Things I Should Throw Out: "True Romances" Magazine

by Derrick Bostrom

Here's one I should seriously throw out. This coverless 1947 edition of "True Romance" was already in tatters when I found it in the back of a dusty gift shop in Oatman. But I fell in love with the magazine's beautiful postwar art direction, as well as its haplessly out-of-date take on feminine empowerment -- that is to say, landing a man. The advertisements were especially poignant, offering guidance on how to manage such typically tragic social disasters as halitosis, menstruation and "borderline anemia." And the advice doesn't stop at the altar. The helpful hints for homemakers are equally plentiful. No doubt, many of our own grandmothers used Drano to combat humiliating "sewer germs," treated "childhood constipation" with Fletcher's Castoria and curbed "spousal indifference" by douching regularly with Lysol brand disinfectant.

These ads are unrecognizably archaic. As one insists, "before your daughter marries, it's your solemn duty to instruct her on how important douching is to marriage happiness. But first, make sure your own knowledge is as up-to-date and scientific as it can be!" In another, "color authority Carol Neuschaefer" touts the latest "miracle ingredient" in this season's line of beauty products. Another one shouts, "She's Engaged! She's Lovely! She uses PONDS!" Next to a photo of the product surrounded by engagement rings ("diamonds for some of America's loveliest girls!"), reads a list of "beautiful women of Society who use Ponds": Mrs. Henry L. Roosevelt, Jr, Mrs. Richard C. Du Pont, Mrs. Anthony J. Drexell III, The Lady Victoria Montagu-Douglas-Scott and Mrs. Francis Grover Cleveland.

I'm ashamed to confess how much I paid for this museum piece. I was badly gouged. But I dutifully paid up and brought it home, tore it apart and scanned the highlights. I now present the best parts to you, not just for entertainment, but for your education as well. You never know when certain peripheral factions in our society might take the main stage and try to turn America's past into its future.