And now that we’re all settled in it’s time to go back to 1941 for our Random Issue. Douglas MacArthur, as illustrated by Allen Pope, graced the cover of this issue of TIME, just a day over three weeks after Pearl Harbor. With America’s entry into the war three topics seemed to recur throughout the issue and form somewhat of a theme: A) Blackouts and worry of Japanese invasion; B) Satisfaction at the Russians driving Hitler back some; C) Censorship, written about with some fear of the effect it may have on the magazine in hand.
This issue became interesting for me as soon as page 2! This was the “Letters” section and TIME wasted none in printing congratulatory letters from readers praising their speedy coverage of the U.S. entering the war. Ralph P. Bell of Ottawa penned the first words I would read: “CONGRATULATIONS ON “U.S. AT WAR,” YOUR ISSUE OF DEC. 15. THIS IS THE FINEST PIECE OF NEWS REPORTING THAT I HAVE EVER READ.” First I thought TIME was really patting themselves on the back by printing Mr. Bell’s letter in all caps, but then it occurred to me that I’m a product of the current age and in that time this was likely a telegram sent to TIME’s offices. At least that’s the impression I’m working under now. L.D. Rambeau of White Marsh, MD echoed Mr. Bell: “Congratulations on a magnificent job in including all news up through Monday the 8th in the issue of TIME that I received and read on the 10th.” I found that one interesting in revealing the deadline that TIME must have worked on: they covered news through December 8 in the December 15 issue which was received by subscribers as early as December 10. After a couple more of these letters the Publisher does reply with his gratitude and comments “TIME’s editorial staff has about 36 hours to write its first issue about the U.S. at war. TIME correspondents within eight hours after war’s outbreak turned in a nationwide roundup of U.S. reactions and thereafter kept it up to date hour by hour.”
A most interesting start, I thought, on my new project.
After the “Letters” page the TIME index is found on page 7, headed “The U.S. At War.” The December 29, 1941 issue of TIME Magazine is bookended by censorship concerns. In the “Press” section beginning on page 58 and carrying over to the last page, page 60, is an article headlined “Official Censor.” TIME notes “The U.S. Press last week got an official censor and the first glimmerings of how U.S. wartime censorship is meant to work.” The article discusses Byron Price, executive news editor of the A.P., who was appointed censor by Presidential executive order. Censor Price was expected to oversee outgoing news dispatches, cables, radio, and letters, withhold military secrets at their source and implement the Espionage Act of 1917. He also hoped for a good deal of voluntary censorship. On page 60 TIME writes “How much censorship the public will stand for still remains to be seen” while on page 8 in italics prior to any reportage they open by saying “For the first time in nearly 19 years of publication, TIME finds itself unable to tell its readers freely and frankly all the things it knows.” Imagine that!
Some other interesting notes found throughout this issue:
- “All four of Eleanor Roosevelt’s sons are in the service of their country.” (page 8, “The U.S. at War”)
- “Defense bond sales jumped as much as 8,691% in one city…” (page 10, “The U.S. at War”)
- From Hitler: “He alluded to Japan as a ‘comrade in arms’ and said: ‘The present war is now entering upon a new and favorable stage for us.” (page 12, “World Battlefronts”)
- “The Germans admitted that Russian forces had ‘penetrated their eastern defenses at several points'” Regarding the tone of Hitler and Goebbels TIME proclaims “Once they ranted and vaunted. Now they begged and whimpered.” (page 20 “World Battlefronts”)
- Censorship is broached again in the “Radio” section: “For straight news broadcasts, both domestic and short-wave stations were sticking to press-association material that is certainly going to be played safe.” (page 36 “Radio”)
- “George Herman (‘Babe’) Ruth walked into Manhattan’s defense-bond headquarters, asked for $100,000 worth. Informed that Treasury restrictions let him buy only $50,000 worth a year, he left a $50,000 order for Jan. 2.” (page 40 “People”)
- “Oops-sorry note: First week, the authors called it The Japs Won’t Have a Chinaman’s Chance. But that seemed disrespectful to the Chinese. Last week it became The Japs Won’t Have a Ghost of a Chance.” (page 46, “Music” …PS, how considerate of them, wow, c’mon!)
Just three-plus weeks after the invasion of Pearl Harbor there was a great fear of further Japanese attacks, this time on the U.S. mainland. The magazine is filled with reports of West Coast blackouts (of note: “They talked about one blackout crime: a man posed as an air-raid warden raped a Chinese girl” page 9), plans for blackouts made and cancelled in New York by Mayor LaGuardia (of note: “Skyscraper dwellers were no sooner given the comfortable assurance that they were safe within steel and concrete walls so long as they stayed on floors four down from the top or four up from the bottom” page 11), and Mid-West apathy lathered with knocks against the “isolationist” Chicago Tribune (Of note: “Last week the Midwest had just begun to yawn and stretch” page 11).
Fear of further Japanese invasion caused TIME to include an interesting article about Homer Lea in the “World Battlefronts” section on pages 18-19. I’d never heard of Lea until reading this article, but in short, he was a hunchback who studied Napoleon and realized that due to his affliction the U.S. would never allow him to serve in the military. He went from China to Hong Kong, where he hooked up with Sun Yat Sen, and then on to Japan before returning to San Francisco where he authored The Valor of Ignorance in 1909. In his book Lea saw Japan easily overtaking the Philippines and predicted the many Japanese immigrants in Hawaii would rise up to overtake it. But, and this is where TIME found relevance in all of this: “to defeat the U.S., Japan would have to invade it. That he expected Japan to do.” (page 19). Lea advocated first taking the Pacific Northwest, then Los Angeles, followed by San Francisco. TIME quotes Lea as writing “Not months, but years, must elapse before armies equal to the Japanese are able to pass in parade.” TIME opens the article looking back at Homer Lea with a one-week-old quote from Admiral Yamamoto: “I shall not be content merely to capture Guam and the Philippines and occupy Hawaii and San Francisco. I am looking forward to dictating peace to the United States in the White House at Washington.” Yikes!
In the movies TIME covers the release of Dumbo (page 27 “Cinema”) believed to be on its way to profits as big as Snow White brought to Disney. In “Sport” the big story was the New York Athletic Club allowing women to swim in its pool for the first time in its 73-year history. “Art” took a look at Grand Central Station’s new photo-mural which celebrated the three things the U.S. is fighting for: “the fertile U.S. land, the productiveness of U.S. industry, the future welfare of U.S. children.” “Science” heralded the brand new innovation from Eastman Kodak Co., a new color film called Kodacolor. And in “Religion” U.S. and U.K. Christian leaders take a stand in opposition to Nazi abuses and begin “planning a peace.” Finally, under “World Battlefronts”, we have our cover story, “MacArthur of the Philippines,” which spends two entire pages covering MacArthur and even includes a photo of his father in uniform.
The December 29, 1941 issue of TIME is a perfect example of TIME during the war…right from the outset. The standard style is there with all of the news carved into convenient categories, but by now each category carries the responsibility of handling its reporting with a war-themed flavor. Even the article about Dumbo closes by mentioning Donald Duck and the Three Little Pigs war efforts (apparently the Duck was a popular insignia with DeGaulle’s Free French Forces and also on the aircraft carrier Illustrious, the Pigs were selling defense bonds in Canada) and stated “Dumbo has yet to be drafted, but his number is about up” (page 28). Every reference to Hitler and Nazi Germany notes weakness and the Japanese are feared because of their recent actions. I didn’t notice much mention of U.S. allies, but every article proclaims some news or fact about U.S. involvement either by the military or civilians (such as Babe Ruth). TIME opened and closed with notes on censorship and reading the issue through you get the impression that it is something with which they are very concerned.
A final note, of the 60 pages (not including covers), I counted 20-1/3 pages of advertisements, though this does include a full-page ad for sister publication Fortune and a third of a page for the radio program The March of Time.
Ad agencies must have rushed to put together many of the war-themed ads. The Thermoid Company has a full-page text ad with the headline “What can I do for my Country?” with the refrain “Keep ’em running” throughout. Exide Batteries blares “DEPENDABILITY was never before so important” with artwork above split into three images: a tank, a ship, a fleet of planes. The U.S. Navy takes out a 2/3 page ad on page 5 as does Douglas Aircraft on page 47. The center spread is a two-page color ad from the United Aircraft Corporation titled “in Action: American Aircraft in the R.A.F.” with a checklist of American planes in service with the British. No mention of any greater trouble is mentioned yet in ads by B.F. Goodrich, Listerine, Western Electric or several others.
None of the three full-page ads found on the covers: Felt & Tarrant Manufacturing on inside front cover, Addressograph-Multigraph on inside back cover, and SPAM on the back cover make mention of the war with the exception being a strip of text at the bottom of the Addressograph-Multigraph ad stating “Shoulder to Shoulder with You in America’s Defense.” SPAM advertises it’s new breakfast discovery: SPAM ‘N’ Pancakes…that just doesn’t sound very good.
In nice shape, about EX or 5/10 with just some average wear, the December 29, 1941 issue of TIME Magazine featuring General Douglas MacArthur on the cover would likely sell for about $12-$15, though even more likely it would sit with some hopeful seller’s stock priced closer to $25. The copy I used has detached covers and tons of edge wear, and now, after my use, several pages of hilighting and underlining throughout. It’s value, well it’s whatever you take out of this article, as it’ll be hitting my garbage can as soon as I proofread this!