Yank Magazine, September 7, 1945

Yank magazine was one of those morale building things regularly passed out to soldiers in World War Two along with cigarettes and chewing gum. It was positive propaganda, cartoons, and pin-up girls–just the right thing in the mind -numbing pressure of wartime. In fact, Yank was a uniquely Second World War phenomenon.

I have one copy of that famous magazine, published by the War Department. It was paired with the issue of  LOOK that was featured in this blog, last week. The two magazines bookend the war because the issue of LOOK came out before Pearl Harbor and this issue of Yank appeared after VJ Day.

Like that issue of LOOK, this magazine is heavily contaminated with mildew and other fungi, so examining it indoors has been out of the question. I took a few preliminary snapshots of this issue of Yank outdoors, in order to share them with you today. This will be on my short list of documentation to properly, digitally archive.

The Empire of Japan formally surrendered on August 15, 1945 and the formal announcement was made on September 2nd at the signing of the surrender document. This issue of Yank was published less than a week later.

The first article was aimed at service members who were eager to come back home and resume civilian life. The article cautioned that processing out of the service might take much longer than hoped. It also tried to deflate any idealized visions of civilian life that service people probably imagined while they were deployed. There were many big questions on the minds of military personnel.

Of course, the main story was that the war had ended, at last. The long, horrible ordeal was finally over.

There was space to recap the closing days of the war.

There was a lengthy article about the newly revealed weapons of mass destruction that played a role in the closing days of conflict.

The last page of the magazine again cautions service members not to get their hopes too high and to please remain patient when reintegrating with society.

The Blue Jay of Happiness has a joke to share from Yank magazine. “Two young soldiers were exchanging their experiences of the service in the Army. ‘My sergeants are wonderful’, said one soldier.
‘I wish I could say the same about mine,’ said the other.
‘You could if you could lie as I do.'”

Posted in cultural highlights, History, Vintage Collectables | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Many of our efforts are scattered and wasted. This is a frustrating fact of modern living. There are so many ways to get sidetracked and it gets harder to stop and let go of the distractions and get on with our original work.

We spend time and money on stuff that will probably never deliver useful results. Sometimes we remain distracted on some detour and continue to invest a lot of energy in vain that will never reward us nor build up our dreams. From time to time we realize this, so we sit down to prioritize the various aspects of life.

Sometimes we forget the original dream and the inspiration of our personal vision. The last time this happened to me, I spotted an old Walt Whitman quote that had been placed on my refrigerator door long ago. “Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, it provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, Walt you contain enough, why don’t you let it out then?” These words were enough to nudge me back onto my path.

Sometimes we need a reminder to drop the distractions and soldier onward. If we keep our inner vision in mind, it’s easier to persevere. At other times, the nudge can help us identify the parts of our vision that should be adjusted because we may have matured beyond a superficial ideological state of mind. A good vision is one that is flexible in that way.

During our soul searching, we feel a strong desire to focus on those things that will provide us the best long-term benefits. When we discover or rediscover our vision, we see the folly of looking for quick fixes, and superficiality. Our vision reflects who we truly are and not what social institutions expect of us. When we hold true to our inner nature, our vision provides the plan for ethical, sustainable action.

A vision helps us form long-term plans and to assess where to best invest our precious time and energy. We find out where we want to put our hearts and souls for maximum peace of mind and deeper rewards.

We might notice that our vision has been clouded or frustrated. Perhaps we have labored away with sincerity and plenty of effort but feel worried that the reward will never come. We are reminded that there are no guarantees in life. Keeping our vision in mind, we can do whatever we can and be thankful for what we have already accomplished.

Our vision can keep our fear of failure at bay. It can also help us learn from our setbacks and enable us to evaluate how to better create the most value from our efforts. This is where we sort out what isn’t working from what is. These are like the course corrections on a sea journey. They are normal and necessary in order for the ship to arrive at port.

If we have been keeping our vision in mind all along, we can see where our efforts are actually providing satisfying results. When we see this, we are inspired to continue working towards our highest goal. There will be a culmination of all our hard work.

What we need to remember is to keep our visions alive. Understand that dedication, determination, and hard work will help make those visions come alive.

The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this thought from author Henry Miller: “Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”

Posted in Contemplation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

LOOK September 10, 1940

A magazine from dad’s old stash is probably one of the most interesting periodicals I’ve ever held in my hands. The publication date is one year before the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor. The issue of LOOK is a glimpse into the popular mindset of America before the United States declared war on the Axis Powers.

