Victory Homes for the Vet

WWII illustration soldiers veterans

The Post War American Dream would be waiting for the returning vet and his “best girl”
(L) Vintage Ad Community Silver “Back Home For Keeps” illustration by Jon Whitcomb (R) Vintage Ad 1945 Nash Kelvinator “My Tomorrow” “The girl I love, my boy, my dog, my car…all the things I long for, all the things I dream of…These things will be mine again in my tomorrow.”

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

Post war GE 43 650 SWScan07116

How to Make a Wish Come True! General Electric ran this 1944 advertisement promising ” A wish filled with hope and promise. Of Victory! Peace! Then a home of their own!”
“A home with happy, healthy children-secure and unafraid. That’s the heartfelt wish of all America. Your peacetime home of tomorrow is well worth the wishing” GE promised, ” for even the most modest cottage can have electric servants to banish household cares and drudgery-to give more leisure for living.” All this will be yours in the post war world of tomorrow

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, for the returning hero.

Naturally, the house would have a picket fence; it would be within walking distance of a fine 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 Cannon percale sheets  instead of a foxhole. A  juicy T bone 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

 Vintage Ad 1945 Kelvinator WWII Soldier and family picket fence

And We’ll Live Happily Ever After- Vintage Ad 1945 Kelvinator

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

WWII advertisiement soldier and wife

A full year before WWII ended the post war promises were being dangled to the soldier and his bride. Kelvinator painted a dreamy portrait of their new home they would return to some day. “We believe your hope for a new and finer home can and will come true. Here at Kelvinator when Victory is won, all the new strength, the new abilities and skills born of war will be turned to production of peace.”
Vintage ad 1944 Kelvinator

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..

“If I just close my eyes,,,I’ll see it now…the house we’ll build together…the house we’ll have breakfast in…Sunday-some day.

“And I’ll sit on u your knee and we’ll talk of the house we’ve built and the future we’ll have and the family we’ll raise…and we’ll know they’ll be nothing we can’t do together, ever…some day!”

Home Sweet Home

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945 soldier and wife in new house

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945

“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!

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945 soldier and wife in new house

Vintage WWII Ad Kelvinator 1945

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!

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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6 comments

  1. In America in the postwar years, had a dream of consumerism, but also had values​​. I see a tone of pessimism in its conclusions, like everything is wrong in the past but it was not so.

    What you do not like today?

    The Economy?

    Or moral behavior of Americans?

    I think it was a bet on the consumerism economy sank, but the loss of Christian values ​​in America, is the worst thing that happened. Imagine 50 million aborted children if they were alive, and were citizens who produce and consume: we would not be in crisis today.

    Hug.
    Eduardo – São Paulo – Brazil

    To better understand me, see:

    http://algosolido.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/great-news-the-british-baby-boom-2/

    Like

  2. Michael Smith

    This is damn-sure revisionist history. The elites were in fear of trained and in shape vets who knew how to use weapons and faced the same unemployment and conditions that came with the 1930’s. Where do you think the G.I. Bill and housing sudsidies came from? The goodness of the power elites heart? Stop shoving this type of Madison Avenue crap down our throats as some kind of real history. This site is full of images not reality.
    Maybe this is what you post-modernists feel comfortable in believing but most of the stuff on this site is pure fiction.
    People need to recognize the proverbial Trojan Horse when it is in front of them.

    Like

    • Hi My blog posts reflect the myths and fictions that were perpetrated by Madison avenue in collaboration with our government to sell us the American Dream; there is a deep sense in irony in all that I write.

      Sally Edelstein

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sdaven5191

    Hi Sally – Coming in a little late on the conversation, but not finding it until now. I see someone who doesn’t know how to read or comprehend satire when it’s served up “a la mode” on a platter. Too bad. Hope he got the message you sent back and understood what you wrote!
    I have been reading your blog for some time, and have enjoyed all of it a lot. I love the ads, and the way you are taking them and revealing to those who didn’t get to see them the first time ’round the powerful way Madison Avenue was leading the average consumer, and the blossoming new middle class around by the nose, in the name of getting their share (or more) of the almighty dollar. If anyone doesn’t get that, then maybe they need to get into a remedial course on reading comprehension 101.
    Thanks for the work you put into these. I love the ads, and I have an abiding interest in learning in different ways about the way my parents’ generation were coming up, since I was born in the middle of the enormous Baby Boom of 1957.

    Like

  4. Glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for your support

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on smartjones and commented:
    I like this post, because I do feel that these ads are truly compelling and brilliant marketing. It’s interesting that the idea of the happy nuclear family was so thoroughly ingested during the middle of the 20th century. Maybe we were running away from the messy, crazy, unpredictable mess of multi-generational homes, or we didn’t want to think that just a few decades ago (or less) we could never afford to have all kinds of shiny new things. And recovering from a war, we wanted safe, neat, tidy ideas. Things that offered modern consistency and organization. Even in its heyday, I’m pretty sure it was a fantasy that was never truly realized behind those frosty window panes. And yet, if I only had a Kelvinator…

    Liked by 1 person

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