Hooking Up Advice- A Vintage Valentine’s Day Dilemma

vintage illustration Romance jon whitcomb

To Canoodle or Not to Canoodle

In Post-War America, love was in the air.

Along with Valentines Day’s hearts and flowers, came big dates, big dances, and king sized expectations in high schools and colleges all around the country. But even the smoothest post war gal could use a tip or two to make the evening real dream-diary stuff.

So for all you valentines with a special date marked down on your calendars, some vintage advice from 1946 for do’s and –especially- don’t’s on hooking up.

Tonight’s the Night

textiles pacific Sheets Ad 1946 teen girls illustration

Peggy was all hepped up for her big Valentines date with Hank a tall, dark, crew-cut kind of fellow. This blushing bobby-soxer was sure this would be the night he asked her to go steady. But, her pal Paula warned, going steady came with consequences.

Terror and titillation went hand in hand.

Sure, like most Junior girls in her High School, Peggy liked some hubba hubba from time to time. But every good girl knew the dangers of heavy petting!

Figuring out how to say “good night but not goodbye” and maintain her reputation, caused her headaches to beat the band.  Luckily for Peg  there was no shortage  of advise and cautionary tales  for the love struck female. Every mid-century women’s magazine were chock full of them to help set this jittery Junior straight. Consulting her favorite sub deb column in her mothers Ladies Home Journal proved  invaluable.

Caution: Romance Ahead

“It happens to every girl- that mellow moonlight and roses feeling when the man of the moment begins to look like the biggest thing in her life. If you’re a wide awake bright-eyed kind of gal who gets a kick out good books, good football games and good brisk walks in the rain, it’s inevitable,”  began a column directed to sub debs  in a 1946 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

“You’re going to get a kick out of good dates too!” Peggy read  on anxiously.

meat Wilsons ad boy and girl schoolroom

Boy, Oh Boy!

“You may have liked boys since you were an out sized character back in the pigtails-and-pinafore department and the little chaps around the neighborhood made good company for playing hide and seek.”

“Now boys are still fun, only now they are more fun, and instead of just liking them as you once did you feel a new appreciation for them.”

“And how!” thought Peggy to herself.

teens illustrations 1940s

“Suddenly you want to date boys who are smooth dancers, know all the do’s and don’ts of about dating and are smart enough to push the button for a woody Herman disk when they slip a nickel in the juke box.”

“And then suddenly you’re content to know just one. Because it’s happened.”

“You’ve suddenly met the one boy who has almost everything you can ask for in any man! There may be a few things missing ( he isn’t as tall as you’d like nor does he drive a red convertible coupe) but with this dream stuff so close at hand- who are you to quibble.”

“You’ve found someone whom you can like and who likes  you. Someone you can really appreciate and that affection just can’t put itself into words.”

“So you’ve got to find some other way of expressing yourself- it will take-well one goodnight kiss at least!”

Eagerly, Peggy read on.

Can This be Love?

telephone teens illustration 1950

“Of course this is the old feeling you’ve heard so much about.”

“It isn’t just a hubba hubba business; it’s something much more important than that.”

“You can’t wait to get to math class each morning because he sits almost behind you; you can’t begin your homework at night till after 7:30 because that’s the time he calls and if he doesn’t call that evening you,  you can’t do your homework at all for wondering about him; and you carried a slip of paper round in your pocket for weeks worn and tattered because he scrawled “See you at 8:30”on it the first night you two had a date together.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling all right; it’s exciting. It’s stimulating, it keeps you awake at night! But just a minute, honey-chile- haven’t you felt this way before?”

“How about that super sharp fellow you knew back in the days when you were still a freshman? The one who asked you to wear his class ring one Saturday night (but the mood was off and the ring returned before the week was out)?”

“And the fellow with whom you went on a blind date when you were visiting your cousin in St. Louis, and the soda jerker down at the drugstore who went to your high school and who asked you to wait for him every night after work so he could walk you home?”

“You liked them didn’t you- and more than just a little?”

A Dime a Dozen

vintage illustration Jon Whitcomb man and women

Vintage illustration Jon Whitcomb 1948

“And a kiss is an important thing.”

“You show your interest first just by talking to him, smiling when he looks your way; you can give him a hint that he’s the kind of boy who’s No.1 on your hit parade by saving your Friday nights for him; and then after a number of dates, lots of deep conversations and some real fun together- you may realize this isn’t just any boy.”

“This is someone special.”

“And since your kiss is based on honest affection it means something important to both of you. “

“But if you change man interests and dates every other evening, what happens to that sincerity? You may feel at the moment that tonight’s the night, but who was that boy we saw you with last night ( that was no ‘boy’ that was the fellow you thought you loved, remember?)”

A Girl Who Gets Around

vintage illustration college 47

“Or are you by any slim chance, one of those female characters who have been fooling themselves with the old tale that ‘a girl has to neck to get around?’ You may think that’s the true story, that the object of any fellows affection will automatically be the gal from whom he gets the most….affection.”

“But you just haven’t got as far as the punch line!”

“Many a gal gets around so much for a while that the whole whirl leaves her dizzy; she loses her sense of what’s what completely. She may think that all any boy wants is a gal with whom to hold hands, pat cheeks and rub noses at the doorstep. She goes through the same routine  with 6 out of 10 fellows, and she’s suddenly surprised when boys don’t call her anymore! “

Peggy blushed with recognition.

“That gal just forgot that anything too easy to get, is considered “cheap” and that’s just what happened to her. It doesn’t take long for fellows to catch on to a girls dating reputation- and a word to the guys is sufficient!”

Peggy’s pal Paula didn’t want to be the sort of “I told you so” kind of friend, but the look she gave Peggy said it all.

What’s Your Story

vintage illustration couple in car 1940s

“Let’s forget what this moonlight madness does to your dating rating and your reputation and figure out what it does to you.”

“You may not spend too much time on self-analysis taking yourself apart to see what ticks. But if you did you would realize that you are made up of hundreds of complex “reactions” all of which add up to make your total personality.”

“One kiss won’t put you out of the pink-angel department with any boy, but you know that one kiss leads to another; you may have wanted to kiss a fellow goodnight because he’s considered a good date and you want to see more of him, or simply because he’s your guy and that’s just the way you feel- and before you know it, you’re necking!!!

“You can suddenly find yourself with a lot of emotions just too hot to handle! And don’t even try to fool yourself with the smug assumption, ‘I’m not that kind of girl!”

Caution: No Parking Ahead!

“So take time out occasionally to think about your date life. And take it slow and easy for a smart gal will know to keep those extra starts out of her eyes. This is one time you have to see what you’re doing!”

The lesson was clear- Valentines Day was no license to lose your reputation.

Peggy was firm: Keep the Brakes on!

Copyright (©) 2017 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

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  1. The American Dream in Mao Zedong’s China – more communistic than Stalin’s Russia?
    (I hope the picture will “work” here)


  2. Sorry! I didn’t notice somebody had used a copy of the picture for satire
    This should be closer to the original


  3. The lesson was clear- Valentines Day was no license to lose your reputation.

    Peggy was firm: Keep the Brakes on!

    I have always found utter fascination as well as bombshells when (Conservative) society omits or fails to distinguish (in a secular-biological context) the difference between healthy, fulfilling honorable sex and reckless, risky dishonorable sexual behavior. There is TRULY a monumental difference! And the differences have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with human verbal interaction and management (or lack) of the interactions! The latter dictates the actual physical sex between people. IMO you cannot have one without the other. It is when a person or people do not respect and appreciate the entire dignity and integrity of others (or themself’s) where all the problems arise. When they do surface, the actual act of sex, or its driving force hormones, erroneously get all the blame… and more absurd is that women get the worst of it! How is that even rational!!!? Where’s the ownership in EVERYONE’S actions!? Those are rhetorical questions by the way. :/

    Actual sex is not the issue. It’s our management of interaction, foreplay, and levels of respect that are at the core of the success or disaster of sexual behaviors.

    Sally, I’m glad that as a society we’ve begun coming out of the Dark Ages about the role of sexual activity, but there is still a lot to be openly learned and practiced, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I advise all my young male friends when they ask how to get a date. I tell them two things: Learn how to dance and learn how to cook.

    Liked by 1 person

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