Guest Post by Sarah Linnen
Recently I had the opportunity to read an issue of the girls' magazine POLLY PIGTAILS from May of 1946 (Volume 1, #4, Parents Magazine). That's a pretty old book. My dad wasn't even born until June 1946.
The magazine contained several brief comic strips, several short stories, some non-fiction articles, and of course lots of different advertisements. When I say "different," I not only mean "varied;" I also mean "unlike those of today." Of course, the entire magazine is quite unlike anything published today.
Case in point: the first few pages contained a story (in comic form) of Polly Pigtails and her fellow members of the Pigtail Club. It seemed to be an ongoing story, and it began with the girls gathered on the porch of a neighbor's house. They had never seen this mysterious neighbor and referred to him as a hermit. They were concerned about being on his porch and wanted to leave, but one of the girls had an injured ankle and couldn't get up. Suddenly, a mysterious man appeared from around the corner of the house and offered to help. Of course it turned out to be the "hermit." The girls were quite embarrassed to find that he was, in fact, a decent fellow. Or was he?
He invited all the girls into the house for refreshments while he phoned for a doctor to look at the girl's ankle. They were delighted with his hospitality and invited him to come see their clubhouse sometime. This is where it gets kind of creepy. The man revealed that he had already seen the clubhouse, because for quite some time he had been watching the girls from inside his house. Not only had he been watching them, he had been drawing pictures of them.
Today, a man found watching little girls from his window and drawing pictures of them would more than likely be questioned by the police and perhaps even put on a list of sex offenders. But in 1946 this behavior was not considered reproachful or dangerous at all. It just made me think of how much the world has changed in 60 years.
The rest of the magazine was much more innocuous, except perhaps for the story in which a little girl fell out of a canoe and was rescued by a man who lived alone in a houseboat. Again, a little creepy around the edges, but apparently not for 1946.
All in all, I enjoyed reading Polly Pigtails and getting a glimpse of what the world was like for young girls right after World War II. Apparently they were often saved from unpleasant circumstances by mysterious single men. Seriously, though, it was really interesting to see and read these stories, and even the ads-- for example, on the back cover was an ad for Beech-Nut gum, the main point of which was to inform the public that the gum was once again returning to store shelves (since war rationing was over).
So even though this is just a simple magazine published for girls, I still think it provides a good history lesson and perhaps even a better understanding of the elements of American culture at the time that influenced and shaped a generation. I failed to mention in the beginning that when this book was published, my mother was 5 years old. Perhaps a few years later, she may have read a future issue of Polly Pigtails herself. I'll have to ask her if she did. And while I'm at it, I'll ask her if she was ever rescued as a young girl by any mysterious single men...
POLLY PIGTAILS #4 is now available at Comix Connection for the newly-reduced price of only $5.00.