Archive for May, 2021


Children And Teen Magazines 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7, Part 3.

May 31, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part three.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.


A boys’ magazine encouraging the outdoor life, The Open Road for Boys was published from November 1919 to the 1950s. The title changed to Open Road The Young People’s Magazine in 1950. The magazine was quite the motivator for young boys to get out and explore the open road, so to speak, with adventure, sports and outdoor fun prominent features. By 1949, the magazine was published by Holyoke Publishing in Massachusetts.

The March 1953 issue had a basketball ace on the cover, along with stories about hunting lions in Africa and adventure in Alaska. From swapping ideas to the cartoon contest the magazine became noted for, Open Road was a valuable part of the history of young people’s magazines, especially in the 1950s. 


Seventeen was first published in New York City in 1944. Its mission was to provide teenaged girls with impeccable role models and all the information they needed about their own personal growth and development. Hearst Magazines bought the publication in the early 2000s. In November 2018, it was announced that Seventeen’s print editions would be reduced to special stand-alone issues only.

The March 1953 cover was splendidly “springy,” with the cover line “Wake Up, It’s Spring.” It was colorful and featured a young lady resplendent in her best Easter frock, complete with hat and gloves. The articles inside ranged from “What You Wear” to “How You Look and Feel.” There was a section called “Your Mind” for those personal thoughts and feelings; a “Home and Food” section; along with “Having Fun.” Seventeen was and still is a relevant resource for teenaged girls.


The advisory board for Story Parade magazine was impeccable. Members from the American Library Association, the U.S. Office of Education, Columbia University, and the list goes on and on, offered their expertise and knowledge on the content of this children’s title. The magazine was issued monthly, except for July and August, and had no advertisements at all, giving it the look and feel of a paperback book. The illustrations were colorful and very complementary to each of the whimsical and educational stories inside.

The March 1953 issue features a cover story about a wonderful little bear named Bruno, “The Awakening of Bruno,” by author Richard Stone. The subsequent stories and poems are just as perfect for holding a young child’s attention, while teaching them something valuable at the same time. The magazine was complete with fun-filled puzzles and games that children could relate to and enjoy.


A magazine for teenaged girls, this title was a predecessor of the dating apps of today. From dating advice to a story titled “Have You Tasted Forbidden Love?” such as the March 1953 issue features, this magazine was certainly focused on the female perspective, but offered “boyfriend” in the title nonetheless. On the March 1953 cover, a young woman with her mouth slightly opened seemed a bit breathless as she pondered the teaser lines for a story called “Love’s Seven Sins” right below her face. It was definitely a romantically-geared publication that could lure itself off the newsstand and right into a teenaged girl’s hands. 


Another digest-sized children’s magazine, Tom Thumb’s Magazine for Little Folks was published by Universal Publishing and Distribution. The magazine was  filled with pages children could color and stories that could teach them without seeming to. The magazine was written and edited by child guidance experts, with vocabulary that was carefully controlled and basic. There was a “How and Why” section, along with games and cartoons for loads of fun.

This 1953 issue was filled with 3-D action pictures and had cut-out glasses that children could use to get the full effect of the 3-D. The cover was bright and colorful and touted the magazine as 130 pages of bewitching fun for little folks. 


Wee Wisdom is the name of an American children’s magazine, which was established in 1893 by Myrtle Filmore, one of the two founders of the Unity spiritual teachings. The magazine was published for 98 years, until 1991. The magazine’s philosophy was that children have an inherent nature that is wise and good, and that the purpose of education is to teach them how to shine their light of goodness and wisdom in the world. 

The March 1953 issue had three lively-looking children building kites on its cover, complete with a string-wrapped kitten in the middle of them. The content is filled with puzzles, games, vivid poetry and stories that entertain and educate. The activities inside range from drawing to coloring to stamp collecting. It’s a different time, a different era, but fun for children nonetheless.


