Where We Were

Come with me for a trip into history and delve into a 1921 issue of The Etude, Presser’s Musical Magazine. I’m not sure where I bought this magazine but it’s fascinating because it’s from a much different era of America. Woodrow Wilson was President that year; that is, until March 4 when Warren G. Harding took over.

It was a different time and magazines, particularly the advertisements,  of that era reflect the culture. Here are a few I found in the January 1921 issue of The Etude:

How to Put On Flesh “Why not gain ten to thirty-five pounds in the next few months? Why not round out your neck, chest, and bust and make yourself as attractive as you want to be? I respect your confidence and I will send you my booklet, free, showing you how to stand and walk correctly.”

Co-incidentally, in the same issue, this advertisement: Baker’s Chocolate, Pure and wholesome, no chemicals.

Formamint was a germ-fighting throat tablet that doctors used for their own sore throats.

Not to be out-done,  Luden’s menthol cough drops, since 1881 promised it was the tried and true throat remedy.

On a page near-by, a rival: Dean’s Mentholated cough drop. 

Appealing to a lady’s vanity are these ads: LeBlache Face Powder and Stillman’s Freckle Cream “Wouldst thou be fair?”

Then, nicely rounded and with your throat and face shaped up, “Water wave your hair with water wavers.” (They look like small combs to me.)

For music lovers, there was “Make Music Rolls” (I think these were the recordings that went into those big wind-up record players.) To top it all off, what must have been a beautiful piece of furniture as well as a record player, “Noctune–the highest-class talking machine in the world. Superb upright and period styles: $75 to $1800.”

In The Etude, there is also a children’s section called Junior Etude with quizzes about composers and their music, interesting facts, and some neat poems: Little Jack Horner by Bella Schnall. “Little Jack Horner Sat in the parlor, reading the Junior Page. He solved a riddle about a fiddle, and said, ‘I’m a wise old sage.

And, a sweet poem about a piano:

My Piano

“My piano may be made of wood, but wooden things can’t sing.It may be strung with steel and wire, but it’s a wondrous thing! I love it as I love a friend, In fact, that’s what it seems, for it can share my very thoughts; I tell it all my dreams. And it can tell me lots of things that I just love to hear! Oh, we’re the very best of friends. It always gives good cheer.”

Some of the commercials I see on television or read in magazines today would cause the ladies and gentlemen of 1921 to blush with shame or throw up their hands in horror. Yes, times have changed, some things for the better, some things for the worse. Taking a look back, we see where we’ve been and where we are now.



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