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READING LIFE, MICHIGAN, 1956

Reading Life Magazine

Solid honey-blond wood chairs, a matching lampshade and tropical print sofa easily stand out from the deep forest green walls and white trim of this deluxe vacation cabin somewhere in the wilds of Michigan. The door is cracked open. Sitting on the arm of a green leather arm chair, a young lady with a long leg fusses with the clasp of a necklace.

A lean and lanky young man scantily clad in a swimsuit and a suntan, wearing sturdy classic loafers, is reading the magazine that shows up in more slides than any other, Life. Rarely is it ever just sitting on top of the coffee table or squeezed and getting wrinkled in a magazine rack, people are always reading it. This is, by the way, the June 4, 1956 issue. At first glance I thought it was Yma Sumac on the cover. She is the over-the-top chanteuse who billed herself as the “Incan Princess” and sang exotic songs with her four octave range. But that’s not her. The cover story is about the first great civilization. How epic!

Life is the first magazine I remember looking at as a child. Several years later when I was about nine or ten, I discovered a small stack of Life magazines that my mother had saved in a drawer. They all had one or more of the Kennedy’s on the cover. She thought they were “worth saving”. The ads, especially the car ads and the liquor ads, inspired my imagination. I looked at those magazines over and over again.

Life is the ultimate Americana magazine. The red bar containing the title spelled out in white in the most basic of font styles never changed. It’s timeless. Between 1936 and 1972 Life was published weekly then returned as a monthly from 1978 to 2000. Fort Peck Dam in Montana was on the cover of the first issue. I wonder which issue is the most valuable?

Here’s to Life Magazine and YOU!