Young Mechanic magazine was published by Ziff Davis, which was an American publisher founded in 1927 by William Bernard Ziff Sr. and Bernard George Davis as a hobbyist print magazine publisher. Young Mechanic was a magazine that gave young people with mechanical minds an outlet, with stories like “Faster Than Sound,” TV Is Not New,” and “Body Tips For Hot Rodders.” It was a magazine that provided blueprints for things like wastebaskets or diagrams for how to start a car when it won’t. There was a plethora of ideas and creative thinking behind each story and advice article.

The spring 1953 issue featured an illustration of a young man building his own 14-foot boat on its cover, with inside stories such as “Developing and Printing Film,” (remember film) and “How to Solder.” The magazine was a young person with a mechanical brain’s dream.

Up next, the True, Detective, and Confessions magazines of 1953. Stay tuned.


Children and Teen Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7 Part 2.

May 26, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.


The tagline for Children’s Playmate was “The Favorite Magazine of Boys and Girls” and with stories and poems, puzzles and riddles, pages that belonged to the children themselves, one could definitely see why it might be a favorite among children. From fun contests to things to make and do, this gem of a magazine was published monthly by the A.R. Mueller Publishing and Lithograph Company. 

The March 1953 issue was a spring edition that had a cover illustration featuring a boy and girl on roller skates, their dog, umbrellas and the ever-present March winds. There were stories dedicated to Irish skits, Irish parties and many other great stories and poems. It was a children’s magazine that offered fun activities and much, much more. 


Since 1946, Highlights for Children has been creating “Fun With A Purpose” for children of all ages. The very first issue of Highlights sold fewer than 20,000 copies, but 40 years later, Highlights was the most popular children’s magazine in the United States, having close to two million subscribers, with 95 percent of the copies mailed to homes. The magazine accepted no advertising and shied away from single-issue sales, but could be found in most doctors’ and dentists’ offices in the United States.

The March 1953 issue is an extremely “March” issue, with the cover a deep green in color and two inquisitive children staring into a telescope up into the sky. The stories are whimsical, yet have a lesson hidden beneath the magic: “A Bear Scores,” “The Eisenhower Brothers,” and “Knuckle Down,” among many others. There are many “Things To Do,” and great poetry for kids. In usual Highlights style, the March 1953 issue captivates. 


Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine for Little Children has been publishing with the mission to promote the healthy physical, educational, creative, social, and emotional growth of children ages 2 to 6. In March of 1953 Humpty Dumpty the magazine was still an infant, it was issue six of this new magazine published 10 times a year by the same folks who were publishing Parents magazine. Now, the magazine is part of the Children’s Better Health Institute,  the magazine is another extension of the Saturday Evening Post Society.

The March 1953 issue featured stories for beginning readers, several read-aloud stories, along with drawings and illustrations that would bring smiles to adults, never mind the little ones. The cover featured Humpty himself plus a few of his cohorts. The masthead lists Humpty Dumpty as editor in chief. And indeed the magazine reflects the nursery rhyme character’s tenacity, good spirit and fun nature.

On a different note, the magazine offered its readers an explanation about the type of paper and binding it uses. “Humpty Dumpty’s magazine is printed on what is known as “eye-ease” tinted paper. This light green paper is easier on the eyes than white or any other tinted paper.

Out binding, called the Rumflex Binding, is designed to eliminate the use of staples. As a result, the magazine lies flat when opened, and is easier for children to handle.”


Jack and Jill is a bimonthly magazine for children ages 6 to 12 years old that takes its title from the nursery rhyme of the same name. It features stories and educational activities, along with nonfiction, poems, games, comics, recipes, crafts, and more. The magazine has been continuously published for 80 years, and is one of the oldest American magazines for kids.

As part of the Children’s Better Health Institute, which is a division of the Saturday Evening Post Society Inc., Jack and Jill is nonprofit and has a very important mission that it strives to accomplish even today: to promote the healthy physical, educational, creative, social, and emotional growth of children in a creative way that is engaging, stimulating, and entertaining for children ages 6 to 12.

