Tuesday, February 16, 2016


by Pa Rock

Coronet was a magazine very similar to Reader's Digest both in size and in scope that was published from 1936 to 1971.  I recently come into possession of four old issues, two of which were published before I was even born.

The two oldest issues - November of 1947 and February of 1948 - have mailing labels on the back covers addressed to Mrs. Otis Albert of Moffatt, Colorado.  The one from November 1947 has a Norman Rockwell-type of illustration on the cover featuring an old man all bundled up preparing to watch a college football game - undoubtedly featuring his alma mater.  The story highlighted on the cover is "God Was in My Corner:  Barney Ross tells the full inside story of his fight against dope."

The February 1948 issue had another Rockwell-type of cover featuring a young man preparing to give a heart-shaped box of valentine's candy to his girl.  The cover story was "Is Eisenhower the Man for the White House?"  He wasn't - not until 1952.

Coronet appears to have been modeled on Reader's Digest which preceded it into publication by over two decades - with human interest stories, feature pieces on things of importance like medicine and politics, and even sections devoted to jokes and humor.  One place where the two publications seemed to have diverged, however, was in the area of photographic content.  While I don't remember much in the way of photographs in the old Reader's Digests of my youth (if any), Coronet had a hearty reliance on the medium of photography.  Each issue had a special section labeled "Picture Story" in which several pages were dedicated to photographs of a particular topic.

The photo essay in the "Picture Story" of November 1947 was entitled "America's Kid Brother."  It contained over twenty black and white photos of American boys being boys, a la Tom and Huck.  The introduction to the segment read:

"At the bubbling center of almost every household in the land, there is, or was at one time, a boy between the ages of 6 and 13.  We are all familiar with him.  He's a child utterly without fear, a child with boundless curiosity and joyful optimism.  Capturing the essence of this boy's youth, his heart's vibrant happiness and the fresh effervescence of his indomitable spirit, Coronet presents on these pages some of the finest pictures ever published of the boy called America's kid brother."

We had a "kid brother" at our house in the 1980's - one who fit that description very well!

The "Picture Story" a few months later in the February 1948 issue dealt with the realities of a world changing from a footing of war to a time of peace.  It was entitled "The Grim Face of Peace," and as the title suggested, the photos went deeper than just a glance-over of joyous reunions after the war.   The introduction to that photo essay read:

"When peace came in August, 1945, most Americans looked forward to a golden era of ease and prosperity.  But now, after two and a half years, we find ourselves face to face with some of the most perplexing problems the world has ever known.  It is time to look around and see where we are.  To help the average citizen measure the troubled state of the world Coronet this month devotes its entire pictorial section to a stirring forty-page summary of the peace, told with some of the most provocative photographs taken since VJ-Day.  Here you will see what the peace today means to you as an American."

These old issues of Coronet offer, both in words and pictures, clear insight into what America looked and felt like at about the time I parachuted in.  The old magazines convey a bit of the world that my parents knew and experienced as young adults - a trip down memory lane just beyond the reach of my own memory.

(If descendants of Mrs. Otis Albert would like to have her old magazines, please contact me.)

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

Dov-Ber Rosofsky grew up in Chicago’s Maxwell Street where he associated with local kids like Jack Ruby, yes that Jack Ruby, and worked from time to time for one Al Capone; all to the chagrin of his Rabbi father. He went on to be a triple division boxing champion: lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight. When World War II broke out he was nearly court martialed when he decked one of his Marine non-commissioned officers for making an anti-Semitic comment. A Jewish Captain convinced the Board of Review to send the young Marine to the Pacific theater instead. There Rosofsky earned the Silver Star for repelling (and killing) twenty Japanese soldiers who had attacked his squad. Two Marines in his squad were killed and he carried the third man to safety. Recovering from battle wounds Rosofksky developed an addiction to morphine, from which he recovered.

That’s some of the story about Barney Ross.