As COVID cases rise in the United States, we all need a reminder to stay home as often as possible to lower the risk- which is why I am sharing this 90-year-old issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine from August of 1930.
Better Homes & Gardens is a household name today. Back in 1930, it was relatively newer- having been started in 1922. Originally, it was called Fruit, Garden and Home, and was created by Edwin Meredith- a past Secretary of Agriculture. It was- and is to this day- published by the Meredith Corporation. It is based right in the Mid-West, Des Moines, Iowa. It is the largest city in the state and one of the wealthiest cities in the US, with a majority white population- which makes it very fitting that a magazine of this nature would be published there.
Ninety years is a long time- in that near century a lot has changed- but there is also a lot that has not changed. There is some familiar names in there, like Kohler, Maytag and Heinz, and a lot of names that have been lost to time. Some articles are still useful today, while others have faded into obsolescence. To put it in to perspective, there is an advertisement for a brand new Maytag washing machine, that also comes in a gas-tank powered option for homes that do not have electricity. Also- the back cover features an ad for lead paint. So thats a big difference.
I also enjoyed (and was saddened by) the article about the cost breakdown of a girl going to college. It was interesting to see the differences between then and now, and I was very glad to see women were able to attend college back in 1930, however, the difference in cost compared to today was alarming, even considering inflation.
A great idea that I absolutely loved was article titled “A Travel Club at Home”, which I believe would be perfect for todays situation. The article talks about these travel groups, that form in the summer time for people that are unable to travel. They get together and read aloud from travel books, picking somewhere different each time, and preparing snacks and refreshments from that specific area. This could be a cute idea to do with kids at home, or friends over video chat!
An article titled “A Family Takes its Day in the Sunshine” talks about the importance of Vitamin D to ones health and provides suggestions on activities to do outside for everyone in the family. It explains the science behind and how important sunshine is. Very progressive for the time, minus the lack of sunscreen of course!
And of course, there is some great outdoor and indoor decorating tips, especially for those summer flowers and rock gardens. Along with that, there are some recipes and entertaining ideas. I found the “frozen salads” interesting- to me it seems like savory ice cream? Combining cream cheese with vegetables and freezing them… this seems to have died down with the times.
Finally, the letter from the editor titled “Across the Editors Desk” is a sweet read that transcends time. The editor at the time was Elmer T. Peterson, who held the role from 1927-1937. Unfortunately, I could not find any information on him, but I just wanted to share my favorite excerpt from his piece:
Happiness is generally agreed upon as being the great achievement of life. Not mere pleasure, but permanent, thoro-going happiness- which takes hold of life and lifts it to new planes. This may come without riches or power or the things that are considered important in the materialistic sense.
Happiness is really a form of beauty within us. If encourage, it grows rapidly and quickly influences others, making them happy. And beauty within ourselves comes as a response to beauty from without.
This is why the beautiful garden and the beautifully decorate home are so important in building our own decorated home are so important in building our own happiness. It does not necessarily mean the expenditure of much money. It means, principally, a great deal of affectionate care in studying the true causes and effects of beauty. When our environments are created by ourselves, we naturally take more interest in them. They are a part of our very beings, in a sense. Those who have not experiences this way of living can never know the indescribable joy of it. There is nothing so completely satisfying, in bringing happiness, as living in the midst of natural and created beauty, especially when you can feel that you have brought it about with our own hands. This, indeed, is one of the supreme achievements.-Elmer T. Peterson, Editor, Better Homes & Gardens, August 1930