The magazine was launched in 1938 by Curtis Publishing Company and was the first thing that they had added to their portfolio since Country Gentleman in 1911.

The March 1953 issue features an illustration on the cover of a girl jumping rope, while a young boy swings it up and over for her. It would appear one or both of the children’s mother is looking on with a slight smile. To complement the cover of the magazine, the inside features rhymes for jump roping, titled Rope-Jumping Rhymes and Playground Rimbles. It’s a fun and thoughtful thing to include for the children reading the magazine. 

The stories, drawings and pictures are entertaining and educational. It’s a magazine that was a wonderful companion for the children of March 1953 and still is today.


The Scholastic Corporation was founded in 1920 and has become a top publisher of magazines for children and youth. There are many extensions of Scholastic for children which are attainable through schools, online and retail. Scholastic is an important part of children’s magazines and still very relevant and available today.

Junior Scholastic was and is focused on middle schoolers and offers a wide variety of stories and articles. The entertainment value and the educational facet of the magazine is clear (it is Scholastic, after all) and the March 11, 1953 issue is no exception to the brand’s value. The cover is filled with how people in Vermont work to make maple sugar. It’s filled with more articles explaining interesting and fun things that people from all over the country and the world know how to do. It’s a great magazine and brings back many memories for many people, even today.


Movie Teen magazine was a bit of  a spinoff of “Teen” magazine only about screen stars. All the teenaged stars and starlets could find themselves on the pages of this magazine. And in turn, all the teenaged girls buying it were enthralled with their favorite actors and actresses, dreaming one day of meeting them or possibly even dating them

The March 1953 issue featured actress Pier Angeli on the cover with articles written by Tab Hunter and Piper Laurie, two screen teens of the 1950s, in the cover lines. From a feature about a young Robert Wagner to a fan club registry for all your favorites, this publication had to be a young girl’s dream-come-true when it came to info on the stars of the small and large screens. 

Up next part three of the Children and Teen magazines of 1953… Stay tuned.


Children and Teen Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter 7 Part 1.

May 24, 2021

Children and Teen Magazines … is the 7th chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter seven, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four, five and six in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Life was very different for children and teens in 1953 than it is for today’s youth. Of course, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no digital devices at all, and television was in its infancy. The effects of World War II could still be felt throughout the nation in some ways. For instance, many goods were still being rationed in the early 1950s. Sugar was rationed until 1953 and meat only came off ration a year later. So the life of a child or teen in 1953 could be viewed as rather difficult by the youth of today; if not difficult, definitely different. But for kids in 1953, it was their golden age. Rock and roll was just around the corner; crusin’ with your best girl/guy, headed for the drive-in in your parents Cadillac was on its way; and most little ones had their favorite toy, and magazines were everywhere. 

With nothing else really to entertain the youth of that era, magazines were certainly a part of their lives. Children had magazines like Highlights for ChildrenJack and Jill,  Child Life and Wee Wisdom, among others, and teens had SeventeenThe Girl Friend and the Boy Friend and Movie Teen, with many more to select from. Magazines were an integral part of young people’s lives, with education and fun activities a major part of each title’s contents. It was a time of fun, yet practicality; education, but also whimsy and interesting stories. 

In March 1953, children and teens had a rich array of magazines to choose from. Let’s take a look, shall we.


From 1917 until 1979 Girl Scouts published a monthly magazine, originally called The Rally (1917–1920) and then The American Girl, with “The” later dropped  (not to be confused with the American Girl Dolls magazine which began publishing in 1992). During one point of its long history, this magazine had the largest circulation of any magazine aimed at teen-aged girls. 

The March 1953 issue of the magazine had a very impeccably dressed young teen, complete with hat and gloves, on its cover, displaying what every American teen girl wanted to look like and wear for Easter 1953. The tagline was “For All Girls” and the content ranged from fiction, nonfiction to fashion and good looks. It was a mixture of recipes, patterns and sharp-dressed young ladies promoting and selling many designer’s clothes. 


