In 1936 women are mostly employed applauding their men or demonstrating domestic bliss. “Oh Tom!” swoons one ecstatic wife “I’m so proud of you, you've gone ahead so fast in Radio!” Another kneels helpfully at her husband’s feet demonstrating the effectiveness of a purse-sized trouser press.
Sixty-seven years after publication it seems both dated and strangely current: the world is struggling to recover from a world-wide depression; U.S. unemployment hovers at 20%; the President (Roosevelt) is about to announce a $5 billion rescue package; nasty dictators (Hitler and Mussolini) are on the rise; new technologies are threatening old industries while giving birth to new. In spite of it all, this issue of Popular Mechanix is ablaze with optimism: “the future is the brightest that ever beckoned a man!”
In 1936 every man is only a mail-order course away from a brilliant future. They are pictured in overalls in home workshops all over the land "Learning while they Earn" about “Diesel, Electricity, Radio, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning”. Mastery and Success arrived with pleasing alacrity back then. Though adolescents still suffer from “Life-sized Pimples” it’s possible to “become an Auto Mechanic in 8 weeks”, turn yourself into a “Mental Giant” or “learn the saxophone and join a dance band in just 90 days”.
The truly motivated are building full-scale windmills and “palatial travelling bungalows” from scratch. Some may even be pursuing extra-legal ways to make money. Why else “Construct Your Own Sub-Machine Gun” or “Become a Finger Print Expert at Home”? Why struggle with a “14-Volume Law Library” if it not to beat the rap for a bank robbery?
Everyone’s busy even if it’s only repairing fountain pens, or removing stains from tennis balls. Two chaps in Tennessee are papering their lounge with 132,568 postage stamps while waiting for the economic turn-around. The solvent few are advised how to remove bubble gum from fur coats, and about neon cocktail stirrers which “illuminate your martini in hues to match your colour scheme”
In 1936 women are mostly employed applauding their men or demonstrating domestic bliss. “Oh Tom!” swoons one ecstatic wife, “I’m so proud of you, you’ve gone ahead so fast in Radio!” Another kneels helpfully at her husband’s feet demonstrating the effectiveness of a purse-sized trouser press. However change is in the air: there’s a woman sporting the latest outfit for ice delivery persons - a fetching shirt, cap and bow-tie ensemble accessorised with a “leak-proof canvas bag” and it’s hinted that “Raising Giant Frogs” in a backyard pond could be a suitable career path for stay at home Moms.
Unfortunately trellis repair was not amongst the magazine’s cheerful offerings. However, I reckon the “Automatic Cigarette Ejector” could have huge contemporary safety implications. Surely the roads will be safer when smokers have this Bakelite device clamped to the steering wheel: it holds 20 cigarettes which are “ejected one at a time, lighted and ready for smoking”.