Tuesday, October 07, 2008

True Grit

I was thinking back to when I was a kid in New Jersey. Every couple of months my mother would hand me some money and tell me to go to town to get a hair cut. I’d ride my bike to the barber shop. It was usually a Saturday morning, so there was always some waiting time. Back then it seemed like all the local barbers were Italian with slight accents from the old country. Occasionally they would speak to one another in Italian, but they were very good at conversing in English.

All barber shops had a variety of magazines to read while you waited. There was usually a stack of Look and Life magazines. There was a special rack for true crime and men’s magazines where kids were not allowed to venture. Being a kid I was limited to Life and Look and another magazine that I’ve only ever seen in barber shops. That was one called Boy’s Life.

Boy’s Life was this idyllic magazine of virtues for children of Republican families. It promoted the Rockwell vision of what an American boy should hold dear. Frankly, I found the entire publication to be a bit douchie.

The only redeeming factor were the adds in the back that sold X-Ray vision glasses, magic tricks and model cars. One ad that always intrigued me was the one that had the picture of a paper boy selling Grit. They went on about the money and prizes one could earn selling subscriptions and delivering the Grit Newspapers in your community.

In all my years I have never actually seen a copy of Grit. I had no idea what it was all about until I looked it up on Wikipedia a few moments ago. The philosophy of the paper back then was: Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry or temptation... Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer and contentment into their hearts.

Since then, Grit has turned into a bi-monthly perfect bound magazine that covers agriculture and rural issues. It’s funny, but if a kid tried to sell me a subscription now, I’d probably go for it.


Blogger Donna said...

I used to buy Grit, back when I worked at my first job. I didn't know it was still around, in any form.

When I think of publications I've subscribed to, I realize how they change with different phases of my life: Mother Earth News in the late 60's and early 70's; and Whole Earth Catalogue!!! What a resource THAT was. With no Internet, it was the best a person could do. Then there was Countryside magazine. Later on, Capper's Weekly. I sometimes submitted poems I'd written, or little stories of my childhood. They'd send cash to me, anywhere from $2 to $5. Nowadays, we subscribe to the Missouri Conservationist (it's free) and Wing World, for owners of Gold Wing motorcycles. That's it. Everything I want in the way of reading material, I get online.

4:49 AM  
Blogger loopymamain06 said...

"Boy’s Life was this idyllic magazine of virtues for children of Republican families."

Sooooo.....was only for republicans?
.......Democrats can't be taught virtues?
Or did you just outgrow the ideals, of our youth, like all the rest of us. Personally I still believe in virtues, and the basic right and wrong to be taught. Without the very "basic" ability to tell right from wrong.....We get "leaders" that don't even know the difference. be they democrat or republican.
hence......the saying "we've gone to hell in a handbasket"

5:54 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

I sold Grit when I was in the 4th grade.
Among other things, I earned a Charlie McCarthy Ventriloquist Doll that I still have.
I drove my kids crazy with that little guy when they were growing up.
Anyway, I SOLD the paper. I do not ever remember reading it.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I liked the ad I saw on the back of comic books - the one for the seahorses.

6:36 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I used to get a subscription to Boys Life when I was in cub scouts. I seem to remember it being a requirement for being a scout in that area. I've seen the ads for Grit all of my life and never actually held a copy of it in my hands. I'd often toyed with the idea of selling it but I had learned from the debacle with the flower seeds and the christmas cards that I was a lousy salesman. I still am. I mentioned Grit to my wife once and she said her family had a subscription for years when she was small. I'd like to see some of the older editions to see what the shouting was all about.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the back pages of comic books that sold all that magic stuff - Sea Monkeys! X- Ray glasses! Trick gum packages that snapped the fingers of whoever reached for a piece!

My parents never let me order anything though.

And yeah, Boys Life? We have neighbors that are trying to raise their boys in the perfect Rockwellian way and all I can say is - good luck with that.

heh, 'douchie' is a good word for it.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

I guess I am too young to have been exposed to boys life publications. I just wanted to say, and I know I've told you this before, but I love your writing...and all the pictures you post along w/ the articles....keep it up, regardless of the subject. Your childhood sounds so wholesome compared to mine. It's nice to reminisce vicariously through you and all your stories :)

3:25 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, I'm surprised by how many magazines I get free on line. I just submitted some article proposals a few years ago and they keep coming in.

Loopy, the Republican kids I knew were all up tight, but the Democrats kids were fun.

Gearhead If I were asked who I knew that I would suspect once sold Grit, I'd immediately think of you. Earnest and hard working in the 4th grade. Though I figured you'd be writing for them by the 6th grade.

Lori, Do you mean Sea Monkeys? That's a whole other post I need to do some day.

Darev, when I went to Catholic School the nuns had us sell all sorts of crap. I lost any desire to sell things after that. I still hate selling.

Trish, sounds like job security for your sister. Those kids will need lots of therapy.

Ginger, Thanks, Darlin. Though I'm sure if you had a blog you'd be able to come up with some endearing stories from your youth. BTW how's your hay holding out?

5:50 AM  
Blogger weese said...

I remember Boy's Life at the pediatricians office. I, of course, didn't read it... being a girl and all.
I stuck to the ubiquitous 'Highlights'

9:58 AM  

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