Boys’ Life is the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with its target readers boys between the ages of 6 and 18. The magazine was founded and first-published in 1911 and at that time there were three major competing Scouting organizations: the American Boy Scouts, New England Boy Scouts, and Boy Scouts of America (BSA). 

The content could be geared toward older boys, but not always (hence the tagline: For All Boys) and included special features, adventure stories, Bank Street Classics, entertainment, environmental issues, history, sports, and Codemaster. Pedro was a fictional burro that was created as a mascot for the magazine.

The March 1953 issue’s cover was one of New Englanders, Ohioans and other maple sugar producers, doing what they do best: making maple sugar. The contents of this issue were many special features on scouting, gifts and gimmicks, and discus throwing, so it was a varied and diversely topical magazine. There were articles and photo features, plus many fun stories. And the magazine is still around today for boys of all ages to enjoy. 


Child Life is a children’s magazine begun in 1922. A little something for everyone in this magazine…stories, projects , crafts, puzzles, history , advertisements, the magazine was published monthly (except in July and August) and is notable due to its very vivid stories and poetry. 

The March 1953 cover featured good-old Johnny Appleseed himself  and his colorful story. It’s fun and whimsical, two things children would notice right away. Poetry such as “The Wind is a Witch,” and stories like “Aunt Dorothy’s Mailbox” and “Guessing Games” surely provided endless reading fun and excitement. 


Then president, Harry L. Wells writes in the March 1953 issue of the magazine: Children…our greatest asset, our greatest opportunity. Since the conception of Children’s Activities some 20 years before 1953, the Child Training Association, publishers of the magazine, believed that children were our greatest asset, our country’s greatest opportunity. And who could argue with that, even today. 

The magazine featured vivid illustrations, stories, and activities parents could enjoy together with their children. The March 1953 issue had cover work by an eminent photographer, Rie Gaddis, who held a degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa. According to the “About the Cover” segment, the image was a completely new look for the magazine, featuring a brother and sister who were on their way to a vacant lot with their homemade kite ready for flight. 

The magazine was filled with all kinds of activities and stories and poetry that would keep children entertained for hours. It was an educational title, but created in a way that no child would ever suspect that not only were they being mesmerized by tales and fun activities, they were also learning something at the same time. 


From Parents’ MagazineChildren’s Digest was a children’s magazine published in the United States from October 1950 to May/June 2009, after which it was merged with Jack and Jill from the same publisher. Parents Magazine Press began publishing the magazine in digest format in its early years (hence the name) until 1980 when it was sold to The Saturday Evening Post Society. 

The original idea was that it would be the Reader’s Digest for children, so it republished stories, comics and other features from magazines across the globe. The 1953 issue had an illustration of Pinocchio and his creator on the cover to accompany the story inside the magazine’s pages. There was also a story about Abraham Lincoln, a how-to on devising one’s own secret code, and a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The magazine was filled with amazing stories, colorful comics and everything a child might dream about in the throes of kid-dom. 

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Children and Teen magazines of March 1953 up next….


Black Magazines Of 1953: The Magazines And I. Chapter Six, Part Two.

May 16, 2021

Black Magazines … is the sixth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter six, part two.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four and five in previous blogs.  Enjoy.


Our World magazine was a publication founded by John P. Davis for African Americans and was published from 1946 to 1957. Davis co-founded the National Negro Congress, an organization dedicated to the advancement of African Americans during the Great Depression. Along with Our World magazine, he also published the American Negro Reference Book, covering many aspects of African American life, present and past.

Our World was another title that promoted the excellence of African Americans, their achievements and the successful lives that many led. It covered contemporary topics from Black history to sports and entertainment, with regular articles on health, fashion, politics and social awareness. Its covers featured entertainers such as Lena Horne, Marian Anderson, and Harry Belafonte.

The February 1953 issue featured Isabelle Cooley, the beautiful actress, known for Cleopatra (1963), Real Genius (1985) and Parenthood (1989). Along with Ms. Cooley, there was an article on Joey Adams, L.A.’s top platter-spinner, and Solly Walker, St. John University’s first black basketball player. The magazine was large in size and the cover was splashed with bright colors and vivid images. It was another title that proved how important and notable people of color were and the deeply woven threads of pride and promise they made in the nation’s overall tapestry.


Sepia was a magazine that featured fantastic photojournalism. It was styled a lot like Look, but often compared to Ebony. It focused primarily on achievements of African Americans and was founded in 1946 as Negro Achievements by Horace J. Blackwell, an African American clothing merchant from Fort Worth. Blackwell had already founded The World’s Messenger in 1942, which featured romance-true confession type stories of working-class Blacks.

In 1950, George Levitan, a Jewish-American man born in Michigan, bought the magazines and Good Publishing Company (aka Sepia Publishing). Levitan is the one who changed the name of the magazine to Sepia from Negro Achievements, and The World’s Messenger became Bronze Thrills. He also published Heb and Jive for Black audiences as well. 

According to the magazine’s history, after Levitan’s death in October 1976, Beatrice Pringle, one of the original publisher/editor team with Blackwell, bought Sepia and continued operations through 1982. The magazine still had a strong circulation of around 160,000 in 1983 when Ms. Pringle closed up shop. Many scholars have supposedly had a difficult time researching the magazine, as its records and building were mostly destroyed after it closed.


As mentioned earlier, The Crisis was and still is the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois, who was also a founding member of the NAACP, along with Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, William Stanley Braithwaite, and Mary Dunlop Maclean created the magazine to show the injustices and danger that racial prejudice generated. The Crisis has been in continuous print since 1910, and is the oldest Black-oriented magazine in the world. But today, The Crisis mostly operates online via social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and through their website.

With a smaller format, The Crisis relied more on content than aesthetics. The March 1953 issue, while not distinctly eye-catching, definitely makes up for its lack of outer resplendence with the articles within its covers. From “Mugo-Son-Of-Gatheru,” a story about the Kenyan writer who left  his home on the Kikuyu Reserve when he was a teenager, to “American-Panamanian Relations,” the articles are on point for the times and substantive. It’s a magazine that shed much light on the plight of people everywhere.

Looking at these great ethnic magazines of March 1953, we see a definite foundation for all of the mainstream titles we have today in the genre. And while many have gone and some have been reborn in different formats, the fact remains that ethnic magazines played a major role in the early history of magazines, especially in March 1953.

Up next, we take a look at the Children magazines of that era. Stay tuned.


Black Magazines Of 1953. The Magazines And I: Chapter Six, Part One

May 13, 2021

Black Magazines … is the sixth chapter from the serialized book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter six, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, three, four and five in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Changing the narrative. That’s what Black magazines did in March 1953. From Ebony to Jet, the African American community began to see themselves in the pages of magazines devoted to their culture and their lifestyle. It was an eye-opening time for Black publishing. And the major leader of the movement was the man who started Ebony and Jet, John H. Johnson. Johnson was a man born to a suppressive demographic, but rose above it to become a force to be reckoned with in the world of publishing. 

Along with Johnson, a Jewish-American man born in Michigan, who was a plumbing merchant in Fort Worth, came onto the scene in 1950, George Levitan. Levitan bought the magazines Sepia and The World’s Messenger from an African-American clothing merchant from Fort Worth, Horace J. Blackwell. The difference between Levitan and Blackwell? Levitan was white. But could a white man tell the black man’s story during a time of segregation in America? And truth be told, while Blackwell’s mother had been Black, his father was white. So two men on the same journey, but with very different perspectives on the subject matter.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded long before March 1953; February 12, 1909 to be exact, but the organization contributed greatly to the world of magazines. W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Crisis was the official magazine of the NAACP, still is as a matter of fact. The magazine has been in continuous print since its inception in 1910.

