Consuming Passions

American couple dreaming of Consumer goods This homage to the American Dream  appeared on a Saturday Evening Post Cover exactly 14 years to the day from that August day when  Americans from coast to coast were celebrating the surrender of Japan. Until late in the night of August 15, 1945, people snaked danced, formed conga lines tossed tons of paper confetti through office windows as a frenzy of kissing occurred.

The frenzy of celebration lasting 24 hours would soon open up a frenzy of pent-up consumer desire that had no end in sight.

The end of WWII left us with no restrictions of how much happiness we could buy. We entered the postwar world as ardent consumers and it wasn’t long before there was a spontaneous combustion of red-hot excitement that was fueled by accelerants provided by Hotpoint, Frigidaire and General Electric.

Dreaming The American Dream

By 1959 the Space-Age star-struck young couple on the Saturday Evening Post cover gazing into their future, a future filled with an abundance of consumer items, were living in the future we had looked forward to at the end of the war.

The illustration “A Moonlit Future” by artist Constantin Alajalov perfectly captures the spirit of the American Dream filling the moon lit sky with a constellation of sparkling consumer goods from televisions, percolators and power tools, stereos, station wagons and refrigerators to fill their new suburban ranch house occupied by little league boys and little piano playing girls.

The Post offered it’s readers this  description of the illustration:

“They’re in love, they’re going to be married, and tonight, as you can tell by that remarkable constellation, they are ecstatically moon-dreaming.”

“Artist Alajalov, soaring skyward with the lovers , at first started to paint among the star spaces some filmy ethereal castles in Spain: but then thinking how practical and knowledgeable today’s young people are about outer space, he came down to earth with their dream. A bit cynical? No, because it takes as much moon magic to create a 2 car domicile as it does to whip up an air castle.”

“In essence what the young romantics want is happiness and since they have each other, their dream will come true.”


Copyright (©) 20011 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved




American consumer AbundanceFor over half a century, Americas soaring confidence had always promised a sugar-frosted future filled with frost-free fun and abundance. But that buoyant bubble of optimism has since gone bust. Along with out jobs, retirement funds and split level homes, the American Dream has gone into foreclosure.

This collection of vintage advertising and illustrations from the New Deal to the New Frontier offer a mirror to the once upon a time American Dream as presented in the can-do American media calculated to sell the American Way to the world …and to ourselves.

Copyright (©) 20011 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved