In honour of Veteran’s Day, we’re going to take a little walk through the July 1944 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, a publication definitely made for the women of the WWII homefront! I recently added this issue to my personal vintage magazine collection and as I was flipping through it I noticed just how prevalent the war was in every aspect of the pages from ads to articles to the constant reminder to buy a war bond. All photos shared here were taken by me of the magazine I have, so the yellowing and tears and rumpled pages are evidence of its true vintage!
The cover features a couple and their dog living it up on their patio – flowers and fruit and lots of lawn furniture lead to a built-in brick oven.
Lest this scene seem too idyllic for war time, we’ve got a notice to buy a war bond with the refrain that “at maturity it will help pay for your postwar home”.
As soon as we open the front cover we’re met with not one, but two full page war themed ads – one for bath towels and the other touting what Chevrolet was busy making… and it wasn’t cars! And yes, both ads include a reminder to buy war bonds!
Page 8 has “Late Tips on Wartime Living” with helpful ideas such as dying your old stockings and using reusable cloth bags for groceries, but also details on why rags are being collected (making blueprint paper – who knew!) and letting us know there is a bacon surplus so we can eat bacon at every meal!
WWII Homefront Advertisements
The ads were just so great in this issue! It’s really interesting to see how companies sold their products while showing their support for the cause. Swift’s Premium Meats did a full page story “Mom’s Furlough Fixin’s Make a Hit With Bill!” Son Bill is home on furlough and Mom is making a special “party style” meal of Swift meats, veggies from their Victory Garden, and chocolate cake. While dining, sister Mary announces she’s joining the WACs – to everyone’s patriotic delight! No war bond pitch here, but the bottom right corner does remind us that “Meat is a materiel of War!”
The articles contained within these pages are of course aimed at homemaking, with a noticeable bent toward making the most of what you have. There are tips on maximizing small spaces, having rooms do double duty, and refreshing items you already own. Sound familiar? One little two-page article stood out to me as it shared the circumstance of a “service wife” who constantly has to move with her soldier husband, but has carefully selected furnishings and decor that are easy to move to turn their drab rentals into a “gay and comfortable home-of-the-moment”. All about intentional pieces and coordination!
The food section of this WWII era Better Homes & Gardens of course has lots of recipes with Victory Garden ingredients and a “spot of meat”, canning tips, and bacon recipes. There’s a bacon surplus, remember?! In the midst of all this is a most striking Dole pineapple ad. It’s gorgeous, transportive even, and includes an actually delicious sounding recipe for Pineapple Meringue Pie – which I honestly plan to try! One might think they’ve ignored the war in this pretty tropical scene, but nope! The bottom right corner has the artist’s signature and, that’s right, a reminder to buy war bonds “and keep ’em!”
There were a lot of products that were simply not available during wartime. Entire factories were converted to making whatever was needed for the war effort, but these companies knew they’d be back to business as usual when the war was done. So many of the ads “pre-sell” their goods with “after Victory you can buy our ______ again!” Stoves and air conditioners and even cans of tuna! Apparently, one could still buy a mattress, as evidenced by this Beautyrest ad featuring a “swing-shift beauty” who is sleeping soundly after her war production job and housework. “P.S. Did you buy an extra war bond this week?”
We’ve come to the end of the 78 pages of the July 1944 Better Homes & Gardens magazine, though I could go on and on with all the great ads and articles and (sometimes edible sounding) recipes! The back cover, which has suffered a bit of damage, features a hearty breakfast of shredded wheat cereal and of course… war bonds!
Had to zoom in on this entrepreneurial kiddo with his lemonade stand style war bond display!
I hope you enjoyed this trip to the WWII homefront with me. If you’re into the fashions of that time, check out our collection of 1940s (and earlier) clothing!