The publications highlighted display the importance and solidarity of Black magazines in the 1950s, March 1953 specifically. The magazines’ common interest was apparent, no matter what conversation they chose to engage in. From the positivity of a magazine like Ebony, to the call for action, social justice and an end to violence against Blacks as The Crisis often presented, Black magazines brought attention to the lives of African Americans.

Let’s delve into a few of the Black magazines that were in existence in 1953:


John H. Johnson’s premier magazine that focused on news, culture, and entertainment for African Americans, Ebony was founded in 1945 in Chicago. The magazine showcased positive stories in a life-affirming manner. From celebrities to politicians to sports figures, the magazine’s format was patterned after Life and sought to show the accomplishments of African Americans more than anything negative going on in their lives at the time. 

The magazine flourished for many years, changing its direction during the 1960s to cover more and more of the Civil Rights Movement, even garnering Ebony photographer Moneta Sleet Jr. a Pulitzer with his photograph of Coretta Scott King and their daughter Bernice attending Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

The magazine reached unprecedented levels of popularity, reaching over 40% of the African American adults in the United States during the 1980s. Unfortunately, the publication went bankrupt in July 2020, but was purchased for $14 million by Junior Bridgeman in December 2020. It was reborn digitally on March 1, 2021 with no plans to return in print. 

The March 1953 issue featured Nat King Cole and his second wife Maria on the cover asking the question: “Are Second Marriages Better?” The piece was written by Cole himself and had many personal at-home photographs that the singer provided for the story, enriching the piece tremendously for fans. 

Along with Cole on the cover, the stories ranged from “Negroes Taught Me To Sing” by Caucasian singer Johnnie Ray to an article about a Park Avenue doctor who was an African American psychoanalyst with some very swanky New York clientele. 

The March 1953 issue was epic in size and content and is definitely a collector’s dream. Showcasing these amazing Black achievers was something that Ebony reveled in and did extremely well throughout its long lifespan. It was a magazine that paved the way for many ethnic publications after it, including its sister publication Jet.


Jet was a weekly magazine that was another John H. Johnson publication. It too focused on news, culture, and entertainment related to the African American community, just as Ebony did. The magazine was founded in November 1951 and was originally titled “The Weekly Negro News Magazine.”

The differences between Jet and Ebony, other than the frequency, was their size. While Ebony was a large, coffee table-sized magazine, Jet’s format was smaller and digest-sized and it was printed almost entirely in black and white except for its cover’s background. According to the magazine’s early history, John. H. Johnson called his magazine “Jet” because he wanted the name to symbolize “Black and speed.” Jet covered the Civil Rights movement extensively and gained national attention when it published photographs of Emmett Till’s body after his death in 1955.

Two March 1953 issues, March 5 and March 26 respectively, had singer Jean Parks and singer Dinah Washington on each of its covers. With cover lines such as “Does Liquor Stimulate Sex” and “Has Sugar Hill Gone To The Dogs?” the magazine showed a diversity in subject matter that always intrigued. 

In May 2014, the publication announced the print edition would be discontinued and transitioned into a digital format. But Jet and Ebony were sold in 2016, only to be bought again in the $14 million Junior Bridgeman deal with Ebony, with a promise to return digitally in June 2021.


Edited by the great Jackie Robinson, Our Sports magazine was touted as “The Great New Negro Sports Magazine,” and was published in 1953. It ran for a total of five issues. It featured top African American sports stars on the cover, such as Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Minnie Minoso, Satchel Paige, and George Taliaferro, who was the first black football player drafted into the NFL. Jackie Robinson was proudly credited in large letters on the cover as the editor of the magazine. It was a publication totally devoted to the Black athletes of the time, who were becoming more crucially involved in all major sports. 

With stories such as “Will The Yankees Hire A Negro Player?” and “Why Are Negro Stars Still Buried in The Minors?” the magazine offered a different take on sports and athletes and just who made up these important teams.

To be continued…

*Please note that some of the background historical data about the magazines were taken from Wikipedia…

%d bloggers like this: