Perusing the exchange area at the local recycling facility (dump), I came across a whole box of Popular Science, Pop Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated and
Science and Mechanics. These covered the years from 1939 to 1956. These had been stored in a barn or shed, so weren't the "extra fine" quality that bring big bucks on ebay. Still, the covers were intact, all the pages were there and
represents many fine hours of reading and memories. They add to my collection of 30's to 50's magazines, a few duplicates, but mostly ones I didn't have.
The Science and Mechanics magazines are particularly good for their practical science and shop projects. I really lusted after some of those shop tools and projects when I was a kid.
I would say that a good 50% of the articles fit the "RCM" criteria for explanations of how things worked at that time. The speculations of science writers, previews of future aircraft, cars and lifestyles are especially good for putting our present lives and problems in perspective. Someone would write about a very good idea that later would become a non-problem because another technology bypassed the issue. They even carried a couple of perpetual motion articles without editorial comment. That was the biggest lapse in reality.
It seemed that after the 2nd world war, there were no limits on what we could do. Having worked on guided missiles from 1959 to 1966, the buildup to the space age in 1949 was very interesting. It is amazing that they (we) did so much with vacuum tube technology.
The ads for war surplus equipment featured some real bargains. A complete Norden bombsight for $50, optics only for $5. Mail order diplomas and instruction courses on just about every other page. EARN BIG MONEY seemed to be a constant theme doing everything from sharpening lawn mowers to casting concrete birdbaths.
Automotive articles were also a constant theme. That is one thing that hasn't changed. Reviews of the aerodynamic Studebaker, Tucker, Hudson and other deceased makes were reviewed showing the engineering breakthroughs that were a
vision of the future. The battles of WWII were just a minor blip, with the explosion of technology that would make life wonderful. We would obviously win, what could go wrong?
As you might guess, I really enjoy these windows into the past. The constant optimism that life would be wonderful in the future has come true for a few of us. The big problems of today with energy, world politics, population overcrowding were not anticipated or were delegated to centuries from now. Those cities in space would take care of anything.
Earle Rich Mont Vernon, NH
Still waiting for my flying car