perfectly logical to the instinctive salesman, Marshall Field…as logical, for instance, as his display window technique to attract passing customers.

With the pace of business increasing all over the nation, a young contractor began to dream of a way to make train journeys more comfortable and less tedious. In 1858, George M. Pullman remodeled his first coach into a sleeping car.

Railroad presidents scoffed: putting carpets on the floor of a train was a useless extravagance; as far as playing chambermaid to a lot of clean sheets and pillowcases…ridiculous. The passengers, they claimed, would get into bed with their boots on. Think of the laundry bills! Think of the moral aspects, cried others! A moving vehicle carrying men and women thru the night could only end up a place of sin.

Pullman then organized his own company. He’d be the chambermaid himself, and would rent out his service. In 1865 he built Pioneer A, and installed it on the Chicago and Alton, soon afterward hooking it on the train which brought Lincoln’s body to Springfield.

The public swarmed to the new hotel cars… “a queen’s boudoir could hardly excel them”…and Pullman’s idea swept across the railroads of the world.

By 1875, another young Chicago pioneer had devised an equally ingenious use of the rails. Gustavus Swift, arriving that year from Massachusetts, realized that he could sell meat cheaper if, instead of shipping cattle east, he could slaughter them in Chicago, dress the cuts there, and send them on by refrigerated railroad cars. In 1879, he turned his dream into reality, breaking all precedents by shipping a car of dressed beef to Boston.

The railroads immediately attacked him. Fearing they’d lose their beef traffic, they refused to give him cars. He countered by building his own. Following this, they boycotted the hauling of dressed beef shipments, at which Swift turned to a smaller road and concluded a profitable agreement. In time, pressure of competition forced the big lines to capitulate, and the packing business went on wheels for keeps. Swift also became the first to sell cuts of meat which were formerly discarded, and thus reduced the cost of dressed meat on American tables. By the time of his death in 1903, he had mushroomed Swift & Company into an organization 80 times its original size.

As the nation’s population center inched slowly west, salesmen from Chicago rushed out to meet it. One of them was a 28-year-old storekeeper from Michigan, a man who, from his years as a drummer in the middle west, had recognized the vast potential of the rural market. If the farmers couldn’t get to the city, Montgomery Ward resolved to get the city to them, and this he did thru the mail order catalog and the world’s first mail order house.

He called it “Golden Rule Selling,” guaranteed that his customers would always be treated fairly, and in cases where they were dissatisfied, their money would be refunded at once.

Hard on the heels of Ward were two more newcomers to the city…Richard Sears, a station agent in Minnesota, and A.C. Roebuck, raised on a farm in Indiana. In 1895, Julius Rosenwald, a clothing manufacturer, joined this team and Sears, Roebuck & Co. was born, becoming eventually a multi-billion dollar merchandising empire.

From that point on, there was no stopping Chicago’s salesmen. William Wrigley Jr., coming to the city at the age of 29, had only $32 in his pockets when he set out to teach the world to chew gum. Gifted with rare insight into volume selling, he continually merchandised his product to wholesalers and retailers, countering bad times by increasing advertising and promotion. In the midst of the panic in 1907, his tremendous campaign for Spearmint made it the country’s largest selling gum within three years.

Chicago’s proud record in the selling field will be honored next Friday night, April 24, at the International amphitheater. In a Salute to Selling, 12,000 leading sales figures from all over the nation will pay tribute to the men and the dreams which, in a scant hundred years, transformed a muddy shack town into one of the great market places of the world.


Focus Magazine And The Misrepresentation Of Facts By The American Press – A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa October, 1938…

July 26, 2019

Our current president’s repeated remarks that today’s press grinds out “fake facts” is really nothing new. For generations the American press has been accused of producing biased information  – we’ve all heard the phrase “Freedom of the Press belongs to those who own the Press.” That being said, Mr. Magazine™ delved into his Classics Vault and brought up the October 1938 issue of Focus magazine. The editor’s letter centered on a contention made by the Newspaper Guild that 95 percent of the American press, at that time in journalistic history, were guilty of misrepresentation of facts, reporting on the statement that Jews in Austria were never murdered, they committed suicide and that the dispatches from the Government in Spain  altered and changed to read “Reds” when written about.

It’s a founding father thing, if you ask Mr. Magazine™. I’ve always believed that to give one’s opinion as a journalist reporting and writing a story, you’re becoming an opinion columnist instead of a non-biased reporter. My professor at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism told our class on day one, “when a journalist gives his or her opinion, he or she is no longer a journalist.”  Something to think about as the age we live in is slowly becoming the age of opinions, speculation, and predictions. Is this journalism? Your “opinions” on this, at least, would be most welcomed. The floor is yours…


October, 1938

Vol. 1, No. 5

The Newspaper Guild contends (and who should be in a better position to know?) that 95 percent of the American press is guilty of downright misrepresentation of facts. Dispatchers from Spain are altered so that Government is changed to Reds; Jews in Austria are never murdered – they invariably commit suicide.  Even columnists such as Westbrook Pegler,  Heywood Brown and Hugh Johnson have learned that the moth-eaten phrase “freedom of the press” does not apply to them. The general magazines have never even attempted to take the side of “the people” because so far it has not been considered a paying proposition. Spasmodically a new magazine appears on the publishing horizon boasting itself the mouthpiece for the “underdog.” But somewhere along the route from the editorial offices to the printers the advertising department talks turkey. And that is that.

Despite an even dozen competitors Focus stands alone in the picture field as a magazine which tries to deal with today’s vital problems. This distinction is founded on a specific editorial policy which reflects not only the editor’s point of view, but also a rapidly shifting political scene crystallized in the tug of war between reaction and big money interests as against democracy and the interests of large masses of inarticulate people. Our political convictions are simple: they stand for what is best in American life and for the achievement of what has become known as the American dream – freedom, peace and plenty.

This may sound like a fourth of July speech. But at a time when democratic institutions are threatened by a host of anti-democratic forces, repeating these ideals is a reaffirmation of faith in the principles on which this country is founded. We have seen what has happened in Spain and in Austria. Anyone who thinks those things cannot happen in this country is either a fool or the unwitting puppet of reaction.

The Shame of Kansas City is the kind of story Lincoln Steffens startled the nation with thirty years ago. Today it is even more significant. The Pendergasts and the Frank Hagues are dangerous symbols to be obliterated and quickly if democracy is to be preserved or reclaimed.

Climaxing a series of exciting incidents, such as being indicted, threatened, and such, the editor was beaten up the other day. But not in retaliation; he merely got a little too enthusiastic about the boxing story in this issue and permitted Jack Dempsey to use him for the purpose of explaining various punches. Jack is a realist. But to clown with Dempsey, even though it requires some manipulation to return to normal later, is to see why he is the most popular fighter who ever lived.

Our National Mutt Show is booming. We did not realize there were quite so many choice pooches on the continent. But there is still time to cut yourself in on the prize money. So read the rules on page 42.

Leslie T. White


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