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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Silver Lining: humor in 1939 America sample

Quoted from Readers Digest, January 1939

"How in the world do you make a go of things at all?" a traveling salesman inquired of a shopkeeper.
"You see that fellow there?" replied the merchant, pointing to the clerk at the end of the counter. "Well, he works for me and I can't pay him; so in two years he gits the store. Then I work for him till I git it back."

Some of my favorite reading is a large collection of Reader's Digests 1933-1945. Our country was in an economic depression exacerbated by the socialist regime of F.D. Roosevelt, and it took WWII to get the economy booming. The Digest provided an energetic forum for coherent debate. No sound bites or appeals to racism were tolerated.

The idea of the Reader's Digest in those days was to present the very best contemporary articles from a multitude of media; the reader's intelligence was respected and assumed. Humor was provided to complement the thoughtful essays. Included in each issue was a listing of what books noteworthy people were reading that month. The authors' biographies were given at the end of each issue.

I miss this format, as the new Reader's Digest is more of a breezy tips for living rather than an exploration of ideas. It has been reduced to a socialist tool for persuading Americans to abandon our Constitutional principles. My prediction is the R.D. will likely fail; its only hope is to return to the former format (30s and 40s) and to ditch the socialist bullcrap.