Vertical Vacations

Back in 1937, TikTok didn’t demand five hours of each day, so folks would actually sit and read a 44 page article about a foreign country in National Geographic. The folks at Nat Geo knew their fascinating photos and clever captions would wet the whistle of those with the traveling bug, so travel ads were placed in portrait style near the end of the magazine.

This first ad designated certain activities for different ages, like remodeling a colonial cottage, an easy task for a 100-year-old to tackle.

images from National Geographic, March 1937

Other ads designated the means of travel, like this one for Oregon highways. Why not drive? Gas was cheap, and you were probably about to be evicted due to the high unemployment during the Depression. Hit the road, Jack!

Other ads just plain scared the tar out of you with images of Irvin Cobb’s unfortunate countenance.

Who wouldn’t want to angle or loaf or tramp in Canada? It’s where they film all the Hallmark movies. And as long as you’re already up north, might as well hop aboard a nine day Alaskan cruise, for just under $100. You might see indigenous peoples wearing blankets and holding indigenous art. They may or may not come in peace.

Alaska not your cup of tea? Well, 1937 is a great time to tour Germany. Hurry, before war breaks out. At that point, they may not offer so much Gemütlichkeit, or good cheer, for which they’re famous.

Need more neutral surroundings? Nothing like a travel ad to seduce you with the devaluation of the franc, and how much more you can buy with your boss US dollars. Think about it: reduced rail fares, no visas, no “money formalities,” no vax card. Don’t overthink it; just go.

Perhaps neither cruise, plane, nor Oregon highway tantalizes. Then all aboard the Milwaukee Road Hiawatha (fun word alert), headed toward the unspoiled Northwest.

Take in the “sea-girt” peninsula. That means surrounded by sea. Feel free to use that word later today. I can think of lots of things that the Northwest is surrounded by, especially in the inner cities. But not in 1937! So there you go, folks. Do you think any of these ads would have enticed you if you had been alive then? Which one beckons most?

4 thoughts on “Vertical Vacations”

  1. These are wonderful and I find the ads attractive today. Oh, sure, one has to make allowances for changes in the times. I doubt sprouts aged 1-16 would today be offered a visit with “freaks of nature” in New England. Similarly, I think the “gay beauty” offered in Germany and the “gay social life of Alaska” may have different interpretations nowadays. Or maybe not. Too bad the strength and exchange rate of the US dollar got destroyed along the way to 2021. Now we’re lucky to take a road trip to CVS instead of cross country. The Milwaukee Road ad had one thing right: don’t wait to visit or all those wonderful spots won’t be unspoiled anymore. “Take a trip to Canada…or else,” said Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb (an American author, humorist, editor and columnist from Paducah, Kentucky) and he’s sufficiently intimidating so that that’s where I’ll choose to go in ’37.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right on all counts. Allowed I could think was the Old Milwaukee theme song on the Milwaukee Road. I guess everything is pretty much spoiled at this point. Is that the best Paducah could do?


Observation and Interpretation:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: