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'The Magazine that Brings Back the Good Times': Nostalgia in Media Narratives of an Idealized American Past
Unformatted Document Text:  close, Mom, Mary Gould, became a telephone operator. The switchboard office was the front room of our house. . . . The calls Mom made weren’t the cordless or conference calls of today. But they had magic—the magic of a person who was interested in each call, knew everyone in town, would call you back when the line was free. . . and could keep a secret. (Lewis, 1997, Sept/Oct: 18) As these examples suggest, stereotypical sex roles are frequent (and frequently celebrated) in these memories. What’s striking, though, is the number of articles in which women are heroines, such as the one directly above. Mothers are recalled as the strength of the family in hard times: “My sister was a baby, and I wasn’t old enough to go to school. Dad had left us, and the Great Depression was at its worst. Mom took in washing to make a living. . .” (Smith, E., 1999, Nov/Dec: 29). And a number of these struggle narratives underscore women’s ambition and pride in nontraditional accomplishments. One woman who became an actress explains the price at which her dance and piano lessons came: With no income and a mortgaged house, Ma rented out rooms in our home and bartered when the money didn’t go far enough . . . . Although I had few worldly things while I was growing up, I had the love and encouragement of a great and unselfish lady. She was one of a kind and gave me an exciting life’ (Lushbaugh, 1997, Mar/Apr: 22-3).

Authors: Kitch, Carolyn.
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close, Mom, Mary Gould, became a telephone operator.
The switchboard office was the front room of our house. . . .
The calls Mom made weren’t the cordless or conference
calls of today. But they had magic—the magic of a person
who was interested in each call, knew everyone in town,
would call you back when the line was free. . . and could
keep a secret. (Lewis, 1997, Sept/Oct: 18)
As these examples suggest, stereotypical sex roles are frequent (and frequently
celebrated) in these memories. What’s striking, though, is the number of articles in
which women are heroines, such as the one directly above. Mothers are recalled as the
strength of the family in hard times: “My sister was a baby, and I wasn’t old enough
to go to school. Dad had left us, and the Great Depression was at its worst. Mom took
in washing to make a living. . .” (Smith, E., 1999, Nov/Dec: 29). And a number of
these struggle narratives underscore women’s ambition and pride in nontraditional
accomplishments. One woman who became an actress explains the price at which her
dance and piano lessons came:
With no income and a mortgaged house, Ma rented
out rooms in our home and bartered when the money
didn’t go far enough . . . . Although I had few worldly
things while I was growing up, I had the love and
encouragement of a great and unselfish lady. She was
one of a kind and gave me an exciting life’ (Lushbaugh,
1997, Mar/Apr: 22-3).


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