Unlike today’s troubled vets who return home to an American Dream itself suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, WWII soldiers came back to a robust America, the American Dream gift wrapped just for them and tied with a red, white, and blue bow.
By 1945 with the end of WWII in sight, material dreams kept pumping through the culture in lavish color drenched ads, furnishing the material daydreams of the future. Corporations, advertisers and government banded together in a consensus of the good life.
Speaking directly to the battle fatigued boys overseas and to the best girls they left behind, the reassuring ads created identical longings for same American Dream.
And we’ll Live Happily Ever After
The first piece of the American Dream Pie the vet and his sweetheart wanted served up was a home of their own, and advertisers made sure it was served up a la mode.
“Sure enough,” the ads would announce,” the day is coming soon when Sgt Joe will be back home again. Back to his best girl and the little recruit he left behind”.
His wife and son will make life what it ought to be once more. The house would have a picket fence; it would be within walking distance of a school for all their adorable children; the girl would have a chest of Community silverware, the ex GI his own Naugahyde lounger. And they’ll be other good things. A big comfortable Sealy mattress with genuine percale sheets instead of a foxhole. A Steak instead of K rations. “Yes, a different kind of mess hall, a bright cheery kitchen, with shiny appliances, complete with a chrome dinette set.”
They would garden together in their suburban plot and he would commute to his good paying job in his aerodynamic fully Hydro-matic-car because they lived in a quiet suburbs, and oh yes, they’d have lots of babies.
Blue Print For The American Dream
No series of ads served up a bigger helping of that American Dream than the brashly sentimental ads of Nash-Kelvinator . Though busy with war work building Pratt Whitney Engines, Nash-Kelvinator corporation, manufacturers of home appliances and automobiles, began running the campaign even before victory was won, tapping into the longings on both sides of the ocean.
With a broadly sentimental brush they painted the very blueprint of the American Dream.
And We’ll Live happily Ever After
The ads took on the tone of a letter often written by the hometown gal he left behind who had plenty to dream about too…
“I know it will be just the way your letters describe it to me…the life we’ll live in the house we’ll build when you come home…”
“A bright sunny house that’s a blend of old and new with white shuttered door and a picket fence around a world of our own….”
Most important of course was the kitchen filled with Kelvinator appliances.
“And a kitchen for me that’s full of magical things. A wonderful new electric range that starts coffee perking and biscuits browning before we wake up…and cooks our dinners while were away.”
“A refrigerator that big and roomy with glistening shelves full of good things to eat…thick lamb chops and ice-cold milk, butter and eggs spangled with dew behind crystal door.”
“And still another fabulous magic chest to make our kitchen complete- a home freezer we’ll dip into all winter for peaches, cherries and all kinds of meat so all winter long we can feast like kings.”
“Oh, its easy to see how happy we’ll be…when our days are filled with peace of being together in our very own home…forever and ever.”
Everybody’ll Know It’s Our House!
The Kevinator ads all ended in the same upbeat way encouraging the reader to hold onto their bright dreams.
“We believe your hope for a new finer home can and will come true……this will be our part in the building of a happier nation. For we believe all of us owe it to those who fought to preserve it, a strong vital and growing America where all men and women will have the chance to make their dreams come true.”
The letter closes, “And I’ll ask you to pinch me just to make sure…it isn’t all just a lovely mirage and it won’t disappear when the lights go on.”
It would take over 65 years for the glare of bright light to finally make that mirage called the American Dream disappear, as today’s vet might very well return to find his dream home in foreclosure, and yes, everybody will know its their house!
Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
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