Nov 02 2011

Sunday morning comics were a favorite treat in the 1950s.

Times were pretty simple in the 1950s on Sunday  morning. Blue laws required all stores be closed, unless you needed a medical drug prescription for those who were ill. Drug stores were allowed to be open, but all sales areas other than the prescription counter were roped off denying access. Sundays were a day when a child’s world stood still and the only thing there was to do was be with the family. We didn’t see that as a bad thing. It was comforting. It was a day to breathe and recreate, and by recreate, I mean re-create.

In the 1950s, life on Sunday Mornings was pretty predictable.
Reading the Sunday comics while Dad read the paper and
Mom made breakfast was a big deal…every Sunday.

My Dad was a newspaper reporter for The Evening Star. He read two papers every Sunday: The Washington Post and The Sunday Star. In metropolitan Washington, D.C., there were two papers. The morning paper was The Washington Post and, in the late afternoon, The Evening Star was delivered. This delivery schedule changed on Sundays, when both papers came in the morning and The Evening Star mysteriously transformed itself into The Sunday Star.

The Evening Star began printing news in 1852, before
the Civil War. For most of its 130 year history, it was
Washington, D.C.’s paper of record, closing in 1981.

Because Daddy read two papers every Sunday morning, my brother and I figured we were very lucky. We got three sections of comics to read and with which to play.  Two from the Post and one from the Star. So we ran down the stairs before breakfast and before getting ready for Sunday school. We grabbed the comics with gusto, opened them up and placed them on the living room floor. We were too little to vertically hold up the pages to read “like big people,” so we knelt on the rug on all fours to read each word and savor the artwork.

This little girl is reading the comics just like I did. That’s
what “everyone” did before church on Sunday morning.

Once in a while there was a fun game, toy or puzzle included in the comic pages which really heightened the Sunday morning experience. A paper doll with clothes and accessories was the best of all. We would paste the page on shirt cardboard and cut them out.  I was fascinated by placing the garments on the dolls and seeing them immediately “change their look.” But, my once in a while Sunday funnies paper doll experience is eclipsed by the frequency of comic strip paper dolls found in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. That’s when “Tillie the Toiler” reigned supreme. Tillie had paper dolls in her comic strip every week. What heaven that would have been. I was born ten to twenty years too late…

Tillie was ready for any adventure while being
coiffed and fashionable.

So, now you understand that I love paper dolls because of many Sunday morning simple pleasures. I love all paper dolls, any size, gender or age. Most of all, though, I especially love the ones that came “for free” in the pages of newspapers and magazines as they were surprises and intermittent. I thought anyone could buy books of paper dolls at the drug store or Five and Dime if they had the money. I was a non-commercialized purist. I thought having mother call me over to look at a newly found paper doll, hidden in the pages of a magazine, was a special treat and an unexpected pleasure…

FREE Download

If you would like a special treat and
an unexpected pleasure from the
SunbonnetSmart Vintage Paper Doll Collection,
click here to download this Tillie The Toiler.
Print her out. Cut her out and have fun!


The Golden Age of the Newspaper
by George H. Douglas

“From the arrival of the penny papers in the 1830s to the coming of radio news around 1930, the American newspaper celebrated its Golden Age and years of greatest influence on society. Born in response to a thirst for news in large eastern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, the mood of the modern metropolitan papers eventually spread throughout the nation. Douglas tells the story of the great innovators of the American press men like Bennett, Greeley, Bryant, Dana, Pulitzer, Hearst, and Scripps. He details the development of the bond between newspapers and the citizens of a democratic republic and how the newspapers molded themselves into a distinctly American character to become an intimate part of daily life.

Technological developments in paper making, typesetting, and printing, as well as the growth of advertising, gradually made possible huge metropolitan dailies with circulations in the hundreds of thousands. Soon journalism became a way of life for a host of publishers, editors, and reporters, including the early presence of a significant number of women. Eventually, feature sections arose, including comics, sports, puzzles, cartoons, advice columns, and sections for women and children. The hometown daily gave way to larger and impersonal newspaper chains in the early twentieth century. This comprehensive and lively account tells the story of how newspapers have influenced public opinion and how public demand has in turn affected the presentation of the news.”

If you have an interest in previewing this book documenting the
contributions of newspapers to American life, hover your mouse
over this link: The Golden Age of the Newspaper

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NaBloPoMo November 2012