This copy of the magazine is seriously contaminated by mildew and other fungi, so I had to skim through it and photograph it outdoors in the sunshine. I’ll be more carefully archiving it later during a day with no wind and overcast skies for optimal copying. In the meantime, this magazine is stored inside a large food storage bag to protect my house from contamination.

A great number of you share my love of history and enjoyment of vintage/antique items, so I’m happy to share some highlights of this slice of history with you today.

Obviously, the cover was composed and ready for publication before the declaration of war. There was the electoral contest between Wilke and Roosevelt  a controversy and concern that year. There’s also the obvious error that Hitler was married, printed in the promotional square at the bottom left.

Among the more interesting visuals is found just inside the covers on the masthead page. It’s one of the first Gallup polls I’ve ever seen.

The Wendell Wilkie story was certainly authored before the war. It is a purely partisan political piece and has no mention of what he might do in the event of war. He is clearly against FDR’s run for a third term.

A sign of the times photo essay also mentions a factoid in the yellow box. “Ninety Niners are businesslike airwomen, ready to take over men pilots if we go to war.”

The most important feature story is the incomplete and somewhat inaccurate biographical sketch of Adolf Hitler. The piece may have been informed by the Nazi propaganda version of the dictator and his “personal” life. The giveaway is the misinformation about Eva Braun.

The Hitler piece continues with this double-page spread.

Within the collection of speculative writing is a puff piece designed to stroke the egos of LOOK magazine’s major advertisers.

Famed journalist Drew Pearson co-wrote a short article about a possible US-USSR wartime alliance.

Here’s another puff piece, that I’m glad was included.

There’s also the obligatory sports story of the day.

Watch this space for another post about a World War Two era magazine issue of note.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. “In fact, I probably learned more about photography from studying black-and-white photography in those magazines (LOOK and LIFE) than I did from watching movies here. That’s the truth.”

Posted in cultural highlights, Entertainment, History, photography, Politics, Vintage Collectables | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Minimalist Metals …Floral Friday

In these uncertain times, minimalism has regained a foothold in our culture. Minimalism is popularly referred to as stark or stripped down to only the essentials. It is simplicity made manifest. This week, I used three simple, sturdy, metal containers that display this concept.

The small, polished brass bud vase from India is not only simply styled, but is sturdy and proportionately very heavy. The solitary bloom provides just enough complexity to engage the eye.

Stainless steel is both easy to care for and luxurious at the same time. A trio of gerbera daisies provide the counterpoint for the mirror finish of the vase.

A brass luminary from a clearance endcap at a Target store is the inspiration to push back slightly from minimalism. Three poppies and greenery provide a more conventional appearing arrangement.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.”

Posted in cultural highlights, Floral Arts, Hobbies, projects | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Space Exploration Day

I think today should be celebrated in the same manner that the US celebrates Columbus Day. Perhaps it should even supplant Columbus Day. But, that’s just my opinion.

Throughout the Americas, Columbus Day commemorates the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. Space Exploration Day the first landing of humans on the Moon.

Because we are relearning the motives and actions of Columbus and his fellow Conquistadors, his name and the holiday have become controversial. Meantime, When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon the peoples on Earth were united in wonder and awe. The first humans on the Moon was a landmark event that was of great magnitude with magnificent implications.

Space Exploration has created a whole new paradigm through which we can judge our species’ accomplishments. A completely new and positive way of looking at the world and the Universe around us has been made possible through the continuing efforts of the people involved in Space programs in various nations around the globe. I do not understand why July 20th is not already an official national holiday.

As long as humans have existed, we have been curious creatures whose urge to explore is one of our dominant traits. When we see something, we want to know more about it. We want to touch it. We want to fully understand it. Probably the oldest mysteries to humankind have been the sky and the objects in it. All the planets of the Solar System except our own are named after a god or goddess.

Even though that first Moon landing in July of 1969 triggered a new generation of explorers, It wasn’t the first event, nor the last one to do so. The history of Space exploration parallels our modern age.

The general public was spurred into action when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The next great landmark took place on April 12, 1961, when the Soviet Union launched the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft carrying Yuri Gagarin into Outer Space. He became not only the very first human to travel into Space, he was the very first human to orbit the Earth.

Further developments and human missions by both the USSR and the United States led to the incredible goal of sending humans to the Moon. From that date, onward, there has been a continual drive by nations everywhere to have their own space programs. This is not surprising. Space represents unlimited potential.

The process of Space Exploration continues today. You can check out a site right now and witness it for yourself.  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload  (If the visual is dark, wait patiently for an eventual image.) The International Space Station is a work in progress with a crew of people from various nations. The ISS is an example of how we can all work together towards positive, constructive ends.

So, don’t think of today’s unofficial holiday as a celebration of only Apollo Eleven. Today is when we commemorate some of our grandest visions. Space exploration takes us away from the pettiness of life and reveals a grandeur that is as infinite as the Universe.

The Blue Jay of Happiness recommends this website to you:  http://www.spaceexplorationday.us

Posted in cultural highlights, History, Science, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments


My trucker friend, Jorge, stopped by yesterday on his way to Sioux City, Iowa. My pal said he had just had an epiphany or a mental flash that caused him to slow down on the road in order to avoid an accident.

Jorge was on a lonely stretch of highway in central Nebraska and had been listening to a podcast on which Neil deGrasse Tyson was the day’s guest. Dr. Tyson had just explained the “event horizon” of a black hole to the podcast’s moderator. “All the stuff within the event horizon is collapsed to an infinitesimal point at the center.”

The astrophysicist described a gruesome, hypothetical example of himself being sucked into the black hole. As he approached the event horizon, his body would be snapped in two, then those halves would be snapped in two, those pieces would be broken in two, then on and on until only the atoms remained, then they broke down into subatomic particles.

Jorge said the epiphany probably happened because of a combination of factors. It was nearly time for his highway rest break. He was hungry for a snack. His mind had been concentrating on the podcast. The topic was fascinating. The flash of insight then happened when Tyson said the process of getting stuck in a black hole was called “spaghettification”.

The absurdity of the name triggered an uncontrollable fit of laughter that almost caused Jorge to pass out from hyperventilation–the reason he slowed the truck’s speed. It was while Jorge resumed driving at the speed limit that the realization happened. It was at this part of the story that my friend stopped talking and just sat and smiled at me.

He could tell that I was getting eaten up by curiosity. He remained silent until I gestured with my hands for him to continue his story.

Jorge began by asking me about the fundamental concept about the absence of a separate self. Some Eastern teachings seem to imply the existence of a separate self, but they stop at the point of affirming such an idea. A related teaching goes on to explain that reality is actually an undivided whole. Jorge said he has long understood this dilemma on an intellectual level, but hasn’t actually felt it.Jorge smiled again. “When Tyson said ‘spaghettification’, all the pieces fell in place. That’s what triggered my big aha moment. I felt the concept in a spiritual sense.”

I said, “So that was your moment of Zen.” Then we both had a good laugh when Jorge said that he had a classic case of arriving at an epiphany. That is after mulling over a big problem for a long time, a profound realization just pops into the mind.

Jorge then mentioned that he began to think about another scientist, Johannes Kepler, and his realization. It was Kepler who speculated about various aspects of the Universe in relation to musical harmonies. He had been studying the ideas about the nature of the Universe by other astronomers. They failed to provide a satisfactory explanation about his own observations and calculations. Then, one day, Kepler experienced a realization, seemingly out of thin air. He writes it down and goes on to postulate his own concepts regarding the geometrical basis of the Universe.

Jorge asked if I had ever had any sudden realizations about anything.

I mentioned that mine happened after I had been pondering the same questions about the nonexistence of a separate self that Jorge mentioned. I didn’t have the lucky coincidence of having Dr. Tyson’s quip about black holes. My aha moment happened after many contemplations on the subject. Then, while walking to work one day, out of nowhere, the realization hit me like a ton of rocks.

I explained that most of my huge realizations come about in small steps. I understand small pieces of a mental puzzle, then it’s like the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together and the combination of them appears as the whole notion. It’s difficult to explain what happens. Some people might say I have visions of concepts.

I then said I had just come to the realization that Jorge might be thirsty. Would he like something to drink? We then adjourned to the kitchen to talk about the rest of his trip to Sioux City.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the writer, David Jauss. “The best epiphanies approach their revelations indirectly, through imagery, metaphor, and symbol rather than through direct statement. In short, they arrive with some elusiveness, like insight itself.”

Posted in Contemplation, Friendship, Hometown, Science | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment