1951: Of Main Street and the World

President Truman on an East Berlin poster, 1951.
President Truman on an East Berlin poster, 1951.

News from the Aug. 30, 1951 edition of the Lemon Grove Review, a time of Commies and cure-alls. 

This was one of the oddest editions of the Review, ever.  Editor G. H. Graham blended local news with lavish coverage of international affairs, together with weird nostrums for every ailment besetting mankind, and, -- oh, that -- ads for back-to-school purchases from local shops.

A Cold, Cold War:  The Review's full-page photo montage included an East Berlin poster portraying President Harry Truman morphing into Adolph Hitler under the slogan, "Truman--Hitler's Successor"...

A delegation of young North Korean Communists marching through East Berlin with flags flying and more than 100,000 "Red youth" thronging a stadium to declare allegiance to Soviet Premier Josef Stalin and "unshakeable opposition to the U.S. aggressor"...

A close-up shot of a North Korean jeep driver in Kaesong mugging for the cameras, apparently in exchange for Yankee dollars...

Capt. Milton Nelson, a flying ace, climbing into his plane to go hunting for more Korean MIG-15 jets…

Josef Orlopp, East Berlin trade negotiator, threatening to cut off coal, fuel and other goods to beleaguered West Berlin…and...

The Kaesong demilitarized zone overrun with Chinese troops marching in formation, prompting U.S. General Matt Ridgway to break off the Korean peace conference.

Washington Merry-Go-Round:  This was the title of Drew Pearson's syndicated column, which Graham carried in the Review throughout his tenure as editor.  Pearson was the most famous columnist of his day, regularly skewering public figures, muckraking and afflicting the comfortable.  He supported FDR, blew General McArthur's cover, attacked the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and on and on for nearly 40 years.

In this column, Pearson said the reason for the standoff at the Kaesong demilitarized zone wasn't a Chinese invasion, but a struggle for control of precious tungsten deposits.  The U.S. was two million pounds short of tungsten needed for manufacture of jet engines, armor-piercing shells and atomic energy components.

Pearson also reported on newspapers in New Orleans and Madison that circulated a "test petition containing only the Declaration of Independence."  In Madison, 111 of 112 people refused to sign, terming the text "commie."  In New Orleans, 25 of 36 people refused to sign, some saying, "Sounds Russian to me."

The relentless assault on Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights during the 1950s bore fruit of this kind.  Sen. Joe McCarthy circulated thousands of copies of his speeches through the mails at taxpayers' expense, wrote Pearson, helping to instill fear in the public mind.  Not even the Founding Fathers were safe.

Wheat, Reds and Floods:  The Review reported that 17 million tons of mud and debris rushed through Kansas City as the Missouri overflowed into valleys.

The U.S. wheat crop fell below a billion bushels for the first time since 1943 thanks to floods and drought.

"Reds" attended a 50-nation Japanese Peace Treaty conference in San Francisco.  The Soviets vowed they'd refuse to sign, saying an "aggressive satellite Japan" would become a U.S. puppet.

They Liked Ike:  General Eisenhower, always a man of reason, was on a 14-day European tour to tamp down "fear and hysteria" that the Free World was dying despite evidence that the post WW II boom was underway.

But Eisenhower also sought to bring Spain and Yugoslavia into the master plans for defense of Europe, encourage European military build-up so that U.S. forces could gradually withdraw, sustain U.S. leadership in the fight against Communism and monitor east-west trade so that China and Russia didn't form a massive trade bloc.

Feel Better:  While the Review fretted over world events, its personal testimonial ads for digestive products pulled editorial coverage right back to Main Street -- and even further.  The innards and gizzards of 'Grovians were fair game, too.

Mrs. Graziano Feels Better:  Thanks to a grim brew of bran, molasses and wheat stalks, Mrs. Antonina Graziano, Jersey City, NJ, hadn't been constipated for 25 years.  Peddled as "Insta-Flush," the potion was "guaranteed to leave you smiling" -- this, despite the minuscule head shot of a scowling Mrs. G.

Mr. Adelbert is Functioning:  Though he had neglected his 15-mile network of kidney tubes and filters for who knows how long, Henry Adelbert was back in the saddle thanks to Doan's Pills.  He extolled their one-a-day efficiency, noting that his pet horse, King 'O The Hill, was glad to have him back.

Mrs. Smith Fights Back:  She was weak, rundown, tired, pasty-faced and lacking energy to mop her kitchen floor until she took one-a-day Hadacol, the wonder  energizer from Lafayette, LA.  A beaming Mrs. Floyd Smith in a print housedress, wire-rimmed glasses agleam, said she now had enough B vitamins, Niacin and Iron to "lift a horse."  Hopefully, she and Mr. Adelbert were in touch.

Mrs. Patterson Doesn't Smell:  She was seen swiping underarms with Yodora, the face cream-based antiperspirant guaranteed to stop odor in its tracks.  And guess what?  It, too, got the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

John Wayne Sells Anything:  Resplendent in a plaid shirt, Wayne says, "I tried many different cigarettes.  I chose CAMELS for their flavor and for the way they agree with my throat!"  That was on page 7.

On page 8, Wayne, wearing the same shirt but facing the other way, says, "I love Hazel Bishop Lasting Lipstick.  Doesn't smear in the clinches.  Won't eat off, bite off or kiss off."  Who wore what when Wayne walked the Old West?

Mr. Browning Gets His Comeuppance:  "My stomach was in knots," declared Hatfield Browning, Gary, IN.  "I couldn't eat Sunday dinner even though the missus cooked up my favorite pot roast and baked potato.  I was a wreck!"

Missus Browning had offered him Spright-Aid, but he, the big lunk, refused.  Only when she sneaked a Spright-Aid tablet into his tapioca did he start to perk up.  Days later he was back in the garage Simonizing the Chevy.

"Guess I shoulda listened to the missus," said a contrite Hatfield.  "Now I feel great!"

Jack and Jill Returned to School:  Speaking of the missus, she could dash to Lemon Grove Department Store, 7970 Broadway, for saddle oxfords ($3.98), all-wool sweaters ($2.45), boys' sox (4 pr. $1), Levi's all sizes ($1.98 - $3.50), and tennis shoes ($2.79).

Or, she could hie to Cressy's Dry Goods, 7816 Broadway, for "deeply discounted" Blue Bell Jeanies ($2), children's undies (pants 50 cents), cords for your parochial school child ($4.95), and wash dresses ($2.29).

She could wrap up the day at Mode 'O Day, 7808 Broadway, and buy her "l'il school belle" a pair of Modette nylons ($1.09) to go with her new dress -- and love this description:

"Our dresses have extra style and quality that mean so much to the campus crowd, like this washable, sanforized, plaid style with wide-pointed colar and huge patch pockets -- so collegiate!  And only $3.99!"

Wisdom of the Ages:  Graham started running the Review's near-legendary fillers, such as:

Genuine pearls consist of worthless components--common calcium carbonate formed around the egg of a tapeworm, bits of seaweed and grains of sand.   Ewww.

A small patch of bicolor lespedeza, one-fourth acre or less, or other cover crop on every 25 acres of farmland will support the maximum quail flock in a given area.  Go figure.

If your little boy cries when a dog approaches, wait 5 years until you buy him a pet.  That'll fix everything.  

Use caution around throw rugs unless you want to slip and fall.  You fool, you.

Labor Day:  Editor Graham opined for the ages on the subject of labor:

"In our complex economy 'labor" includes virtually all Americans.  Brains, brawn, skill, the ability to direct and carry out instructions, whether in the production field, the shop, the laboratory, the field, the research foundation, the domain of pure and applied science.  All combine to give us the good things of life we have in abundance.

" It will be a good day for labor in this classless republic when all citizens recognize each other's talents and see ahead common goals."

And so it went on Labor Day on Main Street when people were frightened by foreign events, comforted by strange potions, and, somehow, still able to carry on amid the senseless nihilism of the universe (thank you, Thomas Wolfe).

About this column:  Compiled by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, from newspapers archived at the H. Lee House Cultural Center.  Each week, we take a peek at the past with some news and advertising highlights from a randomly chosen edition of the Lemon Grove Review.  Ofield was awarded first place in 2013 and second place in 2012 in non-daily column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »