Collage by Sally Edelstein

Collage by Sally Edelstein

From the New Deal to the New Frontier, Envisioning The American Dream offers up a curated collection of vintage advertising and illustrations of  American consumer culture that helped define the American Dream and the  possibility of its attainment. The fossilized remnants remain with us today.

While contemporary pundits vie with one another offering where the 21st century is headed, I take a look back at our collective past, a time not too long ago, when our trust in the government, technology, big business and science as positive forces that will help us move forward to achieve the American Dream, were at their zenith

The Mid-Century-American Dream is served up with a twist of today as assumptions are wryly shaken and stirred by Sally Edelstein, award winning artist, author and incurable collector. Accompanying the images are an amalgam of  satire, history and memoir, excerpts from her  collected stories- Defrosting the Cold War: Fallout From My Nuclear family.

Like most Americans, she has consumed a vast quantity of advertising, media and popular imagery; as an artist and a collector she has amassed a formidable collection.

These images offer a mirror to the once-upon-a -time American Dream as presented in a media calculated to sell the American dream to the world … and to ourselves.

Skillfully weaving fairy tales along with the Grimm Brothers, the real Mad Men of Madison Avenue spun a yarn or two themselves.

About Me

Of all the fairy tales I grew up with, the one about the American Dream would turn out to be the best fairy tale of all.

I grew up living in the tomorrow that was my parents Post-War Dream.

Born in the afterglow of Hiroshima, I had missed WWII by a decade, the Depression by more than two, and the NY Worlds Fair by fifteen, which in a child’s mind is an eternity.

Though not part of my own memory, these three key events contained so many deeply embedded ideas about the American Dream that were passed on to me by my parents helping to shape and define my own expectations.

Moving forward at ever increasing speed was what American expected from their country, their cars, their consumer goods and their economy.

This buoyant optimism stands in sharp contrast to the diminished expectations and downsizing we are living today,

If the seed of the American Dream was planted during the dark days of the Depression, germinated at the New York Worlds fair of 1939, it was nurtured and cultivated during the solidarity, sacrifices and deprivations of WWII. By Wars end it was ripe, ready to be harvested and it would blossom into full bloom in the Post war years and beyond.

Yes, mine would be a magical life, handed the great American Dream with no strings attached, beneficiary of all the previous sacrifices and scientific know how, living out the East Coast suburban dream of plenty sailing comfortably into easy retirement.


Saturday Night Live John Belushi


Copyright (©) 20011 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


  1. Hello. What a great looking Blog and the memories it brought to me while capturing the American dream. I look forward to reading more!.


  2. Has the American Dream traveled to China? Is China the new American Dream???

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. I grew up in Canada and am forever fascinated by the American dream. Canadians don’t have one. I think very few countries have the hubris/optimism to have one and name it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Renee Melchiorre

    I just came about your website and find it very rich indeed. Actually, I’m working on teaching a course on women’s history from 1940-1980 but I also just finished teaching an eight week course on Postwar American Society, 1945-1960 to a class of 70 seniors at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Asheville, NC. In that course, I tried to dispel gently many myths about the American Dream as we covered the economic boom, the baby boom and the construction boom in addition to the politics of the Cold War and McCarthyism. I think many people realized by the end of the course that the 1950s was not the historical norm its been characterized as by Madison Avenue and the media, in general. But still, these myths about the great American dream die hard. Thank you for your good work!


  5. David Dempsey

    Just started reading your blog…It will give me hours of fun having lived through a similar period on the other side of the pond with a slightly different perspective…the green tinged observer!


  6. Ginger McCarty

    I just came across your website/blog and find it fascinating and very well done. You truly hit the heart of the American Dream, which has been sold to us by those whose interest it is to have us buy it all. Thank you for giving us a wonderfully retro look to some very serious issues. Keep up the great work.


  7. This is my first visit to your blog, long on my to-visit list! I’m so glad to have found it. The whole notion of the “American Dream” is one that has always intriqued me, bringing on many discussions with friends of diverse circumstances. I look forward to reading more of what you are providing here! Thank you!


  8. Terrific! The amount of work, and the quality… Do you visit LoC irl and scan or take photographs? Or has LoC really digitized that much? Inspiring – here in Sweden there were issued a mandatory royal decree in 1661 by king Karl XI = Charles or Carolus XI – that specimen of everything printed were to be sent to the Royal Library – and later to the libraries of the universities too. But nothing much has been done with all this – one effort produced a book with newspaper clips from the 20th century, but that is about all. Maybe one ought to do something? Technical evolution makes it far easier and a lot cheaper to take copies – and in color too!


  9. keithjohnlewis

    Hi Sally, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Are you in print anywhere? I’m particularly interested as I’ve been using your work to help with a bit of research for some writing of my own.
    A man from a small island somewhere out east (Britain).


    • Hi Keith
      Glad my blog can be of some help for you. I am currently writing a book that will be chock full of information. What sort of research are you doing? Perhaps I can be of help in directing you to some sources.


  10. Thanks Sally. Delighted to have happened on your fascinating site. Clearly lots to explore and reflect on. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (plugged in and ready to play).


  11. sage

    I was shocked to find sanity on the internet. Thank God there are still some people like you left….I was starting to wonder.
    Well done….


  12. It is a bit of the wild west out there, glad you enjoy what I share


  13. Love what you are doing and the focus of your blog. The questions so many now have about the American dream is why The Great Gatsby has become so relevant for so many people these days.


  14. Enjoyed discovering this blog today, and look forward to following it. Much of what you write about I can relate to and have written about life growing up in the 50s, 60s & 70s in my award-winning memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” I, too, write about a time when life was much simpler.


  15. Hey! You have very interesting blog! I enjoyed it!


  16. JHarper

    Stumbled upon your blog about two months ago. Very impressed with both the observations on the influence of 1929-1965 U.S. media & society as well as your commentary on significant contemporary events. Coming from a very middle class, midwest, 1950’s childhood it resonates. And while it’s something like nostalgia fuel, I am glad to see a critical eye drawing attention to how manipulative it all was (and continues to be!). Hope you see more success!


  17. I can’t believe your blog slipped through my radar for so very long! It is a pleasure to meet you.


  18. Your blog is really interesting. Its good to learn more about the ” American Dream” (or so called) that I have often heard banded about. I’m in the UK so have not really understood this term.


  19. A fascinating look at American culture and history through popular media. Well-done!


  20. I always love reading your blog posts. Each one pulls the mask off some hypocrisy in our society. I love that. And the thoroughness of your posts. This month I wrote a blog post for Women History Month which is March. I work in a library and I do most of the posts for the library’s blog. The post was about the contribution women have made to the film industry, especially during the silent era. In my research, I chanced upon a book you might find enlightening. “Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood” covers the period between 1929 – 1934. Here’s the amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Complicated-Women-Power-Pre-Code-Hollywood/dp/0312284314/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456984613&sr=1-1&keywords=complicated+women+sex+and+power+in+pre-code+hollywood

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the suggestion Don, it does sound like something I would be interested in. And thank you as always for your continued support and always insightful, often humorous remarks.


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  22. thewisershopper

    Wow, just found your site. Those images on your home page are part of my childhood (born in 1949). I lived in NYC from 1957-59. All my life I’ve had a kind of deja-vu about images of moms shopping, opening the fridge, etc., but could not lay my finger on where they came from! I thought they were perhaps from the “Dick and Jane” books but they weren’t. I recently started a food / political blog and searched for retro/vintage images and came upon what I’ve been looking for . . . and now this blog. Thank you for your work.


  23. FYI Just nominated you for a blog award – no pressure to participate 🙂 https://iwillnotliveinvain.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/one-lovely-blog-award/


  24. I learned of your blog just today, from my annual “how’m I ‘doing?” survey of my subscribers. I asked about other blogs similar to mine and yours came up. Needless to say, I’m thrilled and I look forward to getting to know it and you better over the coming months.


  25. Ian

    Your post comparing the displaced persons from the Holocaust with the immigrants caught up in the current administration’s shenanigans caught my attention, as I have been writing about my family’s history in relation to WWII, the Holocaust, and immigration. Very interesting mix of history, political commentary, and retro art! I’m in!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ian and i am delighted to welcome you to my blog and hope you explore. We each have our own stories but there is often a common thread …what is your family’s story?


      • Ian

        My family’s story? Well, in short, I’ve been researching it since my mom’s death in 2012, and it has had some surprises. I’ve been struggling to document it in my blog researchingmyself.wordpress.com as I’m not sure if it is the story of Canadian immigrants in the mid 20th century, or of holocaust survivors, or just an average family looking for the “Canadian Dream”…perhaps all of the above. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

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