July 7, 2013

Latest treasure brings youthful glee


I learned how to make a “Jolly Elf” pin from pipe cleaners dressed “in bright paper, with paste to hold him together.” There were pages on “Hobbies” and “How to Give Your Dog a Bath.” There was always artwork, drawn and painted by subscribers such as me. 

There was even a recipe called “Popsicle Fun,” calling for “2 packages of Kool Aid (any flavor), 1 cup sugar and 1 quart water.” I might go make some today.

Most of the colorful and charming artwork for the little digest-sized magazine was done by an artist you’ve probably never heard of. Her name was Fern Bisel Peat. She was prolific in this publication and others. She painted all the covers and everything inside except for the reader contributions. She could show you how to make paper dolls, how to carve pumpkins and how to make Christmas-tree ornaments. I also had tin toys with her artwork on them. She was born in 1893 and lived until 1971. She never heard of me, but I was a huge fan.

“Children’s Playmate Magazine” ran for 75 years starting in 1935. Very few others can make that boast. In 2008, it was merged with a magazine you might have seen called “Jack and Jill,” another long-standing publication that was first published in 1938. It merged with Children’s Digest several years ago.

Another box was plunked onto the kitchen bar. Inside were dozens of the original Casey Kasem “American Top Forty” radio programs on record and CD. I had no idea they were here. We started playing them and were instantly transported several decades backward in time as we danced around the kitchen.

Some weeks ago, I accepted a 100-pound cardboard box jam-packed with fabulous old 78 rpm record albums — some almost 100 years old. They were part of the estate of a well-known and respected politician friend who died some years back and his house was up for sale. 

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