Confident, wealthy, and young: the American century starts to hit its stride! And promptly sits down for a drink and a show.
Every decade has its own cliches: the Thirties were Depressed, the Forties were full of pitch-together patriotism, the Fifties were Cheerful, the Sixties Turbulent, and so on. There’s truth in the generalities, but the cliches drive out competing views, and stick disparate trends and moods into the same shoebox, as if things CHANGE when the calendar turns over from 9 to 0. The Thirties, however, look coherent from a distance, measured from the Crash to the start of the war. Same with the Twenties, except backwards. It started with the end of a war, and ended with the Crash. In between was an extraordinary period of social change we call the Jazz Age.
Everything changed! Clothes! Furniture! Music! Architecture! It was as if someone flipped a switch in 1920, and the Modern World flamed into life! Well. No. If you’d like a deep evaluation of the era, go read a book. This is just a site that gives you a look at what people saw when they opened a magazine, or went to the movies, or cranked up the Victrola. As I've said before, trying to reconstruct life from the ephemera it leaves behind is like reconstructing a snowflake from a drop of melted water. At least these are the genuine articles, not someone's idea of what "vintage" was like.
This site will ramble on for the first half of 2012. If you find it all musty and quaint . . . well, imagine you were there, young as the century, and sensing the world changing at a pace your parents never knew. It must have been a grand ride.
(Note on the sources: it's a mix of personal possessions & magazine scans from the "Vintage Magazine" group on the Usenet.)