In my childhood, we got four magazines at our house. Two were amateur radio enthusiast publications beloved of my father. The other two were Family Circle and Woman's Day.
My mother was (and is) a prudent housekeeper and not given to spending money on herself, but pretty much any time a new issue of her magazines appeared in the rack at the supermarket she'd add it to our haul of groceries.
I read every one of them from cover to cover, usually before she did. I probably knew more about menopause, infant formula, and time-saving dinner casseroles than any other kid on the block.
I'm cleaning out my workroom and have run across a couple of 1970s-era specimens, bought for a previous apartment that came with an absolutely stunning and untouched 1973 bathroom. It would have been impossible to remove or disguise the mushroom-colored plastic seashell sink, so I decided to make it a feature. Adopting the persona of Cindy, an adventurous but wholesome United Airlines stewardess originally from Grand Forks, I hit eBay and picked up a vintage shower curtain covered in orange daisies, a copy of Valley of the Dolls for the back of the commode, and a pair of "Home Interiors" molded plastic wall hangings so ugly they actually devoured sunlight and happiness.
"Can you believe that somebody bought these unironically?" I said to my mother.
"Yeah," she said. "I had those in the master bath."
And then there were the magazines. I filled the little white rack with one Family Circle, one Woman's Day, and the 1976 JC Penney catalogue. Visitors to my apartment would step inside for a quick pee, and come out weeping from nostalgia.
When I left that bathroom behind I kept the magazines, but hadn't looked at them in quite some time. Today I shifted the box they were in and realized one was from November–a month I used to eagerly anticipate as being the first to offer instructions for Christmas gifts. November wasn't as breathtaking as December, which was usually a double number with an incredible gingerbread house on the cover, but it was an excellent amuse-bouche prior to the full-blown orgy.
This November issue (from 1975) would have come out before I started reading in earnest–I was four, and still primarily interested in Little Golden Books and Interview–but the projects are exactly what I remember.
A few standouts include the classic, unsinkable granny square poncho.
Every girl in my first grade class* looked exactly like that.
And this, also crocheted. It's both a scarf and a litter of tragically conjoined asbestos hot pads.
Hey, you youngsters who always want to know how it was possible that knitting and crochet almost died out–here's a big part of the answer.
But this post is not just another excuse to laugh and/or scream at old yarn tricks. No, it's an excuse to laugh and/or at this.
It's made from fringed bath towels. It hangs just below the crotch. It's for your dad.
I bet he was the king of the neighborhood swingers' club holiday party.
* Kate B. Reynolds Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona; and a fine little school it was, too.