Thursday, October 16, 2014

VINTAGE 'TEEN MAGAZINES FROM THE 1960'S


IT’S HERE! IT’S HERE!

The new issue of ‘Teen Magazine finally arrived! Full of cool info about dating, hairstyles, makeup and fashion, and the latest on “Hollywood’s Swingin’ World” like the Righteous Brothers, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and Bobby Sherman!

Okay, so it’s not exactly the new issue of ‘Teen. But it is new to me, and is part of an auction I won recently from eBay. Touted as “Young America’s Beauty and Fashion and Entertainment Magazine”, ‘Teen was and is popular reading for many young girls who rely on it to help them make the transition from child to bona fide young lady. Although not quite as slick and sophisticated as Seventeen, ‘Teen has its merits, and I remember enjoying this magazine in my youth. The lot I won, six issues from 1964 and 1965, was a bit before my time; I would still have been a little girl when they were published. But it was an intriguing era, a time of innocence and featuring stylish, feminine fashions just before the mod styles made their debut.

The photo above shows typical swimwear of the day. As you can tell, these suits had substantially more fabric than the string bikini, barely-there swatches of material they have the nerve to call bathing suits these days (see related articles below on modesty). I really like the swimsuit with the little pleated skirt—I’d actually wear something like that. I’m also drooling over this cute empire-style short-sleeved dress “softly accented with shirring and a fabric bow” in the June 1965 issue. And the model is wearing darling little white gloves, too! Oooohhh! And an ad from September 1964 spotlights “the many jumper looks of Bobbie Brooks.” I remember jumpers! I used to wear them! And I made them in home-ec!

These magazines are filled with images of schoolgirl skirts and sweaters, formal and sports wear, nighties and undies, shoes and purses and jewelry, worn by top teen models of the day like Colleen Corby, and all portrayed in extremely ladylike good taste, of course. Indeed, a letter from the editor’s desk cites some of the dictates of the dress code at a reader’s southern California school.

“Girls in 9th and 10th grade have to wear bobby-sox and white oxfords,” the rules stated. “No tight, straight or short skirts, no pullover sweaters, no capris at games, no patterned or black nylons, sleeveless dresses or blouses.” I remember the days of having to wear a dress to school. They finally allowed girls to wear slacks when I was in junior high, during one very cold winter when they were concerned about our bare legs. We all cheered!

Vintage advertisements abound in these magazines as well, for cosmetics (“It’s fun to mix 2 or 3 Cover Girl Lipstick Shades. They’re all just dreamy!”), shampoo (featuring the beautiful “Breck girls” portraits), and products buried at the back such as Wate-On, which promises to transform a skinny girl into a voluptuous vamp. I like the feminine hygiene ads, particularly those that claim their tampons are easy to use, “even for single girls.” You see, back then it was automatically assumed that if you were unmarried, you were a virgin. That’s just the way it was.

One of my favorite sections was “We-Get,” where readers sent their comments and suggestions on all kinds of subjects, from serious to frivolous. There were lots of opinions about that new rock group, The Beatles, where one girl said she had 104 pictures of the moptops on her wall (and was starting a collection of Dave Clark Five pictures as well). A teen from Wisconsin ranted about the censor bureau in Lisbon, Portugal finally releasing the film “A Hard Day’s Night,” but for ADULTS ONLY. “I knew you wouldn’t believe it, but it’s the truth!” she exclaimed, signing her letter “Glad I Don’t Live There.”

“Weepy”, from Waterloo, Iowa wrote:

I’ve read about girls who just had to cry when they saw the Beatles, and if that’s being a true, blue Beatle fan, I must be the most loyal one they’ve got in the United States! I cried real tears clear through the Beatles’ three Ed Sullivan shows and I wasn’t even viewing them in person! I do know what it is to be truly “lonely” for them. I cry when I play “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” because it brings back memories of the first time I heard of the Beatles back in January, 1964. I cry when some rat-fink gives our Liddy-puddle-lads a rotten writeup, or when I think of going drugstore crawling on foggy Sunday mornings, or when I think of Georgie Harrison turning 22 in February. So all you logy “B” fans out there, keep on cryin’ and more power to you, luvs.

However, someone who signed her letter “A True Beatle-Hater,” said that “all this junk about those Beatles is getting positively ridiculous as well as completely out of hand.” She said she used to be a Beatle fan, but now she gets sick to her stomach or laughs hysterically at the “retardation of Beatlemaniacs.”

“Those misguided females who say long hair (flipping up, no less) is masculine, obviously have a few facts mixed up that they’d better straighten out if they hope to live normal lives,” she said.

“Beatlebugged”, from Louisiana told readers that her head “is in one great big throb” because the Beatles were blaring away on TV. “What anybody sees in this hip-swiveling, guitar-playing, head-shaking, off-key-singing group is beyond me,” she said.  “I have one suggestion for them: Let your hair keep growing, because we can still see your faces! Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself a normal teenage girl. I like pizza, rock-n-roll, the twist and boys. But the Beatles—ugh!”

Finally, “Ex-Beatle Fan” from Stratford, Connecticut said she used to like the Beatles because everyone else did, but she soon lost interest:

You learn everything there is to know about them after reading ten magazines carrying articles on them. You even learn that Paul washes his hair every other day and that he has to shave twice a day. It’s not fun when the Beatles aren’t new and exciting anymore. There’s nothing to talk about, because everybody has heard everything about them at least five times. Their music did have a different sound that you thought you’d love forever. Now that sound is copied by so many other groups, it’s old stuff. It isn’t excusive anymore. Isn’t this really why the Beatles aren’t as popular or as great as they used to be? I think the world is just about through with Beatlemania.

I always knew those long-haired rock-and-rollers were just a fad.

Other girls wrote about their love for Elvis, the Beach Boys, and even the Osmond Brothers. “I can see why girls scream, faint and tear their hair out when they see him or are near him,” said one Illinois Elvis fan. “I do almost the same thing. I think he is the living end!! He is the most!!! The best all-round human being ever.”

“Call me some kind of a nut if you like but I really don’t like the Beatles!” said a New York youth. “In fact, I can’t stand them! My favorite group is the Beach Boys. They can sing (which the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, and Rolling Stones can not do), and they have wonderful personalities which they don’t hide under a mop of hair.”

Paula from Illinois preferred a certain younger set, and one that “doesn’t sport long hair.”

“They are absolutely top singers, though none of them is past fifteen,” she said. “I am talking about the Osmond Brothers, those four sparkling young men from the Andy Williams Show. I think that they are great, and I really wish that ‘TEEN would have something on them. Thank you very much.”

And here is a letter I could have written, from a girl who wanted more action for Illya, a new television heartthrob on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. spy series:

…No matter what, every week Illya gets sent to the appointed destination, via dullsville, while Napoleon Solo gets all the neat assignments and good camera coverage. Why?! I, for one, would prefer to watch David McCallum with that gorgeous accent of his. I realize he is relatively unknown, but please, “U.N.C.L.E.” producers, give us more Illya!

Readers addressed more serious subjects as well, like Donna from Pennsylvania who was taking up a collection for Vietnamese orphans, and a Georgia youth who asked if there is any organization that teenagers can join to bring about world peace. “I think we, as teenagers, should be concerned with the problems of the world,” she said. “After all, we will be leaders of our country soon. I don’t mean we should forget about being teenagers. I just think we should be more conscious of our responsibilities.”

Barbara Fuller from New York said that 1964 was a wonderful year:

…I was introduced to a new way of life: Beatlemania. Every day was like a new year in itself. The world was uplifted as people began to realize that we teenagers really aren’t as bad as some think. We care about world affairs—Vietnam, the Cold War. Teens played an important part in the elections: the Johnson girls, Goldwaterites, etc. They showed spirit that has been unequalled in the 20th century. Who says we have one-track minds? Just last night, after watching Shindig and writing Japanese form Haiku poetry for school, I went into my room to read “The Making of a President” to the accompanying music of a Rolling Stones album. Can you top that?

There were letters on typical topics such as beauty tips, curfews and phone usage. One teen asserted that a telephone is a public service and should be used with respect. “I don’t think Mr. Bell intended this small instrument to be used by chattering teens for such long periods of time,” she said. “It has always been my notion that it was to be used in emergencies and for things of importance.”

And of course there were plenty of letters and articles about what was probably the main thing on these girls’ minds, namely BOYS. Although I have a hard time relating to this subject, since no boys even talked to me up through high school, let alone called me on the phone, asked me to go steady or expected any sort of “necking”. The letters are fun to read, though, like this one:

What do you readers think about going steady? My parents and I have been arguing for months on the subject. I am for it, and they think it’s the worst thing in the world. I just try and try to explain that it’s all right and everyone goes steady once in their lifetime, especially in junior high, but they won’t even be reasonable about it. I need your help in trying to convince my parents, so write in your opinions. S.D., Galveston, Tex.

And then there was the “Dear Jill” advice column, where a Texas teen asked what a boy wants when he takes a girl out. “Of course I enjoy dating the boys, but I don’t particularly enjoy necking,” she wrote. “The boys seem to expect it and sometimes won’t take me out again. I don’t let them get anywhere but I would like to know if I am doing the right thing.”

Columnist Jill explained that what boys should expect is “not always what they DO sometimes expect.” She wrote:

…Let’s discuss what a decent fellow, who is mature enough to be dating, thinks about a date. He is attracted to a girl and he asks her out, hoping she’ll say “yes”. He takes her to a place he thinks she will enjoy and he thoroughly appreciates that she is a lady and knows how to behave in public. When he takes her home he feels proud that she has gone out with him and hopes she will again. The thought of necking is not involved. Our mythical boy likes this girl and she certainly returns the feeling, so their dates often end in kissing…but it’s because they genuinely like each other. Understand? Any fellow who takes a girl out and heads for the nearest lover’s lane is not the type of guy you would be interested in. He obviously doesn’t respect you, nor care about your feelings.

Got it, guys? Now be a mature, decent fellow and show some respect!

Jill also advised a young teen to not “chase” after a certain boy she likes. “If you are as attractive as you say, all you have to do is be friendly and then sit back and let him start to wonder if he can add you to his collection,” she stated.

One bit of advice Jill offered annoyed me, where she replied to a girl who lamented about not having any boyfriends.

“I have nice clothes, I’m cute, but fat,” the Ohio teen said. “All the girls seem to like me. I try to be neat, dainty and nice to boys, but no progress. I’m getting pretty sick of all my friends having fun and not me. What do you guys want, anyway?”

Jill’s response: They want a girl who is neat, cute, dainty, and NOT FAT. Get out the calorie counter!

I thought those were rather harsh words, especially to a young girl. First of all, I don’t think it is nice to use the word “fat”, and Jill also needs to realize that there are many people who will never be thin, due to their body type. And then she says to count calories, which goes against everything I have learned about weight loss (see articles below).

These magazines had serious articles as well, including fiction stories, sewing tips, and even a feature on the problems of attending an integrated school in Oklahoma City (with a subsequent letter to the editor from someone who disagreed with the article and said how she knew many teens “who wouldn’t lower themselves to dance with any of those Negroes…”)

All-in-all, I really enjoyed reading these volumes, and it captured an era of innocence, youthful optimism and concern for our future. The ‘Teen and Seventeen magazines I read in the late sixties are long gone, unfortunately. The only publication that survived my youth is a single issue of 16 Magazine, from July 1967, which I bought for The Monkees articles (and which I dug up again a few years later when I fell in love with Mark Lindsay and remembered that they had some photos of Paul Revere and the Raiders in there)!

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could just go to a store and buy magazines from the 60’s or 70’s or any time period we wanted? The decades before us will never come again, and now all we can do is salvage the often ripped and crumbly remains, buying what we can on eBay or garage sales, etc. I really would like to get more magazines from that era, if I can find a good deal on eBay. But then I have to put up with also seeing the auctions for “Japanese Teen Schoolgirl Magazine SEXY Pics” auctions. Aaarggh! But that’s another blog.

Okay, time to get back to reading. Now where was that Bobby Sherman article…

(Editor's Note: This was on my old Yahoo blog in 2007 before Yahoo discontinued their blog service.)



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My How Times Flies


October 1984: me 30 years ago, with my son who is eating the coffee table.