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WWII Ads – Still Relevant Today

November 28, 2011


Today’s post if from guest blogger Liz Cat!

I think everyone is watching the world economy lurch back and forth with a quiet but gnawing concern. There is a confluence of articles regarding today’s lost generation along with a severe lack of jobs, the blossoming of Occupy protests, and the seemingly unheralded concerns of the environmental movement.

I recently came across an article, Why We Spend, Why They Save, which brought up support-the-war-effort advertisements that proliferated during WWII. Unfortunately at the time there was little choice when it came to rationing, saving, and pooling resources. Yet given the state of the economy and the environment, they are oddly relevant today.

Another interesting thing about these ads is the representation of women. They played a truly significant role during the war in gardening, rationing, manufacturing, and saving. But what I think is even more interesting is how what was typically considered “women’s work” and what has generally been devalued historically (such as knitting, gardening, etc.) becomes central to survival and, in the case of these ads, a celebrated and necessary craft. I think we’ll start to see a come back in these domestic chores as money grows tight and as we find ourselves fed up with chemically saturated produce. I wish my mom taught me how to can fruit. Imagine nurturing a peach tree and then when fall comes jarring some fresh fruit only to bust out some homemade chutney for the holiday season? Amazing.

I also want to point out that during WWII, women on the home front would knit socks and other garments for soldiers out in the trenches. This concept came full circle starting in 2006, when the campaign was reinvigorated and knitters were encouraged to make scarves for war vets to keep them warm in the winter. For more info, go check out the National WWII Museum website.

In a lot of ways this is clear propaganda and I’m in no way supporting war or violence; I just find it interesting that throughout WWII there was a movement towards creatively saving and crafting, something I’m now seeing in a gradual revival. Maybe we do need some kind of encouragement to conserve and save? What do you think?

I mean, I’ve yet to see a more compelling argument for carpooling than: “When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler!”

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P.S. The Hitler made me laugh out loud. Just thinking about it makes me chuckle a little.

P.P.S. When I received this blog post from Liz Cat, I was knitting. Coincidence? I think not.

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